The Bank of Australasia in Cameron Street, Launceston had an imposing presence.
Next door was the 1830 store built for Henry Reed, now Macquarie House while the Commercial Bank occupied Henry Reed’s former home, and across Charles Street were the Bennell buildings.
Established in 1835, the Bank of Australasia opened for business at Launceston on the corner of Cameron and Wellington streets on January 1, 1836.
In October 1856 The Launceston Examiner described the new building proposed for Cameron Street.
Designed by architect WH Clayton and erected by ex-convict Phillip Miller in 1857, the freestone building had two porches at the front. One led to the banking chamber on the ground floor and the other to the four-bedroom manager’s residence upstairs.
Between the porches was an elegant cast-iron railing and a lamp-post on the footpath. A central pediment above the cornice displayed the Royal Arms cut in stone surrounded by '1835, The Bank of Australasia, Incorporated by Royal Charter.'
At the back was a store, cellar, kitchen and scullery with servants’ apartments above. Behind the main building was a three-stall stable, coach house, harness room and hay loft.
In the 1850s the best part of town was Cameron Street, but 30 years later it was Brisbane Street.
With business booming, the Bank of Australasia moved into a new larger building on the south-west corner of St John and Brisbane streets, opening on June 25, 1885.
The Launceston Examiner reported the removal of the treasure from the old building to the new as “unostentatiously effected ... The gold and silver was brought out in bags and placed in a float that was in waiting, the only persons present being two or three of the bank officials.”
The manager continued to live in the old building until the state government purchased it in 1914 as the site for a new courthouse.
But with wounded soldiers returning from the Great War, the Defence Department converted it into a Base Hospital.
It was not ideal for a military hospital, with The Examiner describing it as sombre and depressing with high barred windows and no verandah where the men could enjoy fresh air and sunshine.
But all arrangements were completed for the reception of soldiers who returned on September 11, 1915.
In April 1916 it became the 12th Australian General Hospital, being handed back to the government in February 1920 for use by various government departments.
It was demolished in 1970 to make way for Civic Square.