An Englishman who arrived in Hobart Town in 1823 as a convict, William Worsley, built the main dwelling on the site in the early 1860s.
William had moved his family from the Jones River area at Ellendale, beyond Rothwell, to this property. Since then, later generations have completely restructured it, still keeping the same structure and character.
The original cottage was adjacent to the main house, where we now live.
Marriage and Family
William Worsley was born at Salford, near Manchester, England, in 1804. He grew into a small man, 5 feet 4 inches. He got into trouble with the law, mainly stealing food and was sentenced to 7 years in Van Diemen’s Land. While a convict, William experienced a couple of samples of the cat of nine tails for minor offences, 50 lashes each time.
When William became a free man, he married Ann Davies, who was born in February 1807, at Bath, England. The records in the Anglican Church at New Norfolk, reveal that Ann and William were married in 1832.
Ann was a good match for William, being 4 feet 10 inches in height. Ann was vital and dynamic, as she proved when in the late 1830s they moved to what became known as Hillcroft (the original name of this property) also at one stage known as Sharlands. The area was then known as North West Bay, later renamed Margate.
Whether the couple bought the property or had it granted to them is not clear.
It is not known why Ann arrived here in Van Diemen’s Land from England. Perhaps records in England hold the key.
Regardless of their personal histories, Ann and William became highly respected and much liked citizens in their new homeland. They joined an orthodox church congregation, and although Ann was illiterate she ensured their children received proper schooling.
Because Ann and William gave parcels of land to their eldest sons, then passed on to later generations, what remained could only be classed as labour-intensive subsistence farming. The owners had to work hard to provide for their large families.
Interestingly, successive owners had the name “William” starting with the patriarch, William Worsley, followed by William Junior, then William George, Bernard William and Alan William.
The first house on the property was North of the existing house. In later years, another house was built to the West, and its chimney remains still exist.
Wealth from the Gold Rush
In the 1950s, William and his brother-in-law William Wilson joined the gold rush in Victoria where they both struck it rich.
This enterprise gave Ann and William enough funds to build the existing house in the early 1860s. At the time it was the best house in the district. Within its walls births, marriages, deaths, church services and general meetings took place.
William Wilson also made good. He used his share of the goldfield riches to build the Brunswick Hotel on Liverpool Street, in Hobart.
It was during the 1850s that Van Diemen’s Land was given the new name of Tasmania. The official date of the name change is January 1, 1856.
Margate Cottage’s stables are very old.
Bernard William Worsley, who was born in 1898, said they were old when he could first remember them. There were other buildings: a cow barn; pigsties; “chook” houses for the laying hens; and other structures essential for life on the land. The property was set up for self-sufficient living.
There were gardens and fruit trees to the South of the house. A convict-built stone retaining wall marked part of the garden extending downhill to the flat area. It is possible that William, while still a convict, built this wall.
The fruit orchards were of various varieties that have long ceased to exist. The last one was a Napoleon pear.
There was little cash in the colony’s economy, but the Worsley family maintained a reasonable standard of living, through selling, bartering and hard work.
Lugging Water from the River
There was always work to be done and an important daily chore involved lugging water up to the property from the river.
Some parts of the track that was made for carrying water from the river to the house can still be seen. In addition, a battery of coppers was set up so the women in the Worsley family could do their laundry. Those coppers were still in use in the 1930s. They were gradually phased out, starting from when water tanks began to be built and continuing when it became possible to pump water up to the property from the river.
In the 1930s, a further improvement in the area was the construction of a road to enable horses and carts, and then trucks to get to and around the river.
Another track led South-East from the house and was used by generations of Worsley children as a short cut to their school.
Through the course of time, orchards came and went as markets fluctuated. The cash-earning, labour intensive, quarry gave way to fully mechanised operations.
Restoration Gives New Life
In recent years, the much loved but tired old home in which we now live was bought the Beadle family. Mr Beadle, a builder, took several years to thoroughly refurbish the home, making it modern in function. The restoration and modernisation has ensured new life for future generations in this historic dwelling.
The Beadle family sold the home to Robyn and Leigh, who turned it into a comfortable home and set up part of it as high class accommodation.
Margate Cottage, originally named Hillcroft, has been returned to its status as a high-class dwelling and is again an asset to the district.
The home and land once known as Hillcroft, now renamed Margate Cottage, remains a place in the memories of those who have lived there.
– From Ken Worsley, May 2009.