In 1826 the chartered brigantine Tranmere sailed into Circular Head. On board was cargo, stock and many of the first English settlers sent to run the newly established Van Diemen’s Land Company. From the cultured drawing rooms of the English gentry, to the wild and untamed lands that met them, the early settlers faced huge adversity as they battled to retain their civilised roots whilst adapting to the hardships of their new lives.
And so the township of Stanley gradually evolved. Sailors on tall ships continued to arrive in what was fast becoming a bustling port town. In 1849, the Ship Inn was built by the grandfather of Australia’s only Tasmanian born Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons, who recognised the lucrative opportunity of such an endeavour.
The melting pot of humanity that congregated within the walls of the inn has instilled upon it a richly poignant history. Many a weary sailor would have welcomed the revelry that awaited at the end of the right of way which led from the beach to the inn and still exists today.
As the inn weathered the passing of time it took on many persona’s. Licensees came and went throughout its 170 year history, adding their own depth of character. The game of skittles prevailed in the 1800’s and a large roller-skating rink was well patronised. At the turn of the century billiard rooms were erected next door alongside cold storage rooms… a convenience said to be taken up by the towns doctor to house the dearly departed prior to burial.
After trading as a pub for 150 years, the inn closed its doors in 1972 and gradually fell into disrepair until a local family saved it from demolition and made it their private home. With a long list of trading names behind it, the ‘Ship Inn’ was then resurrected as a guesthouse with its name reestablished as an homage to its origins.
The Ship Inn Stanley is now owned by Alastair and Kerry Houston, whose story began in Hobart where they met and lived for over a decade. Alastair is a landscaper and stonemason who grew up on Houston’s Farm, and Kerry worked in a management role and has an interest in interior design. They have four daughters ranging from university to primary school age who are based in Stanley and Hobart. Lured by the beauty of this special village they relocated to in 2018 and have enjoyed researching its history and restoring the Ship Inn Stanley.