Oatlands Centre for Heritage Rebuilds

As part of a reinvigoration of the Centre for Heritage Training School, one of Oatlands' earliest surviving building has been restored and converted for use as office and training rooms.

The building has sat to the rear of a 1880s cottage and shopfront, derelict, dilapidated and unused for many years. It was constructed sometime between 1828 and 1832 as the commissariat (or storehouse) for the growing military precinct in Oatlands and the convict stations working on infrastructure in the region. It was one of the most important buildings in the early years of the township, storing food, clothing and equipment under lock and key. To one side of the bakery sat the Guard House which would have provided extra security for the necessary stores. The Guard House, was demolished in 1975, though archaeological features remain.

Oatlands was a major military centre of Tasmania through the 1830s and 1840s, but as the convict system began to decline with the end transportation to Van Diemen's Land, military precincts were no longer an essential part of Tasmania's story. By 1856, the commissariat was surplus to requirement, and the property was sold to private owners. The theme of food continued on the site with the addition of a large bread oven to one side of the building, successfully converting the commissariat to a bakery.

Southern Midlands Council purchased the property in 2012 and set upon a major restoration of the building in recognition of the significance of the Commissariat and the remains of the Guard House. There was also a desire to keep the place in public ownership and present it as part of a suite of the earliest government buildings in Oatlands.

The restoration work focused on retaining the raw and simple atmosphere within the bakery. Walls were rebuilt using traditional methods, concrete slabs were removed to reveal original flagstones, timber window and door frames were treated with traditional finishes, and where timbers were missing the new replicates the old in style and method of construction.


The work has revealed some interesting graffiti from the regiments stationed at Oatlands, and mantelpieces have been reinstalled to their original location.



The original oven, which remarkably still remains in the building, has been totally rebuilt, as too has the original privy.

 

On the exterior, the walls are being stabilized with metal restraints mimicking the steel rails originally used. The railway bolts have been kept as a reminder of the original construction method.

 

Limewashing of the exterior walls has proven a point of contention for the Oatlands community, although this would have been the original finish on the sandstone and the current brilliant sheen of the limewash will quickly weather over time.

This phase of the restoration work is scheduled to be completed later this year. A second phase will see further archaeological and interpretation work at the site of the Guard House, along with landscaping between the Commissariat and the cottage and storefront.

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