Launceston history revealed through buildings, signs

Launceston’s city streets still hold the signs of bygone businesses, in the forms of fading advertisements and facade details.

The Sunday Examiner found out the history behind just some of the “ghosts” of commerce past.

Luck’s Corner

As its facade suggests, the Luck’s Corner building was built in 1937. On the corner of Paterson and George streets, today it is the steak-specialist restaurant Black Cow Bistro.

But it was built by G. Luck, a butcher. Its two-storey, art deco design was considered unusual for its era.

Wonderland of Tasmania

This sign, at the end of an alleyway in George Street, was an advertisement for Castleys Souvenir shop, around the corner in Brisbane Street.

Harts Hardware

The Hart family arrived in Launceston in the 1830s, from London.

William Doubleday Hart set up the first hardware business in the north of the state.

His son, also William, went on to serve as an alderman and mayor of the city, and was also Launceston’s chief magistrate for a period.

In the 1870s, he was a member of the House of Assembly, and of the Legislative Council in the 1880s through to 1902.

William Hart jnr passed the family business onto his sons, who continued it under the Hart name into the 21st century.

Despite its doors closing years ago, the Harts for Hardware slogan is still visible from York Street, on the Charles Street-facing building.

United Friendly Dispensary

A mortar and pestle atop the old St John Street pharmacy is still visible today, a throwback to its roots.

It began as United Friendly Dispensary in 1879. It was operated by an associate of freemasonry, The Friendly Societies.

Through this system, members were able to access basic medicines, in the days before healthcare.

The Cleavers

For some generations, this building will always be known as Cleavers.

Today, the corner building on the intersection of Brisbane and Charles streets is home to fashion retailer Country Road.

It started its life in the 1840s as a hotel called the Bull’s Head. It passed through many retail hands until becoming a hardware store under the ownership of the Scarr family.

But it was in the early 1900s that the Cleaver brothers – George and Fred – took over the store, and gave it the iconic motif that its facade still bears today.

Cleavers stayed at the site until 1991, when it was bought by John Bushby and moved to Prospect.

Chickenfeed moved into the site in 1992, and closed 11 years later.