1821 Info 1c1: Caleb Crompton
His life in Van Diemen's Land - 'Springdale'/Springvale

Hoverbox Photo Gallery - Spring Vale yesterday and today
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1. The front elevation of Trafalgar by John Richardson GLOVER circa 1840
2. Spring Vale photographed circa 1920
3. Springvale 2011 ? Ruralco Property, Launceston, with permission
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Spring Vale by John Glover circa 1840 - 25kB jpg Spring Vale by John Richardson Glover circa 1840 - 25kB jpg Spring Vale photographed circa 1920 - 27kB jpg Spring Vale photographed circa 1920 - 27kB jpg Springvale 2018 - 43kB jpg Springvale 2018 - 43kB jpg
Source: John Richardson Glover 'Sketchbook of Evandale', The John Glover Society Inc., Launceston, 2003

Glover describes the buildings at Spring Vale as convict dwellings. Lynette Louis, of Evandale Historical Society Inc, reported that, in 1821, Barclay employed ten convicts and one free man. (By email 09 May 2019). Perhaps the employment of one 'freeman' continued through to 1843.

There are a plethora of accounts and anecdotes that the Lake River region of Caleb's era - particularly during his time there - was a pretty scary place. It seems that there was quite a spate of criminal raids on farms in the area by those who'd been freed from the penal establishments and clearly returned with vigour to their old ways. Typically, this would involve holding the homesteaders hostage for a day or two, stealing food clothing and general supplies, then leaving before the police arrive. While there is not much mention of murder or serious assault, threats were aplenty. A photograph of the hatch is shown in a future slide show.

Springvale buildings

Before 1920





Stables built. Boggy site well prior to 1920.

Office demolished for silos.

Remains of shed visible made from recycled old and new bricks. Approximately 5m from Dawson's hut towards the creek.

Machinery shed built.

Dawson's huts demolished. Footings visible with remains of iron artefacts (used from c.1920 to c.1988 as farm shed) and bricks. 5.4m x 5.8m approximately.

Kiln obvious until recently.
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Springvale c.1836

Springvale convict settlement - 109kB jpg
Above: Convict settlement overlaid on a modern aerial view Source: Evandale to Launceston Water Scheme - Permanent Registration May 2011 p.13
2A Site of Miners' Hut 2B Blacksmith Shop 2C Convict Huts 2D Site of Oven?
2E Site of Office 2F Overseer's Hut 2G Dawsons Hut 2H Site of Hay Sled
2J Kiln (Springvale) 2K Clay pits (Springvale) 2L Well  

William Dawson was a qualified surveyor appointed as Superintendant of Works to Alexander Cheyne RE.

A brief history of Springvale and the Springvale Tunnel


500 acres granted to Capt. Andrew Barclay. Property named Trafalgar. 100

Official launch of the Evandale to Launceston Water Scheme on the South Esk River downstream from Riverview by Governor Arthur. The Morven [Evandale] Convict Station established at Springvale providing accommodation for the convict workers, a brick kiln, gaol, store, office, hayshed, blacksmith shop and convict huts. Outlet for tunnel commenced nearby. When completed this would be approximately 1 mile in length.
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9-6-1836 Morven Convict Station had 115 men and Kings Meadows 132. Dawson was in charge of both stations.
9-6-1836 Morven Convict Station had 115 men and Kings Meadows 132. Dawson was in charge of both stations.
22-10-1836 Hobart Town Courier reports accident in the tunnel while two men blasting rock. One man, Buchanan, was killed instantly.
29-10-1836 Governor Arthur departs the colony and Cheyne as Director General provides a report on the progress of the Evandale to Launceston Water Scheme - 160 yards of tunnel driven, five miles of canal partly formed and pipes ordered from
6-1-1937 Lieutenant Governor Franklin arrives in Hobart from England.
2-2-1837 New Governor and official party, including Cheyne, visit Perth where the 600 foot (183m) freestone bridge was to be built, which was destroyed in the 1929 flood.
5/6-02-1837 Lieutenant Governor Franklin taken to inspect Windmill Hill and the cut for water works at Morven tunnel and Morven Convict Station.
23-3-1837 A very windy day. Convict huts razed by fire at Springvale It is thought that a spark from the blacksmiths shop in the strong NW wind reached the eight conjoined' timber huts which were backed up against the excavated hillside. They were totally destroyed. The huts had fireplaces which were constantly in use as miners worked eight hour shifts, sometime in water. Huts rebuilt on same site.
Late March 1837 Tunnel at Springvale abandoned; reasons are not recorded. Only 137m of tunnel had been excavated. Tunnel No. 2 commenced at Evandale. Henry Giffney who had been involved in planning the engineering side of the scheme became an overseer at the Morven tunnel. He had originally recommended that the water be taker near Gibsons Ford, upstream from Riverview. The Convict Station remained at Springvale. The men simply had to walk further.
28-10-1837 Reported that 76 convicts working on tunnel No. 2.
29-11-1837 Lieutenant Governor Franklin reports on bad signs in the economy. Morven Convict Station to be closed down, also Kings Meadows. Main reasons for the Water Scheme now to be abandoned were political and economic. Two huts left at Springvale when the party disbanded. (S. Harris p.62)
  Note: Convict Henry Gould, quarryman and well sinker, from Henl[e]y [in Arden] Warwickshire, worked on the water scheme.

With thanks the Stephanie Dean, the present resident of Springvale via Malcolm Dean and Stephanie Dean 2011

1821info1c1, sheet 4

Later occupants of Springvale

1853-1859 William and Anne Jane Atkins at Springvale (five children baptised at St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Evandale).
1861-1863 James/John and Maria Atkins of Springvale (two children baptised).
1867 Directory. William and Anne Atkins, farmers of Riverview.
1891-1892 James Alexander (Jim) Atkins, son of William and Anne, and Diana Amelia (Di) Stancombe, of Springvale. Two children baptised. The couple later moved to Riverview and then to Deloraine.
Late 1890s Chugg/McKibben family at Springvale for over 100 years.
Late 1930s Rae and June Chugg, daughters of Frank, attending Broad-land House School in Launceston, catching train each morning.
March 1983 Death of Frank Chugg, aged 97 years, Main Road, Western Junction.
May 1988 Death of Reginald Joseph McKibben, aged 74, husband of June (n' Chugg).
c.2007 June McKibben moves into rest home in Launceston. Mrs McKibben sold the property for $A855,000?.
14-11-2008 Auction of Springvale. No sale. Paul Willows later acquires the property.
21-4-2011 Malcolm Dean purchases Springvale, 397 Evandale Road, Western Junction, Tasmania 7212 at $A855,000?
2019 Estimated A$750,000 - A$1,200,000 with a low confidence rate.

Modern Springvale

In 2011, the estate agents Ruralco of Launceston wrote 'Springvale Homestead is nestled beneath the hills in a very private position on the outskirts of Evandale. This character home of some 22m2 supports approximately 203 acres of beautiful undulating farm land with expansive views over Relbia and White Hills to mountain ranges. The property has previously produced poppies, fodder peas, and cereals and is currently running cattle and sheep and growing hay. There are various outbuildings including a shearing shed, machinery shed and lockable workshop, a permanent creek runs through the property with possible dam sites. There is a Convict constructed water tunnel Circa 1830 which runs from the Evandale township which was to be Launceston's water supply. This property provides development potential having direct access to rail yards and within 500m of Launceston Airport.'

Hoverbox Photo Gallery - Springvale for sale 2011
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Ruralco Property, Launceston with permission

1. Rear of property 2. Grazing land 3. Grazing beef  
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Springvale rear 2011 - 49kB jpg Springvale rear 2011 - 49kB jpg Springvale grazing 2011 - 51kB jpg Springvale grazing 2011 - 51kB jpg Springvale beef 2011 - 36kB jpg Springvale beef 2011 - 36kB jpg
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Hoverbox Photo Gallery - Springvale 2022
Richard Lund: April 2022
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1. Front view and drive
2. Rear view and name plate
3. The location of convict the settlement
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Springvale front view - 52kB jpg Springvale front view - 52kB jpg Springvale rear view - 49kB jpg Springvale rear view - 49kB jpg Springvale convict settlement - 56kB jpg Springvale convict settlement - 56kB jpg

The third photo is the area next to the current farm house where there were stone footings of timber buildings that are no longer there. This is where the convicts were housed and other work buildings were located.

The historic Springvale water tunnel


The site of a former early 19th Century convict barracks, now a farming property known as Springvale, was investigated to examine a convict-excavated tunnel that once formed part of an aborted water supply known as 'The Scheme'. Initially conceived in 1834, the 1836-8 Evandale to Launceston Water Scheme (ELWS) was a visionary plan devised to supply water to Launceston from the South Esk River on a gradient that would allow gravity to deliver a continuous flow of water to the city. David Scott the Registration manager at Heritage Tasmania, said the project was still admired by modern day engineers and used ancient technology.

'They were using the same fall of 16 inches per mile or 1:3964 gradient as Caesar's aqueducts 2000 years ago, because the Romans had worked out this was the best gradient to supply water without causing erosion problems. [?] The plan was to divert water from the South Esk to the catchment of the North Esk.'
The tunnel components of The Scheme were to occur beneath the present village of Evandale and comprised two separate attempts at tapping in to the South Esk River around Springvale Creek. A single aqueduct was thence to follow a meandering line through the landscape from Springvale Creek to Windmill Hill in Launceston, where it could be networked throughout the city by pipelines. The southern section of the aqueduct route currently passes through rural farmland to the east of Launceston Airport whilst the northern section of the route has been substantially built over by the subsequent C19th and C20th urban development of south- eastern Launceston.

Mr Scott continued,

'It was an ambitious project, and only possible because they had free labour in the form of convicts. Perhaps the trickiest part was tunnelling through the hillside at Evandale to get to the South Esk River. The ELWS is the largest industrial archaeological convict site in Tasmania. It was one of the most ambitious engineering projects of the convict era.'

Construction of the ELWS was never completed. Prior to its abandonment, work had progressed simultaneously on numerous elements of The Scheme. As a result, current evidence of The Scheme comprises a range of archaeological features sited at intermittent locations along the proposed 22km route; some which are continuous features and some are remote from any other feature.

Historical background

The ELWS is of heritage significance in a national context in demonstrating the engineered design and construction of a major public utility during the 1830s. Of specific relevance is the scale and complexity of the design, a 22km network of tunnels and open [contour following] aqueducts to bring water to a major township (Launceston) for both domestic use and to power mills, the use of tunnels to transfer water from one catchment into another, and the use of convict labour which played a major and essential role in the construction of public infrastructure across Australia during the early nineteenth century.
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It comprises a range of engineering features and the broader infrastructure of workers camps, roads, bridge, wells and brickworks. It demonstrates wider aspects of undertaking major capital works in the early nineteenth entury, and aspects of convict management including penal philosophies of work programs that isolated and separated convicts from the established communities. Construction of The Scheme demonstrates the growth, and growing service needs, of Launceston as the major centre in northern Tasmania at this time, whilst the process of The Schemes inception, development and abandonment reflects aspects of the political and administrative environment within colonial Tasmania and early steps toward Launceston becoming self-administered.

In the first 25 years of settlement at Launceston, fresh water for domestic use had to be carted into the city or obtained from wells containing poor quality water. Water was generally drawn from the North Esk River, which was sometimes brackish, or from Cataract Gorge or the South Esk River, both of which were difficult to access and therefore expensive. Following a petition to Lieutenant Governor Arthur, a decision was made, in the early 1830s, to construct the ELWS.

It was intended that this water scheme would supply urban services in Launceston, as well as irrigation services for land to the east of the water course. The water was also intended to drive a number of water wheels at seven mill sites. In November 1833, the Legislative Council pledged the sum of one thousand pounds for the provision of a clean water supply to Launceston.

In 1834, Lieutenant Governor Arthur appointed Deputy Surveyor Captain Edward Boyd to 'direct the necessary operations' (Harris, S., 1988, p.18). Captain Boyd surveyed the area, assisted by the architect/engineer/surveyor convict James Blackburn 1, an 'astute judge of engineering matters' (Harris, S., 1988, p.22), seconded from his usual tasks to assist with solving Launceston's water problems.

Construction of the Springvale Convict Station

Preliminary work began on the southern section of The Scheme in 1836, with the construction of the Morven Convict Station near Springvale.
[The] Morven Convict Station [is] believed to be the site of the primary construction camp for two convict gangs and for the two tunnels and southern end of the aqueduct. One gang to excavate a tunnel through the hillside to an intake dam or portal on the South Esk River, and the other to commence excavating the aqueduct northward toward Launceston. The station is situated adjacent to the Springvale tunnel mouth. Historical plans depict a range of accommodation huts for convict miners, overseers huts, a blacksmiths shop, office, brick kiln, gaol, store, hay shed and food store. [See map and aerial view] Supposedly designed to accommodate up to 110 convicts, Harris contends there were up to 300 men at this site over the two years of workings (Harris, S., 1988 p.80). Bricks were manufactured on this site for the later Morven Tunnel at Evandale. In 1837 a fire destroyed part of the convict accommodation at the station, but this was presumably rebuilt as the site continued to be used for the scheme. Dawsons 2 hut at Springvale was demolished in 1988 but footings remain on the site.
Archaeological evidence remains of some of these structures along with some evidence of clay pits and site of brick kiln(s). The general area of the camp is likely to include artefacts from the construction period, although there is some disturbance from an early C20th farming complex being built across the general area. These remains at Springvale, including the spaces between the known features, are extensive and help to reveal information about the people who made up the early settlement (engineer, surveyor, convicts (miners), oversees, soldiers, free settlers 3 ) and their social organisation. The site has the potential for further surface and subsurface material.

Construction of the tunnels

At Springvale, work on both the tunnel and aqueduct commenced in March 1836. By October the tunnel had been driven 160 yards and about five miles of aqueduct formed from the southern end of the aqueduct (Harris, S., 1988, p.50).
Between 1836 and 1837 the Springvale Tunnel, a short and simple adit, was excavated horizontally into the hillside (open and predominantly intact in 2009) from where the tunnel from the South Esk was proposed to emerge at Springvale and proceed in an open aqueduct to Launceston. No evidence of a dam or adit at the South Esk end of the tunnel is known to exist. The South Esk River at Evandale is 146m
1821info1c1, sheet 7
above sea level. The Outlet at the first tunnel at Springvale is 142.5m above sea level, and the Outlet at the second tunnel at Morven is 145.5m above sea level.
In February 1837, the newly appointed Lieutenant Governor Franklin inspected Windmill Hill, the aqueduct on which construction was well-advanced, the Morven Convict Station and Springvale Tunnel (Harris, 1988, p. 53).
'At a few points along the route they put steps into the channels where they let it drop 10 or 15 meters. What they were planning there were mills and waterwheels so there would be power at various points.' [Scott]

In August 2002 Mineral Resources Tasmania made a brief examination of the 160m Springvale Tunnel running into the hillside and produced a report that focussed on the archaeology.

The Springvale tunnel is cut into the upper slopes of the north face of a low rounded hill. The current entrance to the tunnel is a cutting extending about six metres into the face of the hill but may originally have been a true portal. Collapses of the unstable weathered basalt at the entrance, and recent excavations to expose the mouth of the tunnel, have obscured the true form of the original entrance. It is unknown whether there was any ground support timbering at the tunnel entrance.
Ninety of the 160 metres, which trends at approximately 175 degrees magnetic at the entrance, was examined. The rock layers are basically flat lying, although they have a very gentle dip to the NNW. The mudstone-basalt contact thus gradually rises in the walls of the drive the further it penetrates into the hill.
Hoverbox Photo Gallery - Springvale water system
Richard Lund: April 2022
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1. A vertical shaft into the tunnel in the front yard of the house
2. The entrance to the tunnel, then the current farm house
3. Marker plaque detailing the tunnels significance
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Mount Lyell's open cut mine - undated - 55kB jpg Mount Lyell's open cut mine - undated - 55kB jpg Mount Lyell's eleven smelters 29 June 1902 - 22kB jpg Mount Lyell's eleven smelters 29 June 1902 - 22kB jpg Mount Lyell's Cos smelterc.1900 - 42kB jpg Mount Lyell's Cos smelterc.1900 - 42kB jpg
Springvale water system map - 115kB jpg
Above: Springvale water system map Source: Richard Lund
1821info1c1, sheet 8

By the shaft is a second plaque showing a map of the proposed system. The text reads:

The Convict Built Evandale to Launceston Water System 1836-1838

This vertical shaft forms part of the 16000 yard (1.5km) long tunnel passing under Evandale
which was intended to supply water to Launceston from the South Esk River.
After passing through the tunnel, water was to flow through a 12 mile (20km) long open
channel to Windmill Hill in Launceston.
This shaft, the deepest of 9 has a depth of approximately 80 feet (24m) and a diameter of 7 feet (2.1m)
Its purpose was to enable soil and rocks to be excavated from the tunnel line and to provide ventilation.
The project was constructed by convicts during the period 1836-1838, but was never completed.
More detailed information is available at the/ Evandale Community Centre, 18 High Street, Evandale
Restoration work was officially opened by the Premier, The Hon. J. Bacon MHA
on 17 October 2001

Hoverbox Photo Gallery - Springvale Creek and Trafalgar land
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1. Gated tunnel entrance
2. View near tunnel mouth showing weathered roof rock and floor debris
3. Whitewash marker number and pick marks
4. Approximately 70m in showing the square profile, the lower mudstone and upper basalt
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Springvale tunnel entrance - 60kB jpg Springvale Creek at Western Junction - kB jpg Springvale tunnel mouth - 42kB jpg Springvale tunnel mouth - 42kB jpg Springvale tunnel graffiti - 43kB jpg Springvale tunnel graffiti - 43kB jpg Springvale tunnel square profile - 37kB jpg Springvale tunnel square profile - 37kB jpg
The tunnel is basically square in cross section measures approximately 1.7m wide by 1.5m high. The tunnel dimensions, closest to the entrance, have changed because the unstable weathered basalts have collapsed in places. Material that has sloughed off the roof is now piled centrally in the drive floor.
Deeper into the tunnel, beyond the depth where plant roots can penetrate [?] and where there is less weathering of the basalt, the tunnel is in remarkably good condition and has presumably changed little since it was first excavated. Only very small amounts of material have fretted from the walls and ceiling of the drive and the floor is mostly clean. Approximately 50mm of clear water and a thin veneer of silty mud cover the floor. The walls are clean and dry and there is no dust covering them.
The tunnel has been driven along the contact between a layer of light khaki brown in colour and finely bedded Tertiary terrestrial mudstone forming the floor and dark greenish grey basalt 4 forming the roof. [?] Lowering the floor of the tunnel by one metre would have placed the entire excavation in mudstone with the solid basalt as the roof, making a very stable tunnel. The most likely place for the excavation spoil is a tipping over a low hill now the platform for a small split timber and iron shearing shed.
The tunnel was excavated by convict labour and therefore is the product of human endeavour. The survey looked for evidence of how the excavation was done. Large numbers and expanses of pick marks are still to be seen which were thought to be from the systematic clean of the walls in preparation for a brick lining. Two white numbers, 50 and 80, are thought to be survey distances datum points. At each number is a large splotch of wax thought to be mountings for candles. As there is no recollection of the tunnels being surveyed in the last 70 years, except perhaps as a World War 2 air raid shelter, these significant marks may be Royal Engineer marks from the 1830s.
Excavation of the very hard upper layer basalt would have hampered, if not prevented, hand excavation. Perhaps boring of a couple of holes and firing of the face would have been necessary to loosen the basaltic ground for excavation by pick and shovel. Such bore holes may be seen in the final tunnel face. It is also possible that the tunnel was excavated by digging out the lower soft mudstone layer by hand, and then dropping the basalt into the created void to be cleared by pick and shovel.
1821info1c1, sheet 9
The firing of black powder charges takes experience and skill. Boring a face by 'hammer and tap' techniques is not an easily learnt skill and requires a team of two or three men: one man held the drill steel and rotating it a quarter turn between strikes of the hammer and one or two men with sledge hammers striking the end of the held steel in sequence as it is turned. If this system was employed in the tunnel, it suggests that whilst unskilled convict removed the rubble, skilled miners, [perhaps Cornish], were involved in the tunnel excavation. Further professionalism is shown by the use of 'cousin jack' picks, chipping and trimming the rougher edges from the walls to smooth the tunnel walls and back. The careful finishing of the walls may also have been part of the preparation of the plan for the tunnel walls to be brick lined.
Reliba aqueduct - 51kB jpg Left: The convict built Relbia aqueduct
In 1837 a second tunnel, the 1400 yards (1,280m) Morven [Evandale's old name] Tunnel adit was excavated horizontally into the hillside from where the tunnel from the South Esk was proposed to emerge. A line of nine vertical shafts at approximately 150m intervals were built to relieve pressure but also allowed simultaneous workings from both faces of the shafts. The northern tunnel mouth or outlet has collapsed to leave only a shallow and overgrown trench. The tunnel itself is believed to have been entirely lined with brick with one complete s haft of a diameter of 1.06-2.13m is 24m deep.
The Springvale Tunnel was abandoned in favour of an alternative route further east, near the latter-day Evandale Railway Station (Evandale History Society Inc., n.d.). The reason for the change is unknown, though it is likely that the original tunnel became too difficult because of the nature of the rock through which it is cut. The Cornwall Chronicle noted that there were many deaths from blasting (CC 22.11.36). The tunnel had not needed to be lined nor shored which, in conjunction with the fact it remains open 170 years later, suggests the rock strata is dense and stable thus difficult to cut through with the available technology and workers.

Heritage listing

The ELWS is the largest industrial archaeological convict site in Tasmania. It was one of the most ambitious engineering projects of the convict era.

'It was quite special. The engineering is really quite remarkable. Although it was never completed and some people regard it as a folly for that, the folly was more a political outcome than the plan itself. Engineers that have looked at it in recent years say if it had been completed it would still be providing water for Launceston - the engineering is that robust'. [Scott]
1821info1c1, sheet 10
Various hypotheses have been proposed [for its termination] including the appointment of a new Governor with different priorities, a clash of personalities, a rise in the payment of convict labour, the transfer of more convicts to road works in 1838, and possibly conflict between the colonial administration, (based in Hobart) and the Launceston community over The Scheme. They were providing fresh water to Launceston, but they also planned to tax residents for the privilege. Supposedly part of this was to pay for the construction, but the council and community groups took umbrage at this - particularly as fresh water had just been provided to Hobart free of charge.'

The scheme was provisionally entered into the Heritage Register on 10 February 2010.

1 Blackburn later became an overseer of convict labour carrying out the water scheme. In 1841, based on the merits of his work throughout Van Diemen's Land, and praised by others involved, Blackburn received a free pardon.
2 William Dawson, was a convict overseer for The Scheme and subsequently became a well-known surveyor of Tasmania's remote areas and roads.
3 Including, around 1845, Caleb Crompton
4 The basalt was originally molten lava that flowed down a sediment-filled valley during a volcanic eruption and crystallised as it cooled.


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