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CHARLES HENRY WATKINS, BUILDER & SUPERVISOR OF WORKS, HOBART

The cover is addressed to C.H. Watkins Esq, Builder, Glenhay, Brisbane St.,Hobart, Tasmania, and the blue ‘TWO PENCE’ stamp of New South Wales was cancelled with an OXLEY/ OC 9/ 1907/ N.S.W postmark. There was no evidence of the usual purple Tattersall’s receipt label but there was evidence of the usual puncture mark. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

A similar cover was found in David McNamee’s "Catalogue and Handbook of Tattersall’s Covers", (2006) on page 179, addressed to Mr. C. (–) Watkins, Builder, Brisbane Street, Hobart, Tasmania and the same blue 2d New South Wales stamp was cancelled BALRANALD/ OC 25/ 1907/ N.S.W. This cover neither had any evidence of the Tattersall’s label nor the puncture mark, and the reverse was not seen (Figure 2).

The following information was found on p. 179 in McNamee’s book: Charles Henry Watkins was a builder, and George Adams was an active real estate developer. Adams purchased many properties in Hobart in the 10 years he lived there. Adams built his home and hotel, Highfield Hall, on Murray Street, the Adams Building on Collins Street to house Tattersall and other companies, The Tasmanian Brewery at Elizabeth and Warwick Streets, and a number of smaller projects. Watkins would undoubtedly have met Adams and may have provided construction services to him. Charles Watkins died in 1926 at the age of 62.

There were only three examples of Charles Watkins variations of aliases, as found by McNamee, all in 1907, as shown in Figure 3.

Three articles were found in the Trove newspaper archives and the first was seen in The Mercury, (Hobart), 24 March 1918 on page 7 which was headlined MILLER’S CORNER FLOODS. Action Against the Corporation. Record Hobart Floods: "Mr. C.H. Watkins, builder who had accompanied the jury in inspecting the locus in quo, was recalled, and said the intake near Miller’s Corner was first a 15-inch pipe, further on 18-inch pipe , and then throttled down to a 12-inch pipe before the water got to the rivulet. When the sewer on Bidencup’s side, and at Lord’s corner side of Murray-street got fully charged, the surplus water must back up towards the plaintiff’s premises". It was obvious from the rest of the information that Watkins was acting as an expert witness in a property flooding case.

The Mercury (Hobart), 29 November 1919, page 11 headlined COURT OF GENERAL SESSIONS. Queensborough Sewer Case. Lyons Vs. Hobart Corporation: "Charles Henry Watkins, builder and supervisor of works, said that the last 35 years he had dealt with properties, and had formed opinions of the city and suburban properties" and he went on and discussed a property of Mr. Lyons and Mr. George Adams ( thus confirming that he had known the latter in his capacity of supervisor of works.

The Mercury (Hobart), 11 February 1925, page 5 headlined SALE OF PROPERTY. Breach of Contract Alleged. Verdict for the Plaintiff. The article included: "Charles Henry Watkins, land valuer, of Hobart, said that he had had many years of experience, and knew the old stone house belonging to Mr. Dodge. He inspected it on Saturday morning and he considered the value about £300 -£320 for the front block of land, £30 for the other strip of land, £10 for fencing, etc. and nothing at all for the dwelling. He thought that the Council inspectors would probably condemn it if they saw it."

I could not find any biographical data for Charles Watkins, but it was obvious that he had a long work history as a builder, works supervisor and land valuer, as well as an expert witness in 3 legal cases.

 
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