The village of Sprent, on the Castra Road, lies about 12 kilometres south of Ulverstone. Sprent was originally known as Eden but the general area was better known as Castra Road.
Spent is one of the few small villags in the area that has managed to survive, but only just. Though there are still plenty of farming families in the area to support a school, the village centre is these days a collection of mainly abandoned buildings, silent witnesses to the small but thriving community hub that once existed here. Two vehicles wait to be filled up at the long abandoned service station. Chances are neither of them with be going anywhere any time soon. Travel north from Spent on Castra Road and you'll be taken down to the coast and the town of Ulverstone 13km away.
Sprent is named after either James Sprent Surveyor-General, 1857-58, and then commissioner of crown lands, or his son Charles, who also become a Surveyor-General. A Scotsman, James Sprent was one of a team of surveyors who took part in the first trigonometric survey of Tasmania in the 1830s for the production of the first map of the whole island. Upon his arrival in Hobart in May 1830, Sprent Snr had established a "public School for young gentlemen", and later lectured on astronomy at the Mechanics Institute. James became the Surveyor-General in 1857. He explored and surveyed 205 high points across Tasmania, including Federation Peak, then known as ‘Sprent’s Obelisk’. He died 5 years later, age 55.
It is more likely that the town of Sprent was named after James's son, Charles Percy Sprent, who was born at Hobart in 1849. He was educated at the High School, Hobart, and chose the profession of surveyor, following in his father's footsteps. In 1871 he was appointed District Surveyor of the North-western District of Tasmania. In this year, Mr. James "Philosopher" Smith's splendid discovery of tin at Mount Bischoff first revealed the mineral treasures hidden in the dense forests of the North-West, and during the next ten years Charles Sprent did valuable pioneering work in opening the way for prospectors by his explorations of the country lying between Mount Bischoff and Macquarie Harbour.
Above: Sprent Hall, on the occasion of Coronation celebrations on 22nd July 1911. The coronation of George V and his wife Mary as king and queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and as emperor and empress of India took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on 22nd June 1911. The Coronation was a major social event throughout the British Empire with festive gatherings in even the smallest of communities like Sprent. TheCoronation would have been one of the rare occasions where the whole community came together as one, and the above photo would have been one of the few times that everyone in the town and district were photographed together.
The district's Presbyterian church, built at Castra Road in the 1880’s, was the first Presbyterian churches established in North West Tasmania. In 1884, Reverend Lyle of St Andrew’s Church at Launceston, met with Scottish settlers at Castra Road, Don and Forth with purpose of establishing a new parish to serve the region. In 1885 Reverend Henry Tremlett Hull was appointed as the first minister and work began on building the region's first church.
In the 1880s when the above photograph was taken, loggers were still actively clearing forests of timber in the Castra area to make way for agriculture. The timber being hauled give an idea of the size and type of trees which covered the area prior to white settlement.