The George Town Female Factory operated between c1822 and c1834. When it closed the inmates were removed to the newly opened Launceston Female Factory. One of the reasons the Factory was removed from George Town to Launceston was because of the problems with travelling to the Factory at George Town.
The following information about the factory has kindly been supplied by Diane Phillips.
The George Town Female Factory was originally built as a residence for the first chaplain in the north of Van Diemen's Land, the Reverend John Youl, and was subsequently used to house female convicts, then as the Police Office and Magistrate's Residence.
The Youl family finally moved into their new house in 1821 but by 1825 had moved back to Launceston.
The original female factory at George Town had been set up in a shed in the Lumber Yard. By March 1822 we hear that 'In the Factory at George Town, cloth from the coarse wool of the Colony, of very good fabric, is made: as are leather and shoes of excellent quality'.
When Youl moved to Launceston, his house was converted for the women.
Newspaper articles in 1832 and 1834 decry the very dilapidated state of the building with broken windows and doors hanging off their hinges. Other problems encountered were shortages of raw materials, machinery and food: unreliable supervision and, increasingly, a problem of overcrowding. In the end the women sent there rgarded a spell in the factory at George Town as something of a rest. In November 1834 a new Factory in Launceston was opened and the women were moved there.
In the mid 1830s the house was refurbished and used as the Magistrate's Residence and Police Office. The first magistrate to live there was G.S. Davies and later, from 1867 James Richardson. In January 1873 the house was again vacated, never again to hear convict women's tears or laughter, or the magistrate sternly admonishing some wrongdoer. The building was finally demolished in 1889.
A recent archaelogical investigation revealed the trenches from which the building's foundations were robbed for other buildings in the town.
For an account of female convicts from George Town Female Factory see Female Assigned Servants.
Travelling to the Factory
Female convicts sentenced to imprisonment in the George Town Female Factory were often sentenced in Launceston. To get to George Town they would travel by foot along the East Tamar or by boat up the Tamar River. The following article regarding an occasion when the women travelled by boat appeared in The Independent on 25 May 1831 (p.3 c.2).
An awful occurrence took place a few days since, in consequence of the horrible effects of "the dose." As a boat laden with a full cargo of women going down the river, to the factory, at George Town, was procedding on its way, two women, who had been previously indulging farther than was consistent with propriety, fell over the side of the boat, and came to an untimely end. An open boat we consider a very improper means of conveyance for women at any time, more especially for so great a distance as from hence to George Town.
Stories of women imprisoned at George Town Female Factory are featured in the Convict Women's Press book
Convict Lives at the George Town Female Factory