Development application advertised for works at A.W. Birchall & Sons building in Launceston

Plans to refurbish what was once Australia’s oldest bookshop have been lodged with the City of Launceston.

A development application for works at the building will encompass the original Birchalls as well as the later additions, according to architect Michael Jirku from MJ Architecture.

“Works are planned to fully refurbish the inside of the building and redevelop the ground floor mall entry, as well as the rear access from the car park side,” he said.

“The original heritage facade on the mall side will be retained in full as will the remnant heritage features found internally on the first floor, which will become part of the feature of the first floor tenancy space.”

Mr Jirku said the plan was to create space for three tenancies but there was flexibility to incorporate a larger tenancy space which would then allow for only two.

Details on who the tenants could be were not yet available.

​The refurbishment  was designed to improve the flow and organisation of space and to create improved amenity.


Mr Jirku said the main goal was “to create new refurbished contemporary spaces while enhancing the heritage aspects of the building”.

”There are no planned alterations to the heritage facade, [the] first floor section above the roof canopy,” he said.

The A.W. Birchall & Sons building, that housed both Birchalls and Katie’s in the mall, was purchased in November after being in the Tilley family’s possession for nearly 60 years.

It was home to the country’s oldest bookstore, with a rich history dating back to November 1844.

It was opened on the Brisbane Street site by Samuel Tegg, who at the time said it had a “‘splendid assortment of books, school books, stationery, playing cards, perfumery, fancy goods and music’’.

Andrew W. Birchall became a partner in the business in 1866 and the name was changed to A.W. Birchall and Sons after his death in 1893.

After 173 years of trade Birchalls closed its doors to customers for the final time in February.