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Kerry Lodge Bridge Convict Station

  • Legacy Function Rooms 159 Macquarie Street Hobart, TAS, 7000 Australia (map)

John Dent OAM


John Dent graduated from the University of Tasmania in 1979 with a Surveying degree.  He was registered as a land surveyor in 1982 and became a partner in the surveying firm Campbell Smith, Phelps, Pedley in 1985.  He is currently a director in the state wide firm of PDA Surveyors and manages their Launceston office. 

 John also has extensive community involvement as a member of a number of historical societies, Launceston Rotary and is a past chairman and on the Board of the St Giles Society. He is President of the West Tamar Historical Society, past secretary of the Launceston Historical Society (LHS), chairman of the LHS Archaeology Group, is a founding member of the Tasmanian Family History Society, a committee member of the Friends of the Launceston Mechanics Institute and has written articles and chapters for many publications and given many talks and tours on the early history of northern Tasmania. He is a Paul Harris Fellow, an Honorary Fellow of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute and was awarded an OAM in 2006 for service to the community, particularly through a range of historical, service and rural youth organisations and to surveying.

Joshua Higgs Bridgehouse c1885

Joshua Higgs Bridgehouse c1885

The Kerry Lodge Bridge and Probation Station

By John Dent OAM

 The Kerry Lodge Bridge (or Strathroy or Spiky Bridge) was built by convict labour from 1834 to 1836. It is still in use as part of a public road on Hobart Road just south of Franklin Village on the outskirts of Launceston. Only the Richmond Bridge (1825) and the Ross Bridge (also 1836) are older. It is built of bluestone quarried on site just south of the bridge. The bridge station that housed the convicts is believed to be just south of the bridge. It became a Road Station, then a Probation Station then a convict hiring depot before falling out of use about 1847 giving it a life of about 13 years.

 Since then the site has been cleared and ploughed and the site has become lost. Prior to 2010 it was believed a stone ruin on top of a hill about 1km south of the bridge was the site of the convict station. The Launceston Historical Society Archaeology Group was formed at this time and after clearing, research and preliminary investigation an archaeological dig under Professor Eleanor Casella was conducted at that site. After finding it was most likely a stable or barn the search continued to find the site of the probation station.

 This paper will detail the history of the bridge and the probation station and follow the path to its re-discovery in 2018.