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Federation Gothic c. 1890—c. 1915

    PIC_0485.JPG (85945 bytes)
  09 Land Titles Office
off Macquarie Street
26 Maclaurin Hall 04 War Memorial Art Gallery

By the end of the nineteenth century the days of glory had passed for the Gothic Revival, but the movement was not yet dead. In Britain, John Loughborough Pearson’s largest work, Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, was not finished until 1910. And in 1903 the conditions for a competition to design a new Anglican cathedral in Liverpool strongly suggested that a medieval style would be most suitable. Giles Gilbert Scott won the competition with a powerful English Gothic design, and his great building, its design constantly developed and modified as the work proceeded, was only substantially completed by the time of the architect’s death in 1960. Even so, by the 189os most of the spirit which had imbued the Gothic Revival in its palmy days had flowed into the humbler, less archaeologically oriented Arts and Crafts movement (see FEDERATION ARTS AND CRAFTs).
Most Australian cities and towns had built (or at least had begun building) their cathedrals and major churches in the VICTORIAN ACADEMIC GOTHIC style before the advent of the depression of the 189os. Although the construction of such a major edifice as J. L. Pearson’s Brisbane Cathedral was not started until 1901, there was, after the depression, a somewhat diminished need for ecclesiastical buildings. By the turn of the century it was clear that a building in a style that required reproduction or imitation of the wondrous complexities of medieval architecture was likely to be too expensive, to take too long to build, and to need craftsmanship of an order no longer readily available.

When the flavour of the Middle Ages was sought but resources were limited, architects often turned to less ‘correct’, more flexible and cheaper adaptations of the Gothic style. Simple brickwork with stucco dressings often took the place of expensive, dressed stone. But, even allowing for economic and social change, Federation Gothic was essentially a flow-on from the VICTORIAN ACADEMIC GOTHIC and VICTORIAN FREE GOTHIC styles.

Suspension Bridge, Cammeray to Norlhbridge, NSW.J. E. F. Coyle, engineer, 1892. Medieval nwt!fs are unexpected embellishments on these Federation towers, built for suspension cable supports.

Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Swanston Street, Erskineville, NSW. J. McCarthy, architect, 1912. An uninhibited reinterpretation of the Gothic style.
  Quoted from:
"A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Austrlian Architecture; Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present"
Angus & Robertson Sydney 1995 ISBN 0207 18562 X
Copyright © 1989 by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds.
  A.C Goode House. Collins Street, Melbourne. Completed 1891.
  Camperdown Memorial Clock Tower. Camperdown, Victoria. Completed 1897.
  Sacred Heart Cathedral. Bendigo, Victoria. Built 1896.
  RMIT Building 4, Swanston Street, Melbourne, Melbourne. Completed 1904.