Sydney Architecture Images-Sydney Architects

Francis Greenway See also GREENWAY

In the family tree of Government Architects in NSW, Francis Greenway is the Patriach, and he certainly sets an incredible standard as a personality for the others to follow. Greenway arrived in the Colony, not as a free-settler, but as a convict, sentenced for forging a major contract back in England. He had practiced in Bristol as an architect and supposedly had worked with John Nash. Greenway set up an allegorical relief above his doorway in Bristol and advertised "his services to the public in the capacity of architect, statuary and landscape-gardener". He appended to the card he placed in the Mirror to advertise his role an explanation of the allegory… "The bass-relief over the Doric door is intended to represent Minerva giving the plan of the pantheon (or circular temple, dedicated to all the Gods) to architecture; mechanics is next to him as a necessary attendant; the boy on the left hand of Minerva is drawing a building, while sculpture is modelling the famous torso, so highly admired by Michael Angelo." 

So Greenway from the very beginning was a quirky and amusing character. M H Ellis, in his book on Greenway, following significant research, defines him in this way…. "Certain records settle Mr Greenway's physical appearance. He was 5ft 6¾" tall, broad in proportion, slightly stooping when his hackles were not erect, light haired and hazel brown of eye. His complexion was 'fair and ruddy'. As he was an artist of some parts, he was able, with the aid of a mirror and his pencils and crayons, to preserve the semblance of his features for prosperity. His self-portrait shows an aquiline, celtic-Roman type face, common in the west country. It was stamped with obstinacy rather than with strength. There was an air of challenge in its expression ."

Ellis goes on to compare Greenway both in size and in character with his countrymen of the west, Sir Christopher Wren and with that great architect of Welsh border ancestry, Mr Frank Lloyd Wright to whom he was closely related in artistic temperament and self confidence. Greenway's brashness and self confidence managed to get him noticed by Governor Macquarie within a few months of arrival and when the Governor asked him to provide drawings in a particular style, by copying the design of a Courthouse, the character of Greenway came out very swiftly. He wrote back to the Governor stating that he would prefer to be granted "the power as an architect to design and conduct any public work, I will exert myself in every way to do your Excellency credit…" 

Greenway clearly exhibited a proud and stubborn manner of not wanting to follow the Governor's orders and preferred to undertake his own design. For a convict who had been sentenced to death, this showed incredible self confidence and an almost cavalier manner. It seems that Greenway had to constrain his personality somewhat, but his actions impressed Macquarie and by 1816 he had been appointed Acting Civil Architect and Assistant Engineer responsible to Captain J M Gill, Inspector of Public Works.

Greenway had a fairly turbulent career designing first the Lighthouse on South Head, followed by the Fort on Bennelong Point and the Stables for Macquaries grandiose Government House. Greenway's architecture and his influence on the city are explained in later chapters in this book, but there is no doubt that he began the role with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, when Macquarie left and Commissioner Bigge had completed his audit of the works in the Colony, Greenway was very much out of favour. His supposed compensation from Macquarie was disputed and Greenway ended up living on some swamp land near Maitland, living very much as a pauper in a hut with dirt floors. 

Francis Greenway's drawings for the stables dated 1820.

After Macquarie left, Greenway wrote copious letters to the editor of the new Australian newspaper, outlining the grandiose plans that he and Macquarie had intended. As the letters go on the schemes get grander and there was some concern as to whether his memory was becoming somewhat exaggerated. The final letter to the newspaper, three months before he died in 1837, certainly gave the impression that he had a major influence on the shaping of the city. He was also in the position of being able to see that his conceptual plans for a grand Government House had now been approved by the Government, although designed by Edward Blore in England. His concept of a trio of buildings on the axis of Bennelong Point would now become a reality.

Throughout his career, Greenway expressed great concern about craftsmanship and tried to influence the building methods by the adoption of training to lift the quality of building. This often got him in conflict with those wanting to use discipline on the convict labourers to force them to perform. Greenway received his pardon from Governor Macquarie, although life as a free man was almost harder for him, than when he was a convict with privileges.

Greenway adopted the middle name of Howard - Francis Howard Greenway - at some stage during his career, possibly to elevate his status. When Macquarie returned to England on 12 February 1822, Greenway was clearly without his patron and on 15 November 1822, Governor Brisbane dismissed him from the office of Civil Architect. It is likely that Greenway would have operated as Civil Architect from the Government lumber yard situated on the corner of Bridge and George Streets. This was used as the base for public works up until 1833. Greenway's major buildings include the Macquarie lighthouse, the Obelisk in Macquarie Place, the Church of St James, King Street, St Mathews Church at Windsor and the Hyde Park Barracks. 

Standish Lawrence Harris arrived in Sydney in November 1822 as a 'free settler'. He lost no time in presenting himself to the Governor, offering his service in executing architectural works. On 26 November 1822, Governor Brisbane appointed him Civil Architect. Harris was to be paid a salary of £100 a year. In return, he was required… "To make plans, elevations, specifications and estimates; direct the workman; conduct the work; measure and value the whole." Harris prepared designs for a new gaol at Sydney, which did not proceed beyond construction of the surrounding wall.

Harris' main achievement seems to be in preparing a report on the condition of the Colony's public buildings requested by the Governor. Harris went to great lengths to show up the work of Greenway in a bad light and prepared drawings that were at the best broad interpretations of Greenway's buildings The report does, however, remain as one of the best records of the works of Greenway that have been demolished or been modified. It was titled Report and Estimate of Value of Improvements in the Public Buildings of Sydney, Parramatta, Windsor, Liverpool and Campbelltown, 1822-3. 

His severe critisms of his predecessor's works were based on unfounded comments and supported by inaccurate illustrations. Governor Brisbane ignored the unfair and biased comments, but could not fail to notice Harris' accompanying claim for fees, which were considered to be excessive. Having got off side with Governor Brisbane, Harris managed to also do this with his superior, the Chief Engineer, Major Ovens. Ovens stated that Harris' services "can no longer be useful to me." By October 1824, Harris had been dismissed after what appears to have been a relatively unsuccessful term as Civil Architect.

A possible achievement by Harris was the completion of the new Courthouse at Sydney begun by Greenway. Harris made enlargements and prepared drawings and specifications, but there is some doubt as to whether even his design was that ultimately adopted. Where Harris was more successful was in making recommendations about the organisation of the Office for Public Works. He recommended the supervision of the production and purchase of building materials, classification of convict artisans according to trade and that the Civil Architect should be empowered to select the best of these for use on his own projects.

After he was dismissed, Harris disappeared into obscurity, but surprisingly reappeared in 1842 as the storekeeper on the works at Darlinghurst Gaol designed by one of his successors, Mortimer Lewis)

After Harris' departure in 1824, there was a gap of some months while the Chief Engineer's department was reorganised. During this time, an English architect, who had had to leave London due to liabilities, was using his contact with D'arcy Wentworth in Sydney. George Cookney was the second son of Wentworth's London agent. When he arrived in Sydney, Wentworth helped him set up practice, but after having little success, Cookney moved to Mauritius. While in Mauritius, he received notification from William Charles Wentworth that the post of Colonial Architect was vacant in Sydney. On the basis of this information, Cookney sailed back to Sydney, and on 22 April 1825, four days after his arrival, he was appointed Civil Architect. 

Cookney only lasted one year as Civil Architect and found that there were not a lot of projects that he was asked to look at. His one major contribution to the Colony's public architecture did not come from the Governor, but from the desire of the French Government to perpetuate the memory of one of its voyages of discovery. In the early months of 1825, the Baron de Bougainville sailed into Port Jackson with the intention of raising a memorial to the visit of the Compte de la Perouse to Botany Bay in 1788. At de Bougainville's request, Governor Brisbane directed Cookney to design both the monument and the tomb to be erected over the grave of one of La Perouse's crew who had been buried at Botany Bay (Fig 6). This is the only major project that Cookney completed. Cookney continued some of the work on the Sydney gaol that Harris had begun, but little was achieved and he was removed from office in April 1826, thus becoming the third Civil Architect to be dismissed from his position.

After dismissing Cookney, Governor Darling, who had only recently arrived in the Colony, continued the process of reviewing the structure and roles of the Departments that made up the Public Service. His next move was to prevent the misuse of the Colony's funds and he placed all money matters under his direct control. During this period, no successor was appointed to the position of Civil Architect until Ambrose Hallen was appointed to the position in 1832. The reorganisation of responsibilities involved the eternal debate between engineers, surveyors and architects about roles and responsibilities.

The important surveying position of Town Surveyor had been filled in December 1827 by Ambrose Hallen. By 1829, Hallen had worked his way up to Architect and Town Surveyor under Charles Wilson, the Director of Public Works. Hallen, under Wilson's directorship, became increasingly engaged in minor architectural matters while he was working at the headquarters of the Department of Public Works, still located at the lumber yard on the corner Bridge and George Streets in Sydney. 

Governor Bourke succeeded Darling on 3 December 1831, and after a preliminary appraisal of the Department of Public Works, initiated a major enquiry and suspended the Director, Wilson. Bourke had received numerous allegations anonymously against Wilson and the Department. Wilson was dismissed and following him six of the next top officers were also dismissed. In effect, the Department of Public Works ceased to function on the date of those dismissals, 13 March 1832.

Despite the confusion and disorganisation left within the old Public Works Department the one person that did emerge with increased power was Ambrose Hallen, who still held the post of Architect and Town Surveyor. He was placed in charge of the remnants of the Department on 1 April 1832, and he was given the title of Colonial Architect on 28 April 1832 and his office officially titled the Colonial Architects Department. His position as Town Surveyor was absorbed into the Surveyor General's Department and the role filled by Mortimer Lewis who was later to succeed Hallen as Colonial Architect. In giving Hallen sole charge of the Colonial Architect's Department, Government Bourke defied an edict of Whitehall, which forbade the existence of any such office as an entity separate from that of the Surveyor General. 

Hallen was given new orders about his role, which were defined in extensive terms. To carry out the duties, however, Hallen only had 10 officers who had remained from the reorganisation of the Department of Public Works. He even had to transmit to the Colonial Secretary on every Monday morning a report of all works performed during the proceeding week. As parts of this stricter regime, the lumber yard which had been the headquarters of the Public Works Department, was broken up and moved to a new site adjoining the Hyde Park Barracks. The Colonial Architects office was also located adjoining the Barracks. (Fig 7)

With few staff and a tighter role defined by the Governor, Hallen did not produce very much work. Hallen seems to have been unable to provide strong leadership and by early 1833, the Governor had many occasions to reprove Hallen for his inefficiency and poor methods of carrying on the daily business of his Department. Bourke fortunately received a belated request from the Secretary of State requesting him to make the Colonial Architect's Department a part of the Secretary General's area of responsibility. Finding he had problems with Hallen, he quickly agreed to this, and put Hallen under the respected Surveyor General, Thomas Mitchell.

Mitchell now had four branches - the Colonial Architect's Department, the Survey Branch, which established the lines of the great roads; the Construction Branch for roads and bridges and the Town Survey Branch.

At this time, the tensions between two-dimensional planning through surveying and three-dimensional architectural shaping of the city would have become paramount. Mitchell and his team of surveyors were out at Bathurst and Goulburn, laying out the early patterns of roads and streets across the landscape. Many of these country towns had their first public buildings, the gaol or courthouse, constructed and there seems to be evidence that Hallen designed a number of early buildings for Goulburn and Bathurst. He also designed a new gaol based on the radiating system of inspection for the country town of Berrima (Fig 8). Tenders were called for this on 2 May 1834, and while Hallen also received a request to design a Courthouse at Berrima, the funds for this far exceeded those allocated.

Hallen's relationship with Governor Bourke was deteriorating significantly and realising his position was untenable he offered his resignation on 24 November 1834, and left the office of Colonial Architect on 31 December. 

During the end of Ambrose Hallen's term there had been many things happening behind the scenes between Governor Bourke and the Home Office trying to resolve a more effective way of organising the Colony's finances. Bourke proposed that the Home Government should bare the cost of the police establishment and in return that Bourke would finance the full cost of erection of new buildings relating to policing which included gaols, courthouses and lock-ups. The Government in making these proposals emphasised the great need for these buildings particularly as the Colony was being made the receptacle of British offenders. Bourke stated that the erection of these buildings should be by the Colonial Architect from the Colony's own resources and that this would give greater respect for the buildings.

"The attention of the Colonists will be called to them, an interest acquired in their preservation, which does not seem to attach to those works, which are defrayed at the cost of the British Treasury alone." 

A second issue that helped in the establishment of the Colonial Architect's office with more authority was Bourke's separation of military buildings from civil buildings. In response to a request from Bourke, Captain George Barney was despatched from London to look after military works. On Captain Barney's arrival at the end of 1835, he was placed at the head of an office entitled 'Department of the Colonial Engineer'. This left the role of Colonial Architect to be one that could report directly to the Governor without going through either the Engineering Department or that of the Surveyor General. It is likely that Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor General, supported this as the person to lead the Colonial Architect's office was Mortimer Lewis who had worked for a number of years under his control. Mitchell had been asking the Governor for some time to try and replace Hallen with Lewis, who he believed had far better skills.

It was in this context that Mortimer Lewis was appointed Colonial Architect on 1 January 1835. With the long time taken to send letters between Sydney and London, requests and approvals or denials often overlapped each other in the long voyages. It was not until 28 September 1837 that the Secretary of State finally agreed to Governor Bourke's structure of having a Colonial Architect and a Colonial Engineer reporting direct to him. Despite this long time in approval, Bourke had been operating effectively under the system he wanted since Lewis had been appointed Colonial Archtect.

Bourke in one of his communications back to the Home Office, used the evidence of Lewis as a skilled architect working in a separate establishment as proof of the value of having a direct reporting line to him as Governor. It was clear that the Governor and the Colonial Architect were able to work well together. Mortimer Lewis remained as Government Architect for 15 years, far longer than any previous Colonial Architect.

Lewis with his new found authority as Colonial Architect expending the Colony's own funds for buildings related to the police and the law became involved in a large program of works. He was asked by Governor Bourke to prepare plans for a new Courthouse at Darlinghurst and devised the politically appropriate method of construction that enabled the Governor to get approval for sequential packages of work rather than the large amount necessary to complete the whole project. Lewis' innovative construction management approach was probably the first occasion that this was used on such a scale. 

Lewis' design for the Courthouse at Darlinghurst is a milestone in the history of the evolution of Courthouses (Fig 9). It was a conscious and deliberate architectural composition defining the building and its civic importance. It was a reminder of the authority and power of the law to those passing by. The formal geometry of the pediment and doric columns owed much to the contemporary English fashion for Greek architecture. Its massive columns suggesting stability and the pediment containing the lion and the unicorn the symbol of Royal power.

Lewis went on to produce more Courthouses at Goulburn, Bathurst, Hartley (Fig 10) and gaols at Berrima, Maitland, Bathurst and Goulburn.(Fig 11) Many of these early buildings have been replaced by the wave of gaols and Courthouses built under James Barnet. Lewis, with an increasing workload, was able to appoint William Moir as his second officer who was responsible for supervising, measuring and preparing tender documents for the major projects. This led to an increase in skilled staff and a greater output from the Colonial Architect's office.

While Lewis' training was more in the area of surveying and engineering, he quickly became adept at architecture and in the evidence he gave to the Commission of Enquiry about the siting of Government House on 28 July 1836, he clearly comes across as someone confident in understanding architectural principles. He begins with the simple statement…. "I am the Colonial Architect…" (Fig 12) 

He critiques the work of Edward Blore and calls for a building that understands the Sydney situation…. "In this climate a verandah or colonnade is necessary for such a building…. The castelated style, which the house has planned, I think the least adapted to this climate…. I approve the Venetian (style) because of its affording the greater shade." 

An event of national significance during Mortimer Lewis time was the involvement of the Colonial Architect's Office in establishing an outreach office at Port Phillip. After a visit to the new southern settlement by Governor Bourke in 1837, he directed the Colonial Architect to assume responsibility for the design of necessary public works there. Lewis was authorised to select an officer to transfer to Port Phillip and recommended the appointment of Charles F Lereoux to set up the southern branch of his department. After a number of replacements held the southern role, Henry Ginn, after being sent from Sydney in March 1846, established the Colonial Architect's Department of Victoria.

Mortimer Lewis also became involved in the Morton Bay branch of the Department of the Colonial Engineer set up by Captain Barney in 1836. Lewis took over control of the branch in 1843 and in due course it became the Colonial Architect's Department of Queensland. So during Mortimer Lewis' time the beginnings of Government Architecture were established in Queensland and Victoria. 

Mortimer Lewis' input probably reached its peak at the end of 1843, when he had executed an unprecedented range of public works. He had direct linear communication to the contractors and had a staff of competent officers. The year 1843 also saw a turning point in the Colony's civil administration. Settlement achieved a measure of self-government as the first partially representative Legislative Council was sworn in in August 1843. 

The new Legislative Council slowed down the amount of work undertaken for public buildings and also trimmed back the pedimented fronted buildings of the early years of Lewis' term. A decline in the quality of output was due to the changing role of the new Legislative Council. Rather than the Governor setting the standards, the new Council, made up of wealthy landowners, was more concerned about minimum expenditure as watchdogs of the Colonial funds. This brought about a reduction of the appropriation of funds for public works and a reduction of quality and output of the Colonial Architect's Department. Lewis also lost his second-in-command, William Moir, who became the first City Surveyor for the recently established City of Sydney Corporation. 

When Lewis resigned, he appended a list of his major works, comprising six gaols, eleven Courthouses, the new Government House, the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum, Customs House, the new Treasury (Fig 13), the Post Office and numerous other buildings. He also included civic works at Circular Quay and at Newcastle.

After a long and detailed enquiry about the building of the Australian Museum, Lewis was determined by the Board to have misappropriated materials from the site to other private sites. Lewis was declared bankrupt as a result of this and being an insolvent could not be employed by the Government. On 1 December, Governor Fitzroy ordered Mortimer Lewis immediate dismissal…. "His Excellency feels called upon to remove you from the situation of Colonial Architect and that Mr Edmund Blacket had therefore been appointed to relieve you from the present date." 

Lewis began private practice and entered in partnership with his son, Oswald Lewis, until he retired in 1864, and died on 9 March 1879, followed by his wife 13 days later. Mortimer Lewis' eldest son, Mortimer William Lewis Jnr, remained in the Colonial Architect's Department, which he had joined in 1843 until his retirement in 1891, almost fifty years.

Mortimer Lewis Jnr had spent much of his time working in Maitland and was seen as the Maitland Government Architect. His son, A E Lewis also joined the Government Architect's Office in 1889, until his retirement in 1945, thus carrying a family tradition of involvement in the one office over a period of 110 unbroken years.

Another of Mortimer Lewis' sons, Frederick George, also worked in the Colonial Architect's Office. He joined on 25 September 1837 and remained there until his retirement in 1851. It is likely that he assisted his father in much of the work, particularly the amended drawings of Government House. 

So Lewis became the fourth of the first five Government Architects to be dismissed from office. Ambrose Hallen resigned, but only under great pressure. It was likely that he would have been dismissed also. The next Colonial Architect, Edmund Blacket, carried through his full term without reaching a situation that would lead to resignation due to incompetence or dismissal.

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Francis Howard Greenway was born in England on November 20th, 1777, near Bristol, into a family of builders and stonemasons. Here he became an architect.

Disaster struck in 1809 when he became bankrupt. In 1812 he was found guilty of forgery, when he forged a solicitor's signature on a document and thus altered it to his advantage, and was sentenced to death. This sentence was commuted to Transportation and he arrived in Sydney on the General Hewitt in February 1814 to serve his 14 year sentence. Because of his qualifications he was given his ticket o' leave soon after his arrival and set up an architectural practice in George Street.

Governor Macquarie took a shine to Greenway and by March 1816 he had become Sydney's first civil architect, with his first commission being the building of a lighthouse at South Head.

After the success of this project he was emancipated by Macquarie and much government funded work came his way - the new Government House, the Female Factory at Parramatta, Hyde Park Barracks and a convict compound, St. Luke's Church at Liverpool, St. Matthew's at Windsor, St. James's Church in King Street and a hospital at Liverpool. He also designed the 'Rum' Hospital, so called because Macquarie gave the builder 200,000 litres of rum as payment. The hospital's former north wing is now the central part of the New South Wales Parliament House in Macquarie Street.

Other works include the Conservatorium of Music which was built originally as the stables for Government House.

Greenway, who easily made enemies, soon fell into disrepute when Macquarie berated him for charging high fees whilst on a govrnment retainer. Greenway was later dismissed by Governor Brisbane in 1822 when he presented a large bill claiming commission for several years' work.

He then returned to private practice but never had the same success again.

Settling on a 320ha property near Raymond Terrace, in the lower Hunter Valley, Greenway lived in virtual obscurity until his death in September, 1837.

His grave has never been located.