The Two Lymingtons of Tasmania

Hampshire, UK Place Names in Australia
by (Michael) Ian Byard, MA in Maritime History (Exeter) BA (Hons)

The name Lymington in Tasmania has had something of a chequered career as at one time there were two such places, and both of them named after their counterpart on the edge the Solent and New Forest, Hampshire, UK.

I will therefore call them Lymington (1) and (2). The first one was situated in the Tasmanian County of Cornwall and lay beside a river with the grandiose title of the "River Nile" and was about twenty miles from Launceston. This was, and still is, a tributary of’ the South Esk River and is situated in the North East part of the state.

The village was formed by one James Cox, the local magnate of "Clarendon", in about 1850 and named by him "after the seaport town in Hampshire," This being mentioned in a privately printed history of the Cox family. In 1853 he gave 200 acres of land to endow the chapel, he built for the district which was named the Church of ’St. Peter’. It was used, originally as a chapel and a school. An inspector of Schools who visited the village, in June 1853 found nineteen children attending the school and declared the premises adequate but that the supply of books "was poor and teaching indifferent. " The childrens appearance were neat and clean and their discipline good. A weekly fee was paid to a retired Colour Sergeant - one Mr.Johnson, who had taken on the role of ‘Master. His wife attended the school three days each week to teach needlework. Two major things, however, were missing - there was no toilet and no kitchen. The building functioned for many years as a school on weekdays and a church on Sundays.

The Tasmanian Gazetteer of 1871 gives some interesting information on the village stating "Fishing village situated on River Nile - 41 degrees 39' south, 147 degrees 22' east. River well stocked with Trout and Blackfish. Postal village in rural municipality of Evondale, in the electoral district of Morven." At this time there was one flour mill, in the village and the nearest township - Evondale - was about seven miles away.

Access to Lymington was by way of stagecoach service three times a week and there was a daily mail delivery.

Members of the public who wished to quench their thirst with something stronger than water or tea could do so at the only hotel, "The Nile". For people with goods to be carried there were the services of the two licensed Carriers who had four horse wagons which plied the 20 mile distance between Lymington and Launceston.

The fishing industry must have had a boost because in 1894 the new edition. of "Cooks Guide Book to Tasmania" revealed that the river was now stocked with Blackfish, Eels, Native Herring and English Brown Trout. By this time the population had reached 80 persons and there were now two churches "a primitive Methodist Chapel and an Episcopalian church."

Also about this time the Education Department, decided to build a school and so the Chapel was at last used for its primary function of religious worship. In early 1893 renovations were started and a chancel, vestry and tower were added, paid for from an endowment left by James Cox - who had died in 1866. On St. Peters day, of the same year, Bishop Montgomery, consecrated the building and James Cox was remembered by a Commemorative tablet in his name. An earlier attempt to build a new church in 1870 had been thwarted by difficulties between the Synod, Cox’s trustees and the Archdeacon and Rector.

The town underwent an amendment to its name by being called Lymington ‘North, due to to the fact that confusion arose between this and the other town south of of Hobart. This confusion apparently continued for many years until in 1910 it was decided to change the name from Lymington North to Nile, by which name it is known today.

Lymington harbour also known as Copper Alley Bay.The second Lymington previously referred to, above, is now the only one in Tasmania and is situated in beautiful countryside south of Hobart and is right in the heart of what was the apple growing district of the Huon Valley. The town lies on the banks of a bay about four miles from Cygnet which itself is part of the Huon River. In "Bailliere’s Tasmanian Gazetteer and Road Guide 1877" it states " Lymington - (County Buckingham) is a village on the Huon River at Port Cygnet, 45 miles S.W. of Hobart Town"

Like the other town this was named after its counterpart but the original records, showing who was responsible for so naming it, have long since been destroyed. It is known, however, to have been given its present name in the early 1840’s as previously it was known as Copper Alley Bay. In 1845, due to trouble with escaped convicts, a probation station was established and land was cleared and roads opened up. This was much resented by a local landowner, one Thomas Wilson, who wrote a letter of complaint to the Lt. Governor of Tasmania seeking damages in "having to give up his house capable of accommodating 50 men", for the party arriving to man the station.

In the early days prior to 1840 the area had been mainly settled by Irish settlers, who cleared the heavy timber and transported it to Hobart by boat. The land was turned into farmlets growing potatoes and other vegetables.

Gold was found there in 1877, however it was not in quantity and abortive lode -mining was carried out in 1898-99 and was played out by 1902. In that period the field only yielded 3000 ounces.

Near Lymington. By 1891, however, orchards were springing up, also there was quite a lot of river traffic in the area. The Union Steamship Co. of New Zealand "Guide To Tasmania", dated 1891, shows the village of Lymington - "In the county of Buckingham situated on the Port Cygnet Bay." Cooks "Guide Book To Tasmania" 1894 edition gives the information that " there are 4 steamers a week from Hobart to Port Cygnet via the Channel ports (D’estrecasteau Channel) of Oyster Cove, Peppermint Bay, Long Bay, Gordon, Garden Island and Lymington".

In 1903, however, fruit was the main produce with the Weekly Courier of 4th July 1903 noting ‘ in the Western side of the bay is Lymington, originally an old probation station, now a flourishing fruit and general farming district’. Lymington was sending apples to Hobart and later, as part of the general export of fruit from the Huon Valley, overseas to Britain, where as a boy the author remembers eating Tasmanian apples bought from the local greengrocer in Lymington (Hants.) High Street and it would be nice to think that they came from there.

There is good swimming to be had and one of the popular beaches was given the intriguing name of Drip Beach.

Unlike its Hampshire counterpart, which was a Borough in its own right, Tasmania’s Lymington is part of the municipality of Cygnet and up until 1967 contained many small holdings of approximately 50 acres each. It had three churches, Roman Catholic, Church Of England, and Methodist, as well as many houses and shops. In 1967 came the dreadful and distastrous bushfires which raced down on the town and almost completely wiped it out. Something like 27 houses were destroyed in the fire as well as the Church of England and Methodist churches and many orchards were ruined.

Lymington town sign. In 1972 Lymington consisted of one shop the Roman Catholic Church and about seven homes. Many families moved out, not being able to continue, and ravaged areas were bought up and incorporated into larger holdings, so that today Lymington is hardly a hamlet, but instead has become a district.

I visited the the hamlet in May 2003 which does still have a few houses, but its main claim to local fame is the small bay or harbour bearing its name and the large Lymington sign. Friends of mine, who live not far away in Glaziers Bay, took me there and I photographed them next to the sign. It is quite hilly but the countryside is beautiful and very English and there, and the surrounding area, now supports a mixture of farming, small vinyards and in the Huon river and bays fish are farmed. Sadly, though, it is now little more than a name on the map

Of the two places in Tasmania to bear the name the second one is the more appropriate due to it being on a large river with an outlet to the ocean. Its Hampshire counterpart is, of course, situated on its own river which bears its name and leads out into the Solent.

January 2011 I received this photo from Mike with the note:- photo is of the Lymmington Methodist Church - closed when new church opened in Cygnet ie. early 1950's. I have been told that the old church was move to Lymmington at some time. Am now trying to find out more - when and where from ?

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