Commercial Bank of Tasmania – Zeehan Branch buliding

Commercial Bank of Tasmania – Zeehan Branch

A building with many windows

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A branch of the Commercial Bank of Tasmania was opened at Zeehan in early 1891.

The Bank, the second oldest in Australia, commenced in Tasmania with the opening of a branch in 1838 at Macquarie Street, Hobart. Further branches followed at a number of centres in Tasmania, and when they sold the business in April 1921 to the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited, they were operating 18 branches.

At Zeehan the original Bank was burnt down in May 1896 in a major fire which also destroyed a number of small shops and the Bank of Australasia premises.

Plans to rebuild were soon got underway with Hobart architects, Ricards and Salier, asked to submit a plan. The building was of two stories high of brick and built in the Renaissance style. It was opened in July, 1899 at a cost of around £2,500.

Nearby Rosebery was rapidly growing and it was decided to provide banking facilities in the town. An agency of Zeehan was opened in the main street, (Agnes) on 19 October 1927, with trading hours being 12.15 to 2pm. each Wednesday.

Staff operating travelled by train to and from Zeehan. Bank stories relate that on several occasions, returning staff missed the train and were obliged to walk the 18-mile line back to Zeehan, carrying the bank cash and records in a backpack.

With mining declining and population moving, the numbers of people residing in Zeehan began to rapidly decrease from a peak of 10,000 and by 1963 was down to around 700 people.

Both Zeehan and Rosebery branches are now closed.

Written by Ivan Badcock – 19 April 2024

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