Chapter 9. LITTLE MEN
Early Australian Architectural History
ALTHOUGH Greenway and Watts were the conspicuous architects of the Macquarie period, there were also smaller men and pseudo-architects at work.
Henry Kitchen, who was disgraced over the building of Windsor Church, looms large in the records, although his contribution to Australian architecture was painfully small.

He received his training in the office of James Wyatt, one of the great English
architects of the period. Wyatt as a young man had won a competition for the
Pantheon, a very famous building in London, and from that moment his name was
made; but apparently his character was adversely affected by too-early success.
He became notorious for his dilatory habits and his grandiose carelessness in matters
both social and architectural? His uninformed work on many of England's great
ecclesiastical buildings earned him the nickname of Destroyer of Cathedrals. He
several times lost important commissions through sheer laziness, and his most
important client said of him, "If Wyatt can get near a big fire and have a bottle
by him, he cares for nothing else." However, it was an age of "characters". This
client was William Peckford, whose passion for building towers caused him to
commission Wyatt to include one in the great house, Fonthill, which he was
designing. The tower was no sooner finished than it was struck by a great gust of
wind which toppled it to the ground. Beckford's only comment when he heard
of the disaster was an expression of regret that he had missed the fine spectacle of
the collapse. He instructed Wyatt to build another tower. This also fell over, but
not for a number of years, thus leaving the record for instability still with the first
tower.= And yet, despite such things, this architect was to become avery important
figure in England. It is interesting to speculate what influence the careless habits of
Wyatt had upon his careless pupil, whose ignorance or inattention to duty at
Windsor spoiled his chances in a new world.

Kitchen had little luck. With a casual recommendation from Lord Bathurst he
arrived as a free settler in Sydney in 1816, exactly six years after Macquarie had
asked that an architect be sent out, and shortly after Greenway had been appointed
to the position of Civil Architect. As if this was not disconcerting enough, Greenway's
official duties were to be the instrument of Kitchen's downfall; he, in turn,
attempted at every opportunity to discredit the Civil Architect.* Opportunities
were many. When Bigge was inquiring into the architecture of the Colony,
Kitchen was able to get on terms of friendship with him, and the records are f d
of letters from Kitchen condemning not only Greenway's work but that of anyone
else who attempted to design a building The architectural sport of disparagement
was in full play, even getting to the point where Greenway and Kitchen, who condemned the work of each other, actually agreed to heap vituperation on the
designer of the Rum Hospital. Bigge formally reported that he never did discover
the designer of that curious place, but it is not to be wondered that that worthy
sought the safety of obscurity when both the big guns of architecture were
determined to demolish him?

When, during the building of St James's Church, King Street, the window
sashes were made too short, the fact did not escape the attention of Mr Kitchen.
When the arch in the basement of the tower seemed defective his cries were loud
and long; he pointed out, incidentally, that the tower must inevitably collapse.
The arch certainly was an unusual one, and Greenway's mild-for him-reply
that the arch carried little weight was quite justified. A hundred and forty years
after the dispute the arch is still sound and safe. Every other Greenway building
received similar, or bigger, ink blots. Bigge would seem to have listened encouragingly to all Kitchen's condemnations, but in the end he took little notice of them, for, as we have seen, the official Report congratulated Greenway on his abilities.

Kitchen was openly fishing for an official position or for a grant of land, and
hoped through his friendship with the Commissioner to contrive some way of
getting Greenway out and himself in. He submitted his own versions of many projects
upon which Greenway was engaged, an attempt at piracy which fortunately
failed. His health was poor, and his worries could not have helped him.'

The personal basis of his relationship is clearly shown by this extract from his
letter to Bigge in 1821:

With regard to my own affairs I am happy to say that my health is now so much
improved that I am able to pursue my professional avocations with renewed activity,
my prospects here in private practice are daily becoming brighter, and I have no doubt
but my exertions will ultimately he crowned with success. I am now employed in
erecting a Dwelling House for Mr McArthur at the Cowpastures, where we have
succeeded in burning a quantity of Lime-stone for Cement....."

This house is generally taken to be the home farm at Camden Park (46), but
it is somewhat reminiscent of Robert Bruce's axe, which, although preserved as a
historic relic, has had two new heads and four new handles since Bruce's day.
Although many of the actual materials of the house have been changed and replaced
at various times, and the tiny veranda has been added, the general lines of building
of the 1820s have been presemed to show us a minute farmhouse some 35 feet long,
24 feet broad, and only 7 feet high to the eaves-in all just a little too big to make a
satisfactory doll's house. So low are the external walls that, to pass under the eaves,
one must step fiom a small well in the floor into which each door opens, up to the
true floor level. The interior plan has been altered, so that the Georgian balance of
the fapde has been disturbed, and a fireplace has been placed, strangely, at the
fiont door. The cottage must have presented a rather lonely picture on its little hill
when a traveller saw it in 1826.

Even this tiny excursion into the realms of architecture was too much for
Kitchen. He was not only ill, he was dying. We can assume he knew ofhis impending
death, for he wrote his own epitaph; he must have done so because no one else
would have draughted it in quite the terms used, especially in regard to Wyatt. It
was to be carved over his tomb in the graveyard at the Sandhills, not far from the
monument to G. Howe that Greenway was to design, and it read:

formerly pupil of the justly
celebrated JAMES wan, Esqre., deceased.
Died April 8th. 1822,
Aged 29 Years.

Subjected almost from the hour of his landing in these Colonies to that of his death,
to a series of the most relentless and unmerciful oppressions, a severe and sudden
illness contracted in the too-ardent pursuit of his profession, snatched him prematurely to the grave.

At a time, too, when to render his fate the more to be lamented, a change,
the most propitious for the Colony, was but just developing his superior talents,
and that promised to him many years of much happiness, and ultimately of fame
and honour in his scientific Labours. By these Colonies he is regretted as a professional loss not easily to be retrieved by his friends, .as a friend, for whom his misfortunes, gentle manners, and cultivated genius had contributed to exate the highest respect and regard.

History has not taken quite the glowing view of Henry Kitchen that he did of

Another man who was occasionally called an architect was James Smith, Greenway's
antagonist on so many occasions. From an entry in Macquarie's diary in
which the Governor referred to him as an architect we may assume that he did
design the second chancel at St John's, Parramatta, when he repaired that church in
1816.'" his work at this church has since been replaced. He no doubt described
himself as an architect to various clients, but he was actually a builder, although
of what quality it is now impossible to tell, for most of his work has disappeared.
The tower of St Luke's Church, Liverpool, which he built, is badly cracked for
its full height, but since Smith was working on foundations already laid by Nathaniel
Lucas it is not possible to apportion the blame between them.
In a letter to the Australian in 1825, in which he refuted some of the statements
Greenway made in that journal, Smith established himself quite clearly as a
builder and not as an architect.

Another man who emphatically was not an architect but who designed several
buildings of by no means contemptible quality was Frank, or Francis, Lawless. He
was the foreman-bricklayer of the government gangs, and designed convict
barracks at Parramatta and the Benevolent Asylum at Sydney. He is also credited,
on somewhat slight evidence, with the design of St Peter's Church, Cambelltown,
of which we know he built the main fabric, because contemporary accounts show
payments to him.

The Parramatta barracks (47) have been destroyed, but they were, when the
author studied them, a good example of the simpler Georgian building, depending
solely upon good materials and good proportions to produce a quite pleasing effect.
The barracks were large, having a main block on Macquarie Street and two very
curiously fenestrated blocks, each 208 feet long, flanking the courtyard which
sloped down to the north towards the river. All three blocks showed the small
break forward at the centre of the building, with the mangle of the roof gable
above expressed as the centre point of the facade. We saw this used on the first
building in Australia, the old Government House at Sydney, and it was a favourite
device with Colonial designers. The memorial panel in the gable over the main
entrance was of stone, and had a carved crown bearing the letters "G.R." and "L.
Macquarie Esqr. Governor 1820". The three chimneys of the building were neatly
gouped about this gable to form a simple but effective composition. The main
entrance door was broad--fully 4 feet in a single leaf-with a pleasant squat proportion,
was flanked by half-height sidelights, and had a traceried elliptical fanlight
above. The brick arch had a "keystone" formed of bricks protruding an inch
or so from the main wall face (67). It cannot be too often emphasized that Colonial
designers got their effects from a studied grouping of the essential elements of the
building, resorting to only the slightest applied ornament, although the blank
recesses in the form of windows on the second floor of the barracks could perhaps
be considered ornamental.

A less competent design was the Benevolent Asylum (48). This building lasted
into the twentieth century and was removed to make way for the major works of
the building of Central Railway, Sydney. We know a great deal about the architecture
of the asylum because there is a plan of it in existence, drawn when additions
to it were proposed in the 1830s, and there are some excellent photographs of it."
The quality of the photographs taken from about 1880 to 1900 cannot be praised
too highly. Made on large glass plate negatives with small lens-aperture and long
time-exposure they give a fineness and firmness of detail that cannot in any way
be matched by allegedly mechanically perfect wide-aperture high-speed modem
cameras. Most photographs of the earlier period are inhabited, it is true, by ghosts
of people and by horses without heads, since movement of the subjects caused
blurring of their images on the plates, but the inanimate architecture is recorded
with an excellence that cannot be challenged.

The asylum was built of brick, with brick pilasters extending for the whole
height, and with a meaningless gable which projected from the main roof with
nothing below to support it. The windows were curious in that they were set in
recesses too wide for them, and dummy panels had to be introduced at each side.

This building arouses the feeling that Lawless must have been a large, well developed
individual, with fine corded muscles in bulging condition from years of
bricklaying. At any rate, both Kitchen and Greenway were ravening about the
town, falling with fury upon allegedly incompetent designers and yet no breath
of suspicion seems to touch Lawless's work. The asylum was certainly, in the
quaintly inverted phrasing of the day, sufficiently "not Classical" to make either
architect incoherent with rage, but possibly it was Lawless's muscular frame that
deterred them from expressing it in this one instance.

The design of Campbelltown church was much more satisfactory than that of
the asylum. It was commenced in 1821 and finally opened for service in 1824. It
is only by exacting examination of the fabric that we can discover the original
design, for the church was badly treated about 1870, when an attempt was made,
unsuccessfully, to turn it into a Gothic building. The evidence for the reconstruction
drawing given (49) is incontrovertible, and has been set out fully elsewhere."
Greenway had complained of "pickers and stealers" of his designs, and it
would appear that in this competent little building success owes a lot to plagiarism,
for we see Greenway's features used most liberally. Sandstock brick with stone
trimmings was employed in the construction and there was a stone uesting to the
tower. When the tower was raised in height the old cresting was removed and later
reset at the higher level. The tower was perhaps the most successful of the alterations,
but the rest of them make one express the wish, with profanity, that the
original building had been left alone.

We know nothing in detail of the craftsmen who were engaged on these buildings
we have been examining, with the exception of one name that has come down
to us. Edward Cureton was a stonemason of consummate skill, and a great deal of
his work has been identified from historical sources. A surviving example is Greenway's obelisk, which still exists in Macquarie Place, Sydney. Curetonalso did the fountain which formerly stood there, and a dwarf stone wall that once surrounded the Place.

Many inscription stones and milestones were shaped by his chisel, it being
probable that the few which remain in the City of Sydney are his work. He also
was employed on Greenway's curious Gothic building at Dawes Battery, because
he gave evidence before the Bigge inquiry proving this point. He gives us an
interesting little glimpse of Greenway at work by mentioning that the architect
told him that "the battlements were not worked so well as he'd wish them"; they
had to be altered until architectural standards were satisfied?"

From the same evidence we learn that Cureton was a stonemason in Shrewsbury
for seven years, and had been in New South Wales for eighteen years, mostly
as a foreman-mason with control of gangs of up to ninety in number. He testified
that he trained no less than fifty masons in two years, so his indirect influence on
crafumanship must have been greater than would at first appear.

Up to 1820 a proportion of Australia's building designers had been men of
admirable qualities, but the year 18zz brought to Sydney one who would seem to
have few characteristics to make him an ornament to his profession. This was
Standish Lawrence Harris, a trained architect and a free settler. What induced him
to emigrate to Australia we do not know, although after assessment of the evidence
we may hazard a guess.

The succession of events towards the close of 1822 is very interesting. Harris
arrived in Sydney early in November; Greenway was dismissed from the position
of Civil Architect on 15th November, and Harris was appointed in his place on
6th December. Long afterwards Harris was to write that the Government was "in
urgent need of a competent person to take charge of the Department of Civil
Architect, the various Public Buildings throughout the Colony having, for want of
proper professional superintendence, fallen into a state of neglect and dilapidation".
It would appear that as soon as Harris presented his mtimoniak, it was decided to
get rid of Greenway. Major Ovens, the Engineer, certainly would have leapt at the
chance offered by this timely arrival of Harris to rid himself of his unpopular

The terms of the new architect's appointment were liberal enough. He received
a retainer of LIW a year and a commission of no less than lo per cent on the value
of all work done by government labourers on the new jail at Darlinghurst.'
This latter provision was to cause a stir for years to come, but in the meantime Harris
made a tour of the Colony, describing in the strongest terms of condemnation all
the buildings of his predecessors in three manuscript volumes of what he called an
6' exposie". He illustrated his findings with most dishonest drawings, full of inaccuries and deliberately designed to present the buildings in the worst possible light.
Greenway had not spared any buildings he criticized, but his language was
gentle and mild compared with the spiteful words that were now vented upon
him and his work. The Windsor courthouse was reported to be "so badly executed
that tho' it has not been built two years strong settlements are showing themselves
in the walls and ceiling and the interior accommodations are not at all adapted for
the purpose intended". What we have learnt in an earlier chapter prevents us from
detecting any aroma of truth in this little bouquet. The rest of his findings were
expressed in a similar tone and, in all, Harris gave himself quite a lot of spiteful
amusement for a hundred pounds a year.

He would have done better to devote himself to his duties, because his superior,
Major Ovens, was anything but helpful. He apparently considered that the only
thing lower than an architect was a civilian, and Hams was both. By the end of the
year 1823, Ovens had had about all he thought he could stand of Harris and wrote
to the Colonial Secretary:

I have the honour to state for the information of his Excellency the Governor,
that Mr Harris who now holds the situation of Civil Architect, declines explaining
his plans and specifications, in consequence of this I beg to be permitted to suggest,
that, as his services can be no longer useful to me, it would be of more advantage to
the Govt to have a person thus employed, who would be disposed to render such
explanation when required."

Something saved Harris from this blast-possibly the petty nature of the
squabble, and the fact that by then the Government was probably aware that
Ovens was a difficult character. It was manifest, too, that a government architect
was necessary. The Bigge Report had long since been received in Sydney and it
recommended in unequivocal terms that the position of Colonial Architect be
discontinued. The Bigge Report was to affect government thinking, both in London
and Sydney, for years to come, and the fact that it was ignored in this particular is
a measure of the need for an architect. The general background of thk picture is
filled in by the Governor's dispatch of April 1823 :

. . . my constant endeavours shall be strained to subtract from the persons eniployed
about buildings and direct them into agricultural operations. The badness of the
present overseers and the impossibility of engaging others is another great inducement
for diminishing Government works. Into a proper compass should these ever
be reduced; the Colonial Architect will then be enabled to measure all the tasks that
are performed."

Besides the jail wall at Darlinghurst, Harris was busy with minor works, such
as partitions at the hospital, and also with his large report (mentioned earlier) on the
existing buildings together with his estimates of the amount and value of work
necessary to be done upon them. Of the three volumes of the report, only two are
known to exist, for volume number one has not been traced.

When they were completed Governor Brisbane was not pleased with them. He was at Parramatta in August 1824 when they were delivered, and forthwith he wrote angrily to the Colonial Secretary acknowledging the receipt of what Harris was pleased to term "an exposee". The Governor objected in principle to Harris's both valuing the work and then charging his fees on these values, because dishonesty had come from the same pen before.

In the case of the jail wall, the Board of Works had reduced the
estimates of the completed work from £ 10,000 to £ 4479, 7s, 10d. That seven
shillings and tenpence was apparently to give vicissitude to an otherwise bald
and unconvincing narrative. Building work cannot be estimated to accuracy
of one part in ten thousand, as the inclusion of shillings and pence would seek
to do.

However, the general figure was sufficient to allow the Governor to say, with
justice, "As MI Harris has attempted this deceit in the public in one instance it at
least awakens a suspicion he may attempt the same in other cases." He pointed out
that even the most inexperienced in architecture could see gross overcharges in
"the said exposee", and that he intended having it submitted to "a Board of
Officers or Competent Gentlemen". It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that in
October 1824 Harris was no longer the Colonial Architect.

He had at least one commission in private practice, for he designed the old
Scots Church (52). His account for his services makes interesting reading:

Dear Sir,
As I propose leaving Sydney to reside on my grant of land on the banks of the
Hunter River be as good as to cause payment of the amt. of the inclosed bid to Mr.
Norton who I have instructed to act for me in my absence.
I am your obedt. servt.
Sgd. S. L. Harris

A tender was received on 25th May 1824 for £ 1100 but the roof was built to
a design different from the one Harris proposed. An addendum to the tender stated
that it was required that "the elevation of the roof be sixteen feet and be otherwise
agreeable to a plan furnished by Mr Aird".

The result of Mr Aird's and Mr Harris's efforts was what has often been described
as the first Gothic church in Australia. It did have pointed windows, it is
true, and these are generally associated with Gothic architecture, but there all
resemblance ends. Scots Church had a simple rectangular nave, of Georgian proportions with the usual Georgian device of the pedimented gable. Its appearance
was by no means objectionable despite the awkward proportions. Good materials
had much to do with this, the sandstone being finely wrought, and the softness of
the wood shingle, as always, added a pleasant texture. The menlorial stone
that used to be over the door in the tower has been built into the north end of the
large modem building that occupies the site of the old Scots Church.

Harris received a grant of two thousand acres in 1822, immediately after
landing in Sydney. How Greenway must have burned with envy! His grant of
only eight hundred acres as a bonus for all his work indeed looks miserable when
compared with the final total of three thousand acres that Hams got for doing
nothing. Hams's grant was rich land at the junction of the Hunter and Paterson
rivers. In 1820s bushrangers raiding the country out from Raymond Terrace invaded
the property, tied the men to veranda posts, and looted the house.

By 1827 part of the grant was mortgaged, and in 1831 the whole of it was sold.
Harris's financial difficulties were accentuated by the fact that he had not received
all the moneys due to him from the Government. He joined the long line of architects,
started by Greenway, who presented memorials to the successive governors
demanding their real or imagined rights.

Neither Governor Brisbane, nor his successor Governor Darling, satisfied
Hams's claim. In 1834 Governor Bourke, after the matter had been referred to the
Colonial Office, allowed the case to be tried in the Supreme Court, with the result
that the jury granted Harris the sum of 4s. 6d. for his services in superintending
the building of the jail wall. This is so high a figure that the jury must have
allowed Hams a proportion of damages in addition to his 10 per cent commission.
The money was paid by Governor's Warrant dated 22nd July 1834.
Later he prepared "The Humble Memorial of Standish Lawrence Harris, of
Sydney in the Colony of New South Wales, Architect" to the Secretary of State,
claiming interest on his money from 1824 to 1834, and damages for the loss of
his property, but this additional claim was formally and officially disallowed in 1837.

Standish Lawrence Harris has left with us a great jail wall that still surrounds
the Technical College at Darlinghurst in Sydney, the two surviving volumes of
his strange "exposte", and-a somewhat nasty taste in the mouth.
Away from all these activities in Sydney, Tasmanian history was made in 1825
when David Lambe was appointed the first local Colonial Architect, to succeed the
long line of military officers who had previously carded the title of Inspector of
Government Works. Hobart Town, since its founding in 1804 by Lieutenant-
Governor David Collins, had gradually moulded itself into a respectable little
capital, most of its growth taking place after 1813 when Macquarie had to reprimand
the satellite settlement for its lack of progress in public works.

Macquarie's instructions for the establishment of a "Police Fund of Hobart Town"
did much to speed the building of the Colonial Hospital, barracks, jail, and a Government House.

The wilderness of the island was bisected by the clearings and buildings which
had spread northwards from Hobart Town and southwards from Launceston along
the rich, lovely valleys of the Jordan, Coal, and Macquarie rivers. The inland
towns were developing rapidly and Richmond by 1824 had its fine stone bridge
across the Coal River; by the next year the naive little Regency building which
now serves as council chambers had come into being.

David Lambe remained Colonial Architect for less than three years, when his
office was absorbed into the Engineers Department in Hobart Town.30
The man next in the queue, and now ready to step into the limelight, is Mr George
Cookney, architect, of London, whose "habits of mathematical study" and intimacy
with all the great masters of architecture, dead or alive,
enables him fearlessly to express a conviction that he can both design and execute
such Buildings, from a hermitage to an amphitheatre as will not only yield the
amplest satisfaction . . . but will also be a powerful co-opcrative in elevating the
Colony of New South Wales to an enviable ascendancy in the Graphic Art.a1
This compelling advertisement in the public press would not appear to have
caused any stampede of inhabitants to 6 King Street, Sydney, where Mr Cookney
had opened an office in his attempt to give world ascendancy to the architecture
of New South Wales in 1823.

By 1824 he shut up shop and left .for, of all places, the island of Mauritius. As
soon as Harris was discharged, Coohey's powerful friend, W. C. Wentworth,
wrote to Coohey's brother that the position of Colonial Architect was vacant,
and that if George wished to return it would be kept open for three or four months.
Cookney must have had his bags packed rapidly and have leapt upon the &st ship
headed east, for in March 1825 he was in Major Ovens's office being interviewed.
Considering the casual schedules of sailing vessels in the Indian and Pacific oceans
in the early nineteenth century this was speedy work indeed?

Coohey was appointed Colonial Architect in April and during his tenure of
office he produced one small building that has come down to us: the La Perouse
monument in the fishing village of La Perouse on the shores of Botany Bay.
This is a curious piece of architecture for, as an architect would put it, it is not in
scale. Without a figure near by to give true comparison, this monument would
seem to be about 50 feet high instead of the small thing it really is, for, although it
was intended to be a conception in the grand manner, it was designed in miniature
and so is aesthetically unsatisfactory. It is carved from a single shaft of stone in the
form of a Doric column, and is set on a traditional base, also of stone. Now guarded
by an iron picket fence, it serves as a shrine for Frenchmen calling at Sydney.
Round the base of the monument are many small plaques with names and dates
that record the visits of French ships.

The erection of the monument was instigated by the Baron de Bougainville in
1825 when members of his expedition paid homage at the grave of Pere Receveur,
whose body lies a scant hundred yards from the monument. The tomb also was
probably designed by Cookney, but the records are somewhat obscure on this point.

Receveur, who died in 1788 whilst the explorer's ships were in the Bay, was
a member of La Perouse's expedition. Across the Botany Bay heads on the point of
Kurnell is buried Forby Sutherland, a seaman of Cook's Endeavour who died in
1770; so that each headland has its sentinel: one Englishman and one Frenchman,
the oldest European occupiers of the soil of New South Wales.

In April 1826 one year after his appointment, Cookney was dismissed from the
position of Colonial Architect under ignominious circumstances. We do not know
the exact nature of his offence, but Governor Darling informed the Colonial Office
that Cookney's services were not required, and that he was not considered eligible
by reason of his general habits for a public situation. Even his important &end,
W. C. Wentworth, admitted that he would not, from choice, employ him"

Inevitably, Cookney observed the Colony's architectural tradition and presented
memorials to the Government. We may be glad of these queer documents,
for it is fiom them that we get the greatest amount of concentrated information
about the architects concerned, although the facts contained are heavily biased,
naturally, in favour of the memorial.

Cookney addressed the Governor, and later the Secretary of State for the
Colonies, pointing out that he had received only £ 308 for his year's services, but
that his living expenses had been £ 300, and that his passage money from Mauritius
of 300 Spanish dollars had not been refunded. He asked for compensation for
loss of time, and for reimbursement of his passage money so that he could returm
to Mauritius and thus be, as he delicately phrased ie; "as little damnified as possible
for having acted on the public pledge".

In March 1826 the Board of Works had met and had recommended that a
permanent government architect was not necessary because private architects could
be commissioned for each separate building as the need arose.
In his first memorial, in November of that year, Cookney pointed out that he
had no private practice, so he apparently had again tried to establish himself. We
may be sure he was watching developments, for he pointed out in May 1827 that
the position of Colonial Architect was still necessary and asked for reinstatement
in that He did not get this wish, but he did get recompensed to the extent
of £ 60 for his original ship passage; and so with this small victory he, in turn,
passes out of Australian history. We may hope that his habits and his practice

This section is based on the excellent book Early Australian Architects and Their Work (Angus & Robertson, Syd, 1954); Herman, Morton, (1901-1983). Illustrated and Decorated by the Author.