Salamanca Place, with its now world-famous market, is situated in Sullivans Cove, where Hobart had its origins in February 1804. Lieutenant David Collins RN settled his pioneers and Hobart was founded. Much of the land at Salamanca has been reclaimed, allowing the Georgian sandstone buildings facing north to be used as warehouses for the early merchants of Hobart Town. These warehouses stored anything from grain, wool, whale oil, apples and imported goods. Salamanca was named after the Battle of Salamanca (Spain), a victory won by the Duke of Wellington during the Napoleonic wars. It was also the home of Salamanca Quarry, later to become Salamanca Square.
The area now has a history of 180 years. Convict labour was used to reclaim land in 1830. Today it is a place ringed by craft stores, shops, cafes, art galleries, live theatre, pubs and restaurants, where Hobartians and visitors gather throughout the day and evenings. The convicts constructed the warehouses and two ordnance stores. Most of the warehouses were completed by the 1840s. They also worked on a quarry, and as the rock was hard dolerite (bluestone), gunpowder was used for blasting. Convict transportation ceased in 1852, but being close to the wharves, Princess and Murray Street Pier, Salamanca continued to be a place for storage and business. It witnessed wild scenes at times, with the various inns being patronised by notorious characters and many sailors.
Salamanca Quarry Square has become a focal point, and also contains prestige apartments called The Mews, which overlook the impressive centre. The square was developed by John Fugslang (a third generation builder) in the mid 1990s. Having a vision, he purchased the site, which is accessed from a wide entrance from Salamanca Place to the square or through Kennedys Lane. The project was designed by Hobart architects, Heffernan Button Voss, and was completed in late 1997. One of the major business concerns located at the quarry was that of Kennedy & Sons, the founder being Robert Kennedy (1834-1903). They operated the Derwent Ironworks and Engineering Company, located on the levelled quarry area and built in the 1830s. The last of the Kennedys to operate was John Kennedy (1912-2000), husband of the first female mayor of Hobart, Doone. The life of the quarry came to an end in 1949. Kennedy & Sons had quarried and crushed a huge amount of the rock there for road metal and later for concrete production. Many of Hobart’s roads have been paved by material obtained from the quarry. It was a major operation, with the Kennedys acquiring five properties, including three in Salamanca Place. Another business involved with the quarry was The Elliot Bros, the founder being James Elliott. They were contracted by the Kennedys to cart the crushed rock, a great deal of which was done by horse and cart.
Their last involvement with the quarry was with the use of their cranes by the developer John Fulgsang, during the construction of the complex. Another important industry in Hobart was jam production, and one of the early companies was W. D. Peacock & Co., which was established in Salamanca Place, adjacent to Salamanca Quarry. They also exported Tasmanian apples. In 1927, jam production at the Peacock factory ceased.
Over the years, society, its needs and lifestyle changed and the future of Salamanca was pondered upon. It had an illustrious heritage and now it was time for a new image, while respecting the past. The concept of a market arose.
The first Salamanca Market was held on Saturday 22 January 1972. Alderman Dr John Clemente was the main protagonist within the council, and chaired the council’s Salamanca Place market sub-committee. His contribution has recently been honoured with a commemorative plaque on the building where the Maldini Café Restaurant is. The Lord Mayor Ron Soundy opened the market and it was an instant success. Two days later Dr Clemente said that it contained, “a lot of colour, a lot of people, a lot of informality, young and old, tourists and locals.”
The National Council of Women of Tasmania (NCWT) is also considered to be one of the instrumental groups that helped establish Salamanca Market in 1972. The president of the group in 1971/1972 was Mrs Clemente (the wife of Alderman Clemente).
That was more than 40 years ago, and the summary as described by Dr Clemente is much the same as it was in 1971. The only difference is that it has grown and has become one of the largest and best-known markets in the country.
Salamanca Market is open every Saturday from 8am until 3pm except when it occasionally falls on the 25th April (Anzac Day) or 25th December (Christmas Day) in which case the market will be held the following day; the Sunday of that particular weekend.
Stallholders generally begin packing up at around 2.30pm, so to experience the best of the market, it is suggested that one should arrive prior to noon.
Please allow yourself at least a couple of hours, as there are 300 stalls to see.
Gratitude for this article is expressed to Anthony R. Hope and his book, “A Quarry Speaks”.
Words: Reg. A. Watson