Sunday, 10 January 2016

George Guest - Seven Stars

Although there were some references to George Guest and the Seven Stars in newspapers during his lifetime, some of the most useful descriptions of the public house and the area where it was situated are to be found in newspapers published in the twentieth century. Some of the newspapers had regular nostalgia columns which are useful. Stories about early Hobart were also written when many of the properties in the area were being demolished around 1915. Of course some of the statements about George (particularly about how he came to the Colony) are incorrect however the articles generally provide useful background information about the Seven Stars and the neighbourhood in which it was located. The information also provides leads for further investigation.

At the Capital
Alderman Moore wishes to make this city eyesore a kind of business fairyland. The Wapping residents say that he ought to be ashamed of himself. One old resident, whose father drank rum out of a tin dipper when a man named George Guest kept a pub, at the upper end of Wapping, called the 'Seven Stars,' in the year 1817, and who was born within a few rods of the place where the bar room of the days that are gone stood, in tends to petition the Council to let him die in peace, listening to the music of the waters of the turgid stream that flows by his door. Another Wapping resident who remembers the time when he used to boat firewood up as far as the Argyle-street bridge, and who remembers the waters of the rivulet when it flowed over the market-place, thinks Alderman Moore would do well to take a voyage to the South Polar regions, and not worry himself much about returning. A fishmonger who owns a block of land in Wapping has placed a fancy price upon it since Monday last. If the Council acquire Wapping for the purpose of carrying out Alderman Moore's scheme, it will cost them a cool £100,000. Just at present it would not be well to meddle with Wapping. It might cause blood shed .
Daily Telegraph (Launceston) 13 June 1903

At the Capital
On the right-hand side of Campbell street proceeding from the direction of the wharf, and one door removed from the Campbell-street bridge, stands, a weatherboard edifiice of a somewhat tumble-down appearance. It lies off the street, and at least 3ft -below the level of the footpath. Very shortly it will be removed to meet the march of improvement in Wapping, and before it is swept out of existence one would like to draw the attention of -old-timers to its history. This edifice was the famous "Seven Stars," which was kept by a man named George Guest, one of Bowen's little band of pioneers. Guest at one time of day owned a portion of the Domain, which was granted to him in Governor Collins' time, but he afterwards transferred his interest to the Government in return for a piece of land somewhere in the city. When Guest started pub keeping there was no bridge across the Rivulet, and Wapping, which was then a swamp, was undergoing the process of being filled up. Years afterwards a bridge called the 'Palladio Bridge' was built, and this stood the floods and storms of nearly half a century before it was replaced with a more modern structure. Guest- bore the repute of being a man of action and spirit, and when Collins snubbed Governor Bligh on his visit to Hobart Guest, was one of those who helped the vice-regal visitor to get certain comforts for his daughter, who was treated very scurvily by the Government House people. The 'Seven Stars' was in its palmy days the resort of the best Government officials and sea captains. If Guest- didn't make a fortune he deserved to, as he had the best of the days of Imperial expenditure, when a five-pound note -was valued less -than a sovereign is in these days, Many books were written about Tasmania over 80 years ago, and in all these is the Seven Stars mentioned. In 1857 the 'Seven Stars' still paid a license fee, but it was very low class,   and catered to the wants of one of the most disreputable parts of the metropolis. Above the 'Seven Stare' was an other ancient hostelry called the 'Dorchester Butt,' the history of which one proposes to give in a future letter.
Daily Telegraph (Launceston) 3 February 1904

The Commentator
The Seven Stars, one of the very early pubs, at Hobart, will probably very shortly be demolished. This ancient hostelry is close upon a century old, and it is a standing monument of the durability of Tasmanian stringy bark and blue gum. Its first landlord was a man named Guest, who in the early days of settlement held a grant of a portion of the Queen’s Domain, which he afterward transferred to the Government of the day in return for a piece of land in the city. In the rum drinking days the Seven - Stars saw some rollicking times. The neighborhood all around was the lowest of the low, and was a congregating place for all the riffraff of the city.

In the year 1845 John Price, who was then police magistrate, severely reprehended the landlady, Mrs. Guest, for the way in which the house was conducted. In this period this lady threw up the sponge, and the license was passed on to an old identity named Wood, who was for many years landlord of the Montpelier Retreat.

Wood issued a coinage of copper penny tokens. Whether he did anything in the way of reforming the Seven Stars history does not say. Anyhow, Wood made considerable money before be joined the great majority.

Critic 23 January 1914

The Commentator
One came across a photo of the old "Seven Stars" public house this week.   The "Seven Stars" is nearly a century   old, and during that period has been a mute witness of the many changes that have taken place with the eastern portion of the city. If the true history of this ancient hostelry was written it would fill a volume. When the Seven Stars was first built, the locality round it was split up into intersecting lanes and houses sprawled in all directions, little heed being paid to the conformation of the thoroughfares. One has only to look at the residential portion of Wapping to show the scant desire of the builders of nearly a century back to make their dwellings artistic and orderly. The district near the “ Seven Stars” was, in the days gone by, full of queer names. The rivulet was called the “ Ditch.” There was “ Snake Avenue,” called after an immense snake that was killed near Wapping in the early days, and “ Mosquito Hollow. ” Bligh, the hero of the Bounty Mutiny, landed in Wapping, and if history speaks truly, he had a drink at the Seven Stars. Anyhow, a resident of Lower Collins street took Bligh to his bosom in the face of the Governor’s disapproval, and received the customary number of lashes for breaking through Vice-Regal conventialities. There were wells sunk near the “ Seven Stars.” How many no man in this day knows. One was found inside the Theatre Royal some years ago. Another was discovered near the centre of Wapping after , a resident had fallen through the covering a distance of thirty feet, and saved breaking his neck by striking water. Still another was stumbled across accidentally at the rear of the ‘‘Seven Stars.” Human remains were found at the bottom of this well, which gave strong evidence that the times in the early days were really no better than they ought to be.

It is not easy to read the history of the “ Seven Stars” from its tout ensemble. There is an absence of design about the building, and the only thing to recommend it is the enduring material of which it is built—swamp gum and good old stringy bark. The most enlightened commentary of the times in which it was built is the presence of wooden shutters. From what one recollects of these many years ago they were strongly fashioned and fit to resist a siege when some of the wild spirits of the times were out on the rampage, looking for trouble. The first licensee of the “ Seven Stars” was a man named Guest, who, at one period of his life owned a portion of the Queen’s Domain, and swapped his patrimony for a piece of land in some other locality. Guest had a big clientele, and his house was a big centre place for local gossip and the meeting of nautical personages, who paid the port a visit at irregular periods. There was no telegraphic system in those days, and when old country news reached the settlement it was four or five months old, and Guest was one of the first persons to get tidings from abroad. In later years the “ Seven Stars” became a whalers’ haunt, and the result was that the inside and outside of the old inn saw some stirring times. Then the Scarlet Woman, promenaded, and the Lion of Judah stalked abroad in a lordly manner, and defied law and order. In the days when the Stars had its bottom plates laid, the Hobart Rivulet distributed its waters over a swamp which filled the place of the present palatial Municipal Hall. It saw the new market go up, the festivities which celebrated its opening, and its subsequent destruction by fire. It has seen public men come and go, wars, rumours of wars, armies proceed to foreign countries, and return, and five Kings and a Queen sit on the English Throne. In its days of decay it is mutely gazing on the greatest war the world has ever seen.

Directly the march of progress - will sweep the “ Seven Stars” and Wapping away for ever, and two links that bind us with long forgotten past will be snapped asunder.
 Critic 30 January 1915

Notes by the Way
... George Guest, who was landlord of an inn called the Seven Stars, which was in Campbell street, opposite the eastern wall of the new City Hall. ...
Critic 22 December 1916

"J.C.W. "—The deviation which took the Hobart Rivulet through Wapping and round the Park Street bend was carried out in the year 1829. The old inn-known as the Seven Stars, is still standing, and is now used for residential purposes.
Critic 14 October 1921 

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