Melville Street, Hobart

ArcTas was engaged by the University of Tasmania to excavate the carpark areas on the corner of Elizabeth and Melville Streets, Hobart, in anticipation of their development of a major university student accommodation (National Rental Affordability Scheme – NRAS) facility and limited street-side retail premises. These areas were known to be important in the development of Hobart from the 1820s and this was supported by the archaeology. Excavation in this area took nine weeks and cataloguing is currently underway.

Archaeological features excavated included:

  • The Stowell Arms, a pub licensed in 1827, operated until 1910 and was owned from 1871 to 1910 by the colourful local figure, Ma Foster. The pub was also known to have exhibited a Tasmanian Tiger in 1870. Associated features included cesspits, stables, a cellar and a detached cottage. Artefact finds support the long tenure with coins (dating to the early 1800s), a temperance medal, bottles, stoneware ginger beer bottles, musket balls, ceramics, clay pipes and Chinese items all testifying to a long and varied history.
  • The Haberdashers Arms had a varied history, being for a time shops from 1827 and a pub between 1843 and 1865. Like the Stowell, it also comprised the building complex, cesspits, stables and various outbuildings. Artefact finds were also varied with a cesspit at the rear revealing some very interesting finds including an early Schweppes torpedo bottle dating from 1801 to 1831, complete pipes, personal items and a snuff bottle, which pre-dated 1820.
  • Various sandstone cottages and terrace houses dating from the 1820s with associated cesspits, outbuildings and yard spaces. Artefact finds included pipes, ceramics including complete vases, mustard jars and chamber pots, sperm whale teeth and bottles including case gin bottles and black beer bottles.