Originally named Hobart Street after Mr Major Hobart Wood who was a builder, subdivided this area and built houses in the street.
When it was decided to change the name to avoid confusion with Hobart Road and in the mistaken belief that the street was named after the city of Hobart, the name Darwin was chosen, being the only other mainland capital whose name would not give duplication (Perth being avoided because of the nearby town).
Port Darwin itself was named after the famous Charles Darwin by JC Stolles, Commander of HMS Beagle in 1939, ‘as an opportunity of convincing an old shipmate and friend that he still lived in our memory’.
Darwin, from 1835 to 1836 had travelled on the previous round-the-world survey voyage by the Beagle, the outcome of which was the formulation of the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. On that voyage Darwin spent three days in Hobart, and the publication by Hooker of the Flora Tasmaniae, to which Robert Campbell Gunn contributed so significantly, was seen by Darwin as evidence to support his ideas. When Darwin learned that the Governor and Parliament of Tasmania were financially supporting the Flora, he wrote to Hooker: “What capital news from Tasmania – it is really a very remarkable and creditable fact to the Colony”. This letter then stated that his castle-in-the-air was emigration to Tasmania, and he already regarded the colony as his ‘headquarters’.
Another instance of the fact that crew of the Beagle remembered Darwin is referred to by James Fenton in Bush Life in Tasmania when he records that the Beagle moored at Tasmania in 1842 near Forth and he was visited by two officers from the ship. Fenton at first, seeing the naval offers approaching, thought that a war had broken out with France or Russia. The two officers spend a day in the bush with Fenton and admiring what they saw said one to the other ‘Wouldn’t Darwin be in his element here?’ At the time, Fenton records the name meant nothing to him, as it was before the publication of The Origin of Species.
There is only one city in the world that carries Darwin’s name, and in view of the above, and RC Gunn’s contribution, it is appropriate that a street in Launceston should bear this great man’s name.
Darwin Street houses were mainly built around 1925 and almost all are two or three bedroom weatherboard homes. Darwin Street is located within walking distance to the CBD and is attracting first home buyers and investors.