'Richmond, Tas. from Butcher's Hill', 1888 (ALMFA, SLT)
Originally inhabited by the Moomairremener people, the Richmond district was explored by surveyor James Meehan, who named the Coal River after the coal he found there. Land grants were given from 1808, and Richmond quickly became a rich agricultural area, Tasmania's major wheat-producing region. Sheep and cattle also flourished. A bridge over the Coal River, completed in 1825, facilitated travel to the east coast. A town grew up around it, a natural stopping place. In 1824, Lt-Governor Sorell proclaimed the township of Richmond, the name coming from David Lord's nearby property, Richmond Park, from which land was taken for the site. In 1825, Richmond was an integral part of Lt-Governor Arthur's system of police districts, with a gaol, courthouse, barracks and watch house. Businesses were established: inns, blacksmiths, saddlers, stockyards, tanneries, a market place, brick and lime kilns, a windmill and general stores. In 1835, Richmond was the third-largest district in Tasmania.
The end of the convict period and the loss of population to the gold rushes meant Richmond's importance lessened, and it remained a quiet agricultural district, its population much the same, about 1650, in 1862 and 1957. In 1861 it became a municipality, its second warden, Winston Churchill Simmons, serving a record 42-year term. By the 1950s Richmond looked dilapidated, but this lack of progress had preserved its colonial character. When tourism developed from the 1960s Richmond became one of Tasmania's major tourist centres, with its convict buildings and beautiful setting. The municipality amalgamated with Clarence in 1993.
Further reading: D Snowden, A thematic history of the cultural resources of the township of Richmond, Rosny Park, 2000; E Jones, Richmond, Richmond, 1973; K von Stieglitz, Richmond, [Evandale, 1953].