Published: 16 October 2015

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I am sure we all appreciate the need to record history.  A deep passion for this is often needed to undertake the many hours of research that is required.

Recently, another fine example of capturing a time in our history has been published for future generations to read, absorb, and enjoy.  Along the Terrace:  The Owners and Occupiers of Stanley 1843-1922 is a wonderful book compiled over a period of three years by Mrs Betty Jones, with support from the Stanley Discovery Museum.  This book breaks new research ground by comprehensively documenting the very early history of each of the original allotments of the township of Stanley.  Focusing on the first 80 years following the declaration of town status in late 1842, the book outlines the gradual development of the community that started with 113 quarter-acre blocks.  It traces the evolution of the buildings on each lot and brings to life again details of over 1 000 owners and occupiers, their family connections and activities.  It is illustrated with approximately 800 photographs.  Featured in this book are master mariners, sealers, ex-convicts - of which my great-great-grandfather was one - storekeepers, tradespeople, labourers, service providers, professionals and others of high rank. 

Throughout the formative years of its growth as a town, Stanley reflected the highs and lows of the Tasmanian economy as a whole.  It attempted to capitalise on local agricultural products, assisted by the bonus of the provision of a port.  The earlier settlers both prospered and suffered according to market forces, much as they do today.  Their individual stories and how they endeavoured to make a living and survive in a geographically isolated setting are featured throughout this first volume.  Determined, self-sufficient, innovative and community‑minded, the earlier inhabitants of Stanley and surrounding areas displayed many of the qualities so typical of other Tasmanian pioneers of their era. 

The compilation of the book, Along the Terrace, was evolutionary but also almost accidental.  Its beginnings stemmed from a chance visit by Betty Jones to the Stanley Discovery Museum in late 2011 in search of concrete evidence concerning the location of the first Van Diemen's Land Company school in the town.  The request for information on that early school still required wider research, and a trip to the Burnie Library to look at the early VDL Company records on microfilm in early 2012 opened more new doors of interest about Stanley.  It was finding a copy of the first official map of the town drawn up by architect John Lee Archer in 1843 that helped Betty gain a sense of what the early settlement might have looked like.  There were streets outlined and allotments marked and numbered, many of which indicated where existing buildings stood, along with the details of the names of the people who were occupying them. 

The next steps of referring to government evaluation rolls, electoral rolls, land title deeds and accounts from contemporaneous newspapers to find more names and details simply evolved over time.  Before too long Betty was running parallel research about the history of the school and the history of early Stanley.  Increasingly frequent communication with the volunteers at the Stanley Discovery Museum and in particular Sue Smedley, who Betty met in early 2012, added greatly to the depth of the data being gathered and shared.  The museum's rich collection of photographs dates back to 1858 and depicts the gradual evolution of buildings in the town.  Access to such information gave backbone to the research and contact with the volunteers provided great encouragement to continue finding out more. 

In early 2013 Betty and Sue began to collaborate more closely on the history of the schools at Stanley, knowing that the centenary of the current school site in Wilson Street was being celebrated in April 2014.  Together, Betty and Sue produced a book, In the Shadow of the Nut - A History of Education at Stanley 1854-2014, published by Stanley Primary School in time for those centenary celebrations.  The roll calls contained in the book include the names of many early families that Betty had been uncovering during her study of the town's allotments and added to the bigger and emerging picture. 

Research then resumed on the owners and occupiers of Stanley project and it became apparent that a book could help make a substantial contribution to public knowledge and understanding of the area's unique history. 

In early 2015 the museum offered to pay for the publication of the book using its own funds.  The museum, a voluntary organisation, has very limited income and the volunteers have been very grateful to the Circular Head Council for aiding with expenses.  The book was printed in early July 2015 with an order for a run of 350 copies, a mixture of soft and hard covers included.  The museum volunteers undertook responsibility for advertising and soon after the book was launched, it was necessary for another 75 hard copies to be printed. 

The museum volunteers are really enjoying meeting and corresponding with descendants of many of the early families who, in turn, are very appreciative of Betty's research; not only learning about their families but the fact that their contribution to the settlement of Stanley has been recorded. 

Betty's dedication, professionalism and generosity cannot be emphasised enough, not only for the research and history compilation of early Stanley but also giving the Stanley Museum and the passionate volunteers a new vitality. 

At the book launch, the president of the museum, Marion Berry, said, 'Along the Terrace empowers all the volunteers now and in the future to have access to an enviable resource that enables us to more efficiently pass on the history of the evolution of our town.  We are gratefully indebted to Betty for her professionalism and perseverance against all odds that has ensured the publication of this most valuable resource'. 

The Hon. Michael Ferguson MP launched the book and he has relatives that are featured in the book.  He rightly stated that Betty Jones had given the Stanley community a gift.  Sue Smedley agreed and said that this book is a gift, not only to the ancestors, but to the early settlers themselves and also the people of Stanley, incorporating the museum. 

For anyone who has an interest in the history of this state and the Stanley area particularly, it will be a 'must have' book for their bookshelves.  I would love to say more about the work of the Stanley Discovery Museum and their role in this publication but that is for another day. 

I commend the work of Betty and Sue for the huge amount of research and work that has been undertaken for these two publications, particularly Along the Terrace.

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