Early Canberra

Concrete buildings 1911-1914

In 1911 the small plan room on Capital Hill (former part of Camp Hill) was built to house Scrivener's plans.  In 1912 or 12 work began on the Power House - concrete building - 1912 concrete bricks used at Duntroon and in 1913 the Residency at Acton was constructed from concrete (Ref Residency - research by James Collet).  No more concrete was used for construction of living quarters until 1926 when Beauchamp House was built in this material and 25 cottages in the Canberra Suburb of Griffith.  Following is a short article on the Duntroon buildings.

The Advertiser (Adelaide) 13 April 1912


Melbourne, April 12

Large additions have been made to the Royal Military College at Yass-Canberra to accommodate the 40 new cadets entered as the first class. These lads started their work yesterday and the 40 cadets who joined last year, became the second class. Three new cadet barracks have been erected. Plans are prepared for another two of these semi-permanent buildings which are on raised terrace above the drill ground.  Five residences have been built for the Commandant and staff of teachers and officers. They are made of hollow concrete block, manufactured in the ground by the works branch of the Home Affairs Department, and vary in size from 10 to 20 rooms. The boys who entered the college last year have not been allowed to go home. Under the regulations they are compelled to stay for the first two years at the college, or under the command of the college officers. They were taken to the neighboring country to a two months’ camp.


Acton teen to twenties houses, humpies & tents

1913-early 1930s

Additional Information including the names of a few who lived in the camps and early cottages


This document contains the names of a number of people who lived in the camps, hostels etc but does not include lists available in the 1913 Census and the electoral rolls. Information on burials in St John the Baptist Church Cemetery, Reid ACT comes from a book by Jean Salisbury, St John's Churchyard. The Anglican Church at St John the Baptist at Canberra. Up until early 1930 records of births deaths and marriages were registered in NSW (Queanbeyan). All men and women who enlisted in the armed forces World War 1 and World War 2 are registered in NSW or other states.


During my research for The Builders of Canberra 1909-1913 [Gugler] I did not come across any full lists of men in living in the temporary camps. However lists of men owing money (as little as a few pence) and letters, petitions and so on found in the Australian Archives do give some information about those living in Canberra during the construction era.


This document lists some of the people who lived in the following camps, temporary settlements and early permanent cottages erected for a few workmen.   The camps/settlements etc are:-  The Surveyors Camp 1909/1910, Acton, Arsenal Camp, Brickyards, Power House, Civic Centre, Duntroon, Northbourne, Red Hill, Mt Pleasant Road Making Camp, Tradesmen's Camp, No 1 Labourers Camp, Westlake, White City Camp, Molonglo, Westlake Contractors' Camps - Howie's, Monolyte, Riverbourne, Russell Hill, Lady Hopetoun Club, Brick Cottages built for workmen at Civic, Power

House, Brickyards and Blandfordia (Forrest).






The first surveyors’ camp was set up at the base of Kurrajong Hill (Capital Hill and site of the present Parliament House) in March 1909. The surveyors commenced work on a 36 square mile area that was to become the city of Canberra. This camp lasted for three weeks. The surveyors were F Broinowski, L Morgan, A Percival, G Chapman, Charles Scrivener and Percy Sheaffe.


 The men returned the following year to continue with the work. By the end of the year the Administrative Centre for the proposed city was set up at Acton. In 1910 work commenced on the Royal Military College at Duntroon. The majority of camps for workmen were established in 1913.


Workmen's Camps were established near major work sites of Brickyards (Westridge - later named Yarralumla), Power House (Kingston) and Cotter River. Workmen's Camps were segregated into Single Men and Married Quarters. The majority of single men lived in tents usually around 8 feet x 10 feet - two men to a tent. These camps were also segregated according to occupation - Labourers, Pug (Horse & Dray), Tradesmen, Engineers etc. Camps were usually provided with a Mess and some form of ablution block. Urinals provided were often trenches dug out of the ground and it was not unusual to set up the odd bale of straw in a hessian bag for night use.


 Married men usually built their own cottages and the favoured method was sapling frames, hessian walls, galvanised iron roof and fireplaces and earth floors. Many men used old hessian cement bags because once opened out and made wet with water provided when dry walls they provided protection from the wind. The outside walls were then whitewashed and interior pasted with paper.


At Acton a number of single men (that is men without their wives or unmarried) were housed in the Bachelors’ Quarters - timber barracks - one man to each room. These men were white-collar workers brought to the construction sites of Canberra to provide the skills necessary for the construction work to proceed. Some of the married officials were provided with accommodation in old cottages and a few timber ones constructed specifically for them at Acton.  The Residency (later known as Canberra House - was built for the Administrator, Colonel Miller and his wife in 1913 and occupied from January 1914.  I had been informed by one researcher that this dwelling was constructed from Stone - however, James Collet who has researched and written a history of Acton, found the information that the house is built from concrete blocks/bricks.  This makes this the first known concrete dwelling built in the Territory. The Power House also with concrete foundations and walls(?) but it was not ready untila year or so later.  The only earlier federal building may be the plan room on Capital Hill, built in 1911.  25 concrete cottages were built in Griffith (suburb of Canberra) and the hostel known as Beauchamp House in 1926 and in the period of the late 1940s after World War 2 a few monocrete concrete houses were constructed.


The nearest shopping centre was at Queanbeyan and from 1916 at the Co-operative store set up at Kingston at the Railway Station site. Alcohol was not sold in the territory between 1913 and the end of 1928. It was banned by King O'Malley who had turned his back on the demon drink. The opening of Parliament 9th May, 1927 reopened the question and in 1928 the population of the territory was allowed its first vote that gave permission for alcohol again to enter the territory for sale. (Much to the upset of the Queanbeyan hotels who had done a roaring trade for many years).


Tent rental was 1/6d per week and a ground rent of 6d. During the years 1917 to 1920 the

Commonwealth was concerned about the possibility of humpies having materials borrowed from the Commonwealth. During this time WO Russell was charged with the job of going around to each 'owner' requesting receipts for all materials used. His lists provided us with information about the population of Canberra at this time and the houses in which they lived.


From 1916, however, until around 1921 the population of Canberra was depleted by the war effort. Work on Canberra was put on hold and those who did not join up often went in search of work elsewhere.


In 1921 work recommenced on the construction of the city, but with very limited finance available. The decision was made then that only the basics should be built to enable the move of the federal parliament from Melbourne to Canberra. Instead of constructing an imposing new Parliament House the decision was made to build a provisional one and when money became available to build a new one suitable for the capital city of Australia.


It should be noted that not all men working on the city lived in large camps where a Mess was provided for the single men. There were many small camps. Ancel John Johnston in his reminiscences published in Queanbeyan Historical Monographs, No 2 was a local lad who described his life in 1925 when he worked for the PMG. Part of his story is as follows:


We were camped at a spot near the Canberra Railway Station, approximately where Freebody's garage [Wentworth Avenue] was later erected and from there we worked on the line to Queanbeyan and some lines around Acton…Other gangs were working between Yass and Hall and we carried on from Ginninderra to Queanbeyan. When we moved on to that job our camp was moved from Eastlake [Kingston] to a spot near the Duntroon School between the Gun Gate entrance to the Royal Military College and what is now the suburb of Campbell. We were camped there when the deluge of May 1925 struck the area. It was most uncomfortable living in tents and our outside cooking fire had no chance of



Many men living in these shortlived camps including those working in the forests in the 1920s and period of the Great Depression spent the week in the camps and went home at the weekends if they lived in the district. Others like Frank Clowry, foreman carpenter on the Provisional Parliament House lived in the Tradesmen's Camp at Westlake and rode his bicycle home to a small township near Braidwood every fortnight. This trip in the year 2001 on modern roads takes by car between and hour and hour and a half.


From 1926 the Commonwealth had a policy of gradually replacing tents with cubicles. The latter was 10 foot x 12 foot, constructed from second grade baltic pine, unlined, with a galvanised iron roof. Two men shared each small structure.[1] This accommodation had the luxury of a small cast iron stove and electricity that brought the rent per week per man up to 3/-. In December 1926 The Canberra Times reported that there were eight cubicle camps and sixteen tent camps in the territory. This statement referred only to the more formal camps. There were according to men who lived and worked in this period – little camps all over the place. At this time 554 men lived in cubicles and 2,578 in tents. By the 22nd March 1927 there were 784 men in cubicles and 1,184 in tents and 222 in cottages and 810 living at Russell Hill, Riverbourne and Oaks Estate (ex-Queanbeyan suburb). (See letter at end of document re cubicles etc.)


Following are the lists of some of the men who lived and worked in Canberra in the period between 1913 and the mid 1920s.






Acton was the administrative centre of Canberra from 1911 to the mid to late 1950s. It was also the site of the first nursery run by T C Weston. In addition to the farm cottage of Acton House and nearby Springbank property farm houses there were tents of Lands & Survey Branch a number of new buildings were built. They included Canberra House (1913), the Bachelors Quarters (timber barracks for single male officials) occupied from December 1912, few weatherboard cottages for married officials and from 1924 15 small two bedroom portable temporary cottages constructed from timber for workmen. A number of humpies were erected by workmen in the teen years and were occupied up until around 1924 when the workmen's timber cottages became available.


Ruth Robertson nee Brackenreg wrote a book Yabbies at Acton, A Story of Canberra 1913-1927.  In the book she writes –


Duntroon Station was leased in 1910 for two years and the Royal Military college started in April 1912. Acton Estate was resumed in 1911 and Yarralumla (originally spelt Yarrowlumla) in 1913.  There were only scattered farmhouses, so most of the early public servants lived very uncomfortably in tents or in Queanbeyan.  The Bachelors lived in tents in front of the Bachelors Quarters (later called Lennox House). [The quarters were constructed from timber and available for occupation from late 1912]…


My parents found accommodation first with the Sullivans of Springbank.  They had a bedroom and a bagged in end of the verandah for a dining room and mother cooked at an open fire in the garden. They paid one pound per week for rental…When my mother came back to Canberra my parents shared the old Rectory with Rev Ward…they had two rooms and use of the kitchen…At weekends they played tennis at the home of Mr and Mrs Scrivener at Acton House, previously owned by the Brasseys of Acton Estate. It was a stone house…later the Sheaffe family lived there…


After my brother, James Richard was born in 1916 my parents moved into the house now known as 8 Liversidge St Acton after Dr Thompson moved across the road to No 7…[he planned one house to be a hospital].  The rent for these houses was 10% of the tenant’s salary…


Other families in the Acton houses also had young children, Althea Mouat, Sybil Edwards, Bob, Betty and Barbara Vautin, Jack, Margaret and Maitland Rolland, Adele Mildenhall, Hector and Joan Horsburgh were among our earlier playmates.  There were nine houses at upper Acton, seven on one side and two on the other. Further down the hill there was Acton House occupied by the Sheaffe family after the Scriveners left in 1915, a few cottages originally belonging to the Acton Estate and the bank and administrative offices.


There was a family called Dorman living in one of the cottages. They first lived in Queanbeyan and Mr Dorman worked on the construction of the Cotter Dam. He cycled there every day and home again!  Later the Butters family occupied the Residency [Canberra House first occupied by Col and Mrs Miller in Jan 1914] and more houses were built at Acton.  One of the first occupied by the Monaghans (almost opposite No 8) took the place of the large water tanks which were the source of the city’s first water supply…


An Appendix is added to the book – following are excepts from it.



Director of Lands & Surveys: CR Scrivener

Field Staff:             Surveyors              Articled Assistants

                                PL Sheaffe             EJ Dowling

                                A Percival              RM Kelly

                                RJ Rain                    EV Corlass

                                G Marshall             CG Roberts

                                JD Reid                   FH Chaplin


Valuer    AW Moriarty

Inspector JC Brackenreg


Drawing Staff;

Senior Draftsman: FJ Broinowski

Draftsmen: J G Brown; CT Young: AA Andrews; FL Hatfield; FL Lynch; CS Vautin; ED Gilchrist; L Edwards; R Middlecoat


Clerical Staff: M Hyde; HN Bradshaw; C Seddon; F Kaye


Reading from ANU left side

First House (now 8 Liversidge St): Dr Thompson, JC Brackenreg, AW Edwards

Second House: H Mouat

Third House: RJ Thornhill, TCG Weston; AE Bruce

Fourth House: FA Piggin, JK Ross, RJ Rain, Layton, Knibbs, SJ Lancashire, CW Horsburgh, AJ Glassey, H Marshall

Fifth House: Capt. GE Coffey, J Kilgour, AL Richmond, HR Waterman

Sixth House: FJ Broinowski, WO Russell, L Edwards

Seventh House (next to Bachelors’ Quarters): CS Vautin, VH O’Loughlin, WJ Mildenhall.


Right hand side from ANU

First House (Bank Manager’s Residence): Although a branch of the Commonwealth Bank was opened by Mr OA Smith on 13th January 1913 there was no residence for him and he stayed only a few months.  FCA Ireland, C Westcott, EP McPhee, LG Fussell, FW Cunningham.

Second House (now 7 Liversidge St): Dr Thompson, CS Vautin, HM Rolland, JC Brackenreg.


In the middle and late 1920s other houses were built at Acton. The house next to 7 Liversidge St on the block where the water tanks had been was of dark stained timber (all the other houses were painted) and was occupied by Mr Monaghan, an Officer of the Senate.  Next door to the Monahgans a new house was occupied first by Mr Percy Deane (Prime Minister’s Department).


Seven houses were built in Balmain Crescent, the first residents being:

1                     TR Casboulte

2                     WN Rowse

3                     WE Potts MC

4                     CS Daley

5                     Brig Gen PJ McGlynn

6                     WJ Skewes

7                     Col He Jones


Children who attended the Acton School (1920-23)

JR (Dick) Brackenreg, May Dorman, Hector Horsburgh, Joan Horsburgh, John Kilgour, Walter Kilgour, Joan Kilgour, Jack Rolland, Margaret Rolland, Maitland Rolland, Bob Vautin, Sybil Edwards, Alice Avery, Harold O’Brien, Andrew O’Brien, Leo O’Brien, Grace Curley, Fred Curley, Mavis Curly, Freda Cox, Fay Cox, Kitty Bates, Edith Gordon, Phyllis Corkhill, Brendan Corkhill, Pat Corkhill, Clara Kaye, Gordon Kaye, Don Smith.


Children who were too young for school but went occasionally:  Jack Dorman, Percy Thurbon, Eric Dunshea, Ruth Brackenreg.


Population ACT 1911-1927

1911       1921

1912       1940

1913       1988

1914       1959

1916       2223 (includes from this year Jervis Bay)

1917       2104

1918       2232

1919       1919

1920       1972

1921       2078

1922       2591

1923       2676

1924       3074

1925       4034

1926       5039

1927       5870



28th September 1917 WO Russell listed the following buildings at Acton:


Administrator's House (Canberra House), Acton House, 1 cottage (Medical Officer), 7 cottages (Married officials - rent 10% of salary), 1 cottage banking manager… In 1918 the people who lived in the cottages were:


  1.Mr O'Loughlin, 4 rooms, kitchen, servants quarters and office

  2.Mr Russell as above

  3.Captain Coffee as above

  4.Mr Thornhill as above

  5.Mr Mouat as above with, in addition, one outside room

  6.Mr Brackenreg as above

  7.Mr Vautin 5 rooms, kitchen, servants room

  8.Acton House PL Sheaffe, 6 rooms, servant's room, kitchen.


In the early 1920s the following are listed as living in Acton Cottages for officials

Section 14 (Balmain Street)

Bl 2 TR Casboulte                 Bl 3 WE Potts

Bl 4 WN Rowse                     Bl 5 CS Daley

Bl 8 W J Skewes                    Bl 9 A E Jones

Bl 11 AM Cunningham        Bl 12 Dr A Burrows

Bl 13 GH Monohan             

Bl 14 PE Deane

Section 34 (Liversidge Street)

Bl 1 J Mildenhall   Bl 2 L Edwards

Bl 3 HR Waterman               Bl 4 H Marshall

Bl 5 ADE Bruce (took over in 1927 from TC Weston)

Bl 6 H Mouat                         Bl 7 AW Edwards


The Bachelors Quarters

No lists of tenants have been found. However in 1921 the male only domain had to accommodate Miss Fitzgerald, the unmarried lady teacher who came to teach at Acton School. This did not work out as satisfactory because she was the only female resident. A List of Rooms and Tenants was made at this time. It is as follows:


1.Smoking Room, 2. Dining Room, 3. Visitors Dining Room, 4. Pantry, 5. Kitchen, 6  Larder,

8. Scullery, 9. Bathroom, 10. Bedroom, Mr Cole, 11. Bedroom Mr Cadden, 12.  Bedroom Mr Woodforde, 13. Bedroom Mr Rail, 14. Bedroom Mr Turner, 15 Bedroom  Mr Robinson, 16. Bedroom Mr Force, 17. Bedroom Mr Smith, 18. Bedroom Mr Daly,  19. Bedroom Mr Sheldon, 20. Bathroom, 21. Bedroom Mr Monger, 23. Bedroom Mr McNamara, 24. Bedroom Mr Jamieson, 26 Storeroom, 27. Bathroom, 28. Bedroom  Steward, 29. Bedroom Miss Fitzgerald, 30. Bedroom used as a storeroom, 31, 32,33, 34 Staff quarters.


In 1923 the men of the Bachelors Quarters signed a petition against the manager Mr Fred Walker. The men who signed were LR Willis, W Adamson, A Jackson, H Force, J McCloskey, L Dent, J Orr, LS Boynton, Fred C Cook, E Naylor, F Smith, WM Langford, Geo J O'Neill, E Proctor, Keith Champion, K Hudson, RL Hall, S Chas  Uslau?, Collidy?, W Jackson, O'Sullivan, HR Caden, HB Ingleion [Ingleton?].


Mr Walker was followed by Mr P J Breen as manager and after he left on 14th June 1924 the position was taken over by Mr Hicks (Chief Steward). His wife took up the duties of Matron. By the 21st August, 1924 it was known that Mr Hicks had cancer and had not long to live.


Another list of names enumerated the men of the Bachelors Quarters who owed money between 14th February to 30th June, 1916. Most were at the time the bills were finally ready already on active duty in the armed forces. The men were: AE Wadsworth, LH West, WJ Christie, PF Douglas (fire chief in ACT), RS Shannon, IA  Smith, AE Fennelly, C Muir, ED Gilchrist, L Edwards, AF Smith, AJK Corner, AG Cooper, JH Kennedy, S G Bell, LS Malcolm, L Hall, ER Iredale, A Osbourne, L Taylor, J McRae Dunn, RR Monger, VH O'Loughlin, HW Robbins, SH Slatter, RJ Thornhill, LH West, AJ Carney, SG Bell. There were a total of 27 men in the mess.


The Lands & Survey Camp was established in 1911. The 1928 Electoral Roll indicates that there were at that time four men in the camp. Others are not known. Married Quarters were probably built around the same time from the usual materials such as hessian walls and galvanised iron roofs. WO Russell's Lists made between 1917 note the following:


F Dorman, Cottage privately owned. Galvanised iron roof & hessian walls. 2/- per month rental. Employed by the Commonwealth - Works & Railways Dept E Dunshea. Cottage privately owned. Galvanised iron roof & hessian walls. 2/- per   month. Employed by the Commonwealth afforestation branch. Dunshea bought his house from TW Robins who returned to Sydney. A photograph of this cottage in the mid 1920s showed it to be quite a substantial building at that time with timber walls.



A Anderson. Cottage privately owned. Galvanised iron roof & hessian walls. 2/- per month. Employed by the Commonwealth Works & Railways Dept.


G Wilson. Commonwealth cottage. Galvanised iron, house & ground rent 2/- per week. Employed by Commonwealth Lands & Survey Branch. Handwritten note noted. Application by T Beaver to rent. Wilson vacated. Prior to Wilson taking over the cottage it was tenanted by Charles May who vacated on 31st August, 1919. May was employed by the Afforestation Branch and Wilson by the Commonwealth.


J Cooper, Privately owned - Tent. Employed by the Commonwealth Afforestation Branch.


W Blewitt, Commonwealth building, galvanised iron. Employed by the Commonwealth, Lands & Survey Branch.


Another not mentioned in this list was Ned Ryan, foreman of Lands & Survey Branch.  His wife was Alice nee Blundell. The cottage in which he lived at Acton was owned by the Commonwealth and had been condemned for some years. His five year old son was bitten by a snake after the lad had been put to bed. It was a couple of days before Christmas. The child died. As a result the Commonwealth moved one of the ex-Molonglo buildings to Acton and converted it into a cottage for the family.


On the 18th November 1918 P Sheaffe wrote to the Surveyor General in Melbourne about the Acton Married Quarters Camp. He wrote: A Davis, James Stewart, H Thorning, AE Bland and F Dorman occupy camp sites as Acton rent free. They all live in humpies constructed out of weatherboard and galvanised iron roof. It is understood that the premises having at one time being condemned is the reason why no rent was charged by the late Administrator…He went on to recommend that each pay 6d per    week rental.


Another family living on the flat was Wallace. In April 1924 a child had been very ill necessitating the disinfecting of the Wallace cottage. The medical officer noted that this cottage like the others nearby had a long walk to the lavatory. William Wallace moved into No 1 Acton Cottages in 1924.


These small workmen’s cottages designed by HM Rolland were ready for occupation from July 1924 and the first occupants were:

      1.W Wallace (2nd October, 1924) Lands Department (initially intended for J Ryan 22nd July, 1924)

      2.Mrs C Wylie Charwoman

      3.C Marshall Afforestation Branch

      4.E Dunshea cleaner

      5.E Thurgold, Cook at Hotel Canberra. His name was crossed out and JW Mitchell Bars placed at No 5. Another name also marked in was Bourke 25th September,1924.

      6.W Green Lands Department

      7.JH Saunders Chauffeur (he worked for the Chief Commissioner, Butters who lived in Canberra House (early 1925) J Lynch was also on the list for No 7.    

      8.T Ryan (22nd July, 1924) Works Branch

      9.M Heselden, Foreman Plasterer (on another list was William Riley 6th August, 1924)

     10.Mrs Withers, Laundress (another list had SF Griffiths 1st October, 1924)

     11.S Margules Afforestation. He later moved to Cotter River. Stan Margules given names were Louis Constantine Stanley-. His wife was Constance Margaret. She and three of their children are buried in St John the Baptist Cemetery in Canberra. Allan Margules, sixth child of Stan and Constance died on the 24th February, 1933 aged 2 days, Bessie Margules died on 20th February 1937 aged 6 years. She caught diphtheria. Baby Margules was stillborn on 22nd March, 1937 and two months later Constance died on 8th May, 1937 aged 31 years. Stan died on 13th October, 1959 aged 71 years and is also buried at St John's. They had nine children.

     12. J Stuart, Works Branch

     13. F Dorman Works Branch

     14. J Preston, Hotel Canberra.


An earlier list of people who applied for the cottages included Mrs Carr, Mr Lynch, Mr Blewitt, Mr Hourigan, Mr Griffith, Mr Carter, Mr Green, Bourke, Mr Reilly. A letter written in October 1928 indicates that No 5 was tenanted by Mrs Francis who was abandoned by her husband. Because there was no welfare available in the FCT she moved into NSW where she could get some help. Mr Francis was allocated an Acton cottage because he was a member of the Canberra City Band.  He was also an ex-serviceman.


Another well known name in Acton was Mrs Llewellyn who owned horses and rented them out. Her husband was William, an immigrant from South Wales. He died at Acton on 16th October, 1928 aged 51 years and is buried in St John the Baptist Church Cemetery.



[1] There are several cubicles still in use in Canberra.  Several are at Pierce’s Creek settlement and another is in the backyard of Calthorpe House in Mugga Way.

Arsenal Camps



The arsenal project began in 1915 when the British government asked the Australian government to build an arms factory. The Federal Capital Territory was chosen because it was administered by the Commonwealth and thus was "above” state level. Four possible sites were shortlisted and the final site chosen was at Tuggeranong. Fortunately for the territory a committee was formed and the proposed Arsenal Factory and Township was never built. However Australian Archives do record lists of furniture, fittings and people in the Arsenal Camp buildings. Those living in the camp in 1921 were:


Transfer to Power House Tenements from 10/7/21:

A Lawrence, bricklayer, J Baldwin, bricklayer, RR Cooper, bricklayer's labourer, J Richardson, lather, A Warden, plumber


New Occupants: J Cardiffe, plasterer 7.7.1921, BJ Hyland plasterer 7.7.1921, C Blyton bricklayer 4.7.1921 (He left 11.7.1921), H Fleming, bricklayer 4.4.1921, W Lowrie, builder's labourer 5.7.1921, W Hennessy, plasterer 5.7.1921, A Maxwell, builder’s labourer, 6.7.1921, H Woodlands, carpenter 12.7.1921, WF Higgins, carpenter 12.7.1921, CE Knight, plasterer 12.7.1921, E Lee, plasterer 12.7.1921


Week ending 16.7.1921 - transferred to Ainslie Camp


H Woodlands, carpenter, TW Higgins, carpenter


New Occupants: E Clark, Horse & Dray driver 11.7.1921, C Marsden, bricklayer,



Weekending 23.7.1921


Vacated: J Richardson, J Lather 10.7.1921 to married quarters, Molonglo Camp


New Occupants: E Candish, carpenter 18.7.1921, J Kay, plasterer 18.7.1921, CGH Jones, plasterer 18.7.1921, A Lingren, plasterer 18.7.1921, W Ball, plasterer 19.7.1921, W Dogan, labourer 18.7.1921


 Weekending 30.7.1921


Vacated: W Dogan labourer 25.7.1921, E Candish carpenter 23.7.1921


New Occupants: E Ellis, plasterer 23.7.1921, J Swan, builders labourer 23.7.1921, J Maloney, builder’s labourer 23.7.1921, S Stanley, labourer 26.7.1921, J O'Leary labourer 25.7.1921, J Curtis, labourer 25.7.1921


Weekending 6.8.1921


Vacated: RM McLeod to hospital 6.8.1921, C Dolan 4.8.1921, A Maxwell 8.8.1921, CHG Jones 4.8.1921, A Lingren 4.8.1921


New Occupants: RM McLeod, plasterer 4.8.1921, S Love, builders labourer 4.8.1921, W Murray, labourer 1.8.1921, A Hobbs, labourer 1.8.1921, C Dolan, labourer 29.7.1921


Weekending 13.8.1921


Vacated: Nil


New Occupants:


A Carroll, painter 12.8.1921, Miller, painter 17.8.1921, W Brayley, painter 20.8.1921


Vacated: CE Knight 18.8.1921, RR Cooper 18.8.1921


New Occupants: HW Fleeting, carpenter 17.8.1921, A Glennie, carpenter 17.8.1921, SP Wright, carpenter 17.8.1921, F Foster, carpenter 17.8.1921, JC Daly 18.8.1921


Weekending 27.8.1921


Vacated: BJ Hyland, plasterer 24.5.1921, EJ Ellis, plasterer 24.5.1921


New Occupants: S Rogers, carpenter 22.8.1921, CA Essex, carpenter 22.8.1921, J Harvey, painter 29.8.1921, RM McLeod from hospital 14.8.1921.


Weekending 3.9.1921


Vacated: J Kay, plasterer 31.8.1921, E Rowe transferred to Power House Camp 1.9.1921


New Occupants: WCR Mitchell, plumber 31.8.1921, J O'Neill, labourer 5.9.1921, C Gee transferred from Power House Camp.


Weekending 10.9.1921


Vacated: J Baldwin, bricklayer 8.9.1921, C Gee, painter 8.9.1921, E Robinson, painter 6.9.1921, R Lamb, drainer 7.9.1921.



Weekending 17.9.1921


Vacated: RM McLeod, plasterer 17.9.1921, C Marsden, bricklayer 8.9.1921, S Love, builders labourer 15.9.1921, J Maloney, builders labourer 13.9.1921, SB Wright carpenter 8.9.1921


Weekending 24.9.1921


Vacated: W Hennessy, plasterer 20.9.1921


Transferred: W Ball to Brickyards Cottages 20.9.1921


New Occupants: J Gibson, plasterer 22.9.1921, T Herbert, plasterer 22.9.1921, E Stone, carpenter 6.9.1921


Weekending 1.10.1921


Vacated: J Curtis, labourer 29.9.1921


New Occupants: Nil


Weekending 8.10.1921


New Occupants: T Wade, labourer from Power House Camp 29.9.1921


Weekending 15.10.1921


Vacated: H Fleming, bricklayer 30.9.1921, S Rogers, carpenter 13.10.1921, J O'Neill, labourer 28.9.1921


New Occupants: W Ware, painter 12.10.1921, C Coleman, painter 12.10.1921


Weekending 12.11.1921


Vacated: J Mylon, bricklayer 29.10.1921, H Hammmond, bricklayer 17.10.1921, E Stone, carpenter 13.10.1921


Transfers: R Lamb, drainer to Power House Camp 11.11.1921, HW Fleeting carpenter to Brickworks 7.11.1921, J Mylon, builders labourer to Power House Camp 11.11.1921, A Glennie, carpenter to Brickworks 7.11.1921, A Herbert, plasterer to Brickworks 7.11.1921, T Wade, labourer to Power House Camp 25.10.1921


Australian Archives A271/1 AR18/18 - Letter dated August 12th 1918 from Sgt F S Caffern applied for a position of foreman at the proposed works in the erection of an Arsenal. In the same file was a list of applications for employment. The list contains the following names, occupation and address:


Chas Marshall, carpenter, Cooma Road Queanbeyan

Jas Ray, ganger, Wonirah (?) Avenue, Darlinghurst

M Stapleton, cook, 44 Gurong (?) Street Sydney

FS Daffern, bricklayer, RS Defence Camp Molonglo

PF McGee, carpenter, c/o White Tank Hotel West Wylong

Corporal H Hart, Stores, Concentration Camp, Molonglo

RJ Stubbs, certificate E/driver, fitter/pipelayer/ blacksmith. References very good,

Llanelly, Polding Street, Drummoyne

JH Janson, foreman or asst eng, Queanbeyan

ASH McClay, - GPO Sydney

A Jones, Clerk of Works, Maumion (?) Street, Abbottsford

Gus Boris, f/carpenter, 190 Denison Rd, Petersham

Frank Kelly, foreman carpenter, Nazier St, Arncliffe

Thos Lynch, ganger, Atchinson Street, Wollongong

R Brown, clerk of works, Rossmore, Normandy Rd, Caulfield, Vic

Alex Crorre (?), timekeeper, "Caithness"Woolie (?) Creek Rd, Bankside

Thos Stewart, camp steward, 68 West Street, Darlinghurst.







The men who built the brickyards lived in 1913 in the Railway Camp (see 1913 Census). The site of this camp is not known. The rail line linking the Power House area to Queanbeyan was completed in 1914. The first camps at the Brickyards for men producing bricks were established in 1913 in the area of present day Banks Street Yarralumla. The single men's camp was kept separate from the married quarters. In 1921 a few ex-Molonglo buildings were moved to the area (Banks Street) for married men and a barracks for single men. New camps were established in 1927 when the area of Banks

Street was developed.



As with the other sites - many left the area from 1916 when the brickyards closed and returned after they re-opened in 1920/21. The following list is of men living at Brickyards between February 1917 and 1921/22


  1.Robert Boag. He was foreman of the brickworks. The cottage was previously owned by R Moore.

  2.Thomas Boag labourer employed by brickworks. During the period when yards closed he was absent and a family lived in the dwelling.

  3.G Murrin - there in 1917 and not later.

  4.P Nightingale - working in 1918.

  5.P Ware - labourer

  6.JC Cotterill labourer. His cottage was previously owned by P Denley.

  7.W McDermott lived in the Yarralumla Woolshed - left the area by 17th January 1918.

  8.J Hadaway. He was there in November 1917. The cottage was built by S Keir.

  9.L Pola - labourer.

 10.Vacant - no rental

 11.Vacant - no rental

 12.C Leach. By March 1918 the cottage was empty. It belonged to Holyoake of Queanbeyan

 13.E Skerry. The cottage was built S Kerry (Skerry?) and removed by 30th November 1917.

 14.Vacant - no rental

 15.J Skerry. In the cottage in 1918

 16.Vacant - no rental

 17.J Lea, labourer.

 18.EP Eggleston bricklayer

 19.M Handcock - no mention after 14th February 1917

 20.Vacant no rental

 21.S Oldfield labourer. He bought his cottage from J Stutchbury. It was iron skillion.

 22.S Pye. Not mentioned after 14th February 1917 and cottage pulled down in October 1917.

 23.H Bock - there in 1918

 24.M Curtin - no mention after February 1917

 25.E Quigg labourer. In 1920 he was working in Nimmatabel. He did return

 26.A Bower - may be Mrs Bower who sold to T Lea by 30th November 1917. There is no mention of Bower after February 1917 other than sale of house.

 27.P Withers. Sold the house to N Tinker 17th November 1917.

 28.W Bachelor labourer Afforestation. Worked for Mr Weston (first Parks & Gardens man and person in charge of plants/plantings in the territory)

 29.J Faulkner - also spelt - Falconer & Falkiner - labourer.

 30.Harry Townsend. Mrs Townsend was Mess Caterer for the Brickworks camps. The Townsend house was part galvanised iron and hessian walls, galvanised iron roof. Mrs Alice May Townsend died at Westridge on 21st September 1935 aged 50 years and is buried at St John the Baptist Church Cemetery in Reid Canberra.

 31.J Sharp. He lived in an iron building and worked for Mr Weston. Members of the Sharp family are also buried at St John's cemetery.

 32.Vacant - no rental

 33.Vacant - no rental

 34.J Prosser Both he and his house were gone by November 1917.

 35.A Prosser Left and house gone by November, 1917.

 36.P Stephenson. He and his house were gone by October, 1917

 37.J Beveridge Not mentioned after February 1917

 38.A H Lawton - not mentioned after February 1917

 39.Vacant - no rental

 40.T Culley labourer afforestation. In 1922 he moved into one of the small brick cottages in Section 64 Westridge.

 41.J Jacobs During the period of unemployment Jacobs worked in Melbourne. His cottage was removed by November 1917.


No site number recorded - 1917:

J Pearce

E Cregan

R White - in 1918 still there. He rented a galvanised iron cottage from the Commonwealth and worked as a caretaker.

S Keir - in 1920 owned his own house

J Hays - In 1920 he rented a Commonwealth galvanised iron cottage.


The following list is of men employed by the Brickworks 27th March 1921:

T Apps, R Boag, I Beveridge, A Beveridge, HA Charlton, T Culley, JD Colquhoun, J Fisher, J Faulkner, A Hannaford, R Hutchinson, W Herring, W Lawless, V Marsh, F McKay, HL Noble, RA Newcombe, C Oldfield, L Pola, E Quigg, M Quigg, J Stratton, F Turner, W Turner, D Vest, MJ Ware, A Wilson, N Wilson, John Brown. D Worrall started as a labourer in 1923 and later became a white collar worker - clerk.


1921 ex-Molonglo buildings erected in the area of Banks Street.


Married Quarters:

C O'Neill, 6 rooms; H Noble 3 rooms; W Herring 3 rooms, GS Halliday 3 rooms, R Hutchinson 6 rooms. Wash house - two sets of galvanised iron tubs with fittings and one portable copper and stand. Bathroom two galvanised iron baths and two galvanised iron showers. Outside two wooden WC's.


Jean Oldfield (nee Boyd) moved into one of the ex-Molonglo cottages with her family in 1921. She recalled that there were two groups of these cottages. She used to stand on a concrete slab in their backyard to throw out the tea-leaves. This was a concrete manhole cover and today it is in the front yard of the old (1927) Forestry School in Banks Street. Her house was one of a group of five and her neighbours were Hutchins, Dwyer, Moore, and another she couldn't recall. The second cluster consisted of Harry (Chips) Woodlands, Henry Noble, Turbit and Cotterill. Each cottage was connected to electricity but not water or sewerage.


Single quarters in ex-Molonglo buildings at 12th December 1921 listed the following tenants:

J Langdan, J Cavanagh, Glenning, Ball, J Gibson, Herbert, Swain, W Hart, S Brown, Lawless brothers, A Butler, C Gallaini, Frank McKay, J Newcombe, W Biddle, Reg Newcombe, J Newcombe jr, J Fisher, V Tratton, H Weir, Jordan.


Section 64 Westridge had seven brick cottages erected on it in 1921. By 1923 another three were added to bring the numbers up to ten. Lists of first tenants include:


11th January 1922:

3. S Oldfield. Occupied 13th March 1921 and left 21st June 1922. He was replaced by CJ Taylor

4. H Newbold. He occupied the dwelling on 8th December 1921 and from officially left (died?) on 7th November 1923. The cottage was then rented by RC Turbit at a rental of 22/- per week.

8.E Quigg occupied from 6th March 1922

11. MJ Ware occupied the dwelling from 6th March 1922

16. Robert Boag occupied the dwelling from 6th March 1922

15.WK Newbold occupied the dwelling 28th November 1921 and left the district in July 1926. He was manager of the brickworks.


Mr Robert Boag moved to Kingston. He and his wife are buried in St John the Baptist Church yard cemetery. Robert died on 30th June 1932 aged 52 years and his wife, Eleanor Ann on 10th January, 1959.


In 1927 Block 5 Section 64 was tenanted by Mr Turbit and the corner block 14 by Mr Hammond. Another tenant from the early days was Jeremiah Dillon, foreman of the Sewer Works who started work in Canberra in 1915. He died in 1929.


On 21st January, 1924 Sections 58 and 63 Westridge were surveyed. Weatherboard cottages were built in these sections:  The tenants were:


SECTION 58 - 11th October, 1927

L Foster (1), J Ratcliffe (2), F Lawrenson (4), L Bethell (6), Westbrooke, Forestry School, W Cotterill (8), S Turbit (9), K Shepherd (11), E Turner (12), M Johnson (14), Blumenthal poundkeeper (16), Wilks caretaker of Forestry School (15)


SECTION 63 - 11th October, 1927

JB Weir (6), HL Nobel (8), HL Reidy (10), J Oldfield (17), L Green (18), FJ Milne (22), S McDonald (23), S James (24), S Jobson (25).


Another list dated 1st November, 1935 noted people a number of people living in permanent accommodation at Westridge. The Great Depression was at its height at this time:


J Lynch Bl1 Section 58 Brickworks employee

AR Axelby Bl 6 Section 58 Forestry

H Reidy Bl 8 Section 58 Parks & Gardens

F McKay Bl 12 Section 58 Brickworks (see photograph above of Francis (Frank) McKay).

JTH Weaver Bl 15 Section 58 Ranger

HC McArthur Bl 9 Section 58 Parks & Gardens

LF Sullivan Bl 13 Section 58 Cleaner

J Lee Bl 17 Section 63 Water & Sewerage

N Jess Bl 18 Section 63 on relief

PS Carghill Bl 13 Section 64 Parks & Gardens

W J Curley Bl 12 Section 64 Brickworks (This cottages was tenanted by Jeremiah Dillon, foreman of Sewer Works. He died in 1929)

A Wood Bl 11 Section 64 Foreman

Dr MR Jacobs Bl 15 Section 64


On 15th October, 1935 a number of Westridge residents signed a petition objecting to the lack of development in the suburb. They were:

FJ Parker, HR Quigg, AE Townsend, AJ Curley, E Sharp, EJ Reynolds, M Johnson, D Riddle, JW Riddle, B Connelly, E Streatfield, E Wood, AGS Lawrence, EM Kilby, PS Corkhill, Mrs A McArthur, F Johnson, D Harris, A Brown, R Quigg, EH Quigg, MJ Ware, LJ Ware, P Carghill, Jn Batchelor, J Sharp, VJ Sharp, MJ Campbell, S Campbell, SW Kilby, TS Sharp, TM Corkhill, J Radcliffel, Mrs JL Radcliffe, Mrs JW Riddle, Mrs ED Corey, Mrs H Noble, F Tonkin, M Tonkin, M Tonkin, N Jess, Mrs Jess, J Lee, Mrs Lee, M Cotterill, A Cotterill, WT Boyd, D Boyd, C Taylor, HE Harris, H McArthur, Mrs J Oldfield, C Oldfield, R Sullivan, K Sullivan, A Blumenthal, SJ Blumenthal, S Oldfield, RA Newcombe, ED Newcombe, K Oldfield, M Oldfield, AE Townsend, Rita Lee, J Hobday, R Horan, F McKay, TA Corkhill, H Noble, E McKay, EB Axelby, AR Axelby, K Weaver, JTH Weaver, DE Weaver, M Connely, HA Streatfield, Andrew Wood, Main A Wood, Mrs A Riddle, CH Wright, J Fisher, W Howes, Mrs W Howes.



Civic Centre, Duntroon, Northbourne Camps




The following is a list of men living in barracks moved from the Molonglo Settlement and the date is 16th May, 1921. It is probable that the men living in this camp were used to construct the brick cottages built in 1921/1922 at Civic (modern Braddon).

Room 73 - Dan Smith

Room 74 - P Gleeson & F Mayo

Room 75 - Syd Griffiths & Walter Colverwell

Room 76 - W Ryan & W Johnston

Room 77 - Dick Roberts & Jas Southwell

Room 78 - J Kinlyside & Eric Sherd

Room 79 - J Ryan & H Walk (this perhaps should be "Wark")

Room 80 - Unoccupied

Room 81 - W Wallis

Room 82 - W Flint & Bert Dunn

Room 83 - A Dallis & G Moore

Room 84 - W Savage & J Donnelly

Room 67 - D Sloan Sn & D Sloan Jr

Room 68 - Frank Harrison

Room 69 - W Higgins


The majority of rooms had a stretcher for each man and a dover stove w/piping. A number of fire extinguishers were placed at vantage points. There was also one galvanised iron cooking house and one galvanised iron WC. A list of men owing money for the tenements dated 20th May, 1924 follows: M Glennan, W Gregory, S Griffiths, S Gifford, G Hatley, V James, W Jocelyn, N Lawless, G Mundy, R Smith, F Smith, J Wilson, T Beaver, M Dobson, W J Mitchell, A McIntosh, G Fisher, M Glennan, W Gregory, S Gifford, G Hartley, V James, W Jocelyn, N Lawless, G Mundy, R Smith, J Wilson. Some names have been repeated because they owed for rent and electricity. The amounts owed ranged from

threepence (3 cents) to 2/4 (24 cents).





Home & Territories Camp, Duntroon at 16th February, 1917


Rental cost for land was sixpence per site per week. Each site was 566 square yards. Each number refers to a block number:

1,2. vacant, 3. Haddon T, 4. Paynting CH, 5. Prentergast LC, 6.Naveau B, 7.Robinson W, 8.Arneson AE, 9.Stephenson F, 10.Hatchett W, 11.Livermore A, 12.Dowthwaite F, 13.Barraclough PL, 14.Smith E, 15.Ekersley AE, 16.Savage WH, 17.Clarke E, 18.Griffiths WJ, 19.Field WJ, 20.Edwards F,

21-18 Vacant.



From the early 1920s men living in the Home & Territories Camp at Duntroon had to leave their cottages unless they had a job at the RMC - they sold to men working at the RMC. These cottages were humpies built by the men. Most were constructed from timber uprights, hessian walls and galvanised iron roofs. The occupant listed was in possession of each house in 1920.


1.J Rennalds - was in the house in August 1917. By November 1917 Dellamore in the cottage.  


3.D Haddon. On 31st August 1918 Mrs Haddon sold to Abbott. She moved to Queen  Street Campbelltown.


5.D Woodston. The block originally belonged to Prentergast and F Clark

6.S Southwell. He was employed by the RMC 26th March 1917 and by 20th April 1920 recorded as living in the RMC grounds. He became camp caretaker and was followed by Wilson.

7.Empty - belonged to E Clark - J Weir had lived in the building.

8.Frank O'Brien. He let the building to Ted Clark on 7th July 1920. Frank worked for defense on 25th July 1917 and the notes mention Mrs Ted Clarke buying the house.  (NB Note the different spellings of "Clark"- "Clarke". The spelling varies in the documents)

9.J Kirkwood. From 23rd of March 1918 sold to EH Packer.

10.W Robinson. He worked for defense and sold to P Hennesy on 12th June 1918. At that time the Robinson family could be contacted through D Fox Western Creek.

11.A Oldfield By 23rd March 1918 sold to J Bull.

12.AE Arneson (Ned). Skerry stayed in this hut and or O'Brien's hut. Arneson left 24th December 1921. He was a plumber

13.T Swan. He was in the camp as early as 1913

14.RW Hatchett. After 23rd March 1918 Webber

15.A Livermore. He paid up until 31st July 1920. Previous owners of hut were Howard, Cross and Grimes

16.F (Frank) Dowthwaite moved on 7th January 1922 to a house in Civic (now part of Braddon). There were twenty small brick cottages erected there for workmen - 1921/22.

17.P Barraclough. By 7th April 1920 Mrs Barraclough lived outside the College grounds. (see photograph).    The previous owners of the camp site were Anstey, Harris & Martin

18.E Smith. By 7th April 1920 he lived outside the College grounds and he worked for defense. The previous owner was Perry. E Smith left by 1st March 1922.

 19.E Clarke Jr. He too lived outside the College grounds 7th April 1920 and also worked for defense. He left 3rd January, 1919. Previous owners of the site were Hayes, Cully, Ekersley and Carnell.

20.This site on 1918 map notes a Mrs Moran in residence

21.E Clarke Sn - He was an original camp member from 1913. In 1918 Reynolds moved on to this site.

22.JR Griffith - he too was an original camp member from 1913. His camp site was outside the RMC boundary in 1920. He worked for defense.

23.J Field - one of the original camp site members from 1913. By 29th August 1917 he had sold to Cruickshank.

24.J Stores. By 29th August 1917 sold to T Ryan. He vacated this stone or pise house on  22nd July 1919. Two men applied for it - A Gordon and G Samuels (cook at  cadets’ mess).

25.J Woodstone in residence by 29th August 1917.

26.E Paynting. He sold on 30th April 1921. Previous owners noted Gray, Redfern & Yates.

27.F Edwards. On 30th April 1920 he sold to ST Hall who worked at the College

28.F Grant. He sold 16th May 1918 and moved into Edward's place.

29.W Savage. He sold 18th March 1920 to N Cooney. Previous owners were Caines, Woodger, Douglas, Kirkham, Lloyd and Clapperton.

30.A Gordon. He left on 31st May 1921.

31.A Oldfield Sold to F W Carnell who was a storeman at RMC 7th April 1920


33.J Dudley. Previous owners were Kirkpatrick, Symmonds, Clapperton & Clark.

34.Empty - C Edlington owned the metal. He returned to the humpy sometime before removing it on 27th July, 1918.

35.EHB Pitcher. He was on active service. Previous owner Tattenhall

36.AG Kilpatrick. Two names - Sharman & Staples - crossed out - marked as living here 1918. Previous owners listed Stapleton and O'Brien.

37.J Kirkwood. Another name - Temple - crossed out.

38.T Lomax. By 29th March 1918 J Temple. Previous owners Anderson & Archer

39.J Temple. He was on this site in 1913. T Lomax listed post 29th March 1918 and Edwards listed as a previous owner.

40.FW Shoobert. Previous owners Moore, Davey & Weldon

41.LR Smith. By 29th March 1918 M Quinn old age pensioner

42.F Garlin. Previous owner Webber

43.WH Savage. This name crossed out and A Oldfield 25th July 1917 inserted on list.

44.L Clark. Previous owner Kay

45.J (Jules) de Smet. He occupied this lot from 25th October 1917 until he left on 27th October 1921. He moved to a Molonglo Tenement.

Others mentioned with no camp site number are: C Johnson 3rd July 1915 - 30th August 1915; C Rottenbury sold to L Griffiths of RMC March 1922. On 6th December 1921 R Fitzpatrick sold to E Fields.


Another report dated 1st March 1913 referred to Moore's boarding house. It was  purchased on 10th March, 1913 by Commonwealth. De Smet's boarding house is also  marked on some of the early maps. It was occupied from 27th August, 1913. On 16th  February, 1916 D Woodstone applied for tenancy of the cottage. He did not intend to  keep it as a boarding house.


A report dated 29th August, 1917 by WO Russell listed the following buildings and tenants in Duntroon area:

Old Cottage controlled by FCD occupied by LR Smith Works Employee

Old Cottage occupied by NJ Store

Workmen's Mess controlled by CS occupied by C of E Rectory.

House Rectory controlled by CS occupied by J Curley

1921 List of Cottages - owners and materials used


F Dowthwaite: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per    month. Not employed by Commonwealth. Working in Sydney. Home occupied by family. Frank Dowthwaite died 17th September, 1943 aged 69 years. He is buried at St John the Baptist Church Cemetery. He came to the Canberra district in 1912. At the time of his death he lived in Batman Street, Braddon. He married in England Isabella Ingerson who is also buried at St Johns. She died20th September, 1961. She was born 5th June, 1875.


Mrs Barraclough: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. Not employed by the Commonwealth. In district.


E Smith: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. Not employed by the Commonwealth. Working in district.


E Clarke: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. Employed by Commonwealth. Works & Railways Dept.


J Griffiths: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month.  Not employed by the Commonwealth. Working in district.


J DeSmet: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. Employed by the Commonwealth. Cook Engineers Mess. [This mess was opposite the  Power House].


A Gordon: Commonwealth Cottage. Old stone building iron roof. 5/- per month  cottage and grounds rent. Royal Military College employee.


AE Arneson: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month.  Employed by the Commonwealth Works & Railways Department.


CJ Skerry: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month.  Not employed by the Commonwealth. Left the district. House occupied by M O'Brien.


F Grant: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. Not employed by the Commonwealth. House occupied by family.


 F Edwards: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. Employed casually by Commonwealth in district.


A Livermore: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. Employed casually by Commonwealth. In district.


 C Rottenbury: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. Employed casually by Commonwealth. In district.


 F O'Brien: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month.  Not employed by Commonwealth. In district.


C Edlington: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month. House unoccupied.


 A Oldfield: privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month.  Not employed by Commonwealth. Working in district.


Mr D'Arcy McInnes lived in the Home & Territories Camp from 1921 until the 1930s.  He recalled that the site of his old home is now part of the car park near the RMC  Australian Defence Force University. He also remembered the names of his  neighbours - Foster, Campbell, Cooney, Carling, Heuderbourck, Oldfield, Rundle, Boyd, Wilie, Webber, Halls.

The 1955 list of people still living in this camp are:

      1.Mrs Campbell, widow of Don Campbell, civilian - mess steward at Cadets' Mess  1924-1931. (NB the RMC moved to Sydney in the early 1930s)

      2.Mr F Carling, kitchen person - civilian - worked in Cadets' Mess 1925-1931.

      3.Mr Little, relation of Mr Carling. Moved in during 1933. House previously owned by Mr Griffiths.

      4.Cpl Rundle civilian mess steward, cadets’ mess 1925. - enlisted 1927. His wife Elise Beatrice (nee Griffiths) died on 17th July 1934 aged 28. She married Nicholas Rundle at St John the Baptist Church Reid, where she is also buried, in  1926 Nicholas Rundle BEM died in June 1990 aged 85 years. Both were born in


      5.Mr Wallace. He took over the house from Mrs Webber a widow, in 1945. Her  husband had worked as a cleaner at RMC. She also worked as a cleaner following her husband's death in 1924.


The list of tenants at 20th May, 1955 were: Mr Carling, Mr Wallace, Mr  Little, Mrs Campbell, Mrs J Hardy (her husband and two sons were killed in 1943), Mrs HL Jamieson, Mr Lucas, Mr Swales, Mr MC Kelleher, Mr N Rundle, S Gouley.





There were two camps near the pines near Northbourne Avenue. They were established between 1926 and early 1928. No lists of the men in this camp have been found. However it was in this camp that HLB Lasseter lived between March 1926 and the end of the year when he was joined by his wife and children. He then moved to Russell Hill Camp where he built a house for his family. He left Canberra sometime in 1927 to return to Sydney and thence on to his ill fated journey to the Northern Territory. Lasseter was an active member of the Social Service Association and in his capacity of Secretary to the Northbourne Camp he arranged for a fancy dress football match to raise money for the camp mess caterer who lost all his personal possessions in a fire.




Mt Pleasant Road Making, Westlake & White City Camps



In the early 1920s there was high unemployment. Around 200 returned ex-servicemen  were sent to Canberra in April 1922 to come to Canberra to carry out construction  work. By 11th April, 1922, 25 men left Melbourne for Canberra and another 25 were  to follow three days later. They were to be housed in tents that were to cost a rental  of 9d per week per man. The weekly wage was to be 4 pounds 2/6 per week and the  rail fare to Canberra was to be taken out of the wages. The Anzac Buffet Employment Bureau was responsible for the selection of men. When the men arrived they found that there were no blankets and three men were expected to share tents  already small for two men. Many of the men didn't know one end of a shovel from the  other and one of the men was suffering from a social disease and had to be sent home.


A list of dependents was made out and from this we may know the names of some of  the men who came. This list dated 6th May, 1922 is as follows: Mrs D Drayson, Mrs A  Moles, Mrs E Wallis, Mrs TP Kett (mother), JK Flood (sister), Mrs J Rooney, Mrs J Lee, LJ Coverdale (mother), Mrs BA Hennessy, Mrs L Crook (mother), Mrs CJ Ryan, Mrs TL O'Farrell, Mrs LJ McGrath, Mrs Walters, Mrs AW Dodger, Mrs West, Mrs WH Harriell, Mrs B Reynolds.






This camp was at Westlake from mid 1924 to the end of 1927 and earlier at   Blandfordia (Forrest). In 1924 80 men lived at the camp. Some owed money. The list of those in this position are: J Benton, GH Case, G Cadogan, C Eustace, R Hunt  (camp steward), W James, L Nillson, G Taylor, H Adams, WG Alywise, H Adams, J  Allen, FH Brown, HG Booth, T Barber, GW Bathurst, J Brooker, J Cameron, JH

Chutre, G Clough, J Cox, M Colbert, D Currie, J Costello, H Daily, E Dunn, G Esplin,  CS Freegard, EL Foley, H Grant, W Gosling, H Gregory, G Gambell, J Griffin, C Green, H Groves, A Griffith, H Gilbert, R Grant, J Hubbard, SG Hawkins, L Howell, G Hopkins, J Holloway, HE Hatton, W Hills, J Horne, JW Hopkins, JG Hole, W  Hicks, AW Johnson, E Kidd, A Kidney, A Knight, V Lane, F Lewry, TH Lacey, F  Leigh, C Longe, A Lundstrom, A Mounsey, E Mason, J Milne, J Makin, W Mackie,     McIntosh, J McConagle, S McDonald, N Melville, A McNaught, H Nolan, GR  Paterson, C Phelan, J Parry, J Power, GH Robertson, P Ryan, CW Rien, T   Robertson, H Rowbotham, JD Smith, HG Shipley, S Stokes, JV Smith, H Strudwicke,  J Tiller, AR Tober, S Sale, B Walker, A Woodford, A McKenzie, A Vince, A  Thackeray, S McGanghay, EA Martin, J Kirk, J Gilmour, J Cusack, J Clark.

(Another not on this list but resident in the Tradesmen's Camp was Francis Clowry,  foreman carpenter in charge at parliament house.)






This camp was set up in May 1924. Some were good contributors to the Catholic Collections and had their names noted in The Angelus. John McCormack collected the money and the names of those who gave were J Baine, P Byrne, A Cummins. Other names were mentioned in The Canberra Community News. They were P Cunningham,  P Egan, J Gribbon, J McCormick, J McGrath, J Moylan, P Mullen, E Ryan and T Turner.


Some who lived at No1 are also known because of their brush with the law and   another, Charles Bruce otherwise known as Charlie Jackson. He was a builder's  labourer and died at 11.30 pm on 25th June, 1926. He had been employed as a builder's labourer in Canberra for four years and was a returned soldier. He is buried at St John the Baptist Church Cemetery and his funeral expenses were paid by his    camp mates. He was 52 years of age.


Another death at the camp is reported in The Canberra Times 13th January, 1927. Charles Goodrich aged 32 years was charged with manslaughter after the death of  Miley. Charles Goodrich's family lived 106 Palmer Street, Balmain. The name of the man who died was Miley. Jack Walker was a witness.


Another sad death occurred in October 1927. Two brothers met after ten years. One was William Joseph Ogalvie who had left his home in Victoria some ten years earlier  when he was sixteen. His brother was James Egerton Ogilvy. William died in a fire that consumed his tent within a short period of time. William is buried in St John the Baptist Church Cemetery. He was aged 26 at the time of his death and was born at Mt Egerton. His parents were George and Ann Ogilvie (nee Russell).


Other documents and oral history note that George Sykes who later moved to 29 Westlake was a member of No 1 Labourers Camp.  He along with his brother Gay had the first taxi service in the territory and it was well used taking men to and from the hotels in Queanbeyan in the years of drought 1913-1928.





Near Civic Centre - and the Art/Music Schools - former Canberra High School site.   This was one of three semi permanent Camps erected in 1925. The other two were  Capitol Hill and Causeway. This camp consisted of tents - hence it's name - White City. From 1926 cubicles gradually replaced the canvas tents. These unlined small timber rooms were shared by two men were later painted green. This was a large camp with usually around 100  men in it.  This camp, like all larger ones in the territory soon formed an association to improve living standards and provide leisure activities for the men. The following men met on 30th August 1926 for the purpose of forming a Recreation Association: K Jones, K  Dencio (boxer), A Campbell, WA Campbell, A Ryan, R Campbell, H Flint, S Miller, C Flannigan, C Griffith.


(Australian Archives CP698/9/1/ 8/6


The Great Depression commenced in the ACT after the opening of Parliament on 9th  May, 1927. Men were sacked as work stopped. Many could not pay their mess bills. White City Camp Mess Caterer, Bill Mitchell found himself in a difficult position. He  could not pay his rent bill to the Commonwealth. Mrs Stanley, Mess Caterer at Capitol Hill from the end of 1928 had the same problem and had to walk out owing money to the Commonwealth. The following men were listed as having left the White City Mess 23rd January 1928:


J McKean, T Black, W Hilly, G Jenner, S Sutton , R Moody, W Pacton, J Burk, R Dawn, R Butler, J Pilkington, S Barraud, C Stubbs, J Hardy, R Hanson, J Kelly, W Meyers, C Heans, M McVien, C Muir, J Noonan, M Bengie, A McLean, G Jesson, Shannon, R Counsell, J McDowell, J Jones, J McDonald, Brogden, Roxburgh, M Lynch, L Gorman, T Ross, L Morriss, ER Collins, J Corbett, B Fuller, J Rowe, W  Morrison, R Dall, A Smith, R Johnson, R Grooves, D Caldwell, T Fitzpatrick, R Hill, H Henery, G Bell J Woods, R Sargeant, F Newly, J McCoy, H Henney, W McKinnon,  A Smith, S Tobin, J Burns, J Wilcox. W Harrington.


The men living in White City Camp on 2nd November, 1931 were:


Boarders: M Rush, M Savage, M Ryan, F McDonald, W Carter, J Febey, N Davidson, R Lester, Joe Hall, J Henderson, Les Ross, E Vine, K Southwell, J Flood.


Renting Cubicles: A Anderson, J Hartfield, E Foster, A McLeod, J Flood, J Brown, J  O'Donnell, G McManus, J Thompson, Joe Lyons, R Keily, W Darragh, Geo Teasdale, A Macquarie, A Millwood, Jim O'Brien, J Fitpatrick. 



Lady Hopetoun Club, Molonglo, Westlake





This club was founded in 1926 for single women of the lower ps and domestic classes. Three cottages were used in Blandfordia to accommodate club members and the work of running the establishment was carried out by Miss Hawkins. Because of the shortage of domestic servants after World War 1 - particularly in Canberra a campaign of recruitment was carried out to encourage women from Britain to come to Australia. A book called The Imperial Colonist set out the objects etc and in part reads:


The Australian Government has taken a wise step by arranging for a Women's Hostel and Club to be opened in the new Federal Capital. Miss Hawkins, who has been pointed Superintendent called at the Office and said she would welcome the help of SOSBW in making known the openings for well paid domestic workers in Canberra where the Civil Servants will be making their new homes. She has already selected several young women to be included in the first party of 25 with whom she is herself sailing in December. The Hostel will serve as a residential home for domestic workers, who will return there after

the day's work is over. There will also be a Club open to girl typists and others with abundant opportunity for recreation of all kinds…


Canberra Domestics Booked SS Vedic 17/12/1926

(The list is under the headings of Name, Age, Qualifications, Experience, and present salary

Aylesbury, VA 22 Cook General 7 years experience 32 pounds per annum

Angus, Mary 35 Cook General 12 years experience 15/- per week

Betram, EE 30 Housemaid 6 years experience 32 pounds pa

Bunting, Jane 21 General Domestic 8 years experience 12/6d per week

Clarke, Annie 33 Thoroughly experienced Children's Nurse One pound per week

Cogbill, Ethel 24 General Domestic 4 years experience 15/- per week

Cosbie, Annie 29 General Domestic 6 years experience - this name crossed out

McDonald, Mary 19 Cook General experienced ?

Hawkes, Edith 20 General Domestic 2 years experience 12/- per week

Knight, Sybil 19 3rd Housemaid of 4 -5 years experience 30 pounds per annum

Marsh, Ethel 30 House Parlormaid 14 years experience 50 pounds per annum

McDade, RA 19 General Domestic 3 and half years experience 2 pounds per month

Poole, Constance 36 General Domestic or House Parlormaid excellent references 50 pounds per annum

Rankin, Christine 19 Cook General 3 years experience 2 pounds 10/- per month

Rankin, Helen 17 General Domestic 3 years experience 2 pounds 10/- per month

Reddan, C 26 Domestic inexperienced home training 3/- per week ?

Wilson, QM 24 Cook Housekeeping 10 years experience 40 pounds per annum

Wise, Constance 18 Domestic Help 2 years experience 26 pounds per annum

Woodley, SF 32 General Domestic 10 years experience 40 pounds per annum

Other names crossed off the list are: Fraser Helen, Holingsworth EF, Jones Mildred, Jones, Doris.






In early 1918 an internment camp was built at Molonglo (modern Fyshwick) in Canberra. It was never used for POW's. Interned were enemy civilians. The camp was erected within twelve weeks by around 1200 men. Following the end of the war in 1918 half the camp buildings were sold and removed from the site. In early 1920 following the decision to continue with the construction work on the city a decision was made to convert the remaining barracks into 120 cottages for married men and a tradesmen's barracks to 150 men.


Married quarters barracks were divided into "cottages" with between 3 to 6 rooms. In the centre area between two barracks were ablution blocks. One of the buildings was converted into a school and Mr Ivey was it's first teacher. Cottages were unlined, poorly heated and had problems with bed bugs. Prior to the availability of the main sewer in 1927 the ablution blocks were connected to a septic system. Initially the cottages were not connected to the electricity supply, which posed problems of safety with fire an ever present danger.


Following is a list of the first married tenants. The list has Name of Tenant, Rooms Occupied, Block Number, Date which Occupied and Amount for Furniture and if necessary - Remarks.


C Ivey, Cottage, 30/1/22 school teacher

W Boyd, 5 rooms, C, 18/12/22, 1/- per month furniture - 6 rooms previous to 18/12/21

J McMillan, 6 rooms, C, 17/1/21, 1/- per month furniture

J Lindo, 5 rooms, C, 1/1/22, 1/- per month furniture (3 rooms previous to 1/1/21)

Jules De Smet, 4 rooms, 1/1/22, 1/- per month furniture

C Moore, 3 rooms, D, 1/1/22 ……

W Hammond, 5 rooms, D 1/1/22, 1/- per month furniture

WT Field, 4 rooms, D, 22/10/21, 1/- per month furniture

 G Corcoran, 5 rooms, D, 27/1/22, 1/- per month furniture

W Blewitt, 4 rooms, K, 10/10/21 1/- per month furniture

C Sacagio, 5 rooms, K, 24/9/21, 2/- per month furniture

R Graham, 4 rooms, K 22/1/22, 1/- per month furniture (3 rooms previous to 22/1/22)

A E Wright, 6 rooms, K, 27/2/21, 1/- per month furniture

N McKee, 3 rooms, K, 8/10/21, 1/- per month furniture

L Stone, 3 rooms, K, 18/10/21, 1/- per month furniture

R Boyd, 3 rooms, K, 6/8/21, 1/- per month furniture

JT Haslam, 6 rooms, K, 8/10/20, 1/- per month furniture

J Bell, 6 rooms, L, 27/7/21, 1/- per month furniture

B Naveau, 4 rooms, L, 1/1/22, 1/- per month furniture (3 rooms previous to 1/1/22)

T Dunn, 3 rooms, L, 6/8/21, 1/- per month furniture

A Murray, 2 rooms, L, 12/11/21, 1/- per month furniture

J Byfield, 5 rooms, L, 1/1/22, 1/- per month furniture

SD Corby, 6 rooms, L, 18/2/21, 1/- per month furniture

SL Shepherd 3 rooms, L, 1/10/21, 1/- per month furniture

W Makin, 3 rooms, L, 27.9.21, 1/- per month furniture

TC Woodlands, 3 rooms, D, 8/10.21, 1/- per month furniture, (5 rooms in D from 24/1/22)

C May, 5 rooms, L, 1/1/22, 1/- per month furniture (6 rooms previous to 1/1/22)

The above information was dated 31st January, 1922 and signed by the camp caretaker -EA Bland.



These small four roomed unlined timber cottages were designed by HM Rolland and were the first built by the Federal Capital Advisory Committee (FCAC) for married tradesmen. The majority of men who took up tenancy worked on the Provisional Parliament House. The first tenant to move into a cottage was Francis Clowry, Foreman Carpenter on Parliament House. The date was 3rd March, 1924 and the cottage - No 16. A large sized plan of Westlake cottages in the National Library of Australia has the names of tenants who took up occupancy in 1924 and 1926. Names of the earlier residents in the 1926 list are not mentioned.

Gladys & Leslie Brill 3.3.1925

Arthur Brinkman 22.2.1926

J Arbuckle 29.5.1924

Louise & Robert HW Irons 6.10.1924 (he died in a Home for the Incurable in Sydney)

F Okely 14.8.1924. Francis Thornton Okely son of Christopher & Lizette of South Australia died 21st April 1926 and is buried in St John the Baptist Cemetery in Reid in the ACT. His wife and children then moved to Sydney. His wife was Veronica Kell of Cobar. He was 39 at the time of his death.

Mary Ann & Horace Cleaver 29.5.1924

Edith & Francis Clowry 3.3.1924

Sarah & Ernest Corey 29.4.1924

Mary & Alexander Duffus 7.11.1925. Their daughter, Lucy, died on 22nd October, 1927 aged 15 months. She is buried at St John the Baptist Church Cemetery.

Reta & Alfred Erikson 4.3.1924. She was Mess Caterer at the Tradesmen's Camp

Jane & Robert Gates 26.9.1925

Florence, Andy & Henry Hawke 2.4.1926

Ada & William Kelly 10.3.1924

Esther & Robert Law 3.6.1924

Kathleen & Leslie Law 20.8.1924

Florence & Arthur Leech 20.8.1924. Their son Arthur Neville (born in Queensland) died from injuries following an accident when he hit his head after diving into the Acton Pool on 15th March, 1930. He was 14 years of age and is buried at St John the Baptist Church Cemetery.

Betty & Patrick Kinnane 7.9.1926

Emily & Alfred Knight 10.3.1924. Emily died on 14th July, 1928 aged 41 years. She came to Australia with her husband whom she married in Leeds when she was 22 years of age. Her parents were James & Elizabeth Watson (nee Lyell). She was born in Durham. At time of death Emily had been in the ACT for 4 years and 14 years in NSW. She is buried in St John the Baptist Church Cemetery.

John McKissock 1.5.1924. His wife died before the 1928 Electoral Roll. She was in her early 40s.

Annie & James Makin - sometime between 1924 & 1926

Emily & Peter Meyer 29.5.1924

AR Harrison 9.3.1926

RJ Beattie 29.5.1924

Ethel & James O'Reilly 1.9.1924

Irene & Victor Samuels 20.7.1925

Olive & Jacob Tootell 24.7.1926

R Skinner 16.8.1924

Maud & Thomas White 4.9.1926

Laura & Edward Woodman 4.5.1925

H Branch there in 1925

Spooner families - two - one probably lived in No 5 and the son next door.

AW Barnett 1.5.1924

Herbert Daniels 28.4.1924

H Findlay 24.10.1924

H Laybutt 14.2.1925

W McCullough 3.3.1925

T McIntosh 8.7.1925

J Porter 6.10.1924

S Edward 28.10.1926

JE O'Reilly 1.8.1924

W Williams 20.7.1926

S Champ 29.6.1924

W Thompson 31.5.1924

F Dwyer 9.8.1926

E Beadman 18.7.1924

A Butler 20.3.1926

A Leech 3.3.1925

R Todd 13.5.1925




Power House, Howies, Red Hill etc



The married quarters at this camp was nick-named The Swagger Camp.  The 1913 Census lists the following men and women (head of households) at the Power House: Annie Ashton, J Ashton, FT Ashton, SA McDonald, George Redcliffe, FH Rottenbury and Scanlon. By 1920-1922 there were around 100 people living in the area of the Power House.


The Mess for the single men in the early period was run by Thomas Egan and it was known as The Kangaroo Café. From 25th November 1913 Sydney Harry Edwards took over. Another caterer was Stanley O'Grady who was the subject of many complaints. On 17th July 1914 George McKissock on behalf of the men wrote a letter of complaint to the Administrator at Acton. It was signed by C Southwell, K Joggoms, W Conley, G Keahes, K Dewan, FB Lander, J McKissock, Thos Paterson, H Bethell, J Elliott, J Sills, H Sills, M  Rhinesmith, A Bruthers, P Burke, A Freebody, J Daly, J Marshall, T Byrne, A Dallas. H Miller, C Lee, P Browne, E Talbot. (Spellings of names may not be accurate because the signatures were not always legible). In 1918 Mr Iles was appointed cook. In the early 1920s the position was taken by Herbert Daniel - No 1 Labourers Camp. No 1 Labourers was also known from that time as Daniel's No 1.


The list compiled 14th February, 1917 records the following men living in the area:

7. K Lonrenz

8. F Rattue

9. R White

10. D Marshall

11. J Caelli

12. M Primmer. The previous owner was A Thornton

13. E Sheeran. This cottage was previously owned by FR Try

14. S Duke - cottage previously owned by M Mularen

15. Vacant - site was in a shallow watercourse

16. Vacant

17. J Allen

18. E Rose. The cottage was previously owned by McIntosh. The list 21st April 1921 described the house as privately owned, galvanised iron roof and hessian walls, 2/- per month - E Rose worked for Commonwealth Department of Works & Railways. He later moved to Eastlake Tenements (erected nearby - ex-Molonglo buildings).

19. J Johnstone

20.W Webb. His house on 21st April 1921 was described as privately owned, galvanised  iron roof and hessian walls, 2/- per month - worked for Commonwealth Department of  Works & Railways. He also moved to Eastlake Tenements.

6.F Jardine. 21st April 1921 house described as privately owned, galvanised iron roof  and hessian walls, 2/- per month did not work for Commonwealth Department of Works & Railways. House occupied by family.

7.O Davis

8.B Lawson

9.J Kendall

10.J McMillan

11.J Ebsworth

12.F. Sheedy. No rental - on roadway


14.E Bourke. On 21st April 1921 - house privately owned, galvanised iron roof, hessian  walls. Works for Land & Survey Branch. Thence to Eastlake Tenements.  There are two E Bourke in 1928 – one moved to Westlake after Uriarra and the other to Causeway.  The above is probably the Causeway Bourke?

15.G Sutcliffe. On 21st April 1921 - house privately owned, galvanised iron roof, hessian  walls 2/- per month. Not employed by Commonwealth. Not in district. To be pulled down by the Commonwealth and held until rent paid.

16.D Gray On 21st April 1921 - house privately owned, galvanised iron roof, hessian  walls 2/- per month. Not employed by the Commonwealth. Not in district. House occupied by Albert Thornton

17.J Doherty, Cottage previously owned by J Wilkinson

18.M Bartley

19.R Boyd. A photograph of this house being erected was taken in 1914. It is kept in the archives of the Canberra & District Historical Society.

20.G (eorge) Dixon. On 21st April 1921 - house privately owned, galvanised iron roof, hessian walls - 2/- per month. Employed by the Commonwealth Works & Railways Department. He was moved to Eastlake Tenements and later to Westlake.

36- 39 vacant - no rental



Another list mentioned the following men living at the Power House Camp 30th  November 1917 to 21st April 1921:


D Mahoney. His cottage was previously owned by F Stephenson. Part privately owned  and part Commonwealth property. It was constructed from galvanised iron roof and  hessian walls - 2/- per month rental. He was employed by the Commonwealth Survey Staff. Moved in 1921 to Eastlake Tenements.


A Bower. House privately owned, galvanised iron roof, hessian walls 2/- per month rental. Not employed by the Commonwealth. Manager of the Co-operative Store. The site had been previously occupied by R White. R Bower leased it from 16th September1916.


R Bell. This cottage was owned by GE Gifford. The cottage was galvanised iron roof  and hessian wall. Rent 2/- per month. Bell was employed by the Commonwealth Works & Railways Dept. He moved to Eastlake Tenements.

1st March, 1922 the Director of Works requested a list of men still living at the Power House in humpies - they were:

E Gifford, linesman, George Dixon engine driver, R Gray carpenter, E Bourke labourer (later to Causeway), B Naveau carpenter, B Webb fireman, W Maloney chainman, N Reid carter Canberra Co-operative Society.  A number of these men moved into the Eastlake Tenements and then to Causeway and or Westlake.


Only a few names of those who lived in the four galvanised iron cottages behind the  Power House are known. In 1925 at the time of the Big Flood Hazel William's parents  were there. They refused to leave to go to Yarralumla. Another was Murial Robbie (nee Gibbs) parents. At that time there were only three cottages. The Gibbs were in  the middle house and on one side was Mrs Hyles and on the other Mrs Bird. McRae Dunn may be another who lived in one of the cottages.


The following men were listed as working at the Power House 27th October, 1921:

E Gifford linesman, G Dixon engine driver, R Gray carpenter, E Bourke labourer, B Navau carpenter,

A Thornton yardsman to store, W Webb fireman at Power House, W Maloney survey chainman, W Reid carter Canberra Co-op,

Another list made 20th May, 1924 notes the men owing money. Most owed around  1/3d and some as low as 5d (6 cents):

Beileiter, Biggs, Bourke, P Butterworth, T Condon, JE Collins, Cunningham, PT Coffey, E Duncan, R Eastoe, W Fletcher, WR Hastie, RW Ingram, C Janette, N Kearney, L King, E Lundstrom, A Mooney, J McFarlane, T McCormack, P McDermott, McCormack, K Mathews, M McTaclett. W O'Connor, W Parker, W  Primmer, JR Smith, M Staples, J Sarsfield, F Sullivan, G Sykes, HW Turner, G Walker, H Wallace, P Woods, C Guy, N Dwyer, P Fox, R Annette, W Bolton, JF Halliman, W Merrit, W Henderson, C Scown, W Trim, W Shea.


Men who owned money at the Engineers' Mess, Power House 1924: W Hills, J Horley,   J Weston, S Thurston, S Overall, J Stephens, H Starling, D Leslie, HG Booth. (Mrs Marion Stanley was Mess Caterer at the Engineers Mess in 1919 to around 1920/21).


Original Staff of Power House 1923-30:


Outside Staff: Bert Hays, Bill Brown, Teddy Gifford

Power House: Tom Trevillian, Bill Austwick, Mick Doyle, Ken Scarlett, Col Anderson, Tom Ryan

Workshop: Bill Mitchell, Dave Lamond, Bob Kelly, Harry Ryan, Bill Chartter(?), Reg  Keane

Installations: M McGregor, Gordon Hay, Arthur Hussey, Charles De…(unreadable)


Men Who Worked at the Fitters' Shop and where they lived January 1926


Molonglo: R McMillan youth, V Verney moulder, H Beadman blacksmith, W   Dickenson Paton maker, McFarlane carpenter, C Kilmartin turner, Grant blacksmith.


Eastlake: R Templeton foreman, JE Gribbs clerk, R Stevens fitter, H Doust trades  help


Eastlake Camp: J Dwyer trades help


Queanbeyan (Oaks Estate?): W Eastwell oxy welder, M Thornton blacksmith, E Durr trades trades help, L Houghton fitter, D Houghton trades help, A Lee trades help, V  Styles fitter, T Warne trades help, A Panley trades help, P Long fitter


Engineers’ Mess: F Harley foreman, G Gordon apprentice, W Miller fitter, W Rankin  trades help, J Limbert (Jack Limbert was still working in the 1950s when my father, Leonard Austin worked in the Fitter's Shop), T Hynes turner, L Rogers fitter, E Murray fitter


Capitol Hill Mess: A Donnelly trades help, A Barnes fitter


Howie's Mess [Westlake] : C Hooper trades help


Scotts (Scott's Crossing Camp?): J Strange trades help


Causeway: R Cunningham fitter, C Christenen, G Robinson trades help


Westlake: W Hocking trades help, J Muir trades help


Ainslie: A Lucas fitter


Canberra: J Martin trades help, A Peacock trades help, A Todd trades help.


 A total of 48 men of whom 11 lived at Queanbeyan


Another list dated 14th January, 1926 record men working at the Stores Yard (Power     House) who voted for a five day working week.


Same number of hours but condensed into five days instead of five and half. Many  wanted to use the weekend to visit families out of the territory. Some of the names were hard to read. They are as follows:


A Paynting, L Collidge, AK Mackintosh, OR Nolan, J Kaye, W Daniels, A Crockford,  MS Northking (?), FJ Hopkinson, CR Mathew, D Grenfell, M Gray, E Horne, Gus Gong (?), W Southwell, J Orvin, F Evans, Jno W Shea, Basil Cherry, Dee, J Enwright,  SH Rees, C Hoff (?), W Pullinger, L Lee, CH Blewitt, H O'Grady, H Newlyn, R  Jamieson, F Mulvihill, M Suiter, Thos N Violet, H Wilson, J Mack, P Gallagher, EH  Whitton, A Arthur, A Troy, AN Allision, Jas Shea, H Steadman, E Devereaux, W Hubbard, R Fitzpatrick, H Kettlewell, P DeSmet, R Pointer, Alex Oram, R Munns, H Daniels, R Douch, J Box, HS King. Another similar letter contained the names SH Rees, David Rolfe, H Newlyn, Basil Cherry, P Dolou, H O'Grady, J Enright, HR  Matthew.


Australian Archives A6266/1 G26/1006 List of Men on Fitters’ Shop Pay Sheet (January 1926?)


R Templeton, Foreman Eastlake,   F Hartley, Foreman, Engineers Mess,  G Gordon, apprentice, Engineers Mess,   W Eastwell, Oxy Welder, resides at Queanbeyan,  M Thornton, Blacksmith, resides at Queanbeyan,  A Donnelly, Trades Help, Capitol Hill Mess, E Durr, Trades Help, resides at Queanbeyan, A Lucas, Fitter, Ainslie,  W Mills, Fitter, Engineers Mess,  L Houghton, Fitter, resides at Queanbeyan, W Rankin, Trades Help, Engineers Mess,  C Hooper, Trades Help, Howie's Mess,  J Limbert, Turner, Engineers Mess,   J Strange, Trades Help, Scotts Camp (Scotts Crossing?),  T Hynes, Turner, Engineers Mess,  JE Gibbs, Clerk, Eastlake, L Rogers, Fitter, Engineers Mess,  M McMillan, Youth, Molonglo, W Booth, L'g Fitter, Eastlake,   P Cunningham, Fitter, Causeway, J Martin, Trades Help, resides in Canberra,  A Peacock, Trades Help, resides in Canberra,  D Houghton, Trades Help, resides in Queanbeyan,  H Beadman, Blacksmith, Molonglo,  J Muir, Trades Help, Westlake,  A Lee, Tradeshelp, resides in Queanbeyan,  A Todd, Trades Help, (Westlake?),  H Doust, Trades Help, Eastlake,   E Murray, Fitter, Engineers Mess,  W Dickenson, Fitter, Molonglo, C Christensen, Blacksmith, Causeway,  G Shaw, Fitter, Molonglo,  V Styles, Fitter, resides in Queanbeyan,  W Hocking, Trades Help, Westlake,  E Cooney, Trades Help, Duntroon,  T Warne, Trades Help, resides in Queanbeyan,   J Watts, Pat Maker, Molonglo,  McFarlane, Carpenter, Molonglo,  A Barnes, Fitter, Capitol Hill Mess, C Hatton, Trades Help, resides in Queanbeyan,  K Kilmartin, Turner, Molonglo,  A Panley, Trades Help, resides in Queanbeyan, P Long, Fitter, resides in Queanbeyan,  G Robinson, Trades Help, Causeway,  J Dwyer, Trades Help, Eastlake Camp,  Grant, Blacksmith, Molonglo,


  |Total of 48 men - 11 lived in Queanbeyan and 37 in Canberra.




The earliest was in situ by 1913. It was probably established for men working on the Red Hill Reservoir. At the end of 1913 six people were listed as living in the camp - M Dawkins, Mrs Hannaford, Geo McIntyre, S Prout, John Simms and Evan Wills. Mrs Lavinia Amelia Hannaford and her husband Charles Hercules Hannaford were in Canberra on the 4th January, 1912 when their baby son aged 10 hours died. He is buried in St John the Baptist Church Cemetery in Reid ACT. Mr Hannaford is not registered at Red Hill in 1913. A November 1917 list states that there were twelve  camp sites at Red Hill and all were vacant with the exception of Dorman who left by  the 30th of the month, H Kitson and G Hill. Another report also dated 17th November 1917 mentioned that Johnson had left the site some time previously, M Primmer was out of work, F Sheedy had gone and G Sutcliffe was due to pay the remainder of the  rent owed. N Webb had paid until the end of the month. F Stephenson had left and his house taken over by D Maloney.

Another camp was on Red Hill by 20th March 1923. At this time the men complained of the use of inferior Japanese canvas used in the tents. The men who signed the petition of complaint were John McCarthy, Victor Samuels (later moved to Westlake and then Acton), WJ Edwards, W Bull, ER Peters, E Smith, R Chisholm, S Bonney, Flood, Eyles, HC Rogers and R Dall.


On the 18th May, 1925 Mr E Smith was Camp President. T McGovern, D Smith and D Kelly were elected by the men to take over from Smith at a meeting arranged by the first Commissioner, John Butters, to form a Social Service Association. At this time there were around 200 men listed as living in this camp.


The Red Hill Horse Camp which may be one of the 1920s camps mentioned above.  The men of No 1 Labourers Camp moved from Capital Hill, Westlake to Red Hill (Westlake) at the end of 1927 – probably to the site of the Monolyte Red Hill Camp.








In 1922 Contractor John Howie erected 25 two-three bedroom timber cottages of his  married men and at least 18 timber huts for his single men. The former were known as "Howies Cottages” and the latter as "Hostel Camp". Howie's first contract in the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) was the construction of Hostel No 1 - the Hotel Canberra. The first section was completed and opened in December 1924. The second  section was completed in 1925. The site for the settlement was a short distance from the worksite - on the Westlake hillsides on either side of an old road from Briar Farm Cottage and another leading into the Gap at Westlake. Today this site is on the southern bank of Lake Burley Griffin opposite Lotus Bay. It is part of Stirling Park, Yarralumla.


By May 1925 there were only 20 cottages still in situ and by October of 1926 there were only 13 cottages and these had been sold or given to the Commonwealth. The  last cottage was removed by 1931. The Hostel Camp went sometime between 9th  May, 1927 (opening of Parliament) and 27th July, 1927 (Sanitation Report). Both  settlements were provided with Halls - one used for a Mess and Recreation and the other for recreation/church services etc. The cottages influenced HM Rolland, Government architect & Works Director to design the portable temporary timber cottages erected in 1924 in The Gap, Westlake, Acton (1924) and Causeway (1925).


A number of Howie's men were Scots and it was probably these men who planted the Rowan Trees still on site. Only a few names are known: Married men: Walter Scott,  Arthur Freeman, Lawrence Dinnerville, Charles Dinnerville, Alexander Hamilton and his brothers Harry & Bob. His uncle and aunt David & Mary Gardner probably also  lived at Howie's Cottages.


Other were Christopher Patrick, William Kelly, Raymond Sheehan, J McCann, J Temple, A Knight, A Butcher, Syd Brown, Skerry, Ross, James Gallagher & Charles Wellington. Another person who may have lived at Howies is a man by the name of Laybutt who moved to Westlake Cottages in The Gap.


Mrs Jeanie Young Crooks Patrick died at her home at Howies in February 1929. She is buried in St John the Baptist Cemetery Church cemetery. She married 1912 to Christopher Westie Patrick and at the time of her death had eight children. They are  (age at time of Jeanie's death) Alexander 15, William 13, Jeanie 12, Christina 9, Elizabeth 7 (another daughter was who died aged 4 months was also called Elizabeth), James 5, Mary 3 and John 1. Mr Patrick was in Sydney at the time of his wife's death     searching for work.


Raymond & Lucy Sheehan of Howie's cottages son, Robert Francis died on 19th April 1928. He too is buried at St Johns. A daughter, Eileen Frances died during the time the family lived at Causeway on 20th November, 1925.


Arthur Creswell Freeman who lived at Howie's cottages from 1927 until just before  his death at Causeway on 8th December 1930 is also buried at St Johns as is Emily, wife of Alfred Knight who died on 14th July, 1928. By that time the family had moved  into 1 Westlake Cottages in The Gap.


Very little is known about the single men living at Howies Hostel Camp. Two  Dinnerville brothers - one was named Don. After completion of the Hotel Canberra Contractor John Howie also won contracts to build the Masonic Lodge at Acton,  buildings on Mt Stromlo and the first twenty cottages at Causeway. John Howie retired in 1929. He did not live in Canberra. The men who represented him were Scott  and Patrick.


The Canberra Burns Club was formed in Howie's Hostel Camp Mess Room in 1924. The men who attended the first meeting were: John Brown, Donald Dinnerville, David Gardner, Alex Hamilton, William Kelly, Thomas McCullough (8 Westlake cottages in the Gap), James Millar, Christopher Patrick, Alex Peacock, Walter Scott and James Young. The Burns Club Soccer Football team on 16.7.1927 (courtesy of Nick Guoth)  consisted of: McNeil, Morgan, Richie, H Hamilton, Cruikshanks, O'Keefe, A Hamilton, Cunningham, McCallum, Scott, Ball, Jones, McNichol, Lennox Bell, Hamilton, Young. Another list included Dinnerville. It is probable that many of the above lived at the Hostel Camp. 



(Private contractor's camp)  This contractor was employed to build 100 concrete cottages in Blandfordia in  1926/27. Only 25 were completed - one is in Hann Crescent Griffith. The men lived under bad conditions and in a letter dated 26th April 1926 the men wrote a letter of  complaint to the Social Service Association Secretary in which the following complaints were enumerated:

      1.Bath Room. Plug gone from the bottom of bath. No window. No door on same  and draughty when bathing. No privacy and in a filthy state.

      2.Copper taken away. No boiling water for washing, in use somewhere in the camp. No boiling water available.

      3.No wash troughs. Taps already there for use.

      4.WC's in a filthy state and only three seats. Could do with three more…

      5.Urinal only one tin and always running over - objectionable smell is caused - anywhere but healthy.

      6.Also no lights in WC.

      7.Also some precautions in Kitchen and Dining Hall for flies. Simply swarming all over the meat.


Those who signed were: A Mercer, E Smith, H Liebick, C Jenkins, L Poole, J Ross, J McDonald, S McDonald, M Chandler, P Roslumery, L Roots, ..?.., AT Post, M Penn, J Hurley, FW Newbound, A Delaney, WJ Simpson, R Williams, G Rambon, H Salor, A Strazzolusey, AC Ekman, F Miles, J Black, J Sands, Faisley?, A Smart, Brown, P Brennan, W Galvin, DE Gallatly.


The camp burnt down in 1927 – one of the contributing causes was the lack of water.




1924 Miss Soutwell Manageress Hotel Canberra?

The Argus 22 November 1924

CANBERRA HOSTEL [Hotel Canberra]

Manageress Appointed

Having decided that, in view of the sale of leases at Canberra on December 12, the No 1 Hostel [Hotel Canberra] must be open for the reception of visitors by December 12, the No 1 hostel must be open for the reception of visitors by December 10, Senator Crawford (Assistant Minister) said yesterday that the Home and Territories department had appointed Miss Southwell as temporary manageress. Senator Crawford added that the future control of the hostel would be a matter for the consideration of the Canberra Commission, which would have to decided whether the hostel should be carried on under the aegis of the Ministry, or whether another effort should be made to induce an experienced hotelkeeper or caterer to take a lease of the premises for a number of years. Miss Southwell has for sometime past the manageress of Yarralumla, the historic homestead at the Federal Capital, which has been used for the accommodation of members of Parliament and other visitors to the Territory. It is expected that everything will be in readiness for the reception of visitors in two or three weeks.

[Miss Southwell later became the manageress of the Hotel Kurrajong where she remained for many years.]


Army of Labourers 1924

The Argus 16 December 1924



Director-General’s Plans



Twelve hundred workmen, under the direct control of the Works and Railways department and many others in the employ of private concerns are engaged upon various undertakings in the city area of Canberra. Up to the present the Commonwealth has spent approximately 3,000,000 pounds in the Federal Capital territory, including a sum of 750,000 pounds for the purchase of freehold lands. The city area is so large and constructional work so scattered that it is difficult to imagine that such a sum has been expended, and even to-day when No 1 Hostel [Hotel Canberra] on Commonwealth avenue is open for guests and the walls of the provisional Parliament House below Capital Hill, have been completed, the abiding impression upon the visitors is of rolling plains encircled by tree covered hills. It is necessary, with the thermometer making desperate attempts to score the century, to inspect the works by motor can. Not only are most of the roads unformed and dusty, but the various buildings are somewhat scattered.  A slight idea of the distance which residents of the future will be obliged to cover in the ordinary course of business may be formed when it is recognised that the ‘crow fly’ distance from civic centre to Parliament House is a mile and a half. The departmental visionaries, however, explain that in planning the city of 10, 20, or 50 years hence, it is wise, - if not imperative – to provide for a proper system of zoning, and that though this is a city of long distances it is hoped that development will proceed concurrently at several points.  This plan, however, involved heavy expenditure in the initial stages upon the construction of considerable lengths of city services, such as water, sewerage, and electricity.

Director-General’s Review

‘More than 20,000 tons of material – bricks, mortar and other building fabric – has been put into Parliament House already,’ said the director-general of works (Colonel PT Owen) to-day, in discussing the progress of the Federal Capital Works. ‘Excavations,’ said Colonel Owen, ‘were  taken at the end of last year and it was not until the end of January that the brick work was commenced.  The walls are practically completed, and shortly we shall undertake the roofs and plastering.  The joinery work is well in hand, the joinery having been made at our own factory, at Canberra [near the Power House – railway station end].  The timber was laid in 12 years ago, and has been thoroughly seasoned.  Maple has been used in the construction of the hostel, and Tasmanian blackwood will be put into Parliament House.  The construction of Parliament House, however is only one phase. Very extensive sewerage works are in progress and about five miles of sewers have been driven, of which three miles have been lined and completed.  The remainder will be completed by March.  We will shortly undertake the construction of the sewerage treatment works which undertaking will occupy from seven to eight months. The outfall sewer will be Western Creek. Two miles of sewer will be constructed early in the new year on the north side of the Morlonglo (sic Molonglo) River which divides the city into halves.

90,000 pounds on Roads

‘A large programme of road construction has been prepared,’ continued Colonel Owen, ‘ and approximately 70,000 pounds will be spent of roads this year. Building construction includes 12 brick cottages which are nearly ready for occupation and 20 addition portable cottages for married workmen bringing the total number constructed this year up to 90. [52 at Westlake and 15 at Acton – others not known].  Construction during the year has become more concentrated and there are several large camps for unmarried workmen in the city environs. [Many of the men in the single men’s camps were married but as there was not sufficient accommodation many left wives and families at home.]  Messrooms, recreation rooms and kitchens are provided in the large camps.  Water supply extensions are contemplated. The principal distributing mains have been constructed and branch mains are being laid.  The erection of the first portion of the secretariat will be commenced early in the new year. Owing to the increase in the number of  scholars caused by the concentration of workmen and others in the environs, it has been found necessary to make two extensions to the school [Telopea Park], which will now accommodate 500 children. The school contains a kindergarten, and covered unwalled rooms for open air instruction have been provided.  There have been tramway extensions for the delivery of materials for construction in the civic centres.’

[The tramway came from the brickworks along the area of Adelaide Avenue – State Circle to Parliament House, Hotel Kurrajong and also to Hotel Canberra and across to the north side of the river – civic Centre.  In 1921/22 a school was established at Molonglo and earlier one at Duntroon.  The Cross-Roads School (opposite the Fire Brigade in Forrest was an old school used until Telopea Park opened in 1923.]

For Better or Worse

Colonel Owen’s review of the progress of works at Canberra proves that, as Sir Austin Chapman MHR, said on Friday, the taxpayers are committed to Canberra and there can be no turning back.  For better or worse they much honour the bargain struck when, to quote t he verbiage of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, ‘the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty god, agreed to the federated Commonwealth under the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland and under the constitution hereby established.

Ministry Criticised

The Federal Ministry has been criticised for offering the leaseholds for sale prematurely.  It has been contended that business people and the buying public generally were timid and were not prepared to invest money in Canberra until they received more definite assurance of fairly rapid increase in population. It was somewhat surprising therefore, that 150 sites were sold, the capital value of  the blocks being 60,000 pounds, which at 5 per cent will return and annual ground rental for the first twenty years of 3,000 pounds. There are groups of houses contiguous to the new subdivisions, the occupiers being employed in the various capacities in the capital.  It is provided in the leases that construction on the sites sold on Friday shall commence within two years. Though this would appear to ensure a certain increase in population the view has been freely expressed that the Federal Ministry should not be too determined that the city shall develop on lines laid down by departmental experts. A declaration by the department that ‘this will be a single-storied shop, this a bank, this a church and this a chemist’s shop, will it is considered, have an adverse effect upon private enterprise, which likes, above all things to be allowed to decide for itself the manner in which it will invest capital in a new settlement.


Accommodation for workers poor 

The Canberra Times, 1928 

Above: Top photograph loaned by the Todd family shows the Westlake cottages, known originally as The Gap Cottages near the top of the hill. The road in fron of these cottages - not shown in the photograph - has been replaced with Darwin Avenue.  Mrs Erikson, Mess Caterer at the Tradesmen's Camp moved into one of these cottages in 1924 when they became available.  Across the hill - not shown - on the opposite side of the houses was the original tent cottage that she used before moving.  Following her departure the Freeman family moved into this tent cottage. The second photograph loaned by Arthur Freeman  shows the hessian fence around the tent cottage. The tree on the left still grows on the hill that is opposite Lotus Bay in Stirling Park, Yarralumla (Block 3, Section 128).  Mrs Freeman during the time the family lived in this tent gave birth in 1924 to her youngest child.  At the time she was nearly blind.   

Following are a number of articles that refer to the housing problems in the territory.


The Canberra Times, 16 May 1928


Workers Badly Housed


The contention that the lack of suitable accommodation for workmen at Canberra was a serious matter deserving immediate attention and a factor of making for increased building costs and inferior workmanship was made in evidence before the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts yesterday morning.


The Committee is inquiring into housing and building in Canberra generally.


The witness, Cecil Roy Sweetman, a master builder stated that he had been in the building trade for thirty years and had done approximately 30,000 pounds worth of work in Canberra, the biggest portion of which about 22,000 pounds had been for the Commission.


Mr Sweetnam added that his relations with the Commission had been of a satisfactory  character, and that since their alteration of the building regulations and ordinances had ceased to be irksome.  The present provisions with relation to plumbing he said, did not afford scope for complaint and he thought that the pipes and fittings although different to those prescribed in Sydney were ‘quite OJ’.


The Vice-Chairman Mr EX Riley: ‘Would you care to compare the Commission houses and those built and designed privately?’


‘The last lot of Commission houses built here by me at the Printers Quarters are good enough for anything. The design is a good one.’


Mr Riley: ‘Could you advise the committee on the difference between building costs in Canberra and Sydney?’


‘Freight on material would cost an additional 7 per cent and freight on labour an additional 12 percent.’


Mr Sweetnam went on to say that in most contracts the builder had to buy practically all his materials from the Commission.  That arrangement was not quite satisfactory because some of those same materials could be bought cheaper elsewhere.  Everything except timber, paints, tiles and bricks could be bought cheaper.  Again adequate supplies were not always on hand at the Commission and the biggest delays took place in running to Acton to get the orders signed and waiting for them.  These delays entailed considerable expense and inconvenience to the builder and in estimating the cost of construction of a cottage a builder should add 13 (shiilings) to 5 pounds for waste of time.


Mr Sweetnam was of the opinion that the present method of tendering was quite satisfactory and that there was no attempt on the part of the Commission  to restrict the work to a limited number of builders.


Yes,’ he went on, ‘ the lack of suitable accommodation for t he workmen is a serious matter.  There is nowhere to house them except in the Commission quarters and a lot of men will not put up with the existing conditions.  Suitable accommodation should be erected for the workmen and their families.  The quality of the labour here compares favourably with that of Sydney and Melbourne and the present state of affairs means that as soon as we get busy we will have nowhere to house the men.  The erection of suitable accommodation would do a lot to keep the costs down, for at present we will have to build our own messes.’


Replying to Mr Prowse, witness stated that the quality of the tiles here had improved considerably.  Formerly they had been some what defective.


To Senator Hayes” ‘If the builders were allowed to buy wherever they chose, it would make a difference of four or five percent.’


To Mr Parker Maloney: ‘Building contracting here is done far too cheaply.  The competition is too keen for us to make much out of it.’


To Mr Lister: ‘ Some complaints have been made to the committee regarding progressive payment.’


I have never had any complaints to make.  In the relative values of a good house in Canberra and Sydney there would be a difference of cost of between 18 and 20 percent in favour of Sydney.  The difference in the wages of bricklayers alone is 15 or 16 percent.


Regarding the Commission’s policy of drastic reductions in its working staff witness stated that it would be better to keep a fair average amount of work going.  ‘It is harder,’ he said, ‘ to get good men back than bad men, and the only way to keep good men here is to provide suitable accommodation for them.’


Mr Sweetnam stated that the rate he paid bricklayers was 4/- an hour.  ‘This accounted for the fact that it was possible to have 800 bricks laid an hour. ‘Pick the best men, and you get the best work,’ he said.


Mr Sweetnam then made a statement in camera to the committee and the inquiry concluded for the day.


Improving Camps & Houses

The Argus, 27 July 1927


Improving Camps and Houses

CANBERRA. Tuesday – According to the chairman of the Federal Capital Commission (Sir John Butters) the two principal Canberra guesthouses, Brassey House and Beauchamp House situated at Telopea and Acton respectively, will be opened in about two months, when it is expected that there will be sufficient influx of visitors to warrant the engagement of the necessary large staffs.


It is expected that privately owned ‘bus services will soon be running in the Federal Capital Territory  but whether the existing service controlled by the Federal Capital Commission will be entirely disposed with or used solely for commission purposes will depend upon whether a satisfactory agreement can be reached between the ‘bus service proprietors and the commission.


The industrial officer of the Federal Capital Commission (Mr McDowell) is pushing forward reconstructional and remodelling work in connection with the workers’ camp improvement and beautification scheme.  Tents have been abolished in the city area (not accurate – the tents of No 1 on Capital Hill and Tradesmen’s at Westlake were not moved until November 1927), their place being taken by a number of up-to-date cubicles fitted with electric light and each containing a stove heater of an improved pattern. (Not mentioned is that the wind whistled through the gaps in the timber).  Copper boilers have been dispensed with and a hot water service supplies all showers and baths.  The mess rooms recently completed at the foot of Mount Ainslie contains a recreation room, dining room, and kitchen, and will accommodate 250 men.


Remodelling work in connection with the old German Concentration camp at Molonglo is now completed and the barracks have been converted into 114 wooden cottages at a total cost of 10,000 pounds.  These cottages are rented for a surprisingly small amount seldom rising above 10/- a week.  They are sewered and fitted with electric light and when tree planting work at present proceeding in the surrounding avenues is completed they will present quite a picturesque appearance. (Again not quite accurate – the cottages were not lined and wind whistled through the cracks in the walls.  They were also infested with bugs.)


Feb 1924 accommodation workers




QUEANBEYAN, Wednesday. The increasing activity in building and engineering operations at the Federal Capital was described by Colonel PT Owen the Director of Works, when giving evidence before the local Court on an application for a hotel license for premises in Queanbeyan.


Colonel Owen, under examination said there were about 1000 men engaged on sewerage and general engineering works, Parliament House, brickworks, nursery and all Government activities, exclusive of workmen employed by private contractors on the Government Hostel [Hotel Canberra] and the Molonglo bridge on the main Commonwealth Avenue. He estimated that about the same number would be employed throughout the year on Government work, although, with an extension of building operations it would mean more artisans and fewer labourers. Of the 1000 men now working in Canberra about half were camped in tents, over 100 lived in Queanbeyan, and the remainder occupied cottages scattered about the city area or in tenements at Molonglo Camp.  The comfort of the men was being studied in the construction of additional housing at Molonglo for 90 single tradesmen while for married men 20 four roomed portable hutments were almost finished at the Gap near the hostel, for which the rent will be 12/6 a week. Another twenty dwellings had been sanctioned, and he was seeking authority to build a further twenty.  These would be moved from place to place as dictated by the particular work in hand, so as to keep the men near their jobs. [The cottages first known as Gap Cottages and later as just Westlake – total of 62 built, remained until the mid 1950s when the first were moved to new sites. The last cottage was removed in 1965.] At Civic Centre also he had asked for permission to build ten more brick cottages [in addition to twenty already constructed in 1921-1922].


Including a few which were nearing completion, there were now at Canberra 76 brick cottages all connected with electric light, water and sewerage. [Sewerage – connected to septic tanks until the main intercepting sewer became available in 1927.]  Competitive plans had been called from architects covering the erection of 40 substantial brick cottages in the vicinity of Blandfordia settlement [Forrest – 16 build 1923 in Ducane and Franklin Streets], southwest of Kurrajong Hill [Capitol Hill]; these he expected would be well under way by the end of the year. The official hostel [Hotel Canberra] now being constructed by Messrs Howie and Son, would accommodate 200 guests.  The Public Works Committee was committed to the erection of two other hostels [Hotels, Kurrajong and Ainslie – the latter renamed Gorman House in 1927 when the Hotel Ainslie now Olems, was built], each to house 100 people; one of these would be for use by leading officials and the other would accommodate artisans. [Gorman House accommodated lady typists and others of that class].


Replying to a question regarding the future population of the new city, Colonel Owen said that the recent decision of Cabinet to throw open 600 building lots next October would give impetus to work in the capital.  Under the Advisory Committee’s original recommendation a stated number of Government officials were to have been provided for at Canberra by the time the Federal Parliament was ready to move from Melbourne.  These officials with their families and necessary trades people were expected to provide a population of 6000 people. The housing of 6000 people would require the erection of several more hostels and additional cottages, half of which would be built by the Government and the other half it was anticipated by private enterprise. 


The next few months should provide many visible additions to the essential primary structures of the new capital. As the foundations of the Provisional Parliament House take shape across its two acres of space and its walls rise from the open plain, the embryonic city will assume an importance which should give to the public an impress of certainly and solidity when the 600 town lots are offered at auction next October. 



Sanitation Report - 27 July 1927

Above: 1927 Monolyte Co Cubicle Camp - off to the right are cubicles for the new No 1 Labourers Camp moved from Capitol Hill, Westlake to Red Hill.  Courtesy Ron Baum.  Top photograph - Men of No 1 Labourers Camp, Capitol Hill 1924. CDHS photograph. 


The 1927 Sanitation Report 27th July 1927 lists the majority of the large temporary settlements and camps at that time. 

The Sanitation Report FCT


The Secretary:

In company with Mr Gibson I have inspected the undermentioned Settlements and submit the following brief particulars for your perusal and consideration:-

MOLONGLO CAMP. About 120 tenements containing 4-6 rooms each. Walls, floors and partitions: - wood tongued and grooved. Roofs - galvanised iron or ruberoid. Buildings 15 - 30"[inches] above ground. In some cases, uncovered and unpainted. Natural lighting by windows; no external ventilation provided. [This camp was built as an internment camp and was erected in mid 1918 in a twelve week period. When work resumed on Canberra in 1920 Molonglo was looked upon as a ready-made ideal workmen's settlement.]

Where tenements were fenced in the spaces under buildings were practically clear, in other cases lumber was notices. The general condition varied with the type of occupant. Garbage tins amply provided.

Ground surface throughout free from water accumulations. Sanitary blocks adequate - containing 4 pedestal wash-down pans and 1 trough urinal; 2 baths and 4 showers - cold freshwater; 4 wash troughs and 2 copper boilers.


  1. Internal walls of tenements - papering to be discontinued, to prevent vermin harborage. (Dead vermin found in one instance).
  2. Cover open joints in walls with strips of wood and paint or limewash surfaces.
  3. Provide louvered ventilators to all rooms when reconditioning structures.
  4. Clear lumber from under buildings and wire in such spaces wherever practicable.
  5. all garbage bins effectively covered.
  6. Sanitation Block replace partition of WCs and bathroom to secure privacy


Construction - walls and roofs - galvanised iron, floors wood. Six (6) huts, divided into cubicles 8"[foot] wooden partitions, ceilings of wire netting; each cubicle measures 10"x 12'to accommodate 2 men. Ventilation by 2'9"cowl capped air shafts. Natural lighting good; artificial lighting - electric. Mess room accommodation satisfactory.

Kitchen - Cooked meat uncovered on tables, kerosene tin for waste food; table dirty.

Butcher's Shop. - Fly-proof and satisfactory

Recreation Room. - Satisfactory

Sanitary Blocks containing:- 10 pedestal wash down pans; 1 trough urinal; 8 baths - cold freshwater; 8 showers - cold freshwater; 3-12 gallon copper boilers.


  1. Kitchen - tables to be kept clean; all meat and foods to be protected in fly-proof receptacles or rooms. Garbage to be kept in metal rat proof receptacles.
  2. Rake under all huts and keep spaces under huts clean. Wire in spaces where possible.


150 wooden huts accommodating 2 men in each. Roofs - galvanised iron; floors wood; area 10'x12'each. Natural lighting by 2 4'x2'sashes. Ventilation by drilled holes in gable ends. Internal lining - hessian and beaver board to prevent condensation. Tent structures being replaced by huts. Large garbage bins provided for garbage.

Two recreation rooms provided. - Natural lighting good but no external ventilation.

Kitchen - structures in fair order - uncovered garbage tine - corrected; pipe drain from kitchen untrapped.

Butcher's Shop. - Fly proof hut bench dirty - small scraps of meat bad.

Mess Room for 150 persons - satisfactory.

Sanitary Blocks. - Concrete floors with 2 exceptions; galvanised iron walls; 12 earth pans with loose box covers - no lids; attended tri-weekly by Contractor; 4 baths and 8 showers - cold freshwater; 2 wash troughs - cold freshwater and 2 copper boilers.


1        Kitchen drainpipe to be trapped at upper end to prevent contamination in preparation for food stuffs

2        W.C's on earth bases to be raised or placed on concrete floors.

3        Bathrooms to channel and earth drains - see general remarks.


[Built in 1925/1926 by different contractors the first being John Howie & Sons whose men lived at Westlake) About 120 cottages - wooden structures with galvanised iron roofs. Ventilation by airlouvres in each room. Wire fenced areas:- general outlook untidy in yards but on inspection not insanitary.

Outhouse - fowl pens etc., irregular

W.C's at end of enclosure to each - concrete floors, iron walls and roofs; pedestal washdown pans to sewer provided. [NB The sewer was connected in 1927. Prior to that time either a pan or connected to a septic tank.]


    1. That periodical limewashing of yard structures be made

CAPITOL HILL CAMP  [Built 1925 by John Howie & Sons.]

Construction - walls - wood; roofs - galvanised iron; floors - wood

8 huts, each having 8 rooms approximately 8'x 10'; natural lighting 4'x 3'sashes; ventilation by 2 louvers in each room; spaces under huts are lumbered.

Kitchen - clean

Butcher's Shop. - Fly-proof; hut bench required scrubbing; small portions of meat, bad. Floor dirty

Sanitary Block. - Containing 3 earth closets, 2 baths, 4 showers, and 4 wash troughs.


    1. Rake under all huts etc., and keep spaces clear.
    2. Butcher's Shop, - to be kept clean and re-joint bench.
    3. Earth closet seats to be made portable, wooden floors to be replaced by concrete.


[Russell Hill is in the area of Blamey Crescent & Constitution Avenue up towards the Campbell shopping centre. 120 sites were allowed for men to build their own cottages. The Acton Masonic Hall built by Howie was moved to the site in 1926 and was converted into a school. In 1929 it closed and the following year it was moved to Ainslie where it still serves the community as the Ainslie Hall in Corroboree Crescent. This settlement replaced Riverbourne - 3 miles from the Queanbeyan Post Office on the south bank of the Molonglo River - near the site of present day Harman.]

No sewerage contemplated. Allotments 50'x 100' - 54 fenced in, others unfenced.

Various self constructed dwellings of fibro, wood and hessian formation; one place had concrete floor to bathroom with wastes from tubs and bath discharging from floor to earth channel alongside; another had similar drainage to elongated quagmire. Most dwellings had serviceable W.C's, but garbage was generally found in uncovered  kerosene tins - in one case a cardboard container. In wooden structures the windows were generally small compared with floor areas and no external ventilation was provided.


1.  More natural lighting to rooms to be encouraged, also louvered ventilators. 

      2.  Regulations receptacles for garbage to be provided.

  1. Earth closets to be preferably on concrete bases.
  2. Drainage from wash houses and bathrooms to be collected in receptacles and then scattered broadcast instead of concentrated areas causing nuisance.
  3. Would strongly recommend extension of sewer to this area or suitable septic tank installed.
  4. Rake under buildings to remove lumber.


Unsewered Area: septic tanks applied for.

13 wooden huts, 21 iron huts, each hut containing 2 persons. Size of rooms 10'x 12', - former similar to Causeway huts but with added ventilation in front and rear gables. Iron huts have no such ventilation; lumber found under structures. [The timber huts were cubicles constructed from second grade baltic pine. From 1926 they gradually replaced tents in main camps.]


1. Periodically rake out lumber from under huts and Mess Room.

2. Provide louvers of similar ventilation when reconditioning huts.

3. Kitchen and lavatory drainage; make channel drainage straight and extend to stormwater channel below.

4. Kitchen; - rejoint benches, keep bins covered, provide sheltered store for vegetables; (now on rack outside).

5. Meat Room or Butcher's Shop - rejoined benches and remove all bad foodstuffs.

6. Earth closets - raise clear of ground, provide portable boxes with lids for pans.


To be removed in 2 and half month's time to Mount Ainslie. Unsewered. Six rows of canvas and hessian structures 10'x 8'each for 2 persons situated on flat ground. Proposed new site has good slope. Three transverse earth channels - limewashed but extending through camp.


1.Discontinue earth channels and broadcast waste waters.

2. Kitchen - keep floors clean, broadcast waste water to prevent concentration in one place, provide suitable store for vegetables kept outside.

3. Rake out under huts and kitchen and keep garbage bins covered.

4. Earth closets - Raise from ground and provide portable boxes in lieu of fixed seats.

5. Clothes Drying Room - earth channels from water tap - places receptacle under tap and broadcast to prevent stagnation below.



150 wooden huts, each for two persons; 5 wooden huts, each divided into 3 cubicles. To be made permanent and to be sewered in 2 and half months time. 50 wooden huts 101 x 12' being erected to accommodate Horse Camp occupants. Camp ground clean, garbage bins provided and mainly covered. [This camp was originally tent accommodation - hence it's name White City. These were replaced from 1926 with cubicles, which were then painted green. The site is near the Art School near Civic Centre.]


1.Huts - rake out lumber from beneath; earth channel leads to lavatory block.

2. Lavatory block drainage bad - cut earth channels straight and terminate above quagmire by irrigating on shallow trenched patches - alternately; vegetation would encourage absorption and eliminate quagmire.

3.Kitchen - keep utensils in covered compartments; clean shelves of dry store, (signs of mice); rejoint benches. Drainage to be treated as above mentioned; cover dried fruit and other exposed stores.

4.Mess Room - complete wire netting beneath floor space.

5.Butcher's Shop - rejoint benches.

6.Urinal Trough - place pan receptacle below in lieu of soakage.


To be removed to above site shortly. About 40 huts of various design and appearance, constructed of hessian, wood and iron and about 12'x 10'each in size. Small horse paddock standings are to be taken down and existing paddock extended.


1.Remove accumulation of manure from horse standings and utilise for cultivation in parks etc.

2.Remove water trough to crest of slope to prevent quagmire in direction of camp as present, waste water will then flow away from area - trench slope if necessary.


To be demolished in a month - occupants then to wooden cubicles at Red Hill site. About 100 12'x 10'tents of hessian and canvas. No surface collections of water with exception of water tap drainage to earth channels extending to creek, (nearly dry). Sanitation blocks sewered; garbage bins covered.


1.              Cover all exposed dry fruits and foods in store, place fish scales in garbage bins instead of on ground adjoining; cleanse or limewash internal walls.

2.              Butcher's Shop - clean walls and block and rejoint bench.


Being demolished and accommodation provided at Capitol Hill. 44 tents raised on wooden sides, upper canvas portions not in good repair, floors of wood in sections, litter under some floors, bins provided but lids not used. Mess Room and kitchen provided and run on co-operative lines instead of usual contracting caterer. [This camp was erected in 1923 on either side of an 1890 road from Briar Farm pulled down in 1950 and replaced with the Canberra Yacht Club. Today the site is on the hillside opposite Lotus Bay.


    1. Rake under huts where necessary and keep garbage receptacles covered.
    2. Kitchen - improve natural lighting if demolition is delayed also rejoint kitchen benches.
    3. Sanitary Blocks - drainage to long quagmire to be shortened and directed to shallow trenched patches, used alternatively.
    4. Earth closets - institute portable boxes with lids for pan covers in lieu of fixed uncovered seats if conveniences remain.



To be sewered in 2 months. 80 tents of canvas and bag formation in regular lines. Earth channels for water taps only - clean but unsightly. Garbage bins generally covered. Kitchen and Mess Room provided; (kitchen utensils inside - clean.)


1.         Kitchen - rejoint benches; keep all garbage bins covered. Drainage to be shortened and irrigated to prevent stagnation.

2.                  Dry Store Room - rejoint benches and provide covers for dried fruits etc.

3.                  Mess Room - rake under floor to remove lumber.

4.                  Butcher's Shop - rejoint benches.

5.                  Sanitary Blocks - drainage to be treated as above to prevent stagnation.



Unsewered. To be removed shortly to cubicles at Mugga Valley site. Rough tent formation camp in irregular layout and untidy; garbage bins uncovered generally; earth channels from water taps only; horse’s pens and paddocks at rear of camp, manure in same accumulated. A considerable manure heap at rear of pens.


    1. Manure in horse pens and paddocks to be regularly removed and utilised for park and gardening purposes.
    2. Manure heap at rear of pens to be similarly treated - at present fly breeding - discontinue heap accumulations.
    3. Earth closets - raise above ground if removal delayed.

RED HILL CONTRACTOR'S CAMP (Monolyte Building Company)

Shortly to be demolished - two galvanised iron huts each with 10 cubicles, having accommodation for 2 men in each cubicle; rooms generally clean but lumber under floors. Mess Room and kitchen provided; sanitary blocks filthy.


      1. Huts - rake under same to remove lumber.
      2. Kitchen - rejoint benches, rake under floor, trap pipe drain at upper end and if further used, provide covers for dried fruits etc., in store room.
      3. Butcher's Shop - rejoint bench and clean block, benches and safe.
      4. Earth closets - thoroughly cleanse and keep compartments clean.
      5. Lavatory Block - drainage - earth - to be straightened to creek.



Occupants to be removed to weatherboard cottages under construction. Five weatherboard tenements [ex-Molonglo], 5 to 6 rooms each - natural lighting satisfactory. No external ventilation. Structures shortly to be removed.


1. Rake under huts to remove lumber.

2. Provide ventilation louvers if reconditioned also portable box cover for earth closets if further used.


Sewered. 61 cottages, all but 10 fenced in, [The last ten cottages would be numbers 53 to 62 built in 1926 following the departure of No 3 Sewer Camp. Cottage 21 was built but was moved or burnt down shortly after completion.], spaces under cottages clean; ventilation and natural lighting satisfactory; gardens generally clean, site has good incline; garbage bins mainly covered.

Recommendations Nil.


Sewered; 15 cottages fenced in; ventilation and natural lighting satisfactory; garbage bins covered; gardens and yards satisfactory with one exception.


    1. Grounds attached to No 4 to be cleaned up, refuse etc., to be placed in garbage bins.



Will remain about 5 years longer - unsewered. 13 cottages of wood, bungalow design; unfenced [originally 25]. Rooms 3-6 in each. Natural lighting good; no external louver ventilations. Ground site - fall, good. Conditions - clean generally but waste water to earth channels [still visible] - bad. No baths or water troughs provided. Three small horse pens too near cottages. [The Westlake, Acton & Causeway cottages designed by HM Rolland were based on Howie's cottages.]


1. Until such time as sewer or septic tank is provided there is no need for earth channels for waste waters - would suggest that waste liquids be broadcast to prevent stagnation and portable receptacles for this purpose be encouraged.

  1. Horse Pens; - to be removed from near dwellings and manure be disposed of.

2.    Earth Closets - Raise clear of ground or provide concrete floors.


Will be demolished in a month; 6 blocks or huts each divided into 4 cubicles 10'x 10'. No natural lighting or ventilation except where occupants have made hinged wooden fanlights above doors. Walls of wood; roofs iron. Conditions of rooms - fairly clean. No bins provided for garbage; surrounding ground littered with tins, bottles etc. Lumber under huts. Kitchen drainage - foul. Earth closets - dirty.


    1. Clean up ground and under huts and provide receptacles for garbage
    2. Kitchen - rejoint benches and tables; keep foods covered; provide covered receptacles for garbage in lieu of tea chests.
    3. Messroom and Kitchen drainage; - remove wooden V channel, cut earth channel straight, shorten and shallow trench liquids. Suggest removal of meat room outside Messroom.
    4. Earth closets; thoroughly cleanse compartments and provide boxes with lids for pans (pans 12"for fixed seat - no lids).



Sewered. 15 wooden huts fenced. [ex-Molonglo buildings erected brought to site in 1921.] Garbage bins provided and covered. General ground in fair condition. Molonglo River bank opposite cottages used as a garbage tip.


      1. Lane between tenement No 3 and 4 requires cleaning up.
      2. Small heaps of manure at rear of No 4 remove.
      3. Rake under floors where necessary.
      4. Molonglo River Bank - rake up rubbish and burn off - prevent further use as a tip.
      5. Men's lavatory. Cleanse floors.
      6. Men's W.C's Block - extend urinal waste to floor trap.


For all Northern Areas. Location. - Prospect Parkway [Anzac Parade]; - refuse tipped in depression and burnt - no destructor, tins scattered round area; land surround leased for sheep grazing; garbage area unfenced. Contractor Clark removes garbage from areas in uncovered motor vehicle; duplicate bins used for residential areas.


1.Fence areas to prevent access of sheep to garbage if use continued; collect scattered tins and cover over with clean earth as soon as possible

2.Refuse vehicle to have suitable covering during transit.



For all Southern Areas. - Location - above Red Hill Horse Camp - Long dry gully opposite new Girls’ School site - deposits consist of manure, building waste, sawdust, tins and garbage - burning in progress but incomplete.


Cover over with clean earth when burning completed, discontinue use on account of location

With reference to the above, possibly more suitable sites could be found, and until such time as a suitable destruction plant is erected, systematic shallow trenching and covering could be employed providing garbage is kept separate from other innocuous refuse, the latter being used for filling in depressions and suitably covering.


Location - Westridge. Being an enclosed circle of ground of about 10 acres, bordered with trees and about a mile from the nearest settlement. Trenches are 20'x 2'6"x 2'0 ironstone clay 12"below surface and therefore unsuitable for nightsoil disposal. Times of removal unrestricted - day or night. Russell Hill and Howie's cottages removal once weekly - others tri-weekly. [area near the overpass from Kent Street Deakin to Novar Street Yarralumla.]

Plant- Motor lorry uncovered, used for removal of pans, a new 2 tier closed in lorry just purchased and being used to-morrow, 28th inst. Pans with tight fitting spring and rubberoid lids - duplicate pan system - pans coated with biturine 3 times yearly, washed after each emptying by means of a three-quarter garden hose at trench side, water standpipe practically in centre of circle. Galvanised iron shed - new - used for stacking pans. No steaming or cleaning plant installed - pans and lids in good order - no leaky pans noticed on inspection.

Trenches used 12 months ago stated unfit to use again and from appearance of earth excavated this seems very probable.


A more suitable soil site is strongly recommended, also the construction of a suitably constructed pan washing and steaming plant, washing and steaming after each emptying, the swab application of heavy crude oil to interior of pans is recommended in preference to biturine, a small quantity of oil being left in the pans would form a fly preventing film on liquids, which in the absence of dry deodorants, is necessary. The use of narrower and more shallow trenches is also advised.



Sewered. Dining room for 140 persons - ventilation, lighting, cleanliness of crockery etc., - satisfactory. Kitchen - structure satisfactory; - cleaning up floor at time of visit; garbage bins uncovered, chopping block requires repair; few roaches in vegetable room and dry store. Kitchen utensils were not clean at time of visit, viz., 10 am. - kitchen otherwise clean. No hot water fittings installed.


1. .Provide adequate means for exterminating roaches.

2. Repair or fill in chopping block where open.

3. Keep garbage bins effectively covered, also provide coverings for dried fruits etc., in store; rejoint lunch cutting block


Location Telopea. - Sewered. Mon buildings - accommodation 16 double and 24 single rooms. - Kitchen - structures satisfactory, bins covered; vegetable locker and store room - cleanliness and construction satisfactory - few traces of mice in store - cat kept.


1.Maintain effective means of exterminating mice.


Modern building containing 56 double and 62 single rooms and 16 suites. General conditions satisfactory - garbage bins covered.


1.Rejoint cutting and fish scaling bench.

Below: Hotel Canberra.


Sewered. Modern building containing 60 double and 25 single rooms. General conditions satisfactory with exception of information received of 3 pet dogs being kept in kennels in bedroom occupied by Mrs Barton, a permanent resident who was out at time of visit, but information confirmed by Manageress - apparently no verandah space available for kennels except at sitting rooms at end of wing corridors; animals habits stated to be clean and no noise complained to.


The practice of keeping any animals in living rooms is discouraged and regulations prohibiting same might be considered.


Sewered - Building construction satisfactory - accommodation for 80 persons, in 20 double and 40 single rooms. - Lockers, cupboards etc clean. Kitchen garbage bins - one perforated wooden lid - no metal lids. Walls not clean. - Bulk store door - glass panel broken and wire gauze in outer door defective; no external ventilation.


1. Provide lids for garbage bins and keep bins covered.

  1. Paint or cleanse walls of kitchen and vegetable store where necessary.
  2. Bulk store door panel - remove broken glass and replace with gauze panel; renew gauze to outer door.
  3. Refrigerating Chamber. - provide ice to preserve meat etc., or remove contents to screened locker to provide ventilation. (Door to chamber kept open to preserve contents, but provides access for flies).


Sewered. - Modern weatherboard buildings with 140 single rooms. General sanitary conditions clean; small  quantity of chipped crockery; kitchen walls require cleaning or painting. Internal surfaces of accommodation - paint off in parts. Slight collection of rubbish in yard and adjoining ground.


  1. Discard chipped crockery and replenish if necessary.
  2. Paint and kalsomine interior walls of accommodation where necessary.
  3. Kitchen - rejoint table, cleanse or paint walls.
  4. Dry store - provide covers for dried fruits etc., and provide effectual means for exterminating mice.
  5. Heap of Contractor's refuse near hedge to be removed, also collect and remove small accumulation of rubbish outside boundary near accommodation.


Unsewered. - Walls brick - cemented internally, concrete floors; internal space restricted. Slaughter House - rails for hanging beef suspended by wooden structures - too near meat for periodic limewashing and of absorbent nature. Mutton recess off Slaughter House- wooden rack for examining viscera - joint open. Hanging room for mutton and pork - wooden support for iron hooks. Beef and mutton temporary hanging room - fly proof gauze above and below walls of wood. Iron rails for hanging but supported by wood - floor concrete. Pig vats of concrete construction, two boilers for tripe being installed. City water connected; hot water provided by portable steam boiler. Offal boiling shed and hide drying shed combined - open sides, concrete floors - 12 coppers for boiling offal and barrels for tallow reception.

In the Slaughter House a concrete channel for blood is conveyed by pipe drains to two concrete filter beds used alternately for screening clots, but does not screen of prevent blood from entering the open brick channel which also receives the drainage from coppers and hide shed and continues to a very considerable area of shallow trenched land, extending nearly to the bank of a creek and thence to the Molonglo River.

The continuation of the trenched land is offensive even at this time of the year; puddles of putrescible liquids being dotted here and there, showing that the nature of the ground totally unsuitable for the purpose, there being little earth covering to in absorbent substrata; older dried depressions are apparent near the creek bank.

Piggeries. Troughs of irregular rock and cement for food and water - no outlet provided. Bones scattered everywhere, no shelters provided. Pigs fed on cooked offal. Offal not useful for pigs feed - hoofs, paunches etc., is burnt in the open with wood fires.

Offal Carts. - Of wood construction and filthy; cold water only available.

Incinerator. - For condemned carcasses and offal other than that containing fat, too small; carcasses burnt as above.

Bone Drying Rack. - Uncovered - rack 12"- 24 "clear of ground. Bones bagged after a week's exposure.

Cooling Rooms. - Not provided.

No By-products plant is installed

No digesters are installed for boiling down diseased carcasses.

Manure from yarding paddocks spread out for drying purposes.

In the absence of sewerage it is evident that the present site is unsuitable, for the nature of the ground and the surrounding trees are not conductive to desirable conditions, and with the summer approaching the nuisance will increase, thus affecting the quality and cleanliness of the meat and also producing the extended fly-breeding are.

If at all possible it is recommended that a new site be chosen at an early date and extension to the sewerage system could be obtained, then the question of by-products could be considered, which would probably mean increased revenue.

In my opinion difficulty in satisfactory dealing with washing down waters only, would be experienced on the existing site. [The Abattoir was in Mugga Lane - it later moved to a site near Oaks Estate.]



Unsewered . - Six months to expiry of lease. No water connected, tanks and tank carts employed. General sanitary conditions considering difficulties experienced, good; bails, milkroom etc., clean. Dwellings - temporary - no ventilation - clean.


    1. To provide portable pans in lieu of cesspits to earth closets. 


Sewered nearly completed; modern weatherboard dwelling; bails, milkroom and utensils satisfactory as regards cleanliness.


Sewered. - Modern weatherboard dwelling; - bails, milkroom yards etc., clean excepting old long earth channel - now being replaced by sewer. All clean and about 12 milk customers daily receive milk and cream in sealed bottles; - process of cleaning empty bottles - washed in warm water and soda and then into boiling water in bucket or kerosene tin.


      1. Recommend that bottling system be discontinued, unless suitable sterilizing plant be installed owing to risk of possible infection from returned bottles affecting a source of milk supply, also running hot water or steam is not available for such washing at present time.

CLATTON'S DAIRY [should be Clutton]

Unsewered. - Sanitary condition - clean. Dwellings and buildings as at Murray's Dairy but long earth channel to quagmire - premises to be connected to sewer on completion of adjoining premises.


Unsewered. - Sanitary condition - clean. Condition similar to Clatton's [sic Clutton] Dairy as regards drainage.

Delivery vehicles generally, in satisfactory conditions at time of visit.




Building construction satisfactory, also through ventilation. Utensils etc., - clean. Square bent bin for scraps in shop and box in yard - both uncovered.

Observance of ordinances and provision of covered metal receptacles for all garbage recommended.


Trade refuse at rear of premises in heaps and consisting of tyres, boxes, papers, sox etc. - No garbage or suitable receptacles for same provided - private contractor engaged for fortnightly removal.


Cistern at rear overflowing causing stagnant water in yard. - Garbage, papers and ashes in heaps in yard - no receptacles, except cardboard box provided.


Clean towels and percolator used; washbasin with cold freshwater; instruments stated to be taken home daily and steeped in lysol. No steriliser provided. - Wooden box in yard for rubbish and garbage uncovered. No metal covered bins provided.


Steriliser cupboard with lysol and formalin provided. Clean towels used, utensils clean, hair stated to be burn in yard - temporarily kept in tea box with paper waste and uncovered. No metal receptacles provided.

Very few metal covered receptacles appear to be used at the above mentioned and other shops in this area, the rear of premises being generally untidy and as regards garbage - insanitary. It is recommended that covered metal bins be insisted upon, and in the case of hairdressers, sterilisation be carried out on the premises generally in lieu of treatment at home dwellings.

It will be recognised that the above report is necessary brief owing to the number of places visited in the time allotted and does not fully describe all seen; an opinion of the general conditions may be gained by the perusal of the recommendations and where same are not made it may be taken that the conditions are mainly satisfactory and I appreciate the assistance and facilities given during my visit, without which the ground covered would have been considerably less.

 [handwritten signature - looks like SB Cottle] Inspector 

Not included in the above documents is reference to the Mess Caterers.  The Old Tradesmen’s Camp employed their own caterer on a co-operative basis but all the other camps were supplied with a caterer who applied to the local department giving details of menus etc.  Once chosen, the majority either lived in rooms off the Mess buildings or lived nearby.  Herbert Daniels, Mess Caterer of No 1 Labourers Camp since its beginnings in 1922 when the first of the No 1 Camps was established in the Civic area following the camps move to Eastlake applied in a letter dated 5.5.1922 for a transfer from his Civic Cottage to one near the Power House.  He gave his reason that he had to leave home at 5 am to get to work in time and did not leave until after 7 - 7.30 in the evening. [1]

[1] National Australian Archives A361/1 DSG24/47]  The camp was moved to the Westlake site on Capitol Hill in early 1923 but he had to wait for nearly a year before 25 Westlake became available for him to move again with his family to be closer to work.


Employment - Decrease in May - Workmen in Camps

The Canberra Times, 3 June 1927.

Below: The Gap Cottages, Westlake (later known as Westlake) 1924.   The cottage far left was No 20 - to No 7.  The road in front of the cottages today is Darwin Avenue and this is part of the old Ngunawal and Colonial pathway to Capital Hill.


Decrease in May


During the month of May there was a decrease of workmen employed by the Federal Capital Commission.  The total employed at the end of April was 2813, and at the end of May this total had fallen to 2438.  The decrease was due to the completion of several of the larger works within the city area.


Of the total number employed at the end of May, 1537 were attached to the Engineer’s Department, 428 to the Land’s Department, and 254 to the Building Department, and 251 to the Commissariat Department.


Laborers totalling 1200, predominated. Carpenters totalled 99, builders’ labourers, 95, horse and dray drivers, 87, and bricklayers 54.


Of the 2438 employees, 1694 are accommodated in the cottages, barracks and cubicles and tent camps provided by the Commission.


In barracks and cubicles 775 men are accommodated, including 237 employees of contractors. Of these Molonglo has 124, Capital Hill 80, Mount Ainslie 61, Tradesmen’s [Westlake] 83, Acton  Survey 18, Mugga Quarry 12, Brickworks 28, White City 164.


Tent camps accommodate 817 men: Russell Hill 86, Riberbourne (sic Riverbourne) 51, White City Horse Camp 104, No 1 Laborors’ [Capital Hill, Westlake] 131, Red Hill Horse Camp 104, Outfall [Sewer] 10, Northbourne 126, Duntroon Laborers 23.


In cottages provided by the Commission 339 workmen were housed at the end of May and there were no vacancies. At the Causeway 120 men were accommodated, Molonglo 1110, The Gap (Westlake) 74, Eastlake 15, Acton 15 and Westridge [Yarralumla] 5.


HM Rolland Lecture 1927




Interesting Lecture

In an interesting lecture at the Forestry School on Friday night, Mr HM Rolland, Chief Architect to the Federal Capital Commission explained he basis of the Griffin plan of Canberra and summarised the progress of the city to date.


Mr Rolland commenced by describing the appearance of the Canberra valley at the time of its selection as the site of the Federal Capital city, pointing out the location of the buildings then standing.  With this as a background he explained the principal features of the city plan as prepared by Walter Burley griffin. The amphitheatre-like formation of the site was noticed by Griffin, and, taking Mt Ainslie as the central point of the back of a gallery he extended one wing of the gallery in an arc to Black Mountain, and the other wing similarly to Mr Russell.  The land between this gallery and the river constituted the auditorium, whilst the governmental triangle on the opposite side formed the stage, with Red Hill and other neighbouring hills as the back-stage scenery.  Griffin then drew  his main land axis from Mt Ainslie, across the river, through the centre of the governmental triangle, to the summit of Capitol Hill and extended it to Red Hill. The water axis intersected the land axis at right angles and covered the proposed lakes, whilst the civic axis ran parallel to the water axis on the northern side of the river taking in Civic Centre.  Triangles and concentric circles entered largely into the design, whilst another prominent feature was the concentration of all principal avenues upon hills with the result that hills invariably lay at t he termination of the main avenues.  The principal avenues also radiated from Capitol Hill on which will be erected the Capitol.


The benefits resulting from the modern system of city zoning were already becoming apparent as the Griffin plan was proceeded with.  Griffin zoned the city thoroughly when preparing his design and the city is growing from a number of separate points instead of from the one centre.  At first the Southern side was inclined to grow faster than the remainder of the city because the railway terminus lay at Eastlake.  To prevent the northern side from stagnating various constructional programmes were put in hand in that section with the result that Ainslie and Civic Centre were progressing rapidly.  The main  industrial area and railway yards were designed for a location at the northern end of the city, and because of this the erection of a cheaper class of timber cottages at North Ainslie [now Ainslie – the area Ainslie became Braddon & South Ainslie – Reid] was approved.  This area had already outgrown what was thought would be the northern limit of the city for years to come.  The plantation at Northbourne was planted to act as a windbreak for the city, but the timer cottages had already extended past that point. [They were built around Corroboree Park, Ainslie].


Development was also proceeding rapidly in the Blandfordia [Forrest] section, and it was probable that the next stage of progress is that area would be an extension towards Westridge [Yarralumla shops area].


Referring to the architecture of cottages and homes in Canberra, Mr Rolland said the first cottages at Eastlake [Kingston] and Blandfordia were based on simple lines and before long there appeared to be a danger of monotonous design becoming too prominent.  The Commission thereupon designed a new type of cottage, of a Spanish or Californian type. Canberra was really ahead of its time in this respect, but the people were beginning to appreciate this departure.  The new design was specially suited to Australian conditions and more particularly to Canberra, for it harmonised with a background of gardens, hedges and plantations, which would be the most striking feature of the city a few years hence.


‘I doubt whether Canberra will even have one particular style of architecture,’ remarked Mr Rolland in conclusion, ‘I hope not, for the chief beauty of a city is in a variety of architectural styles.’


Russell Hill 1927

The Canberra Times 18 October 1927


At Russell Hill


The comment upon establishment of Russell Hill settlement contained in the leading article in the ‘Canberra times’ on October 11 had a sequel in the House of Representatives on Friday when Mr Coleman questioned the Minister for Home and Territories upon the subject.

The Minister (Mr Marr) replied: The statements in the ‘Canberra Times’ evidently refers to thee Russell Hill Camp.  This camp came into existence as a result of a number of workmen with their wives and children and with nothing but camping effects arriving at Canberra in search of employment , and with no means of  subsistence. [NB this is not quite accurate – the Commission made available 120 sites when the site at Riverbourne where 80 sites became available in 1925 were no longer considered satisfactory – problem flooding. The people from this came were moved in 1926 to Russell Hill and other sites.]

‘It is a fact,’ continued the Minister, ‘that there are roughly 280 workmen who desire to obtain cottages in Canberra.  The Commission has been engaged upon a very big housing programme  for the Public Service, which is now approaching completion, and it has already commenced to build a number of houses to satisfy this demand.  The Government’s housing scheme, which is now before the House, will help this situation.’

The leading article in question, in the course of comment on the proposal to erect a more palatial residence for the Prime Minister, contained the following statement:-

‘There are, however, other matters of equal importance at present to the provision of a second Prime Minister’s residence which may, in turn be considered unsuitable. It may be conceded that were slum conditions to exist in Canberra it would be a reproach to the dignity of the Commonwealth yet within view of Parliament House itself people are living under slum conditions, and worse.  The conditions under which the people live at Russell Hill are surely a reproach to the seat of Government and the amelleration(?) of these conditions in the interest of heath and humanity is surely a prior charge on the development of the city.  Nor is Russell Hill a unique example, for the conditions of living and Molonglo, Causeway and Westlake, as well as some of the workmen’s camps leave much to be desired.  There are at the present moment  281 unsatisfied applicants to the Federal Capital Commission for homes for employees and besides  a large number of workmen are forces to reside outside the Federal Territory owing to the inadequacy of proper housing accommodation.  This is not the fault of the Commission itself, which obviously could not provide housing without the money but is due to the anti-Canberra faction which has permeated Federal politics in the past.  These factions have attacked year after year the vote for Canberra and have done everything possible to keep it back.’

Brassey House and other hostels and hotels 1927-28

 Above: Bachelors Quarters 1912 - opened 23 October 1912

The Canberra Times 26 August 1927




The inactivity of private enterprise in the home-building field and in the provision of boarding house accommodation was criticised by the Chief Commissioner (Sir John Butters) in an interview on Wednesday.

Although pleased with the manner in which shops had been erected by private enterprise, the Commissioner expressed himself as dissatisfied with the apathy displayed towards the building of homes.

‘In the matter of boarding-house accommodation, I through private enterprise would have commenced operations long ere this on the blocks disposed of at last sale,’ remarked Sir John. ‘The lessees of those blocks have been warned that there will be no extension of the time allowed in which to commence building. That period ends in April next, and if operations have not been commenced by then, the Commission will be forced to do it.

‘The Commission had hopes that private enterprise would show us how to run boarding houses economically,’ Sir John continued, ‘but apparently they are not anxious to do so.’

Questioned as to whether tourist traffic would be welcome during the transit stage during the next few months, the Chief Commissioner said the Commission would do what it could to accommodate tourists who came to Canberra but it would not set out on any definite propaganda work to attract this class of traffic. Last year the city was the scene of a conference of the English-Speaking Union, but this year the Commission was compelled to refuse accommodation to a party of ...(?) of the union in Adelaide  who wished to visit Canberra. New Hotel Ainslie and Brassey House would be opened in about a week, but at present indications the latter would be readily filled with civil servants and school teachers.


The Canberra Times 9 August 1927

BEAUCHAMP HOUSE (now Ian Potter House)



Beauchamp House will be the future home of the female officers employed by the Federal Capital Commission. The removal from Gorman House will be effected early next week.

Gorman House will be extensively renovated in preparation for female officers of the various Commonwealth departments to be transferred within the next few months.

It is proposed to accommodate at Brassey House the female school teachers at present residing at Gorman House. It is probable, however that they will not be transferred until about the middle of the month.


The Canberra Times 30 August 1927



Brassey House, the new boarding establishment at Telopea Park, will be officially open for the reception of guests to-morrow. A number of civil servants who have been residing at the Hotel Wellington will be the first occupants, together with a number of private business people.


The Canberra Times 27 September 1927




With the advent of members of Parliament and civil servants in large numbers, the accommodation problem in Canberra has become very acute.

All hotels in the city, with the single accommodation of Hotel Canberra are either full or will be so within two days, a number of reservations having been made for officials who will arrive tomorrow or on Thursday.

A few vacancies still exist at Hotel Canberra although persons in residence at present total 131(last number hard to read). At Hotel Acton 120 people are in residence with no vacancies. The recently opened Hotel Ainslie has about 50 guests on the register with all remaining accommodation booked out. Hotel Wellington has a full complement of about 56 whilst Brassey House is taxed to its capacity of 51. Hotel Kurrajong is occupied by members of Parliament and is not open to the public.


The Canberra Times 27 January 1928




The Chief Commissioner, Sir John Butters, does not hold the prevailing view that hotel tariffs in Canberra are excessive. His opinion is that they compare very favourably with those of the general run of establishments frequented by tourists.

At an interview on Wednesday, Sir John discussed the hotel question generally and incidentally ventilated his aspect of the matter. ‘The existing tariffs,’ he said, ‘bear no relation to the cost; the charges were fixed at what we considered a reasonable rate after consulting with a firm of hotel accountants. The rates, in fact of the Canberra, Acton and Ainslie Hotels are slightly lower than those obtaining in similar classes of hotels in Melbourne and Sydney.’

The cost of upkeep here, Sri John continued, was considerably higher than the necessary expenditure in Melbourne or Sydney.  In spite of this and the fact that the tariffs were lower, people had remarked that the fare at the Hotel Canberra was better than that of Menzies, Menzies, Melbourne’s leading hotel.

Sir John acouted (?) the suggestion that no accommodation was available for tourists with moderate means. There was room at Brassey House, and the Ainslie and Acton hotels he stated and there had not been one instance of a person being turned away.  Anyone who could afford to make a tour here could afford to pay the tariff at Brassey House.

Sir John conclude by stating that as long as the present Government and Commission were in power no more boarding houses would be established.


The Canberra Times 4 July 1930




The estimated cost and the actual cost at the time of opening the various Canberra Hotels and Hostels was disclosed in the House of Representatives yesterday by the Minister for Home Affairs in reply to a question from Dr W Maloney.

The following particulars were given:


Canberra – Estimated cost 98,75o pounds. Actual cost 118,112 pounds


Kurrajong _ Estimated 39,000 pounds for four pavilions excluding equipment. Actually 67,139 pounds for six pavilions including grounds, drainage, kitchen equipment, hot water system, electrical and water services.


Acton – Estimated 55,000 pounds excluding furniture. Actually 66,309 (or 509) pounds including certain equipment.


Ainslie – Estimated 18,500 not including equipment or formation of grounds. Actually 29,130 pounds including certain equipment, services and formation of grounds.


Wellington – Estimated 26,104 pounds including the grounds and certain equipment.



Beauchamp House – Estimated 13,500 pounds – Actually 22,775 pounds including certain services and equipment.


Brassey House – Estimated 18,500 pounds not including grounds, equipment of engineering services. Actually 26,506 pounds including certain equipment, engineering services and formation of grounds.


Gorman house – Estimated 25,000 not including equipment or formation of grounds. Actually 16,833 pounds.


Bachelors Quarters – Figures available in regard to original estimated cost and cost at date of first occupation which was on October 23, 1912 as the work was carried out by day labourer in conjunction with the building of a number of cottages at Acton, and a lump sum approval given for the whole or the work, separate costs not being kept.


Printers Quarters – Estimated 21,030 (of 930 partly obscured) pounds not including fittings and equipment. Actually 29,785 pounds including fittings and certain special services.



1928 Hostels Huge Losses

 Above: Beauchamp House - concrete used in the construction. The building is now the Ian Potter House.  Hotel Acton was built on the opposide side of the road (not shown in the photograph).





Illuminating figures regarding the costs and losses of the hotels and Hostels at Canberra were supplied by Colonel Thomas Federal Capital Commission.

He said that the total cost of construction of the hotels and boarding houses was 621,522 pounds and there had been regular loss on working expenses right  throughout.

Up to the present cost of Canberra was approximately 9,000,000 pounds.

Sir John Harrison was to have given further evidence yesterday but the Committee decided that he should be called again later.

Colonel Thomas said that he had been a member of the Commission for 12 months and was concerned with the finance and general administration. Questioned regarding the costs of the hotels and hostels, Colonle Thomas gave the following figures:

HOTEL                    BUILDING               FURNISHING & EQUIPMENT

Acton                     69,185 pounds     19,776(?)pnds

Ainslie                    32,207 pdns          6,681 pnds

Canberra               150,884 pdns       32,689 pnds

Kurrajong              79,450 pnds          17,802 pnds

Wellington            29,487 pnds          5,549 pnds

Beauchamp           28,234 pnds          4,382 pnds

Brassey                  27,210 pnds          5,385 pnds

Gorman                  39,303 pnds          7,868 pnds

Bachelors Qurts   22,814 pnds          5,140 pnds

Printers Qurts       30,100 pnds          7,372 pnds


The total cost of the buildings was 508,878 pounds and of the furnishings and equipment 112,644 pounds.

Colonel Thomas continued that the total accommodation at all the places was 1,023 being made up as follows:

Acton 130

Ainslie  54

Canberra 200

Kurrajong 56

Wellington 54

Beauchamp 59

Brassey 60

Gorman 90

Bachelors Quarters 128

Printers Quarters 162

None of the hotels was full for any period of time, but the hostels were full fairly frequently.


Figures of expenditure and revenue of the places from time of opening up to the present were given as follows< the expenditure not including interest or depreciation.


Hotel                      Expenditure          Revenue

Acton                     19,281                   15,565

Ainslie                    4,907                      3,588

Canberra               90,200                   82,252

Kurrajong              11,537                   8,472

Wellington            7,725                      6,225

Beauchamp           4,821                      3,296

Brassey                  4,757                      4,272

Gorman                  24,030                   18,388(?)

Bachelors Qurts   26,618                   20,007

Printers Qurts       20,677                   17,457


Colonel Thomas said that it was estimated that the increased tariff charges would bring in 11,107.


The Chairman (Senator Kingsmill): Is that per annum? – Yes.

And perhaps: - Yes.


To Mr Abbot Colonel Thomas said that the reason for the increases was to try and alleviate the costs.


1928 Workmen Badly Housed

The Canberra Times 16 May 1928


Workers Badly Housed


The contention that the lack of suitable accommodation for workmen at Canberra was a serious matter deserving immediate attention and a factor of making for increased building costs and inferior workmanship was made in evidence before the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts yesterday morning.


The Committee is inquiring into housing and building in Canberra generally.


The witness, Cecil Roy Sweetman, a master builder stated that he had been in the building trade for thirty years and had done approximately 30,000 pounds worth of work in Canberra, the biggest portion of which about 22,000 pounds had been for the Commission.


Mr Sweetnam added that his relations with the Commission had been of a satisfactory  character, and that since their alteration of the building regulations and ordinances had ceased to be irksome.  The present provisions with relation to plumbing he said, did not afford scope for complaint and he thought that the pipes and fittings although different to those prescribed in Sydney were ‘quite OJ’.


The Vice-Chairman Mr EX Riley: ‘Would you care to compare the Commission houses and those built and designed privately?’


‘The last lot of Commission houses built here by me at the Printers Quarters are good enough for anything. The design is a good one.’


Mr Riley: ‘Could you advise the committee on the difference between building costs in Canberra and Sydney?’


‘Freight on material would cost an additional 7 per cent and freight on labour an additional 12 percent.’


Mr Sweetnam went on to say that in most contracts the builder had to buy practically all his materials from the Commission.  That arrangement was not quite satisfactory because some of those same materials could be bought cheaper elsewhere.  Everything except timber, paints, tiles and bricks could be bought cheaper.  Again adequate supplies were not always on hand at the Commission and the biggest delays took place in running to Acton to get the orders signed and waiting for them.  These delays entailed considerable expense and inconvenience to the builder and in estimating the cost of construction of a cottage a builder should add 13 (shillings) to 5 pounds for waste of time.


Mr Sweetnam was of the opinion that the present method of tendering was quite satisfactory and that there was no attempt on the part of the Commission  to restrict the work to a limited number of builders.


Yes,’ he went on, ‘ the lack of suitable accommodation for the workmen is a serious matter.  There is nowhere to house them except in the Commission quarters and a lot of men will not put up with the existing conditions.  Suitable accommodation should be erected for the workmen and their families.  The quality of the labour here compares favourably with that of Sydney and Melbourne and the present state of affairs means that as soon as we get busy we will have nowhere to house the men.  The erection of suitable accommodation would do a lot to keep the costs down, for at present we will have to build our own messes.’


Replying to Mr Prowse, witness stated that the quality of the tiles here had improved considerably.  Formerly they had been some what defective.


To Senator Hayes” ‘If the builders were allowed to buy wherever they chose, it would make a difference of four or five percent.’


To Mr Parker Maloney: ‘Building contracting here is done far too cheaply.  The competition is too keen for us to make much out of it.’


To Mr Lister: ‘ Some complaints have been made to the committee regarding progressive payment.’


I have never had any complaints to make.  In the relative values of a good house in Canberra and Sydney there would be a difference of cost of between 18 and 20 percent in favour of Sydney.  The difference in the wages of bricklayers alone is 15 or 16 percent.


Regarding the Commission’s policy of drastic reductions in its working staff witness stated that it would be better to keep a fair average amount of work going.  ‘It is harder,’ he said, ‘ to get good men back than bad men, and the only way to keep good men here is to provide suitable accommodation for them.’


Mr Sweetnam stated that the rate he paid bricklayers was 4/- an hour.  ‘This accounted for the fact that it was possible to have 800 bricks laid an hour. ‘Pick the best men, and you get the best work,’ he said.


Mr Sweetnam then made a statement in camera to the committee and the inquiry concluded for the day.


Cotter River Camps

There were two camps at the Cotter between 1912-1917 and another in the early 1920s. The first two were - married near the junction of the Cotter and Murrumbidgee Rivers and single men's opposite the shop on side of the hill on the left when facing the dam.  The 1921-22 camp was on the opposite side of the Murrumbidgee to the Pumping Station.

The Canberra Times 12 December 1953


When Mr CR Scrivener selected the Canberra site for the Australian  capital, he proposed that the territory should include the whole of the catchment area of the Cotter River ‘in order that a pure water supply may be placed beyond doubt.’

Canberra has, in fact, the purest water supply of any large Australian city...

The dam as originally designed by Col PT Owen was to have been taken to a height of 110 feet, but the first structure had been completed to a height of 60 feet when the first water was conveyed to Canberra area in 1921.

Meanwhile, the early needs of Canberra in the construction period were met from soakage wells close to the Molonglo River.

Towards the end of 1913, 6,000 tons of cast iron pipes were delivered to the cotter site and the river bed was stripped to the foundations while boring of rock proceeded to receive the main superstructure.

An approach bridge had to be built across the Murrumbidgee for the delivery of materials and work started on the first service reservoir at Red Hill.

The first camp for workmen engaged in permanent work in connection with the Canberra was established at the Cotter River where a school was also provided for about 30 children of workmen.

The original beauty of the lower Cotter was largely restored by the laying out of picnic grounds and tree planting which followed the completion of the dam in 1922.

The further development of the lower Cotter above its junction with the Murrumbidgee is now under consideration by the Department of the Interior.



Molonglo Cottages 1935

The Canberra Times, 1 November 1935



Minister’s Statement

‘It was never intended that the houses at Molonglo should remain as permanent homes for residents,’ said the Minister for the Interior (Mr Paterson) in a statement to the House of Representatives yesterday.

Mr Paterson said that the settlement was originally established as a Concentration Camp during the war, and the existing buildings were subsequently remodelled to provide temporary accommodation for workmen.  About 80 percent of the tenants were in arrears in rent, varying in amounts up to 155 pounds, the total arrears approximating 2,800 pounds.  The approximate cost to the Commonwealth of the dwellings was 40,000 pounds.  There were at present 89 tenancies (50 three rooms, and 39 five rooms) and the rentals charged were 5/6 and 9/- per week respectively including sewerage and water rates. Electricity was connected and individual tenants are expected to pay for current consumed.  Educational facilities were also provided.  All services were maintained at the expense of the Government and considerable expense has been incurred in other necessary items of maintenance including repairs to doors, windows, roofs etc.  The total rental payable in respect of the dwellings was about 1,628 pounds per annum, but no separate record was kept of the total rentals collected from tenants at Molonglo as distinct to those in other localities.

In 1931 when an opportunity arose for the demolition of some of the buildings, this work had been commenced, the then Minister for Home Affairs had directed that the work be not proceeded with in order to allow of temporary shelter being made available for non-permanent residents in necessitous circumstances.

‘Adverse comment has been made in the press concerning ‘slum conditions,’ continued Mr Paterson\. ‘But these references have been, and in fact, still resented by a number of the residents.

From time to time applications have been received from tenants at Molongo, desirous of transferring to the Causeway and elsewhere, but a number of these have subsequently intimated that they do no desire to move.  This is no doubt actuated by the reason of the fact that their present rents are reasonable, and they have made themselves comfortable in their homes, due mainly to the assistance afforded by the Department in the way of maintenance.

Early in 1935 several tenants at Molonglo who had been offered superior accommodation at the Causeway refused to leave.


Mr Paterson announced that some of the new houses to be built to meet the situated would be located at Kingston and others at Ainslie.  The Kingston houses would be for occupation by tenants the nature of whose employment warranted their allocation of houses in that locality.

‘It is proposed,’ said Mr Paterson, ‘to give some of the Molonglo tenants who are regularly employed and whose rental position is satisfactory the opportunity of transferring to the new houses, while those who are in arrears will be housed elsewhere as the opportunity offers.  The Government intends demolishing the buildings at Molonglo as they become vacant, and it is hoped that the demolition will have been completed within about 18 months.

[The cottages remained into the 1950s.]


Reduction in Rents Westlake/Causeway 1936

The Canberra Times 4 February 1936


None for Causeway or Westlake


A motion seeking s a substantial reduction in the rental of wooden houses at Westlake and Causeway was defeated by four votes to two at the meeting of the Advisory Council yesterday.

It was moved by Mr Shakespeare. ‘That this Council draws the attention of the Minister for the Interior in the fact that all the tenements erected at Westlake and most of those at Causeway have reached the demolition period as originally intended for such temporary construction and suggests that since the rent collected for  such occupation over the last twelve years has paid the capital cost, interest and ground charges, the time has arrived when the present rental value of 11/3 per week should be reduced to 7/6.’

Dr LW Nott supported the motion but it was defeated by four votes to two, Lt-Col Goodwin and Messrs Percival, Daley and Gourgaud voting against it.



Ainslie the First Suburb 1926


The above photograph was given to me by Sheila Wise who lived at Gorman House in the early 1930s.  Gorman House was the first Hostel built at Ainslie (now Braddon) in 1925 and was known as Hotel Ainslie until the Hotel Ainslie was built in 1927 - now known as Olems.  Gorman House was named after the Third Commissioner, Mr Gorman who died in 1927.  Below is a photograph taken near Doonkuna Street (to right) showing the Tennis Court which no longer exists. In the background is a house which is still in situa. Circa 1926



Canberra Times 7 October 1926


Development of Ainslie



Time has wrought much change at Ainslie during the last few years, and no portion of Canberra apart from that actually used as the seat of Government, will prove as important in the future as this centre.

Scenes of unequalled activity are to be seen in every direction, and in different avenues of endeavour in this, the civic centre of Canberra.

Industries are being established one by one, trading and financial concerns are pushing on with their plans while residential are springing up week by week.

Within a year, Ainslie will represent a city itself, but it is also the indispensible suburb of the city, the centre to which every citizen must turn for all requirements.

Ainslie, which has been appropriately dubbed ‘The First Suburb’ holds the kernel of Canberra’s ultimate future, for it is to be the seat of Canberra’s finances, trade, industry, and greater population.

The functions of industry, finance and trade – apart from retail shopping – belong in Canberra to Ainslie alone.

It is on the Northern side of the river where Ainslie is situated, that the civic centre is placed, and in this direction the development policy is to direct the most activity immediately the first housing requirements are filled.

When, less than two years ago, the first leases were submitted at auction sale, Ainslie consisted of a group of about a dozen brick cottages which has been erected for members of the administrative staffs [No 1 Neighborhood, Civic Centre 1921-1922] and the Ainslie Hostel [first called Hotel Ainslie built 1925 for ladies of the typiste class and few married couples – in 1927 when Hotel Ainslie – now Olems – built it was renamed Gorman House].  To-day it is the widest spread residential suburb of Canberra, and is keeping abreast of every other suburb in development. This is in spite of the fact that it is fartherst from the railway station, and from the point of view of public services, is the Cinderella of the suburbs. [The rail line went across to Civic Centre in the early twenties, but the big flood of 1925 knocked out the bridge across the river at Causeway and it was never replaced.   Remains of the platform at Civic remained for many years not far from the present bus area.  Remains of cuttings and rail line were also found in front of the War Memorial and behind St John the Baptist Church.]

The speedy development of Ainslie is one of the finest examples of the spirit in which Canberra is being pushed ahead by private enterprise.  Conditions are more onerous than could be found elsewhere, but there is a realisation that prizes are to be won facing temporary hardships to-day in order to enjoy the realities of  Canberra to-morrow.  It is in this spirit that industries have been pushed on within Ainslie, that residential have been erected in greater numbers since the beginning of 1925 that anywhere else in the city, and that the civic centre which embraced by Ainslie, is being pushed on vigorously.


Industry has only one location in Canberra at present and the plan of the city contemplates no industries  closer to the civic centre than those which are already in being, and are to be established in the near future on the leases made available for industrial purposes in December 1924.  To-day there are two bakeries, a very modern laundry, and a newspaper enterprise in production at Ainslie.  A large motor establishment, including under its roof motor services, sales and supplies, and a complete motor engineering equipment is nearing completion. [The first garage was in Wentworth Avenue – Brodie’s Garage].  Close to Civic Centre a cordial and ice factory is being pushed on towards completion [first for Sheekey of Yass, then Commonwealth Cordial Co and later Capital Cordial Co] for production during November.  Other plans are materialising and next year, industry will be ready to serve Canberra wants in a similar manner.

The industrial factor, however, is only a small factor in Ainslie to-day.  As a residential suburb it is being developed very intensively by both private enterprise and the Federal Capital Commission.


The area at present under buildings involves a larger are than was shown in the sale plans of 1924. Beyond Avenue,  the Federal Capital Commission has had constructed on its own account a settlement in itself of brick and weatherboard cottages. [This area originally known as North Ainslie and was far away and isolated from the area originally known as Ainslie – now Braddon – it was for construction workers – around Corroboree Crescent.]  There are 26 weatherboard cottages with iron roofs, completed and occupied and several in a new block of 12 with tiled roofs, are completed and in occupation. [Several weatherboards were built around the same time at Westridge – now Yarralumla.]

The whole area from Canberra Avenue to the foot of Mount Ainslie is included in the plans of the Commission for housing government employees.

About a dozen brick cottages for the housing of members of Commonwealth Departments next year are being erected facing Canberra Avenue near the top of Ainslie Avenue. Across Ainslie Avenue of course, is South Ainslie, where a new suburb is rising. [South Ainslie is now Reid.]

This expansion, however is merely [sentence stops here and continues]

When leases were offered to the public in 1924 the residential blocks made available numbered 180, some of which were available for industrial purposes as well as for residential. The manner in which development has proceeded can be seen from a following table which shows the leases sold in some sections and the number on which building is either completed or in progress.

Section   Blocks Sold            Buildings

21           9                              6

22           22                           15(?)

28           26(?)                       15

24           11                           1

25           12                           4(?)

28           9                              1 or 3(?)

29           9                              7

35           5                              2

40           11                           5

41           11                           6

47           11                           5

Total       130(?)                    61 (or 64)


On the two blocks which contained the first brick cottages erected at Ainslie, additional cottages are now being built and when the present buildings are completed there will be 12 cottages in each of the two blocks.


Plans for additional houses have been drawn up on behalf of private enterprise and before the end of the year 60 houses at least will have been commenced in Ainslie.  In connection with the work of private enterprise. It is interesting to note that the Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd has in hand a programme whereby one new cottage is completed every fortnight. Four cottages are to be commenced this month on Section 24 of Ainslie by Mr J Shakespeare.


By the end of this year 200 buildings will be completed or nearing completion in Ainslie itself, irrespective of the development in South Ainslie.



Gugler, AR – Builders of Canberra 1909-1929  pages 324, 325 – map showing the sites of the cottages in Neighbourhood Subdivision No 1 – bounded by Batman, Currong, Donaldson and Elimatta Streets – Doonkuna Street  cuts through the neighbourhood from Batman to Donaldson Streets. Park on either side of Doonkuna Street.


10th November 1921 – Secretary of Works & Railways from the Secretary of FCAC (Federal Capital Advisory Committee) state the following guidelines:


That there should be no fences on the alignment in front of the cottages.

That Government hedge be provided that fences dividing allotments should not be carried through the parkway.

That a gravel path 6ft wide should be provided through the parkway near the cottage alignments.

That there should be one row of trees only.

That the water table should be provided next to the road and that and that there should be grass planted between the path and water table.


Lists of the first tenants also provided in the book.


North Ainslie 1926

The Canberra Times 17 September 1926


North Ainslie on the Map



The city of Canberra is throwing out its arms to the northward and the new suburb of North Ainslie is now being prepared for occupation. [North Ainslie today is Ainslie – Ainslie is now Braddon and South Ainslie is Reid.]

A subdivision has been made of home garden sites, which are available for application.  The sites at present available number 21 and consist of blocks of two and half to four acres in extent.

The subdivision of North Ainslie will be two miles from Civic Centre and four miles from Parliament House and is an earnest of the intention of the Federal Capital Commission to foster the development of the city on the Northern side, so that the civic centre will assume its place as the true centre of the city.

Around the foot of Mount Ainslie which protrudes into the broad plain carrying the suburb of Ainslie proper, is a pleasant slope and the timber which is a feature of the slope of the mountain here encroaches in places into the grassy meadows.  This is the location of the first garden sites to be made available in the federal capital city.  The slope of Mount Ainslie is falling off to the North West and the 1975 and 1950 feet contour lines of the city survey run through the broad acres which have been sub-divided.

A subdivision has been planned in several sections.

One section comprises six blocks of about three acres each forms an arc of a circle round the foot of Mount Ainslie on the North Western side, and the portion nearest the mountain on most of these blocks is timbered. The remaining sections comprise rectangular blocks bordering upon or in the vicinity of Majura Avenue.

The tenure of the leases differs somewhat in duration and conditions to other leases in the city area.  The terms of the lease is for 20 years and if at the end of this period the Commonwealth Government decides that the land shall be still available for the leasing the lessee will have the right of securing a further lease at such terms and under such conditions as may be determined.  The covenants regarding improvements also provide for the tilling of the ground as well as building.  A building of not less than 500 pounds in value is required to be commenced on the lease within six months of issue and to be completed within 12 months.  Within a periof of 18 months the lessee is required to plant at least half of the area with vegetables, bulbs, ornamental trees, orchard or other vegetation specified and to maintain these during the term of lease.

Permission is made for compensation at the end of the lease, if it is not renewed, in respect of improvements should the land comprised within any lease be wanted for a road or railway before the expiration of the lease lessee will be entitled to compensation in regard to the property but not in respect to the land taken over.

The new allotments are about 2 miles from Civic Centre and 4 miles from Parliament House.  Applications have been invited for the lease and these close on September 22.

Particulars of the lots offered together with the amount of annual rental set upon them are as follows:-


LEASE NO              AREA                      ANNUAL RENTAL

1              3 acres 15 perches              7 pounds 15/-

2              4 acres 21 perches              10 pounds 5/-

3              3 acres 21 perches              9 pounds

4              3 acres 2 roods 18 perch    7 pounds 15/-

5              4 acres 21 perches              10 pounds 5/-

6              3 acres 2 roods 15 perch    9 pounds



1              3 acres 15 perches              7 pounds 15/-

2              4 acres 24 perches              10 pounds 5/-

3              3 acres 3 roods, 16(?) perch 9 pounds



2              3 acres 2 roods 3 perches  8 pounds 10/-

3              3 acres 14(?) roods              8 pounds 15/-

4              3 acres 14 roods                  8 pounds 10/-

5              3 acres 1 rood                      7 pounds 15/-

6              3 acres 2 roods 25 per        7 pounds 15/-

7              3 acres 2 roods 25 per        7 pounds 15/-



1              3 acres 2 perches                 7 pounds 10/-

2-6 all the same size as Block 1, Section 67 and annual rental same.






Eastlake - Kingston

The Canberra Times 9 May 1927


The most rapid development of all the suburbs has occurred in Eastlake, where within a few months there will be more than 40 shops open for business.

When the first sale of leases was held in Canberra in 1924 [December 1924 on Capital Hill] the most satisfactory aspect of the sale was the demand for leases at Eastlake, in an around the retail  trading centre.  The spirited bidding run up to 3050 pounds when it was knocked down to JB Young Ltd.  This was 1400 pounds in excess of the value set upon the block before auction.

At the sale 71 leases were sold, including 12 shopping blocks.  Building was commenced on December 12 on the whole of the residential sites, and now only one remains to be developed.  At present there are more than 10 shops open for business in the Eastlake centre, and others will reach completion soon.  In the residential section there are more than 80 houses in occupation including 31 cottages erected by contract for the Federal Capital Commission.

The whole of the leases remaining unsold after the first sale have since been taken up.  The residences contained in Eastlake proper on the completion of the present programme will number about 100 and the population of the suburb is further enhanced by Printers Quarters, a group of semi-detached cottages which are at present fully occupied.  Nearby to Eastlake are 118 temporary cottages built for workmen in the locality known as Causeway and this lends a compact suburban atmosphere at Eastlake. [Causeway had 120 small timber cottages of the same style as built at Westlake in The Gap which were the first to be built in 1924 followed by Acton and in 1925-26 Causeway.]

There being no further leases available at Eastlake, but it is understood that the subdivision may be made on the western side of the shopping centre in the near future which will balance the present development at and place the shopping centre in the midst of a residential area.

Eastlake was later renamed Kingston.  The shopping Centre was the main one in Canberra well into the 1970s.  Dr Finlay, the first GP in early Canberra had his cottage opposite the shopping centre. 


National  Library - first


Above is a photograph of the National Library in Kings Avenue taken early 1940s.  This was the entrance area to a proposed large building that was never finished.  As a teenager in the early 1950s I called into this library most afternoons after school. One could go through the stacks and read whatever one wanted to read.



The erection during the present year of the first wing of the National Library – the result of a wise and far-sighted decision by the Federal Government – will mark another stage in the development of an institution which had its origins with the Federal Parliament itself.

In its second year of the Commonwealth the Library Committee under the judicious and sympathetic chairmanship of the late Sir Frederick Holder, decided that the Library should be not only a Library for the Federal Parliament, but a truly National Library in the National Capital for the use and benefit of the people of Australia.

[photograph of the planned library has the following caption – The first section facing Kings Avenue to be erected this year, of the National Library.  The above is one of four stacks emb... in the complete design, the central feature of which will be an administrative block to be built in accordance with most modern trends in library organisation.]

The policy was pursued of securing all works and documents connected with the discovery, settlement and early history of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands.

At the same time, the ideal of a great general library was kept in view so that when the Parliament left Melbourne for the National Capital, it would possess a library ‘sufficient for its own use and worthy of the Commonwealth.’

While the Federal Parliament had the use of the Victorian Parliamentary Library, successive commit...(part missing) continued to pursue the enlightened policy which their precursors had ... down, until 1907 the commi...publicity defined its aims and work..

‘A department of the Federal Parliament that is doing its work unnoticed by the public and has advertised in the pages of ‘Hansard ...is the Library,’ stated the committees ‘At present it is in its infancy, but the Library Committee is keeping before it the ideal of building up for the time when Parliament shall be established in the Federal Capital, a great public library on the lines of the world-famous Library of Congress at Washington; such a library indeed, as shall be worthy of the Australian nation; the home of the literature, not of a State, or of a period, but of the world, and of all time...a shrine wherein all literary treasures may be suitably preserved to which public funds and private benefactors, may all contribute, while the library will be of a general and comprehensive character, especial attention has been paid since the first books were purchased in 1902, to all literature relating in any way to Australia, especially in connection with its discovery and early days. In the Federal Capital it is hoped that the student of any subject concerning Australia, voyages, history, religion, politics, law, science, literature, biography may find the aid he needs in this National Library. The committee believes that as time goes on and the national character of the library is more widely recognised. Patriotic Australians will find increasing delight in presenting valuable gifts to so noble in institution.’

In response to this appeal, valuable presentations of books, manuscripts, pictures and historical objects have been made. Valuable purchases have been made as opportunities presented themselves and the acquisition in 1923 at a cost of 7,600 pounds of the Captain Cook manuscripts – priceless records of the Australian nation – was an eloquent expression of the Government’s interest.


The tremendous impetus to the development of the Library was provided in `1909, by the gift to the Commonwealth of the magnificent collection of Australian books, pictures and manuscripts which formed the private library of Mr Edward A Petherick. A bibliographer of world repute, Mr Petherick was one of the most ardent and successful collectors of Australiana.  As a bookseller in London, he had unusual opportunities for collecting which enabled him to acquire not only a comprehensive collection but also much that was rare...lection, but also much that was ... and even unique.  The gift comprises some 11,500 items and formed a ... nucleus upon which by purchase ...gift, the Commonwealth has continued to build. The bill transfers the Petherick Collection to the Commonwealth was passed in 1911, ...the following year, witnessed im...ant developments. The Parliament exercised its powers of legislation regard to copyright, and from ...date onwards its collection has .. enriched by the deposit of at least [one?] copy of each work published in  the Commonwealth.

At the same time the committee took charge of the collection and publication of the Historical Records of Australia, of which several volumes have previously been published by the Government of new south Wales, their intention being to continue the series up to the inauguration of responsible government in the Australian Colonies in the year 1856. Dr Frederick Watson was appointed editor and the first volume issued from the press in 1913.  Thirty four volumes were issued before the work was suspended in 1926.

Meanwhile the rapid growth of the Australian collection persuaded the committee that special provision for its development was desirable and in 1918 it was placed in the charge of the assistant-Librarian (Mr Kenneth Binns). The purchase of the Cook manuscripts, which followed shortly afterwards, added to the Library originally indispensable to a truly National collection, and the committee at once gave to the Australian section the title of ‘Commonwealth National Library’.


The year 1926 marked a further stage in the development of the Library. Not only was the Cook collection enriched by further purchases and the Hardy Wilson drawings of early Colonial architecture acquired at a cost of 3,000 pounds, but the removal to Canberra of the entire library comprising about 80,000 books and some hundreds of pictures, manuscripts and historical objects was begun.  It was a gigantic undertaking – probably unique in the history of libraries.

By April 1927 the removal was completed; and the Library was functioning successfully in its new home when at the end of that year, Mr Arthur Wadsworth, who had held the office of Librarian since the inception of the Commonwealth retired from its service and was succeeded by Mr Kenneth Binns.

Although the complete Library was housed in Canberra, only a nucleus was in Parliament House, small groups having been placed wherever accommodation could be found. With the collection so widely dispersed efficient working has naturally been difficult but the erection of the first wing of the new building will solve many of the Library’s problems. One of the most serious of these has been the adequate displaying its  historical treasures, and it must ...the further development of the building plan which is envisaged in the complete design of the building. For in addition to providing accommodation for the many thousands of volumes not suitably housed at present, the section to be erected this year will be required to meet those extensions of the Library’s work which became its natural responsibility upon its establishment at Canberra.


The provision of reference and borrowing facilities for students generally was not delayed.  Upon the establishment of the Canberra University College in 1930 the Library Committee granted to lecturers and students alike, the fullest use of the collections.

In 1931 borrowing facilities were extended to the public of the Federal Capital Territory and since that date some 1500 have availed themselves of the privilege.

It is difficult to assess the value of an institution to its people, but there can be no doubt, that the National Library of the future will be one of our noblest institutions. That is will continue to render a distinguished service to Parliament, to the Government and to the Departments of the Commonwealth, should go without saying, while to the student of our history and our literature it provides an inexhaustible thesaurus.


Merely to catalogue the rare books, the priceless manuscripts and the interesting historical pictures which the proud possession of the National Library would occupy a pri... volume. To describe them adequately so that t heir full significance ... value might be appreciate would .. a series.


First there are State Documents... great and historic value which come to the Library as a matter of course. The Charter of the Commonwealth ...Queen Victoria’s authority to ... Commissioners to assent to the Commonwealth Constitution Act - ... occupies an honoured place in the institution with the inkstand and pen she used, and the beautiful Louise Quinze table on which she signed it. It is naturally accompanied by the document signed also by her own hand, proclaiming the Commonwealth as from January 1 1901, the people of Western Australia, who had withheld their support, having by that time ie September 17, 1900 ‘agreed thereto accordingly.’

An interesting document is Queen Victoria’s Commission to HRH the Duke of Cornwall and York (now King George V) to open the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. This was one of the very last State documents signed by her. It is dated December 28, 1900 and she died on January 22, 1901.  The document was rendered null and void by her death, and a similar one signed by King Edward a month after his succession is also in the Library.

Of  more recent date and with an international interest are the official Australian copies of an important treaties Versailles for example, and the Kellogg Pact for the Renunciation of War.


Next in interest among the early constitutional and political records are the manuscripts of which the Library possesses a unique collection relating to the Federal movement and to the activities of the first Parliament and its leaders.

Among these the Barton Papers hold high place. Sir Edmund’s first policy speech delivered at Maitland on January 18, 1901, together with a very complete collection of letters which passed between himself and Lord Hopetoun, in relation to the formation of the first Federal Cabinet,  was presented by the Barton family.

A typewritten draft of the speech delivered by Lord Hopetoun, with [re]commendations in ink by Sir Edmund, brings us still closer to the first Parliament.


It is a far call from the opening of the first Parliament to the history of those early explorers to whom we owe the discovery and charting of our continent. But it is to the collection and preservation of records of these origins of our history that the Library has devoted very special attention. The most precious possession is the autograph Journal of Captain Cook, written during the first voyage upon which be charted the eastern cost of Australia.

Second only to this in importance is the manuscript volume of ‘Secret  Instructions’ issued to Cook in relation to the voyage. The historical interest of this manuscript is enormously increased by the fact that the originals and all copies have disappeared leaving this the sole copy extant. Cook’s most important associate the botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, is represented by an important collection of manuscripts, and the Library abounds in printed accounts, maps, and charts (some extremely rare) to this and other voyages relating to Australia and the Pacific Ocean.


Of material relating to the first settlement of Australia and to the settlement and early history of the various Colonies, there is a great deal.  No complete history of the early days of the Colony of Victoria (to take a State which is at the moment thinking in terms of history) could be written without access to the material here available. Records that throw much light upon the character and achievements of John Batman, one of the founders of the Colony, are here – even the original diary written in 1830, five years before he came to Melbourne, when he was on a mission to pacify the Tasmanian aborigines. Of Batman’s great contemporary and rival, John Pascoe Fawkner, interesting records are also preserved. One of these is a copy of ‘The Melbourne Advertiser,’ the first newspaper in the Colony, written by hand and placed in Fawkner’s Inn for general reading.

The National Library copy of the first printed newspaper in Victoria is unique, being the only known copy of No1 of the ‘Port Phillip Gazette,’ published by Arden and Strode on October 27, 1838.

To the records of exploration by land and sea have been added exploits of modern times. The original records of the historic flight of Sir Ross and Sir Kenneth Smith, Sir Alan Cobham, Herbert Hinkler and Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith are all preserved together with the records of Antarctic exploration in which Australians have shared.


The less spectacular, but equally important records of our pioneers in world of ...ters have not been passed by. A representative collection of manuscripts of the Australian poets and especially Henry Kendall, is interesting and valuable while there are few published works by Australians about Australia, no matter how rare – which have not found a home in the National Library.


In art, hardy Wilson collection of drawings of old Colonial architecture, the subjects of so many of which have disappeared, is unique. Mortimer Mempes, a patriotic Australian artist, made faithful copies of the pictures of the great masters in the various galleries of Europe, that Australians might have an opportunity of appreciating the best in art. These are here. A magnificent collection of engravings of British Prime Ministers was a gift from Mr Ernest S Mokower of Melbourne. The library recently acquired, although the pictures have been in the possession of the Commonwealth for some time, a collection of paintings of Australian and Papuan flowers, fruits and birds. The scientific value of Mrs Ellis Rowan’s collection is considerable.

Special collections, the value of which is not always to be judged from their size have been added to the historical collections. The Cumpston collection of Medical Australians for example, presented by Dr JHL Cumpston Director-General of Health, is indispensable to a study of the history of medicine in Australia.


And there should be no question that to the future historian of Canberra, the special collection which the Library is steadily developing should be not only indispensable but sufficient. No opportunity is lost of acquiring material which throws any light upon the history of Canberra either before its selection as the site for the capital or since. Among the earliest records are the first electoral roll, dated 1855 for the County of Murray, in which is included Canberry (thus spelt); the original papers, signed by members of Parliament when the various ballots upon the Federal Capital site were taken; plans and pictures of the early surveys,; the original oil painting of Lister and Penleigh Boyd, which were awarded first and second prizes in the competition for a picture of the site in 1908; the original gold key with which the Duke of York opened the doors of the Parliament building on May 9, 1927 and the official documents signed by the Duke associated with the ceremony that took place in the Senate Chamvber. These are but a few of the historical records of Canberra, and the most recent addition to the collection presented by the Hon King O’Malley, is one which has an interesting association with the naming of the city itself.



Closure of first public library



On August 31 the doors of the Canberra Community Library will close for the last time – and another link with the early years of the city will be broken. 

Although its humble work will continue on a grander scale through the National Library, many regret its passing.  It is fitting that it will hand over its premises to an organisation designed to further cultural development in the ACT.

The roots of the library go back almost 30 years to a small band of citizens who formed a small library in 1922 in the old Acton School House – since disappeared – until it was decided to incorporated the library as a function of the Social Services Department (sic – it was Social Service Association)which was set up by the Federal Capital Commission in 1925.

At this stage the library was stationed in Acton House, now the site of the isolation ward of the hospital.

It remained her until 1929 when it transferred to a building in the rear of the old Commonwealth Bank building now the Housing Secretariat.  By this time it was functioning with a subsidy of 100 pounds and served the growing suburbs of Canberra through branch libraries established at Acton, Ainslie, Westlake (run by Mrs Brill of 22 Westlake – also the PO), Westridge, Molonglo, Barton, Causeway and Russell Hill.

Its career was not unchallenged, commercial librarians opposing its operation as ‘unfair competition to private enterprise,’ but its cause was backed by the Federal Commissioner (Sir John Butters).

In this year, its quarterly membership fee of 2/6 was established an amount to remain throughout its history.

Although the subsidy was raised to 200 pounds the following year, this work continued to be carried out on a voluntary basis, with distribution sometimes taking place on foot.

By 1930 its shelves accommodated 3,500 books of lighter fiction type with branches still at Molonglo, Westlake, Westridge, Barton and Braddon.

Secretary to the library was Mr FH Cox of Barton who watched its interests for 13 years before retiring.

The depression hit the membership severely and the library shared general economies by suffering a subsidy cut of 50 pounds annually.

With the start of the recovery about 1934 the library made its last shift to the building it now occupies. The building was formerly used as a residence and office for the Superintendent  of Parks and Gardens until that section took up quarters near the home of the Hospital Superintendent in a building which is now the hockey pavilion at Manuka. (The hockey field is now -  2009- covered with buildings and the supermarket of Coles.)

Interest was rekindled and by 1937 the library subsidy was restored to 100 pounds. The following year membership returned to its peak of 300.

But the growth of Canberra spelled its doom. The city was growing away from the compact colony that it now the Department of the Interior.

Repeated questions were asked of the library was justifying its subsidy, but in 1942 branches were still functioning at Kingston, Barton, Westridge and Civic Centre.  In that year Mr Cox resigned and the dynasty of taxation officers as executive members started.

Mr EC Peverill who was destined to be the last president, started his term with two other executive members to run the library.

The organisation retained a solid core of subscribers but few wished to take office.

Membership remained steady with the executive cutting purchases and expenses to fit the subsidy and membership fees.  It made no profits but again it suffered no loss.

The stare of the end took place when the Department of Works moved to Barton.

A small core of regulars still retained membership so that approximately 150 persons were using the library when the announcement was made to close it down.

Judicious buying had built stocks up to 15,000 including many up-to-date books.

The hospital has been offered what books it wants, the National Library will take over approximately 300 books for its own section and the remainder will be sent to Alice Springs to fill the leisure hours of residents there.


Acton House life and demise

Acton House was the first known house built by a settler in the Canberra District.  Following are a few newspaper stories about its begginings and its demise.

The Canberra Times 21 October 1926

THE PIONEER [The cover has a drawing of Acton House.]


In the passage of time, the Federal Capital Pioneer, the first monthly newspaper of the Federal Capital City, which appeared first in December 1924, has taken a new form, and the Federal Capital Pioneer Magazine is to continue the tradition and fill the place of the old Pioneer.

The first issued of the magazine, a copy of which is to hand, indicates clearly the purpose to which the new publication is to serve. The magazine is to be a historical publication and ‘t is was appropriate that the first issue should have, therefore, a representation of old Acton House, the first settler’s home on its cover.  Within are articles on matters of historical importance to Australia, including a contribution of Early Settlers from the pen of Henry Selkirk, FRAHS, an appreciation of Captain Phillip, by Capt JH Eatson, president of the Royal Australian Historical Society, an article by JA Ferguson MRAHS on the Father of the Australian Press, and some notes on Sir Henry Parkes by Victor Cohen.

A good historical magazine has a world of opportunity before it in Australia. Its seat of preparation should no doubt be Canberra and members of the Royal Australian Historical Society, will, it is hoped, centre their efforts on a journal which seeks to promote increased interest in matters of Australian historical importance.

The Canberra Times 19 August 1927


For Social Service


Old Acton House, one of the remaining landmarks of old Canberra will shortly be the headquarters of the Social Service activities in the Federal Capital.

The existing Social Service rooms at Acton have proved insufficient for the requirements during the past few months and will probably be utilised for office purposes by the newly-constituted Development Committee.

Acton House is now undergoing repairs and renovation, and it is expected that it will be available for occupation in five or six weeks.


The Canberra Times 19 October 1954


The Advisory Council will conduct a public ceremony to mark the completion of the Acton House Memorial Fountain, in the grounds of the Canberra Hospital, next month.

The fountain commemorates the first settler in Canberra, Lieutenant JJ Moore.  Stones from the old Acton House, Moore’s home, are included in the construction.

In a letter to the council yesterday the Secretary of the Department of the Interior Mr W A McLaren, suggested it would be appropriate for the Council to conduct a ceremony.

If the ceremony were held on a Sunday afternoon in conjunction with a concert by the Canberra City Band, it was expected a large number of citizens would attend.

Mr McLaren said in view of the nature of the proposed ceremony, it might be fitting to associate with it the Canberra Historical Society.

He said the Canberra Hospital Board would be consulted after the Advisory Council decision was known.

The council elected a sub-committee comprising the Chairman Mr RG Bailey, Mrs RS Stevenson, and Mr AT Shakespeare to complete details on the form of the function and fix a definite date.


The Canberra Times 2 August 1929




Acton House, which as the headquarters of the Social Service Association served the various public bodies of Canberra as a meeting place for some months has now been closed for that purpose and preparations for the conversion of the buildings into a court house are going ahead.

Temporary provision for the various meetings has been made by the Commission at the Commission Offices. Portion of the accommodation of the Engineers’ Department will be utilised for this purpose until the building at present occupied by the Lands Department, is made available.

The Canberra Community Library, however, will not be transferred from the present premises until provision has been completed for the library in the Lands Department building.



The Canberra Times 25 September 1929





The first court, which has been held in Canberra sat at the new Court House at Acton yesterday when Mr Justice Pike presided over the Land Valuation Court.

The court is to hear appeals against assessments of city are leases for rating purposes and bout 400 appeals have been lodged.

Yesterday three appeals were heard in connection with blocks at Manuka and according to the witness of the appellants, Mr WG Woodger, this land is worthless for business purposes at present.

Proceedings were enlivened when the Lands Officer of the Federal Capital commission was being cross examined and could not inform the court as to how he had arrived at the values.

After having admitted that 1,000 pounds was a fair valuation for the arcade block, he was confronted with the allegation that he had valued it at 1,700 pounds and will inform the court when it resumes to-day whether this allegation is correct.



The Canberra Times 10 February 1934


To be Used by Supreme Court

It has been decided that the first sitting of the Supreme Court which will be held on Monday, will now be held at the Court House Acton

It is understood that sufficient time was not given in order to prepare a suitable court room at the Pal...Office. Although carpenters have been working in preparing a court room at the Patents Office at Acton it was stated yesterday that everything could not be in readiness for Monday.

The Canberra Times 16 February 1940



A cairn is to be erected to mark the site of old Acton House, which is to be demolished.  This was announced by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) last night when he said that representation had been made to him by Senator Collings and others that some action should be taken to preserve the old house.  The Minister said that, unfortunately the site of the new hospital overlapped the old Acton House, which would have to be demolished.

After consulting the Planning and Development Committee the Minister decided to erect a cairn to mark the site of the old building which is of historical interest to Canberra. The cairn will be constructed from material taken from the house.


The Canberra Times 2 December 1954


The first homestead in Canberra, Acton House, will be commemorated at a ceremony at a memorial fountain in the grounds of the Canberra Community Hospital on Sunday afternoon.

The memorial fountain is on the site of the old station first occupied by Joshua John Moore of his employees about 1824.  The property was sold 19 years later to Arthur Jeffreys who married the daughter of Robert Campbell, whose representative James Ainslie formed the second settlement in Canbera.

At various periods the old building was a rectory, a police station, and a Government Office.  The estate at Acton was the first private land acquired by the Commonwealth when it was resumed in 1911 from the heirs of Arthur Jeffreys.

The ceremony, which has been arranged by the ACT Advisory Council will bring together pioneers and young residents of Canberra. Guests will include Mr and Mrs AD Campbell, who are related to Robert Campbell and members of the earliest Commonwealth parties surveying the ACT, Messrs Arthur Percival, former surveyor-General, and PL Sheaffe, who at one stage lived in Acton House.

The commemorative address will be delivered by the president of the Canberra and District Historical Society, Mr LE Fitzhardinge, who is also a reader in Australian History and the Australian National University.

The ceremony will conclude with young Judith Timpson, granddaughter of Mr Percival placing a spray of flowers on the memorial tablet.

A general invitation has been extended to the public to attend.




1920 permanent cottages  v tenenments - rents

The Canberra Times 19 March 1930





Outlining the first portion of a programme of housing, the Chief Commissioner yesterday indicated that the Commission was facing the question of providing better living conditions for tradesmen and service men employed in connection with city undertakings.

In addition, a programme has been developed for 32 semi-detached and four detached houses at Manuka which should assist that centre as a place of business.

The Public Works Committee yesterday heard evidence on housing in Canberra with special reference to the proposal for the construction of 38 additional houses.

The Chief Commissioner (Mr AJ Christie) said that the proposal was for the erection of 14 additional grouped cottages in Manuka, which in the opinion of the Federal Capital Commission should be constructed to make provision for housing requirements for of (a) tradesmen and service men employed in connection with the work and essential services of the city, and (b) Public Servants of departments proposed to be transferred to Canberra in the near future.

The Commission considered that the number of low rental houses available was insufficient for actual requirements for this type of house, and disproportionate to the number of higher rental houses erected to date.

Many tradesmen and servicemen are now housed in timber structures of a temporary character, some of which have been in existence for 17 years and upwards and can no longer be regarded as providing reasonable living accommodation for families. It is desired to have these buildings vacated at an early date. Notwithstanding the reduction of constructional activities and consequently of employment. The Commission is of opinion that a certain number of new dwelling houses should be erected as soon as possible.

Five drawings were submitted to illustrate the proposal which provides for the construction of 32 of the houses in semi-detached forms and for four completely detached. In the latter, provision has been made for three families in each house by a grouped arrangement of the accommodation.

After a complete survey of the land available the Commission proposes that a vacant area in Griffith known as Section 6 bounded on the north by Bougainville Street, on the east by Flinders Way, on the south by Murray Crescent, on the west by Furneaux Street, as the most suitable for these cottages.  The subdivision provides 12 allotments each taking a semi-detached house, and four corner allotments each taking a group house.

The lay-out of the site and the disposition of the houses has been studied with due regard to the area selected. Architecturally it is thought desirable to have a formal arrangement of houses as more successfully forming part of the scheme for the centre development, than would be the case were indiscriminate planning and design of buildings permitted. The formally of the grouped house scheme will in the opinion of the Commission, establish and emphasize the sense of a centre, a feature which is desired at Manuka.

The view that the site proposed was reserved for shopping purposes has been given consideration but the establishment of the Kingston Shopping Centre has, in the opinion of the commission, rendered it very unlikely that any extension of the existing shopping area at Manuka will be required for many years.  Of the 12 shops erected in Manuka, 16 have been let, leaving 28 vacant with little prospect of occupation, unless there is an increase in the population of the district.

It is estimated that each pair of dwelling houses can be constructed for 1,800 pound, which together with the added costs of fencing, paths, plantation and overhead charges will total 1,985 pounds or 592 pounds per cottage. The rental on this will amount to about 27/3 per week and with ground rent and rate of (5/3 weekly) the total rent should be 32/6 per week.

It is estimated that each of the units in the grouped houses on the corner sites can be let for 21/6 per week and with ground rent and rates (3/6 weekly) the total rent should be 25/- per week.

The allotments for the semi-detached cottages are valued at 150 pounds for each house and the corner allotments at 300 pounds each.

At present 1,987 (?) dwellings are owned by the Commission excluding those on rural leases, and are rented to Public Servants and Commission employees.

The houses may be divided into 746 permanent dwellings and 321 temporary dwellings.

Of the former, 12 at present are vacant, but advice has been received of the impending transfer of eight public servants, thus leaving an balance of four unallotted houses.

In the permanent dwellings there are 118 employees on wages who are, therefore, not in receipt of Housing allowance. They are living in houses the rentals of which range from 30/ per week at Westridge to 50/- per week in the City, and which are too expensive for them. Fully 20 of these families are awaiting a cheaper house in the City area.

In regard to the temporary of tenement houses, they are situated as follows:-

·         Causeway                      134

·         Westlake                       62

·         Acton                             15

·         Eastlake                         13

·         Molonglo                      97

Total       321


The rents of these range from 7/- to 17/- per week. [The Eastlake Tenements were ex-Molonglo buildings moved to the site.]

In addition there are 30 families residing at Russell Hill where they were allowed to build their own dwellings. Twenty of these houses are in fair order, but the remaining 10 are not.

Efforts are in train to eliminate this settlement which has been reduced from 94 dwellings in the last 12 months.

This, therefore, gives a total of 351 dwellings which can be regarded only as temporary.

The 211 erected at the Causeway, Westlake and Acton are in fair condition and will serve their purpose for a few years yet; but in view of the shortage of houses the residents at Eastlake and Molonglo have been allowed until better accommodation can be provided.

There are thus 140 dwellings which are considered to be unsatisfactory and which warrant early replacement.

There are no tenants at present vacant, and in addition, 34 applications are held for tenements; seven for semi-detached houses; and nine for permanent residences.

In regard to the location of the proposed houses the larger demand is for houses on the south side of the river. This is brought about by the  greater number of men being employed in the vicinity of the Railway Station, Workshops, Government Printing Office etc.

Information has been obtained on the economical position of the 333 of the 350 occupants of the tenements. This is as follows:-

In receipt of 5 pounds per week – 5: 5 pounds 6/-  -180; 4 pounds 5/- - 4; 5 pounds 12/- - 36; 5 pounds 14/- - 4; 6 pounds 28; 6 pounds 6/- - 2; 6 pounds 10/- - 12; 6 pounds 12/- 11; 7 pounds1/2d  27; 7 pounds 2/- 10; 7 pounds 6/- 12; 7 pounds 14/- 1; 8 pounds- 1.

It is considered that the rental of the proposed houses will be within the means of employees receiving 6 pounds per week and over, and a dissection of the figures given above shows that 229 men receive less than 6 pounds per week and over.

The lower paid of the employees reside at Molonglo, Eastlake and Russell Hill, but the course of action to be adopted would be that the higher paid employees would be required to take the houses at the higher rental thus leaving the cheaper tenement houses available for the lower paid men.

Mr AJ Christie said that all country buildings were more expensive to erect than similar buildings in the cities. The further the building was from the city the higher would be the cost as a general rule.

The Acting-Chairman (Mr Lacey MHR): Then you would attribute the higher cost to freight chiefly?

Mr J Christie: Yes.

Mr J Curtin: What proportion of the added cost in Canberra would be due to the increased cost of labour here.

Mr Christie: I have not worked that out. I will prepare a schedule.

Mr Curtin: I would like a comparison between the type of cottage being built here and similar cottages in Goulburn.




Lady Hopetoun Club for Domestic Servants

The Canberra Times 20 June 1928



Having as its principle aim the promotion of comradeship among women workers of the Federal Capital Territory and to proved at reasonable rates suitable residential accommodation for these workers, the Lady Hopetoun Club, Forrest, is one of the most worthwhile institutions in the Territory.

This club was opened in March 1927 and situated as it is with Red Hill in the background protecting it from the cold winds which blow from the southern alps, it has an ideal position.

That there is nothing like sport for cementing friendship the club fully realises; and during the time it has been in existence with Miss DW Hawkins at its head, it had done a great deal to promote the pursuit of outdoor sports and other branches of wholesome recreation.

The establishment of the Hockey Association in Canberra is only one example of what it has done in this direction.  There are at present over 40 residential guests of the club, and the delightful rest room is a place where women workers of the territory who are members of the club may meet and discuss social and other affairs.  There is a good library and reading room containing Australian and overseas papers, with a glowing log fire which bids all welcome.

The club has done a great deal in helping to solved the domestic worries in the Territory. The Secretary, Miss Hawkins, is only too pleased to furnish information, and, if possible obtain assistance for those who may need daily help in sewing, washing, cleaning of cooking. Women or girls who may need employment should write to Miss Hawkins or ring 895.

The annual committee meeting of the club will take place early in July and the club is anxious to secure new members. Any woman worker of the Territory is eligible for membership, if approved of by the committee, on payment of the small annual sum of five shillings payable half-yearly.

The Lady Hopetoun Club – Builders of Canberra 1909-1929  Gugler AR page 308

Letter dated 25 July 1927 from the Accountant to Commissioner Co Thomas indicates the purpose of the Club:

There is in the main records a file regarding the establishment of this Club.  It is understood that it was undertaken largely as an experiment to serve as the Headquarters for the encouragement of domestic labour in Canberra, and as a social and home centre for the domestics employed. It was originally intended to build a hostel; this project was however, deferred and the Club members were temporarily houses first in Hotel Acton and then in two, and now three of the Oakely and Parks cottages in Blandfordia.



BOSERIO, Martha home duties

COLE, Doris civil servant

CRAGGS, Kate binder


HAWKINS, Dorothy welfare Officer

HILL, Mary home duties

McKEDDIE, Florence civil servant

MORRISON, Beatrice home duties

NICHOLLS,  Annie home duties

QUINN, Margaret machinist

RHODES, Caroline cook

STEPHENS, Bertha civil servant

WIESE, Annabelle bookfolder


Riverbourne & Russell Hill Settlements




Established in 1925 on the southern bank of the Molonglo River 3 miles from the Queanbeyan Post Office. This camps was established for married men to built their own houses. They ranged from the hessian walls, earth floors & galvanised iron roofs to well built small weatherboard cottages. In 1926 many were asked to move to Russell Hill near the site of the modern Campbell Shops. Some people remained until 1927 when the area was closed. The settlement was not connected to the sewer. Fred Williams who first lived at Black Mountain Camp as a single man, then moved to Walker's Camp situated mid way between Scots Crossing and the Power House on the south side of the Molonglo River was the camp steward at Riverbourne. No lists of people at this camp have been found to date but a list of people contributing to the children's Christmas party in 1926 has. Probably most lived at Riverbourne. Some used only a nick-name. Mrs Williams collected the money and the list is as follows:


Kennedy 2/-, Nigger 1/-, Hart 2/-, Tracey 1/-, Fowler 6d, Santa 6d, Stranger 2/-, Lassie 2/-, Friend 1/-, No Name 2/-, Mick 1/-, Digger 1/-, J Dean 2/-, Hicks 2/-, Steward 2/-, Wells 2/-, Casey 2/-, Mitchell 2/-, Williams 2/-, Evans 2/-, Hefferman 1/-, Schumack 2/-, Dunn 2/-, Friend 3/-, Singer Agent 4/-, Paper Agent 2/-, Blanford 2/-, Phipps 2/-. Clark 3/-, Cassidy 1/-, Mitchell 2/-, Matthews 2/-, Bradley 2/-, Williams 4/-, Stranger 1/-, Mrs Johnson 2/-, McAulliffe 2/-, Moore 1/-, Mack 2/-, OK 1/-, Stranger 1/-, E Fitz 6d, Bromley 1/-, Dooley 2/-, Carson 2/-, Goodin 1/-, Smith 2/-, DC 1/-, Wilson 1/-, Kean 2/- A Friend 6d, Harrington 2/-, Jones 1/6d, O'Connors 1/-, Whitaker 3/-, Buckley 2/-, Moore 1/-, Sullivan 2/6d, Dickerson 1/6d, Owen 2/-, W O'Brien 2/-, T Parker 2/-, D Power 2/-, Hammond 4/-, Brownlea 1/-, Cassidy 2/-, M Parker 2/-, Mrs White 2/-, Mrs Power 1/-, Gardiner 4/-, Surety 3/-, Weis 4/-, Brown 4/-. H&H Parker of Riverbourne delivered goods to the party.

A few other Riverbourne residents are known from archival documents. They include Arthur John Kelly and family who came from Griffith in 1926 and Louis Lewis and his family.




In 1926 120 sites were made available for men to built their own cottages. This settlement was not connected to electricity or sewerage. Towards the end of 1926 the Masonic Lodge built by John Howie & Sons at Acton was transferred to Russell Hill where it was converted into a school. By the end of 1929 the majority of people moved from the area and the school in turn was moved to Ainslie at Corroboree Park where it still stands. It is the Ainslie Hall. Some cottages remained into the 1950s. Names of those living in the settlement of British or Australian birth over the age of 21 from the end of 1928 are to be

found on the electoral rolls. HLB Lasseter lived at Russell Hill between the end of 1926 and early 1927. Some indication of those living in the settlement in 1927 is found on the list of people with children. It is as follows  - age of each child next to the family name - 25th March, 1927.


J Smith, Francis R 14, Elizabeth N 12, Thomas E 10

Phippen nil

O'Connell, Maureen 2

AH Chapman, Eileen 6

J Burr Jr, James 8, Peter 10, Terry, Maureen 3

G Field, Madge H 12, Percy C 1, Stella 6, Malcolm 15

N Brown, nil

J Kennedy, Bert 16, Martha 22

A M Phipp, Ernest 21

J Begent, Jack 13, Mollie 10, Harold 8

R Eady, Albert 7 months

R Shaw, nil

C Currie, Norma 4

F Miles, Terry 18, Frederick 22

J Sullivan, Keith 7, Mervyn 3, Leonard 1

A McCormick, Francis 4, Margaret 2

W Cooper, William 3, Trevor 2, Eric 9 months

C Huntingford, Percy 9, Olga 7

A G Venables, Gloria 3 and half

C Williams, Phyllis 2, Robert 9 months

W Clark, William 12, Elvina 9, George 7, Gordon 5, Lorna 2

FC Morton, William 12, Cyril 7, Charles 4, Evlyn 2

R J Burke, June 5

JT Stapleton, Sylvia 9

HF Lord, Dorothy 3

T Lloyd, Kathleen 13, Frederick 11, William 9, Mary 7

D McKenzie, Warwick 5

Geo Wybar, Joyce 13, Moyna 10, George 15, Leslie 2 and half

LHB Lasseter, Robert 3, Betty 1 (NB Betty was born in July 1926 and died sometime after he family left Canberra.)

D Hawkins

CH McCrorey, Terence 14 and half, Molley 11, Reg 7, Jean 4

F Grant, Pearl 13, Daniel 9, Edward 7, Clare 5 , Grace 2 and half

LA George, Stanley 2 and half

F Ramsden

L Proud

J Cowie, Robert 5, James 4

F Nancarrow, Gladys 10, Edwin 5 months

A Nye, Gilbert 10, Harriet 13, Millie 27

T Williams, Lorna 2, William 5 months

J Murray, William 38, James 36

R Hill, Murial 7 months

J Boon, Rosina 8, Irene 6, Lorna 4, Majory 3 months

RA Dobson, Douglas 10, Joy 6, Lexa 3

H Holmes, Norma 4

C Emslie, Gwyneth 11 months

CE Mayes

F Clark, Doris 8, Edgar 4

J Burr Sn

F Pitney, John 17

H McArthur, Jean 9 months

P Conroy, Mary 6, Patrick 3, John 2

J Johnson (lived at 36)

E Will, Claude 4, Ethel 16, Arthur 5

S Noble (lived at 63), Jean 5

W Thompson (lived at 112), Joan 8

J Holland, Leonie 2

J McConkey, Audrey 10

A Sheppard, Noel 5, Colin 3

C Dyer

A Boreham

A Armfield

N Maxwell, Thomas 2, Sylvia 1 (This family later moved to 43 Westlake)

W McCullough, Mary 12, William 10, Joseph 8 (This family also moved to Westlake)

E Farnham

A Gibbs

E Dockar, Edmund 1 and half

L Geary, Catherine 7

W Cochran, Hilda 12

A Green, Cecil 6, Enid 2 and half


L Thomas

R Walker, Maxwell 5, Keith 2

W Brown, Norman 14, Dulcie 10, Albert 7, Stanley 4 months

A Bateson, Diana 18, Marcelline 11

B Hyde, Mary 5

T Heath, Ronald 2

A Davis, Daphne 13

E Cassidy, Frederick 6, Eileen 2, William 1

E Day, Rodney 10

S Brownley, Cyril 2

C Hammond, Doreen 6, Lisle 5, Ruby 3

H Boreham, Colin 5, Maxwell 4

D Buckley, Richard 6, Betty 2, Frederick 1

J Hodge, Mary 5, Kathleen 3, John 2, Mavis 6 months

W Innes

J Phillips (lived 89), Mary 3, John 2, Mavis 6 months

W Shumack, Kathleen 13, Hazel 11, Ellen 10, John 7, Allan 3

F Williams, Grace 18, Lilly 14, Hazel 12, Daphne 10, Harold 8, Leonard 6, Olga 4, Mervyn

Geo White


M Mitchell

W Tweedly, Veram 12, Sydney 8, Jean 4, Sylvia 1

M Ambler, Stanley 8

W Brash, William 4, Norman 3 and half, Stanley 1 and half

E Robinson, Frances 10, Phillis 9, Leo 7, Catherine 5, Vivian 3, Daphne 2

T Reynolds, Douglas 4, Harold 2 and half

G Cavanagh, Glyn 5

T Nolan


Petition written early 1929 by residents of Russell Hill - in part states:

As residents living under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government we consider it imperative on the part of the Commission to provide work for us. We want you to understand that within this Settlement families have been and are still on the verge of starvation and relief has only been enforced in the way of benefits derived from local dances, and we cannot say what would have happened to some of the poor children had not the various Committees combined their efforts on behalf of the distressed. How can a man

leave here to seek work in other districts - leave his wife and children penniless not

knowing where to go to seek same? Who is going to support his family while he is away

seeking work? Signed (Name Occupation and number of children):  C Hungtingford, labourer 2, F Morton carpenter 4, A Venerables labourer, A Sheppard labourer 2, K Dwyer labourer1, E Armfield labourer -, H Gaylard carpenter -, E Docker plumber 2, L Geary carpenter 1, F Williams labourer 9, W Shumack labourer 4, W Brash labourer 4, M Dunn drayman -, G Hyde labourer 1, J Smith labourer & lorry driver 3, G Marshall lorry driver 8, W J Dayle lorry owner 4, J Kennedy labourer 2, N Brown labourer-, AM Phipp labourer 1, A Ross painter 5, NC Tillyard lorry driver 1, A Miles labourer 3, G Ginns labourer 1, F Johnson horse & dray 4, F Pitney labourer 2, Holmes labourer 1, J Burr engine driver -, SW Noble labourer 2, H Bateson carpenter.

A total of 30 families and 70 children. Australia's best form of IMMIGRANT.



Another list about the same men mentioned in the previous list notes the periods of time the men were out of work. E Docker for example had only 8 weeks work since Christmas and had travelled 300 miles looking for work. Several had been out of work for 4 months and the majority for 2 months. It was also noted that Mr Burr's wife ran a store at Russell Hill.