In the early days of the Australian colonies there was a desperate need for limestone.
There was none in Sydney, meaning they couldn't make mortar and had to lay bricks with mud.
Buildings could only be one storey and were prone to collapsing in storms.
However, limestone originally comes from shells, so William Paterson's discovery of a huge Aboriginal shell midden on the Hunter River in 1801 was a godsend, and supplemented lime imported from the settlement on Norfolk Island.
When Lt-Governor Paterson came to Tasmania in 1804, he found more huge middens at Beauty Point and Kelso which were dug up and roasted to make mortar used at George Town and Launceston.
No sign of them now remains, unfortunately.
Paterson still needed to find limestone and found an interesting deposit on Middle Arm in 1805, but it wasn't really limestone - more of a fossiliferous mudstone.
By 1816 though, when Governor Macquarie sent 71 tradesmen and labourers down to facilitate a big building program at George Town, Paterson decided to set up a government lime works at the site.
In 1820 they got lucky, finding true limestone nearby.
The works became a busy little village and relics can still be found close to the Auburn Rd Bridge near Beaconsfield.
At one time it was thought it might become a town and was named Lyttleton, but that never eventuated.
In 1833 the whole operation was leased to a Mr JK Murphy for £100, but became worthless when Robert De Little established the Tamar Lime Works on Middle Arm Creek in 1835.
De Little produced a top-quality product from extensive limestone and marble deposits.
In 1853 De Little sold out to his biggest customer, Gilbert Blyth, who had lime stores in Paterson and York streets. Blyth bought the old government lime works as well and merged the operations.
This gave the Tamar Lime Works access to the government wharf on Middle Arm.
Blyth expanded the operation, opening a new pit, then decided to sell.
The business was the major supplier to Launceston and highly regarded, though it had acquired competition from John Dally at York Town.
It was sold to an Evandale brickmaker named Tom King.
In a major shock in 1860, Launceston learned that King was suing Blyth for £5000 for fraud.
It seemed Blyth's new pit was located just outside the company's property - on crown land.
At trial Blyth admitted the error, but King's overseer then testified that King had been looking for a way to back out of the deal.
It was all settled for just £250 and the property returned to Blyth.
Blyth decided to migrate to New Zealand, but bad luck continued to dog him. His ship was tossed about in a storm in Bass Strait for six days, before he gave up and came home.