Dorset Terrace: 136-144 St John Street, Launceston, Tasmania

As far as terraces go, Launceston is definitely one of Australia’s most suprising cities.  Its inner streets could be straight out of inner Sydney or Melbourne, all in a city a tenth the size of Adelaide such was the popularity of this housing style during its boom period.  Despite all this, almost all prominent texts on the subject point to one example, Alpha Terrace (which will be posted in due course possibly due to its bizarre mix of Sydney and Melbourne idiosyncrasies), though in my personal opinion there are many more notable examples of the style, some on the same St John Street stretch, such as the spectacular heritage listed1 “Dorset Terrace”2 a row of five homes erected in 1888 and likely  named after Dorset county in south west England, possibly overlooked due to its self aggrandizing Melbourne style.

Mid terrace detail

The Italianate boom style typical of Melbourne’s Parkville is used to great effect here, employing rich polychromatic arrangement of rich brown bricks rarely seen elsewhere with a prominent mid terrace parapet featuring Palladian temple style pilastered triangular pediment capped by prominent finial and bearing the inscription of the name and date in addition (unusually) to the number of each house.  The  rich Victorian decoration continues with a parapet balustrade of linked circles, double brackets exploding into a double storey bullnosed verandah featuring alternating colour corrugated iron roof and heavy iron lace including a triple bay repeating arrangement of cast iron corinthian columns, deep frieze, brackets with double drops and patterns reminiscent of gothic tracery.  The party walls employ classical triglyphs and ball finials.

As mentioned, one of the most spectacular features of this terrace is the window dressing.  The large french double hung windows of the upper storey and ground floor Victorian four panel door and fanlight are flanked by zig-zag quoins of polychrome brick, while the arched windows at ground level feature strikingly banded voussoirs.

Dorset Terrace


  1. Launceston City Council Schedule 2 Heritage Listed properties
  2. National Trust of Australia (Tasmania) database

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