Yard 4 of the Cascades Female Factory contained the newly constructed Nursery Yard.
It also included a separate enclosed area housing the Matron’s Quarters and the Sub-Matron’s Quarters, and a self-contained room for messengers, whose duties included acting as couriers to Hobart Town.
Until 1851, matrons at the Cascades Female Factory were the wives of the Factory Superintendents.
From the earliest days, the matron’s duties included assisting the Superintendent in the care and control of the convict women incarcerated there.
In 1829, a year after the Factory opened, the Hobart Town Courier published a list of the matron’s duties:
The Matron.—The matron shall superintend such part of the employment of the woman as falls within the province of a female, and shall attend to such matters as could not be properly performed by the superintendent, and shall generally assist him in the care and control of the establishment.
She was responsible for giving instructions to the prisoners employed in task work and receiving their completed work.
She inspected the women in their cells at the daily morning muster to ensure that they were clean and properly dressed.
She also inspected the sleeping rooms daily to check the work of the wardswomen, who were responsible for cleanliness and order in those rooms.
Throughout the day, the matron visited the hospital, nursery, and kitchen yards, checking cleanliness, order, industriousness, and economy.
In May 1851, J.M. May, Superintendent of the Launceston Female Factory, was transferred to the Cascades Female Factory, replacing John Hutchinson, and his wife, Mary (Matron 1832-1851).
For the first time, a single woman, Charlotte McCullagh, was appointed Matron. She remained in the position until 1856.
From 1852 to 1856, the Sub-Matron’s Quarters, which were in front of the Matron’s Quarters, were occupied by Sub-Matron Elizabeth McCullagh, Matron McCullagh’s sister.
The Matron’s Quarters featured a bow window overlooking the Nursery Yard, but there is no evidence that its purpose was surveillance of the Nursery Yard.
Matron McCullagh, in her evidence to the 1855 Convict Enquiry, stated: ‘I had nothing to do with [the] children, except to see that they had what was ordered for them by the medical officer. My duties related principally to the management of the women’.
It is clear that the Matron’s primary responsibility was for the care and control of the convict women.
The nursery yard operated until the closure of the site in 1856, when the Cascades Female Factory ceased to operate as an imperial establishment, changing to a colonial gaol.
The cottage was converted to a private residence in 1905.