Early Canberra

Officials 1909-1920s


List of Senior officers and experts who have been closely associated with the Design of the Federal Capital and Administration of the Territory for the Seat of Government, arranged generally in the order in which they became associated with the project.

Brig-Gen David Miller CMG, ISO, VD

    1. Secretary, Department of Home Affairs (earliest consideration of the project): Selection of Territory; Administrator of Territory 1912-1915

CR Scrivener, LS, ISO

  1. Director General of Commonwealth Lands & Surveys: early investigations: selection of site: city survey: lands administration.
  2. Col PT Owen, CBE
  1. Director General of Commonwealth Works: early investigations: selection of site: design of engineering services: construction of city: Chief Engineer and Consultant to Commission

Col WL Vernon FRIBA

  1. Government Architect of NSW: selection of NSW: selection of Territory

JS Murdoch, CMG

  1. Chief Architect: Director General Works. Second Commissioner. Early designs and construction: design Parliament House and Public Buildings: later administration

Thomas Hill

  1. Director General of Works. Design of main engineering services

CS Daley, OBE

  1. Secretary, Federal Capital Advisory Committee. Secretary Federal Capital Commission. Early administration and construction: post War development and works administration: city establishment and general constructional and administrative development.

WB Griffin

  1. Winner of Design Competition. Director of Design and Construction. Author of approved city plan.

JTH Goodwin MBE

  1. Director of Lands & Surveys: city survey and lands administration

HM Rolland, OBE

  1. Works Director, Federal Capital: Architect of Commission. Earliest building construction: later architectural development


TG Weston, MBE

  1. Superintendent of Parks and Gardens. Establishment of nurseries: control of city and forest plantations

Sir John Sulman, FRIBA

    1. Chairman, Federal Capital Advisory Committee 1921-1925. General review of past action and formulation of definite scheme covering whole transfer of Canberra.

EM deBurgh

    1. Chief Engineer for Water Supply & Sewerage. Deputy Chairman, Advisory Committee. Special schemes for water supply and sewerage.

Herbert E Ross

    1. Architect. Member of Advisory Committee. Advice on engineering and architectural schemes and general development

Sir John Butters, CMG, MBE, VD

    1. First Chief Commissioner. Establishment of Commission control: execution of transfer of Seat of Government: development of civic and territorial administration and services.

Sir John Harrison KBE

    1. Deputy Chairman of Commission. Special advice on construction schemes and general development.

CH Gorman

    1. Member of First Commission. Special advice on constructional schemes and general development. (Mr Gorman died in 1927)

Col TJ Thomas, OBE

    1. Third Commissioner. Finance and general administration

B Crosbie Goold

  1. Second Commissioner 1929. General administration, particularly municipal aspects.

Dr JFW Watson

  1. Elected Third Commissioner in February 1929.

Dr RM Alcorn

    1. Elected Third Commissioner 20th April 1929

AJ Christie

1929 Chief Commissioner from 3rd November, 1929.

OFFICIALS - STAFF 30th June, 1913

Director of Lands & Survey: Charles Robert Scrivener

Field Staff:


Surveyors & Articled Assistants:

PL Sheaffe, EJ Dowling, A Percival, RM Kelly, RJ Rain, EV Corless, G Marshall, CG Roberts, D Reid, FH Chaplin, LJ Kelly

Valuer Inspectors:

AW Moriarty, JC Brackenreg


JG Brown, CT Young, AA Andrew, CW Pardey, FL Hatfield, FL Lynch, CS Vautin, R Middlecoat, L Edwards

Clerical Staff:

M Hyde, C Seddon, HN Bradshaw, F Kaye

Officers Employed in Lands & Survey Branch, 30th June, 1913

JTH Goodwin, Officer in Charge, WM Warrick, BHR Ziggell, CL Clarke, ATM Potter, LH Haslam, V Williams


E Whiteford, WR Pennington, HE Finney, C Binks, AT Wasley, AD Laughlin, R Cherry, F Bradshaw, RE Harkness, W Burrows.


Canberra 1920s - Map

Below is an early 1920s map of the central area of Canberra. 


Although Walter Burley Griffin won the design competition for the Federal City there were many who were against his plan and to use the colloquial phrase - ' put a spanner in the works'  whenever possible.  Frank Brennan's book, Canberra in Crisis outlines the many conflicts that could have led to the adoption of the Departmental Plan instead of that by the winner, Walter Burley Griffin.

On page 38 of his book, he writes:

The Government's intention before the territory was vested in the Commonwealth was tht the capital city should certainly be constructed and probably designed by the officers of the Home Affairs Department.  In April 1911, however the Government, on Secretary Miller's recommendation invited a competitve designs for laying out the city.... One hundred and thirty seven designs were received and the competition eventually won by Walter Burley Griffin...King O'Malley, Minister for Home Affairs appointed a Board of officers to investigate and report as to the suitablity of the designs for adoption for the purpose of the lay-out of the City.  This board, which became known as the Departmental Board, consisted of:

Colonel David Miller, Secretary, Department of Home Affairs,

Colonel Percy T Owen, Director-General of Works,

Charles Robert Scrivener, Director of Commonwealth Lands & Survey,

Geo J Oakeshott, Works Director, New South Wales,

JS Murdoch, Architect, Department of Home Affairs and

Thomas Hill, Works Director of Victoria.

The board reported on 25 November 1912 that it was unable to recommend the adoption of any of the designs submitted and advised that a plan prepared by the Board, itself should be approved.  The Minister relutctantly accepted this advice...

The plan was published and Griffin wrote from Chigago to the Minsiterr suggesting that he should visit Australia to be 'on the ground in consultation with your Board about the revised plan.'

The Board was against the consultation, but Griffin did come to Australia and took over the postion of person in charge of works.  The Board was disbanded on 18 October 1913 and Walter Burley Griffin appointed Director of Federal Capital Design for a three year term.

 Frank Brennan goes on to describe the difficulties between Griffin and the department officers and says of these times, for example: The continuing trouble at Canberra between Burley Griffin and the Departmental officers caused the appointment of a Royal Commission in 1915.  The Commission examined a battlefield strewn with wounded pride, pettiness, convenient lapses of memory, Ministerial prejudice, false reports and charges.  The Commission found that Griffin's powers were ursurped by certain officers, that necessary information and assistance were withdrawn from him, that his office was ignored, that his rights and duties under contract were denied, that false charges of default were made against him, that the Ministerr and members of the former Board endeavoured to set aside his design and that in the Department there was a combination (including Ministers) hostile to Griffin and to his design for the capital city.  The Commission concluded that the Minister should have either cancelled Griffin's contract or allowed him to carry it out.

The result was that Griffin's authority in 1915 with a newly elected Labor Government was reinstated, but with a limited budget of 8,744 pounds for permanent work.

 Further complications to the construction of Canberra occurred with the advent of World War One which put most building on hold by 1916 and the continuation of the city in doubt. The war ended in 1918.  Burley Griffin resigned his position in 1920 and in 1921 a new group was formed to advice upon a scheme for the progressive construction of the city... This was the Federal Capital Advisory Committee formed in 22 January 1921.  The members were:

John Sulman, Consulting Architect and Town Planner Chairman;

EM de Burgh, Chief Engineer Department of Works (NSW);

Herbert E Ross , Architect and Consulting Engineer;

PT Owen, Director-General Commonwealth Department of Works & Railways

JT Goodwin, Commonwealth Surveyor-General and Officer in Charge Adminstration Federal Capital Territory;

Secretary: CS Daley.

This committee was disbanded at the end of 1924 and its work taken over by the Federal Capital Commission on 1 January 1925. It was disbanded 1 May 1930.  The members of the Commission were:

John Henry Butters, Chairman (First Commissioner)

John Harrison & Clarence H Gorman - part time members (Second & Third Commisioners)

Butters domination the FCC and was formerly Chief Engineer and General Manager of the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Department.

The Act establishing the Federal Capital Commission provided that it should be a body corporated with perpetual succession and common seal, able to acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property and capable of suing and being sued.  In short, the Federal Capital commission was a statuary corporation...

The above information is a general background and overview of the early years of Canberra. 

Lists of applicants for 1921-22 -23 brick cottages for workmen


IN 1921, 1922 & 1923


Ten cottages were built at Westridge, twenty at Civic Centre (now Braddon) and another twenty opposite the Power House. In 1923 another 16 were constructed at Blandfordia (Forrest) for officials. The Power House and Civic Centre areas had a few additional cottages built by 1923. A report written to the Chairman of the Public Service Board dated 25th September, 1925 discussed the various houses available for public servants. It in part reads:


As regards to the actual houses those being erected in Blandfordia comprise five or six rooms. These houses like all officers' residences in Canberra are very well built of brick. Practically the only complaint as the materials used was that the tiles (made at the Commission Brickworks in Canberra) are very porous… Blandfordia houses have very short passages from which most of the rooms are reached. In other suburbs I did not see one house containing a passage, the front door usually opening directly into the living room. All the homes have good bathroom accommodation, one fire cooking stove,

sewerage, electric light, and provision I think for an electric cooker…The houses at Ainslie [Civic] are mainly four roomed places but include about a dozen or more three roomed houses. All these rooms appear smaller than average sized rooms in Melbourne houses particularly so at Ainslie. This is no doubt to some extent due to the Commission's endeavours to reduce the cost of construction and hence the rent.


It is difficult to conceive however, that any self respecting public servant, even one possessing no family would be agreeable to reside in any of the three roomed houses…




1.11.1922 list of men allotted cottages in Section 1 [Ainslie – now Braddon]:

JM Force, Bl 26

J Chapman, Bl 29 10.1.1922

WT Jamieson, Bl 30 1.11.1921

H Cole, Bl 33 19.12.1921

T Hope, Bl 34 15th January, 1922

E Smith, Bl 39 8.1.1922

F Douthwaite (sic Dowthwaite), Bl 40 8.1.1922 (Frank Dowthwaite came to Australia from England and to the FCT in 1912. He married Isabella Ingerson in England. Frank Dowthwaite lived at the time of his death in this above mentioned cottage - 13 Batman Street, Braddon. He died on 17th Sept, 1943 and is buried in St John the Baptist Church Cemetery in Reid. He was 69 years of age.

P Annand, Bl 41 23.1.1922

R Maguire, Bl 42

K Kennedy, Bl 32

F Edwards Bl 36

G Guy, Bl 46 4.1.1922

H Daniels Bl 47 10.1.1922. Herbert Daniels was Mess Caterer for No 1 Labourers Camp.The men of No 1 were initially two groups - one at Civic and the other at Eastlake/Causeway. Herbert Daniel applied for a cottage at the Power House to be nearer his work at No 1 at Eastlake. When No 1 moved to Westlake in 1924 he moved into 16 Westlake in The Gap.


 Civic Centre Cottages


This area was initially known as No1 Division, No1 Neighbourhood. It is bounded by Currong, Donaldson, Elimatta and Batman Streets. Through the centre runs Doonkuna Street. All the cottage styles with the exception of C8 were 22/- per week. The C8 was 28/- per week. The first to take up residence in Currong Street were:25 SG Nish, 29 J Chapman, 33 J Cole, 37 AW Lucas. Batman Street - 38 F M Johnstone and later on 12.2.1922 this cottage was taken over by Arthur Richards, 39 E Smith, 39? F Dowthwaite, 41 P Annand, 42 R Maguire; Doonkuna Street - 34 Thos Hope, 30 vacated by the widow of

WT Jamieson on 27.5.1922 was taken over by W Cottingham, 26 J Force, 43 H Waterman, 44 FE Priddle. 45 first lived in by Herbert Daniels who left to go into a Power House cottage on 19.6.1923 was taken over by ED Gilchrist, 46 G Guy, 47 T Reeve, 48 (into Elimatta Street) N McKee who vacated 23.2.1922 and was followed by GW Paul. 36 Elimatta Street Arneson who left 28.2.1922 and taken by F Edwards, No 32 J Kennedy. By the 18th May, 1925 the area had 32 brick cottages with a population of approximately 128 people.


Letters to the first tenants of the brick cottages at Brickworks (Section 64), Power House and Civic Centre were sent out in 1921.


Brickworks (Section 64):

S Oldfield C8 (cottage plan), Bl 3

H Newbolt, B5, Bl 4

E Quigg, B7, Bl 8

MJ Ware, B5, Bl 11

T Cully, B5, Bl 12 (later taken over by Jeremiah Dillon, foreman of sewer works)

R Boag, C8, Bl 16

WK Newbold, C2, Bl 15


Power House cottages [present day Barton]:

AA Gibbons, B7, Bl 9

F Notham, B7, Bl 10

A Cameron, C2, Bl7

W Webb, B7, Bl 8

AE Thornton, B7, Bl 5

W Macnamee, B6, Bl 6

R Snadden, C8, Bl 1

J Lillico, C6, Bl 2

JF O'Malley, C6, Bl 3

JH Trevillian, C8, Bl 4



19.9.1922 Percy Baker of the Sewer Works

12.9.1922 Caretaker Murry,

13.10.1922 Phillip Corkhill employed by Afforestation

16.10.1922 Mr Hobday, Molonglo Settlement

24.10.1922 O Owen

4.12.1922 Pitcher - the five cottages near the Power House were due for completion soon and one to be allocated to this man

6.3.1923 W Maloney, Molonglo Settlement - employed by the Commonwealth for last nine years

R Bagot, Hostel Camp (Howie's), He was a carpenter working at Ainslie

20.4.1923 P Newis, Daniel's No 1 Mess. He was officially not eligible because he worked for Herbert Daniel. However he was put on the list

2.5.1923 H Grandfield

9.6.1923 C Murder

11.7.1923 Mrs N Hughes, Molonglo Settlement. She worked for Mrs Forie and Mrs Richmond and had to walk to work - too far

29.9.1923 OS Owen of The Retreat Queanbeyan.

11.10.1923 WJ Field Molonglo Settlement

24.9.1923 Harvey Booth, of the Power House

12.10.1923 CN Foster, Molonglo. He worked for Chapman who was at that time building the cottages

18.10.1923 W Blewitt, Afforestation c/o J Lynch Molonglo

18.10.1923 AG McDonald

24.10.1923 CC Fitzpatrick

15.10.1923 Estelle Wilkins

3.10.1923 Bruce Long of Afforestation

W Rien

25.11.1923 Letter from Mrs Harry Gerard of Bondi - her husband worked as an electrician at the Power House

21.1.1924 F Sullivan- he mentioned that he had a wife and two children

17.1.1924 John C Robert West

R Dunkley, Joiners Shop

6.2.1924 H Beadman worked as a fitter at the Power House - later got a cottage at Westlake

28.2.1924 FS Kaye

15.3.1924 R Grant

26.3.1924 Donald F Fraser Joiners Shop

19.9.1922 C Day labourer

6.8.1923 J Wall Sewer labourer

24.9.1923 G Booth Sewer labourer

18.1.1923 W Blewitt Afforestation

B Long Afforestation

C Taylor Sewer employee

3.11.1923 CW Rien


The remaining names all in 1923: RR Monger, W Hutchinson carpenter, CH Chevalier Inspector of Camps, C May Afforestation, WJ Traynor Chauffeur WC Boyd, Bock, FJ Clowry, L Collidge, G Pitcher.


Brick Cottages at Blandfordia  (Forrest - constructed in 1923 - only 16 built)

List of applicants:

O Owen 5.12.1922, CT Taylor 25.10.1923, G Crease, RC Kershaw 14.7.1923?, CH Chevalier 9.5.1923, FJ Clowry 26.11.1923, EB Kidd 2.3.1923, A Bock 1.11.1923, J O'Sullivan 10.7.1923,

Kirkpatrick 14.11.1923, L Collidge 14.6.1923, A Baxter 3.12.1923.


Letter dated 22nd November, 1923 - in order of preference:

Fireman's House, 2. J Mitchell, 3. H Gerrard, 4. McKee (crossed out), 5. WJ Field, 6. AG McDonald, 7. W Brown. A note added that EB Kidd, Mrs AT Hughes, RC Kershaw, Henry Booth and CM Foster were no longer in the employ of the Commonwealth.


Others who received houses were (Name, Block & Section)

SG McFarlane 3,18, J O'Sullivan 10, 20, Dan Worrall 3, 20, , EH Pratt 11, 20, T Keefe 5, 20, JT Walker, TK Burns 13, 37, E Eichler 2, 21 (15 Ducane Street, Forrest), WR Smith 2, 22, M Richardson 7, 12, WS Brownless 1,21 (13 Ducane Street. This cottage still stood with no changes in 2000), E Shaw 5,4, L Marriot 1,20 (65 Franklin Street), Mettford 21, 4, Robertson 3, 4.


10th September, 1924 the following were sent letters to tell them to pick up keys for their garages: J O'Sullivan, EW Solly, F Cox, W Butler. Cottages ready for occupancy - CL Richards, Mr Kirkpatrick.


7th November, 1923 the following were ready for occupancy:


Section 20 - BH Brown, WS Brownless (later moved to Section 21), D Worrall, McConnell, A Crease.

Section 22 - AE Jackson, WR Buchanen, CE Francis, CL Henry

Another man mentioned in the same report was Secombe.


Australian Archives A6266/1 G27/1421   Draft letter dated 26th December, 1926 - letter head of Federal Capital Commission.


Industrial Branch


With the Government's decision to open Parliament in May 1927, operations in the Federal Territory necessitated the employment and accommodation of thousands of workmen.


At the beginning of the year a Labour Bureau was established and an Industrial Officer appointed. All labour required is engaged through this Bureau and a system is in operation whereby all applicants are engaged on priority of application, preference being given firstly to returned soldiers and secondly to members of trade unions.


The number of workmen registered at the Bureau for employment up to the end of November was 5,637, the number engaged 4,184 while the number paid off owing to the completion of various buildings etc was 4,087. These men are re-engaged as opportunity offers. The number at present employed is 2,972.


Workmen are accommodated in camps and tenements and the particular place of abode is selected according to the proximity of the work they are engaged on. Tents are rapidly being superseded by comfortable roomy weatherboard cubicles in which electric light, sewerage and water is provided. Each camp is presided over by a Camp Steward who is responsible to the Industrial Officer for the preservation of order and cleanliness. Situated in each camp is a Mess Room, the camp inmates electing their own caterers; camp Welfare Committees see that the menu is kept up to standard and also arrange card

evenings, dances etc which are held in the recreation rooms attached to various camps. A uniform rate of 26/- (twenty six shillings) per man per week is charged by the caterers. Tenders are at present being called for the establishment of billiard rooms for the camps.


There are eight cubicle camps and 16 tent camps in the Territory. The cubicle camps, at which a nominal rental of 2/6 per week per man is charged, at present accommodate 554 workmen [two to each cubicle or tent] while the tent camps are occupied by 2,578 workmen. At Mount Stromlo Nursery Camp cubicles are almost complete. Here again electric light, water and sewerage is provided [not hot water]. This camp is situated 6 miles from the City area.


In the tent camps vacant accommodation exists for a number of workmen, but it is expected that this accommodation will be fully occupied in the New Year. 20 new cubicles have been erected at Capitol Hill, accommodating 40 men.


At Molonglo Settlement 5 blocks of cottages have been remodelled. 120 cottages have also been erected at various centres for the accommodation of married men and their families, each cottage consisting of a 4 room, laundry and bathroom, also electric light, water and sewerage. These cottages are fully occupied.


At Russell Hill, a picturesque spot overlooking Parliament House, building sites have been leased to married workmen; these men are all first class tradesmen and many very cozy little homes exist at this centre [sic - many were labourers - no electricity or sewerage connected].


Altogether there are 315 cottages and tenements erected for married workmen all of which are occupied. A further 250 workmen's cottages are to be built in the near future. 267 applicants await the cottages.


Liberal precautions are taken to insure against accident, of which, comparatively speaking there are very few. Red Cross kits are provided on all works and a number of workmen are qualified First Aid men. When an accident occurs a phone message brings and up to date ambulance which quickly conveys the patient to the Canberra Hospital.


The amount paid in compensation, under the Workmen's Compensation Act, during the year was 3,152 pounds 18/6. Of this sum two amounts of 250 pounds and 500 pounds were paid to partially and permanently incapacitated men respectively, and these four cases finalised.


An apprenticeship scheme has been formulated and it is anticipated will be in operation within the next few months. By this scheme it is hoped to find congenial employment for the sons of Commission employees.


Another scheme inaugurated by this branch is one to provide kiosks, refreshment rooms etc., for the increasing number of picnic and camping parties who frequent the precincts of the Cotter River and an expenditure of about 5,000 pounds is proposed in this regard…




 LIST OF FOREMEN & GANGERS 16th June 1925  (Australian Archives A6266/1 G25/1462)

  1.The Chief Architect

  2.The Chief Civil Engineer (Roads & Bridges etc

  3.As above (Sewerage)

  4.Foreman Dillon (Forwarded through CCE Sewerage)

  5.Foreman Hope (as above)

  6.Ganger Pearse (as above)

  7.Leading Hand Griffiths (as above)

  8.Ganger EJ Dawson (as above)

  9.Ganger K Dawson (as above)

 10.The Mechanical Engineer

 11.Foreman Templeton (Forwarded ME)

 12.The Acting Electrical Engineer

 13.The Controller of Stores

 14.The Transport Officer (Forwarded through C of S)

 15.The Manager of the Brickworks

 16.The Head Time Keeper

 17.Mr AL Richmond

 18.Mr JM Force - crossed out

 19.Mr AC Fleet - crossed out

 20.Mr RA Hill - crossed out

 21.Foreman Moore

 22.Ganger Jocelyn (forwarded through Foreman Moore)

 23.Ganger L Fox (as above)

 24.Ganger L Wark (as above)

 25.Ganger S Winters (as above)

 26.Ganger R Grady (as above)

 27.Ganger Jamieson (as above)

 28.Ganger McMahon (as above)

 29.Ganger Jesson (as above)

 30.Assistant Foreman T Boag

 31.Ganger L Dawson

 32.Foreman Young

 33.Clerk of Works Priddle

 34.Foreman Cameron (Forwarded through Clerk of Works Priddle)

 35.Foreman Johnson (as above)

 36.Foreman Heselden (as above)

 37.Foreman Clowry (as above)

 38.Foreman Flemming (as above)

 39.Foreman McKinnon (as above

 40.Clerk of Works Jackson

 41.Clerk of Works Jessep

 42.Foreman J McAppion (Forwarded through C of W Jessep)

 43.Foreman Payne (as above)

 44.Clerk of Works Atkins

 45.Clerk of Works McHoul

 46.Clerk of Works Jowett

 47.Foreman Douthwaite (sic Dowthwaite) - Forwarded through C of W Jowett

 48.Electrical Surveyor Hays

 49.Foreman Mitchell Electrical Shop (Forwarded through ES Hays)

 50.Foreman McGregor (as above)

 51.Foreman WE Johnson

 52.Ganger Blizzard (Forwarded through Foreman WE Johnson)

 53.Ganger McMillan (as above)

 54.Foreman McCorkindale

 55.Foreman Ryan

 56.Ganger Rustin c/o Tharwa PO - crossed out

 57.Leading Hand Shumack Hall PO - crossed out

 58.Mr Gregory Queanbeyan - crossed out

 59.Mr G Hately Queanbeyan - crossed out

 60.Mr R Hamilton Condor - crossed out

 61.Mr A Dean Queanbeyan - crossed out.



FCC questioned Social Service Association etc


The Canberra Times Friday 2 December 1927


Questions by Mr E Riley (South Sydney) on the cost of social service in Canberra were answered on Wednesday by the Minister of Home and Territories (Mr Marr).

The Minister stated that the cost of the social service compensation from 1925 to the end of August 1927, inclusive, was £10,725, including the following categories of expenditure:-

·         Salaries of staff        1870 - 3 -4

·         Office accommodation 100 -0-0

·         Lighting and heating  50 – 6 -5

·         Contribution by commission for development of social service projects 8704-12-1

The contribution of the commission comprise subsidies and assistance to the Canberra Mothercraft Society (which has established branches at Eastlake, Ainslie, Acton, Causeway and Molonglo and operates a baby clinic at Eastlake and contemplates the establishment of health centers in other localities): equipment and assistance in the establishment of the Canberra City Band and Canberra Community Library, Ainslie Workmen’s Club and the Women Workers’ Club and Hostel: improvements to recreation halls in temporary settlements: the provision of bathing facilities: and assistance in the conduct of the Territorial school children’s annual sports and picnics.  The structures erected with the financial assistance of the commission include eight children’s playgrounds, ten cricket wickets, nine tennis courts, six sports pavilions, and a hall at the Causeway settlement, apart from numerous minor services of transport.

The Social Service Association has rendered voluntary effort in the development of all projects. The recreational and other facilities provided have been extensively utilized by all sections of the community, and in most cases the expenditure is represented by substantial assets.


Answering Mr Mackay the Minister gave the actual costs of various Canberra buildings (exclusive of interest and overhead charges) as follows:-

·         Hotel Ainslie             24,847

·         Hotel Wellington       23,166

·         Beauchamp House – final cost not known: will not exceed £24,000

·         Assembly Hall  [Albert Hall] estimated completed cost £24,106.

In reply to a further question by Mr Riley as to who was responsible for services that the Federal Capital Commission submits to the Public Works Committee from inquiries works estimated to cost over £23,000, the Minister said it rested with the Commission to comply with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act.


Although the four sites for lease were widely advertised, two of which were for maternity hospitals, no leases were applied for, stated the Minister in answer to Mr Theodore (Dalby) today, when the Federal Capital Commission arranged to set aside areas for maternity and private hospitals.

Sites were still available for anyone desiring to establish a maternity hospital or central private hospital.

To meet the existing situation, the Commission had erected a special obstetric ward at the Canberra Hospital and at present had under consideration the extension of both pre-natal and post-natal services.

Replying to questions by Mr Anstey (Bourke) concerning several blocks of land held by Mr TC Brackenreg, Chief Lands Officer of the Commission and his wife, the Minister stated that the whole of the blocks were submitted at public auction.

The whole of the blocks mentioned were submitted at public auction, some on December 12, 1924, and others on May 29, 1926. Four, which were left on the Commission’s hands and, in accordance with the law, became available for purchase over the counter at the agent price, were acquired by Mr or Mrs Brackenreg at that price. The remaining three were obtained by Mr or Mrs Brackenreg by purchases from lessees who had acquired the blocks at auction.

The lease conditions have been complied with in the case of those blocks and extensions of time for building to the 31st December 1927 granted in respect of the remaining four blocks.

The following other officers are lessees of commercial blocks”- WS Brownless, Engineer for Water Supply and Sewerage, and CE Francis, Controller of Stores and in these cases the building covenants have been compiled with.

It is not, however, considered that any officer of The Commission may be regarded as having land under his control as the dealing with land must be in accordance with the approvals of the Commission or as prescribed in the Ordinances and Regulations, there is no apparent reason why officers should not be allowed to invest their money in land.



Acton Hall - before Causeway Hall


The Canberra Times 6 July 1946


Memories of Other Days

Renovations are to be considered to the Canberra Trades Hall, formerly known as Acton Hall, which has a past as colourful as any building in Canberra.

Officers from the Department of [the] Interior will inspect the Trades Hall to-day to ascertain what renovations are required. Representations were made last week by the Trades and Labour Council to have the hall reconditioned.

There is an acute shortage of public halls in Canberra and the Trades and Labour Council has received many requests for the hire of the building.

Inquiries yesterday failed to trace any ‘old-timer’ who could remember when the hall was first built.  Most were guessing but the consensus of opinion was ‘about 1918’.


Prior to 1920 the hall was the hub of the small social activity in Canberra.  In the ‘roaring twenties,’ it reached its peak of popularity and always seemed a shade ahead of its rivals for popular fame – Westridge Hall and Molonglo Hall. To-day a handful of Canberra unions and organisations use it as a meeting place. Gone are the days of the Saturday night dances which almost the entire population of Canberra attended. Gone also are the days of the Sunday Church services held in a hall festooned with balloons and colourful streamers and dozens of ‘empties’ out the back.

Acton Hall did not always stand on its present site. Prior to 1923 it occupied a position near the present Acton stables and the blocks on which it rested may still be seen.

Pioneers still speak of the functions held there by the Canberra matron who met her present husband there.


Apart from being a social centre the hall was used as a school. Two of the teachers were Mr Nash and Miss Fitzpatrick.  Down the road was Canberra’s first cafe – the ‘Kangaroo Cafe’ managed by the late William Mitchell.  ‘We used to get good meals there from old Bill,’ said Mr FJ Dorman of Griffith, when asked about the cafe yesterday.

‘Bill’ Mitchell later moved to the roaring White City camp near where the high School stands. [Canberra High School – now the Music & Art Schools connected to ANU].  He ran some of the biggest gambling ‘schools’ of the time.

The hall was removed from its old site early in 1923 and provided a thrill of a lifetime to the small number of children living at Acton. Two old-fashioned traction engines- always a familiar site in Canberra’s early days – lifted the building in one piece on jinkers to the present site.

Travelling and local concerts made their appearance to packed audiences. One function stands out. It was the first concert of the newly opened Telopea Park School [1923]. A tattered sheet was hung down over the stage and senior boys of the school blackened with burn cork poked their heads through porthole openings and sand, ‘Swanee River’.  They were encored – truly an inspiring show until someone set fire to the curtain.

Union meetings were occasionally held there, but Mr Leo O’Neill organiser of the AWU and his associates took away some of the glory by calling public meetings on Capitol Hill and many a weighty questions was decided upon there instead of at the old Acton.

Sunday schools were also held in the Acton Hall and while the children learnt religion, the biggest two-up school in Canberra was being conducted near where the American Legation proudly stands beneath Canberra’s azure skies. [Tradesmen’s Camp, Westlake – site today is block 3, section 128 Stirling Park, Yarralumla and the area of the French Embassy in Perth Avenue Yarralumla.]

More than 2000 men used to attend those ‘schools’ and thousands of pounds were won and lost in an afternoon.


Acton Hall witnessed the inauguration of a welfare movement under the auspices of the Federal Capital Commission which sought to provide the incipient capital with some of the amenities of established cities.  Indoor and outdoor recreation, education, libraries, kindergarten and children’s welfare were some of the projects put forward at the initial meeting in [May] 1925.

In 1925, also, it was the home of the Canberra Brass Band with 20 instumentalists.

Sunday spot was also a contentious question in those days of long ago. On December 10.1925 the Welfare Committee and delegates from various sporting organisations met at the Acton hall to formulate an expression of opinion in regard to the Commission’s decision on Sunday sport. The deliberations resulted in a request to the chairman of the Commission, Mr JH (subsequently Sir John) Butters to define organised sport, and in a decision to support the Commission in discountenancing the conduct of competition matches and cup finals on Sundays. [Two teams put the decision to the test and were taken to court and fined.]


Occasionally the hall saw the presence of colourful Jerry Dillon who was to Canberra what Hannan was to Kalgoorlie. Jerry, long since departed, was in everything. He was foreman of the sewerage construction and president of more than a dozen sporting organisations.

His football teams were the apple of his eye. Both Australian Rules and Rugby League occupied part of his active and busy life.

If a man played football he was sure of a job with Jerry. He was the first president of the Canberra National Football League.

Acton Hall however, began to lose its importance as a social centre, following the erection of the Causeway Hall in February 1926 [sic it was put up in late 1925 in one day and completed later with the opening in 1926].

The brass band was in attendance at this Causeway function. When a reference was made in ‘The Canberra Times,’ recently to the opening of the Causeway hall no mention was made of he band. The organising secretary of the band (Mr Bert Howe) drew attention to the omission.

‘I ought to know,’ he said, ‘I carried the big drum from Acton.’

Canberra, with its growing population seems to have outgrown the Acton hall, but if the required renovations are carried out it may recapture some shade of its former self.


Turning of the first sod Provisional Parliament House

The following articles refer to the ceremony to mark the beginning of the Federal History of the capital - the turning of the first sod for the Provisional Parliament House.  Following are references to the early attempts to lay a foundation stone for the house and the lack of enthusiasm.  The Australian Architects too were unhappy.  In the end Murdoch was the Departmental architect who designed the House, the Hostel (Hotel Canberra) the power house and other important public buildings in Canberra.  Also included in this section is a rememberance by Lord Mountbatton who attended the 21 June 1920 laying of the stone to mark the centre of Walter Burley Griffin's centre of the city.  The earlier 1913 ceremony of commencement stone and hitting in central survey pegs marked the centre of the Departmental plan...... 

The Argus 23 August 1923


Invitations to representative persons to be present at the ceremony of turning the first sod in connection with the building of the provisional Parliament House at Canberra were not issued by the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr Stewart). Before leaving for Canberra yesterday Mr Stewart said that it was not desired that an elaborate ceremony should be held in connection with the turning of the first sod. His opinion was that there had been too many functions at Canberra, and he desired that efforts should be concentrated on the actual carrying out of the work.  Mr Stewart added that when everything was in readiness to begin the actual building of Parliament House he would endeavour to arrange for His Excellency the Governor-General to lay the foundation-stone. Invitations to be present would then be issued to State Ministers and others interested.

The Argus (Melbourne) 29 August 1923



First Sod Turned

SYDNEY, Tuesday. -  ‘ A simple ceremony to mark an historic occasion,’ was how the Federal Minister for Works and Railways (Mr Stewart) described the function when he turned the first sod for the provisional House of Parliament at Canberra this afternoon.  The site is just below Camp Hill, and has a commanding view on the main axis of the capital city, between Kurrajong [Capitol Hill] and Mount Ainslie. The intention of the Federal Ministry is to have the building completed within three years.

The ceremony was attended by members of the Federal Cabinet, members of the Federal Parliament, and practically the whole population of Queanbeyan and the surrounding country, including hundreds of children. Members of the Federal Cabinet supporting Mr Stewart were the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr Chapman) and the Attorney-General (Mr Groom), and the Minister for Defence (Mr Bowden).

Mr Stewart was greeted with cheers as he entered the space set apart for the ceremony. It was a steam shovel with which Mr Stewart turned the sod.  The apparatus suggested an elephant waving its trunk in the air until finally it dug its great teeth into the ground and lifting a quantity of earth deposited it on a lorry.  Loud cheers were given as the earth was broken.

Mr Stewart said that much comment had been evoked by the fact that no invitations were issued for the ceremony, but it was merely a simple function to mark an historic occasion. The function marked an important step in the history of Canberra. The building for which the first sod had just been turned was to be the house of the Commonwealth Parliament, and as such it represented the central idea and justification for the building of the city. It was part of the policy of the present Federal Ministry and it should be part of the policy of any National Ministry using the term in its widest sense, to create and foster as far as possible a big Australian spirit in the hearts and minds of the people of the Commonwealth. The Ministry believed that one of the most important steps to that end was to place the National Parliament in its own home where it could legislate impartially in the interests of all the people of the Commonwealth and away from the influences of any one State.  Therefore he hoped that they would see in the future a city that would compare most favourably with any other city in Australia, and not unfavourably with the finest cities in the world.  When it was erected the people would be surprised at this so called provisional building. It would be the most commodious, best ventilated and most convenient House of Parliament in Australia.  They could not move the Parliament to Canberra until the building was complete. That was the reason for the somewhat hasty move in endeavouring to commence the building.  He had the task of preparing the building and the territory for the Commonwealth Parliament within three years. (Applause).  Much remained to be done. At any rate they were going to try.

The Attorney-General (Mr Groom) said that they were establishing there a city so that a National Parliament and a National Government could truly function. They owed something to the Victorian Government for the manner in which it had treated them as a National Parliament.  The Victorian Government went into a temporary Parliament House, and had never charged the Federal Government a penny rent. It gave them Government House as a residence for the Governor-General and for 20 years of more the Federal Parliament had been able to carry on with dignity befitting a great Commonwealth. (Applause).

The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr Chapman), who was introduced as the Father of Canberra, was enthusiastically received. He said that the ceremony meant business.  In less than three years they hoped to be meeting there as a Parliament. They had the money, the men, and the legislation.

Cheers for almost everyone associated with the capital, including the Prince of Wales, who laid on of the foundation stones, were given at the close of the speeches. The proceedings closed with the National Anthem.



Ministry Disregards Offers

On every occasion on which the Federal Council of the Institutes of Australian Architects has offered its assistance in the building of the Federal capital at Canberra, without fee or reward, in order ‘that the capital city of the future may be the pride of the Commonwealth,’ the offer has been disregarded by the Federal Ministry.  The statement was made yesterday by the president of the Federal Council (Mr GH Godsell) who added that the people of Australia should now say whether the work of building the capital should be carried out by the Department of Works to the exclusion of the architects of the Commonwealth.

Reviewing the discussions which had taken place in regard to the building of the Federal capital, Mr Godsell said that the world-wide competition in designing the Federal Parliament House was begun in 1914.  It was eventually abandoned after having been twice postponed by the Government, without compensation being paid to competitors. These facts were so well known as to become historic, but he desired to direct attention to the last paragraph of a letter address to competitors on December 13, 1916 postponing the competition for the second time.  This paragraph stated:- ‘The Minister has arranged for the further registration of competitors to be retained, and states that it is intended to complete the adopted programme as soon as the time is opportune.’  This paragraph pledged the Ministry to re-open the matter at a later date. Last year the Royal Institute of British Architects wrote to him (Mr Godsell) to ascertain what steps the Ministry is proposed to take to redeem its pledge, at the same time offering money and support to being an action at law if necessary.

A change of Ministry took place, and the matter was placed before the new Minister for Works and Railways, said Mr Godsell. The Minister prepared a draft of conditions for a competition for cottages proposed to be erected at Canberra to be forwarded to the Federal council for approval. The Minister was informed that the council could not advise the members of the profession to take part in this or any other similar competition till the question of Federal Parliament House had been considered.  One of the reasons for this action was that the profession had no guarantee that the proposed completion would not be cancelled or postponed before the completion, and that the competitors would not find themselves  in a similar position as was the case in regard to the Federal Parliament House competition.  As a result the Minister stated that the profession was ‘holding a pistol to his head,’ notwithstanding the fact that two members of the Parliamentary Advisory Board had informed the senior Victorian delegate to the Federal council of architects unless the profession gave way upon the question of completing the competition for the Federal Parliament House the whole of the work at Canberra would be undertaken by departmental officers.  These members stated, further, that they were acting with the knowledge and consent of the Minister.  A deadlock had therefore been reached.

Mr Godsell added that, in consequence of the type of provisional structure of Parliament House to be erected at Canberra and the departure from the intended situation of the buildings as indicated in the accepted competitive plan for the lay-out of Canberra, it devolved upon him to record the unqualified disapproval of the profession to the procedure adopted.

The Canberra Times 13 May  1927


Mr J Murdoch, Chief Commonwealth Architect, assisted the Board which selected the city site and in important work following upon the competition for the design for the laying out of the city. He has prepared the actual designs for the more important buildings, such as the Provisional Parliament House, power house, and Hotel Canberra,  and has acted as adjudicator in connection with the various architectural competitions. Of late years, prior to the advent of the Federal Capital Commission the Government had acted principally upon his advice regarding all architectural matters at the Federal Capital.


The Argus (Melbourne) 24 January 1924


Laying of Foundation Stone

The Federal Minister for Works and Railways (Mr Stewart) who left yesterday afternoon for Canberra, has been informed by his Excellency the Governor General (Lord Foster) that April 14 will be a convenient date for him to officiate at the laying of the foundation stone of the Federal Parliament House. Me Stewart is now proceeding with arrangements for the ceremony to take place on that date, but he is not yet in a position to say positively what will be the nature of the arrangements. He directed attention to the limited amount of accommodation that will be available at Canberra, and to the necessity for making special provision for visiting British fleet will be in Sydney at the time, invitations will be extended to officers and also to a limited number of members of the crews to be present. Representatives of the Australian naval and military forces will also be invited.


The Argus (Melbourne) 22 February 1924


Ceremony Postponed

At a meeting of the Federal Cabinet yesterday it was decided to postpone the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the provisional Parliament House at Canberra until May 2.  The date previously fixed for the ceremony was April 14, but owing to the difficulty of obtaining adequate railway accommodation of that day because of the heavy Easter traffic, the Federal Ministry decided upon a postponement.  It had also been arranged that the officers and crew of the visiting British squadron should attend the ceremony, but now this was not possible.

His Excellency the Governor-General (Lord Forster) will perform the ceremony.


The Argus (Melbourne) 18 March 1924


Ceremony Abandoned

Owing to difficulty in obtaining rail facilities at the end of a week, and being desirous of not breaking into the sitting days of Parliament the Federal Ministry has resolved to abandon the proposed ceremony in connection with the laying of the foundation stone of the provisional Parliament House at Canberra.


The Canberra Times 26 March 1946


Lord Louis Mountbatten here in 1920

Lord Louis Mountbatten took part in the Commencement Column ceremony at Canberra in June 1920.  He revealed yesterday, that on Monday June 21, 1920 as a sub-lieutenant nearing his 20th birthday, he had the privilege of witnessing the Prince of Wales laying the central foundation stone on Capitol Hill.

‘After the master mason has lowered it in place,’ he said, ‘ he handed a spirit level to the Prince and invited him to declare the stone ‘well and truly’ laid. HRH took the spirit level, tried it, and shattered the proceedings by saying, ‘But it isn’t truly laid, look at the spirit level.’  It was not until the master mason explained that it was an historic spirit level which had been used by King George V in 1901 and was no longer expected to be accurate, the HRH agreed to declare the stone ‘well and truly laid.’

‘We gathered round. The words,  ‘Prince of Wales’ appeared in the middle of the inscription. In the centre of the letter ‘O’ there was a small gold dot, which was to be the centre of the entire city, all avenues and roads radiating from it.

‘I visited the site yesterday and was sentimentally pleased to find Capitol Hill unchanged after all these years, except for the foundation stone itself, which I gather now reposes in a store for safe keeping!’


Federal Capital Works-Army of Labourers completing City Service

The Argus, Tuesday 16 December 1924 page 11





Director General’s Plans

By Our Special Reporter



Twelve hundred workmen under the direct control of Works and Railways department and many others employed by 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 Territory including a sum of 750,000 pounds for the purchase of freehold lands.  The city area is so large, and construction work so scattered that it is difficult to imagine that such a sum has been expended, and even today when the 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 a century, to inspect the works by motor car. 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 recognized that the ‘crow fly’ distance from the 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 30 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 fabrics has been put into Parliament House already,’ said the director-general of works (Colonel PT Owen) today 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 wok was commenced. The walls are practically completed and shortly we shall undertake the roofs and plastering.  The joinery work is well made, having been made at our own factory at Canberra.  The timber was laid out in ’12 years ago, and has been thoroughly seasoned.  Maple has been used in 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 in 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 sewers 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 on roads this year.  Building construction includes 12 brick cottages which are nearly ready for occupation and 20 additional portable cottages[1] for married workmen, bringing the total number constructed this year up to 90.  Construction during the year has become more concentrated and there are several large camps for unmarried workmen in the city environs. [2]  Mess rooms, recreation rooms and kitchens are provided in the large camps.  Water supply extensions are contemplated.  The principal distributing 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, which will now accommodate 500 children. [3]  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.’ [4]


For Better or For 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 must hour the bargain struck when, to quote the 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 a federated Commonwealth under the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland and under the constitution hereby established.


Ministry Criticised

The Federal Minister has been criticized 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 the population.  It was somewhat surprising therefore, that 150 sites were sold, the capital value of the blocks being 60,000 pounds, which at 5% will return an annual ground rental for the first 20 years of 3,000 pounds.  There are groups of houses contiguous to the new sub-divisions, the occupiers being employed in 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 a\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.


[1] This would be cottages in The Gap at Westlake. The brick cottages would be the 16 at Blandfordia constructed  1923   and probably the additional cottages at Westridge, Power House & Civic Center

[2] Many of the men in the single men’s camps were married but had to leave wives and families behind because of lack of married accommodation in Canberra.

[3] This would be Telopea Park School which opened in 1923.  Duntroon, Molonglo and later in Russell Hill had primary schools.

[4] The tramways came from the Brickyards and delivered bricks to the construction sites.

Cost of Living 1927

The following article was printed in the Canberra Times in November 1927.  It attempts to justify the costs to the locals in comparison the the cities of Sydney, Goulburn and Queanbeyan.  It makes no attempt to note problems such as distances from the main shopping centres of Kingston and Queanbeyan and the lack of public transport and the quality of accommodation available.    Money referred to is pounds shillings and pence.  One pound = 20 shillings 20/-; 12 pence to each shilling 12d = 1/-.  The average wage was 5 pounds per week. Some of the amounts are difficult to read because they are blurred. - each penny could be further subdivided in half pennies (and earlier into quarters).  Referred to in the list of foods and groceries is BLUE - nobs of blue were used for whitening clothes and very handy to put on bee stings.

The Canberra Times 25 November 1927





The cost of living in Canberra was stated, yesterday before the Industrial Tribunal, to be lower in Canberra than in Queanbeyan: but 5 percent higher than in Sydney.

In a statement which chiefly affected workmen residing in the Territory, Mr JA McDowell, Industrial Officer to the Federal Capital Commission showed that the average price of foodstuffs (section missing) in Canberra than in Queanbeyan, although (section missing) per cent higher than in Sydney, on September 1 the ....(part missing) of workmen’s homes in Canberra was claimed to be lower than in New South Wales.

After quoting a multitude of figures the statement concluded by remarking that ‘it will be seen that the position of the workman in Canberra, is, at least as favourable as that of the workman in New South Wales. This investigation has shown that it is the standard of living, and not the cost of living which is high in Canberra, and the repeated applications from Unions for increases in wages is only an attempt to raise wages to meet that inappropriate standard.’

This statement was based upon the average weekly needs of an average workman and his wife living in Canberra. In order to ascertain what the actual difference in weekly expenditure on foodstuffs would mean to a workman living in Sydney, Goulburn, Queanbeyan and Canberra the Industrial Officer prepared what he considered to be a normal weekly ration for a workman and his wife. The scale used was in excess of that used in all living wage investigations and it was considered that it provided insofar as food was concerned, the normal needs of the average employee and his wife.  The following articles, groceries and foodstuffs, with quantities comprised(?) the scale upon which the investigation was based:-

Bread, 4 loaves, flour 3lbs, tea (half?) lb, coffee quarter(?) lb, sugar 3lbs, rice half lb, sago half lb, jam 2lbs, oatmeal 1lb, raisins quarter lb, currants half lb, starch quarter lb, blue 1/1 doz, candles 1 lb, soap 1 lb, potatoes 4lb, meat 10lbs, onions 1lb, kerosene 1 gal, milk 3 quarts, butter 2lbs, cheese quarter lb (not clear), eggs 1 doz, bacon (middle) half(?)lb, bacon (shoulder) half or quarter (not clear), ham quarter lb,

The following table of food prices a unit was taken of a standard brand obtainable at almost any  store and of good quality. The prices are actual retail trading costs in purchasing the quantity shown, and were obtained by actual enquiry over the counters of leading stores in the cities mentioned.

In comparing he prices of dairy produce and meat, it must be remembered that these prices are continually fluctuating, and were very high at the date of inquiry, because of the dry season and consequent shortages. Following the comparative table of prices of groceries, dairy produce and meat in Sydney, Goulburn, Queanbeyan and Canberra (prices in pence).

Article    Amount S              G             Q             C

Bread     2lb          6              6.25        6.5          6.5

Flour       25lb        60           54           60           63

Tea          1lb          30           23.2        30           31

Coffee    1lb          23           28.40      24           24

Sugar      1lb          4.5          5              5              5

Rice        1lb          4.5          4              4              4.5

Sago        1lb          4.5          3.8          4.5          4.5

Jam         1lb          13           15           15           15

Oatmeal 1lb          5.9(?)      4.9          5.4          5.7

Raisins    1lb          8.5          11.2        12           12

Currants 1lb          9              9.2          10           10

Starch     1lb          12           12           12           12

Blue        1 doz      13.5        17.4        16.5        16.5

Candles  1lb          12           12.6        13           13

Soap       2lb          7              9              9              9

Potatoes14lb        25           24           24           24

Onions   1lb          2              2.1          2              2

Kerosene 1 gal     25           27           30           30

Milk 1 quart          8.5          8              10           8

Butter     1lb          28           23.9        28           26.5

Cheese   1lb          15           15.6        15           15

Eggs 1 doz              23           39           24           24

Bacon (mid) 1lb    22           18.8        21.2        24

Bacon (sh) 1lb       14           14           14           12

Ham        1lb          24           20           23           22


The average price per pound for meat was shown to be: Sydney 8.4d, Goulburn 8.6d, Queanbeyan 9.4d and Canberra 9.5d.


A comparison of these prices with the average quantities of rations quoted above shows that the normal total cost of foodstuffs for one week for a working man and his wife in the four places mentioned is as follows:-


Queanbeyan                         1 pound 11 shillings 0 pence

Goulburn                               1 pound, 11 shilling 5 and half pence

Queanbeyan                         1 pound 13 shillings 3 pence

Canberra                               1 pounds 13 shillings 8 pence.


The above scale, Mr McDowell stated showed that the prices of foodstuffs was actually less in Canberra than in Queanbeyan and this was due to the fact that dairy produce was cheaper.


The statement continued: ‘The rent charged for workmen’s cottages in the Territory is considerably lower than NSW. At Molonglo rents range from 6/- to 10/- per week and at Causeway, Westlake and Westridge the rent is 13/- per week. Weatherboard cottages at Ainslie are being let at 22/- per week and brick cottages of four rooms at 22/6 per week. [Not mentioned is that the Molonglo ‘cottages were three roomed or six and than the laundry, bathrooms and lavatories were communal in a shared block between the barrack buildings – buildings unlined and the wind used to come through the cracks between the timbers because unseasoned wood had been used during construction of the ex-internment buildings.]


Workmen living in Queanbeyan are paying 30/- for the portion of a house with the use of the kitchen and in any workmen’s suburb of Sydney it is practically impossible to secure a house under 25/- per week.


It might be argued that all the Commission’s workmen cannot secure the cheap accommodation in the workmen’s settlements, but this is a condition not peculiar to the Territory as building speculators generally throughout New South Wales have ceased erecting cheap types of workmen’s cottages and workmen are being compelled either to share houses or pay higher rentals.




‘To say that the cost of living has gone up or down is tantamount to saying that the purchasing power of the sovereign has altered. The Commonwealth Statistician prepares tables at regular intervals showing fluctuations in the purchasing power of the sovereign (5/-) and in spite of many attempts their accuracy has never been seriously shaken.


It is interesting to note in the connection that 28/- was necessary in 1921 to purchase food and groceries which would have cost 1 pound in 1911m whereas in June 1927 it was 35/- showing an increase in the purchasing power of the sovereign of 2/11 over a period of 6 years.


In the Federal Territory the average increase in the rates of wages per head per week over the same period amounted to 17/8.


In 1918 in the case of the Public Service Association v the Public Service Commissioners, Mr Justice Powers in determining the standard of living for a man and his wife and three children, used the following percentage scale which had been drawn up after careful investigation:-


Rent                        19.93

Food & groceries 45.22

Clothing                 10.22

Fuel & Light           5.70

Miscellaneous      19.13


If this scale is applied in the Basic Wage of 5 pounds, operating in the Federal Territory, the following amounts are available to the workmen for expenditure on the items shown:-


Rent                        19/11d

Food & Groceries 1 Pound 5/11 and halfpenny

Clothing                 10/-

Fuel & Light           19/1 and half penny


[Total]                     5 pounds


In considering the scale it must be remembered that t he wage of 5 pounds is the lowest wage paid to workmen and that the majority receive 5 pounds 6/-.’


 Mr McDowell claimed that when the above figures are compared with food costs and rental charges operating in the Territory, the position of the workman is, at least as favourable as the workmen in New South Wales.


‘this investigation has shown that it is the standard of living and not the cost of living, which is high in Canberra, and the repeated applications from unions for increases in wages is only an attempt to meet that inappropriate standard.’




Fl Officer Ewen Crashed His Plane Opening Ceremonies 1927

Above photograph in the Canberra Times with the article that follows.  Examination of the debris following the air crash.  It is interesting to me that the death of Flight Officer Ewen who crashed his plane during the fly-over at the opening of the Parliament on 9 May 1927 is generally ignored in articles written about the day and the ceremonies that took place.


The Canberra Times Friday May 13 1927


Plane Crashes During Review


Tragedy again clouded a day of celebration and rejoicing – a day that of all others should have passed free of blemish.

During the Royal review on Monday afternoon Flying Officer Francis Charles Ewen, piloting a small one man plane known as a Scout Experimenter lost control and crashed to earth.

Horrified spectators hurrying to the scene of the disaster found Ewen still alive, but terribly injured in the debris of the wrecked plane.

The tragedy occurred at about 3.20 pm and the scene was the small hill fronting Parliament House [known as Cork Hill], about three-quarters of a mile distant, and quite close to the YWCA marquee. A number of people were in the immediate vicinity at the time and as the machine came hurtling earthwards, they scattered in panic.

The crash was tremendous. A cloud of dust and a sheet of bluish flame rose in the air. The machine was a total wreck.  Ewen was quickly carried to the Telopea Park School emergency hospital, but there was no hope for his recovery and he died at about 7 o’clock in the evening.


An inquest was held on Tuesday afternoon at the Canberra Hospital by the District Coroner (Mr John Gale). Dr RJW Malcolm, temporary medical officer, said that when brought to the hospital Ewen was conscious but suffering severely from shock.  There were compound fractures of the right and left arms and left thigh, the ribs were fractured, and there was a large wound on the chest and lacerated wounds on other parts of the body.  His death, which occurred at 7 o’clock was due to shock following his injuries.


The Coroner said that he could arrive at no other conclusion that the fall was one of those inexplicable things that happened, and could never be accounted for, even by the experts. In this case the victim, through shock from his injuries had been unable to reveal the cause of the accident, and had died taking the secret within.  He found that the death was due to one aeroplane accidentally nose diving, and that nobody was to blame for its occurrence.

Arthur Poole-Lawrence Director of Medical Services, RAAF, gave a similar opinion as to the cause of death.


Flight Lieut Ellis Charles Wackett RAAF, said that from the review ground he saw Ewen’s machine leave the formation and fall steeply before it disappeared from his view.  He afterwards examined the wreckage of the plane to ascertain if there were defects in the controls but there was nothing to show that the disaster was due to a defect.  There might have been several reasons for the crash, but he could not say what was the cause.  The machine was in perfect order, and had been thoroughly overhauled about a week ago. Ewen was a qualified pilot, a strong man and of sober habits.

UP 1,000 FEET

Flying Officer Sidney James Moir No 8 Squadron RAAF said that he was flying slightly above Ewen at an altitude of just over 1000 feet.  They were turning into squadron formation to give the salute. Ewen’s plane left the formation suddenly divided  [dived?] to earth.  He had no idea of the cause of the accident. If Ewen had had engine trouble he had ample room into which to right his machine.

Flying Officer Howard Howden Fletcher, also of No  3 Squadron, said that he had noticed Ewen’s machine leave the formation in a stalling turn, which was continued in a further half turn to the ground.  Under ordinary circumstances he had every chance to pull out. Ewen had been in the air for about two hours, and after that length of time in the air a pilot was apt to grow tired.

The Coroner: Is it true that that particular machine or any of the planes were rebuilt from those used in the Great War?

Witness: That I could not say.  They have all been rebuilt, and they are overhauled regularly.

Det Sgt Thornley, Sgt Anderson and Const Robinson also gave evidence.

Flying Officer Ewen who was 28 years of age was a New Zealander and had graduated at Point Cook.  He was formerly a student at RMC Duntroon.


Full military honors attended the dead airman’s funeral on Wednesday morning in the old cemetery of the Church of St John the Baptist.  High overhead three aeroplanes circled  the cemetery and wreaths were dropped by the graveside – a final tribute from the dead man’s comrades.

Marching with arms reversed, the funeral procession comprising several hundred men from each arm of the sister services was headed by the RAAF Band which played the Dead March from Saul.  Officers of the Citizens Air Force acted as pall bearers.  The service was conducted by the Bishop of Goulburn (Dr Radford) who was assisted by Canon Ward and the Rev WA Fletcher.

No greater loyalty, said Dr Radford, could have been displayed than the attendance of so many of the late officer’s comrades.

A volley fired over the grave concluded the ceremony.

Wreaths were sent by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York, the Prime Minister (Mr Bruce), the Commonwealth and Dominion Governments, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate and the RAAF.


City Designer (Griffin) Revisits Canberra

The Canberra Times, Thursday 16 December 1926 page 8



Revisits Canberra

Interesting Views on City Development

Mr Walter Burley Griffin, the designer of Canberra, and for some time director of design and construction for the Federal Capital City passed through Canberra this week, Motoring from Melbourne to Sydney with a party of friends, Mr Griffin arrived in  Canberra on Tuesday, and left again, Wednesday.

Twenty months have elapsed since Mr Griffin last visited Canberra and his previous visit here was five years ago.  During these later years great changes have come over the landscape of the city site and Mr Griffin expressed pleasure at the development which had taken place since his previous visit. ‘The work now,’ he said, ‘is mostly above ground, and visitors can now see plenty of results for the money expended during the last couple of years, whereas before there were many years of spade work carried out under trying conditions, the results of which could not be seen by the casual observer.’


Mr Griffin had nothing but constructive thought to offer after regarding the capital.  ‘The time for criticism is gone,’ he said.  ‘There has been in the past too much unfair criticism and selfish interest has created difficulties which have hindered Canberra’s development.  Those interests have shown all the more however, the real need of an Australian national city where our politicians can be freed from the domination of those interest.’


It was fourteen years ago that Mr Burley Griffin was awarded first prize for the design for the Federal Capital of Australia.  Thirteen years ago he came to Canberra as director of design and construction and the appointment was renewed in 1916.  In the early years exhaustive investigation was made of the engineering features of the city including water supply, sewerage and road construction, plans for which were drawn up by the finest experts available, but all of which had not been followed. In the main however, the actual city design has been carried out, but Mr Griffin deplored the backward policy in regard to development of the Northern side of the river, which he said was the best portion of the city.  For this he blamed the lack of railway.  The original railway bridge across the Molonglo River had been only of a temporary character and with the funds available it had been impossible to construct a structure of sufficient strength to withstand the great floods which had assailed it.  He believed that a permanent bridge should be put across the river in conformity with the lake scheme to carry the railway to wherever it was decided to take it.


Regarding the lakes, the scheme had laid down would prove advantageous in time of flood owing to the large getaway which it provided for big volumes of water.  The Northern embankment for the West Basin over which Hotel Acton would look out had already been formed.


Looking at the map of Canberra, one is struck by the central triangle having at its apex the capitol, civic centre and the station place, where the marker centre of the city would be.  Joining these points were t he three big avenues, Commonwealth Avenue, Capital Terrace, and Federal Avenue.  The large space for residential purposes on the Northern bank of the Molonglo between Civic Centre and Station Place, and the market scheme itself could not develop until Federal Avenue was constructed with its bridge [Kings Avenue bridge] corresponding to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, and crossing the waterways at the junction of the Molonglo Basin and East Basin.  The area affected by this would provide for a large addition to Canberra’s population and the nearest approach to this area was the new suburb of South Ainslie [now Reid].


Discussing the potentialities of a Canberra Mr Griffin mentioned that during his time in Canberra he had sunk a number of shafts 60 feet in depth for a distance of five miles North from Mt Vernon, which is now known as Civic Place [now City Hill], and these has revealed the presence of material for bricks.  He claimed that if private enterprise were permitted to develop portion of this deposit, say some distance to the North of the present industrial [now in Braddon Mort St area]  and residential development, bricks and tiles could be produced at a cheaper price in Canberra and the item of transport could be reduced considerably.  He had sent samples of the material to Sydney and Melbourne kilns and the bricks and tiles of the highest quality had been turned out.


Asked his opinion of the general architecture of the capital Mr Griffin expressed pleasure at the appearances of the residences.  They were, he considered, distinctly above the average, but he feared that the policy of classifying residential areas for civil servants according to salary, was not the best.  He rather liked, however, the policy of the Federal Capital Commission of intermingling private residents with public servants in residential areas, and of discouraging members of the Commonwealth staffs who worked together living in the same vicinity.


The gardens of the city evoked pleasurable comment from Mr Griffin and he looked forward to a few years to the time when the city plan would be developed still further.  He considered that more native flora could be introduced into the street gardens as he had proved from experiments carried out in Canberra that native flora were suitable for use in the Capital and had laid out a scheme for planting the various localities with native plants.  The introduction of some English trees had been a dist6inct success but Australian trees were necessary to impart national sentiment through the city.  Nursery experiments were sometimes not …clusve for it proved difficult to raise kurrajongs owing to frosts, yet the examples of trees in the city area left no doubt as to their suitability.


Although his visit this week was of only a short duration, Mr Griffin promises to revisit the city often as time passes. He gives the impression of an artist, who taking true artist’s pride in the work which is being carried out even if it is not, in every detail, in accordance with his own ideas.

[The first nursery was set up at Acton in 1913 and the main nursery set up at Yarralumla the following year.  

Common Characteristics of Canberra's Construction Camps 1912-1959


Above: Tradesmen's Camp on the hill opposite Lotus Bay in the area of modern Stirling Park.  The photograph was taken in May 1927 from the area of a shortlived tent camp for servicemen and police taking part in the opening of parliament celebrations.   The Tradesmen moved to the area in 1924 and left in November 1927.  Their tents had, unlike the other camps, timber sides. 



Camps were usually erected close to work sites, but out of sight of permanent Canberra.  The closest town was Queanbeyan where shops, hospital, doctors etc were available.  From around 1916 the Co-operative store was established at the railway station near Kingston.  Hawkers visited the camps regularly along with butchers, bakers and greengrocers.  Sale of alcohol was forbidden in the territory between 1913 and 1928 but was brought in by individuals.  Drinking of alcohol and gambling was officially forbidden in camps.


Schools were established for camp children at Cotter (1913-1917); Acton (teen years 20th century), Duntroon; Molonglo (1921 - ) and Russell Hill 1926-1929).  The old cross roads school -  Nerrabundah School - closed in late 1923 when the first permanent school in the territory - Telopea Park  - opened.  In 1927 Ainslie Primary school opened for children on the northside of the Molonglo River.


Shops at Eastlake (Kingston) opened in 1925 and were followed by others at Manuka.   In 1927 the Sydney and Melbourne buildings at Civic opened.  The Commonwealth Bank at that time moved from Acton in 1927 to Civic, where it remains today.


A hospital opened at Acton in the teen years of the last century and was replaced in the early 1940s by the Canberra Community Hospital now gone and area covered with the Australian National Museum.  In the early 1920s Dr Finlay, Canberra’s first doctor opened his surgery at Kingston.  Prior to that Dr Blackall was available at Queanbeyan.


In the mid 1920s Mrs Barton began her bus service that ran between Canberra and Queanbeyan and in 1926 a limited omnibus service began in the territory.  Unfortunately it did not visit the camps and only a couple of the temporary settlements.  Shank’s pony (walking) remained the normal method of transport for many.  Two wheeled bikes were popular for those who could afford them and a few had the luxury of owning a motorized vehicle.  The horse and sulky or horse and dray was in common use.


All large camps were provided with timber buildings – mess, recreation, ablution blocks.  Each settlement with the exception of Riverbourne, had a community hall and in 1926 the men of the camps and settlements built in one day the largest community hall in the territory at Causeway.  This hall is still in use.



Pre 1921 camps and houses were not connected to septic systems or the main interception sewer which opened in 1927.  Pan systems were used that usually had the contents buried in nearby holes.  Post 1921 the majority of camps had the night soil collected and moved to the depot at Westridge where it was buried.


The water supply from the Cotter River was available from around 1917 and electricity from around 1915.



Westlake (now Stirling Park) has one of the temporary septic tanks that served the 61 cottages in The Gap still in situ. Details of this septic are found in the chapter on No 3 Sewer Camp.(see hiddencanberra.webs.com - section on Septics)  On the hillside opposite Lotus Bay are several trenches that are around 4 metres in length by 30-40 centimetres across and dug to a depth of around 30 to 40 centimetres. These may have been used as urinals or are part of the drainage systems.  Some documents suggest that bails of hay or straw in Hessian bags were placed at strategic places in the camps for men to use as night urinals. The straw/hay could be emptied from time to time and replaced.



Not all camps were connected to water, but it is likely that the major camps were connected when it became available for them.  Prior to the availability of water from the cotter water tanks were used on farms and old houses.  A 1912 photograph of the Bachelors Quarters at Acton that shows water tanks attached to each end of one of the buildings.  Water was also transported to camps by furphy.

1         Waste water was usually directed by channels to nearby creeks and/or river. A number of sites indicate that one method of collecting and dispensing waste water was collection of water in holes – around two metres across and around one to two metres deep.  On the lower side of these holes are one or more channels that direct water down the slope – often to a natural water course.  A Mildenhall photograph taken around 1925 shows a big pipe in the area below the Hotel Canberra that appears to be there to direct waste water from the hotel into the creek below.



In the post World War One period directives were made for treatment of rubbish.  It was to be collected and burnt.  What could not be burnt had to be buried.  A number of rubbish dumps are found in Stirling Park and on Capital Hill.  The major dump used by Howie’s and the Hotel Canberra in the 1924-1925 period was in part of the old quarry (Attunga Point).


The dumps are distant from the camp sites and it would appear that they are in convenient holes – the majority are in natural holes and are first noticed by glass and metal on the surface nearby the burnt earth areas.


First Period 1912-1920

Major centres:

3         Acton – administrative area & nursery

4         Westridge (Yarralumla) Brickyards and Nursery

5         Power House at Eastlake – construction of power house and industrial area

6         Cotter River – water supply – construction of the dam

7         Sewer camp – probably at Westridge.  Work on sewer commenced in 1915 but was put on hold in 1916.  Work recommenced in 1921.

8         Duntroon – construction of Royal Military College.

Married quarters – separated from single men’s quarters/camps. Details of the dwellings is found in Australian Archives.  WO Russell had the job of noting the materials used in each dwelling and who owned what.  He carried out this work in the years between around 1917 to 1921.  These lists have been transcribed and are found in works such as Builders of Canberra 1909-1929 Gugler AR.  An example of descriptions of cottages 1917 – A Gordon: Commonwealth cottage. Old stone building, iron roof. 5/- per month cottage and grounds rent. Royal Military College employee.  This was the better class accommodation the remaining 15 in the list all had privately owned. Galvanised iron roof and hessian walls. 2/- per month…

The housing for married men consisted of:

1         Humpies built from materials such as hessian, timber and galvanized iron

2         Few timber houses built for officials

3         Old farm houses such as Briar Farm in former Westlake.


Single men’s quarters

3         Majority of men housed in canvas tents 10ft x 12ft or 12ft x 14ft.  Two men shared each tent and rent was around 6d per week. 

4         Some men constructed their tents out of materials such as hessian

5         Bachelors Quarters at Acton for officials.  The men were housed in timber barracks

6         All major camps were supplied with a Mess Caterer and Mess Room and other necessary buildings including lavatories, laundry and showers.

7         Tents were erected in rows with little space between each.  Photographs indicate that there was sufficient space for a horse and dray to move between the rows.



Second Phase 1921-1929

Work on the construction of the city of Canberra came to an almost halt in 1916.  In 1920 the decision was made to recommence work on the city and some accommodation was provided for married tradesmen.  Single men continued to live in tent camps.



With the exception of Cotter (water) the centres established in the teen years continued.  Acton – administration; Westridge – brickworks, nursery and forestry school (1927) and Power House – industrial area.  Duntroon camp also remained. Camps were established near major worksites.  Westlake eg housed the men working on Provisional Parliament House and administrative buildings of east and west blocks and Contractor John Howie’s men who built the Hotel Canberra.  It was also home to the men of No 3 Sewer Camp who worked in the area between 1922 and May 1925.  As with the earlier period married and single men’s areas were kept separate.  In addition the single men’s camps were organized according to occupation:

* Labourers

* Pug (horse & dray)

* Tradesmen

* Engineers (Power House)

* Surveyors


Married Quarters

                Limited number of small brick cottages erected in 1921/22 at:

o      Westridge – 10

o      Power House (Barton)  20

o      Civic (Braddon) 20


These numbers were later added to.  In 1923 16 small brick cottages were erected at Blandfordia (Forrest) for Tradesmen.


In 1926 a number of timber cottages were erected for married tradesmen at Ainslie in the area of Corroboree Park and at Yarralumla (around 50-60 cottages in total)


Temporary Settlements – Suburbs

Temporary suburbs connected to water and electricity. Septic tanks used for sewerage.

14     1921/22 Remaining timber barracks at Molonglo Internment Camp converted to 120 dwellings.  Between two barrack blocks were the shared lavatory, bathing and laundry facilities.  In 1926 the cottages were separated into single dwellings.

15     1922 Contractor John Howie had his carpenters erect 25 timber cottages and a recreation hall for his married men at Westlake.  Waste water to earth channels.

16     1923 – 20 timber temporary cottages erected at Westlake. Cottages occupied in 1924.  These cottages were followed by another 32 and in 1926 an additional 10 were constructed on the site of No 3 Sewer Camp tents – left the area in May 1925.  Sewer Camp Mess converted into a community hall at Westlake.

17     1925 first twenty temporary cottages erected at Causeway.  The total number eventually built at this site was 120 (included several cottages that consisted of 3 small cubicles.

18     Humpies – Riverbourne (1925-1927) and Russell Hill (1926- 1950s).


Single Men’s Camps

.In 1921/22 period one or more of the barracks at the ex Molonglo Internment Camp were converted into accommodation for 150 single tradesmen.  Others continued to live under canvas in tent camps.  These were erected near the major work sites.


The majority of men, however, lived in tent camps.  From 1926 an effort was made to replace canvas tents with small second grade Baltic pine cubicles.



The Canberra Times, Tuesday 11 October 1927 page 1





At the end of September a total of 281 workmen were waiting for cottages in the city area. All available cottages were occupied with the exception of one condemned cottage at Howie’s and four at Molonglo which were under repair.


Cottages occupied at Howie’s totaled 12; Causeway 120; Westlake 61; Brickworks 11; Molonglo 104; Eastlake tenements 15 and Acton Cottages 15.  Of those on the waiting list 12 were fitters or engine drivers, 26 carpenters, 26 painters and plumbers, 1 (part text missing – may be more than one) plasterers, 27 electricians, 31 Stores Branch employees, 19 horse and dray drivers, 12 miners, 9 bricklayers and 106(? Hard to read) labourers and miscellaneous.  A total of 1,437 men were accommodated in camps and barracks under the control of the Commission. Of these 931 (hard to read) men were employed by the Commission and 446 by private contractors.


Of the barracks, Molonglo accommodated 85; Capitol Hill Mess 116; Mt Ainslie Mess 12;  Tradesmen’s Mess 53; Acton Survey Mess 12; Mugga Quarry Mess 21; Brickworks (single) 40; White City cubicles 222; Eastlake barracks 225; and Causeway Quarters 54.


Of the tent camps Russell Hill accommodated 112 men [4], No 1 Labourers 92; Red Hill Mess 90; Red Hill Horse 101; Outfall Camp 10; Riverbourne 1; [5] Mt Stromlo Nursery 1; Kowen Camp 1; Uriarra Camp 4.


The sum of 422 pounds 13 shillings and 5 pence was collected during the month for camp rentals.


[1] White City Camp was originally tents and in 1926 a number were replaced with cubicles. The site of the camp was in the area of the old Canberra High School now the Canberra schools of Music and Art near Civic Centre.

[2] There were 13 cottages at Howie’s but one was condemned. This may have been the hut built by Charles Dinnerville which was a two roomed hut.  By this time Charles Dinnerville and his son Ken had left Howies. The other cottages were two and three bedroomed timber dwellings erected by Howie’s men.

[3] These were like the Eastlake Tenements and some at Civic, ex-Molonglo cottages moved from the Ex-Internment Camp to new sites.  At Westridge the single men’s quarters from 1921 to circa 1927 were also ex-Molonglo Internment Camp buildings.

[4] Russell Hill was an area set aside for men to build their own humpies – married quarters.  120 lots were made available to men.

[5] Riverbourne Camp was a married men’s area where 80 sites were set aside for men to build humpies for themselves and their families.  It was opened in 1925 and majority of men moved to Russell Hill or other sites in 1926-1927.  The site was on the south side of the Molonglo River three miles from Queanbeyan Post Office –known as the THREE MILE. – roughly opposite Harman Naval Base.


The Canberra Times  11 November 1926


Manuka Centre will the centre of considerable activity within a small area during the next six months.  By May of next year 40 shops will be completed in the centre itself, some with residences attached and others with offices on the second floor.

Building is to commence during the next four weeks on the whole of the centre, where hitherto only six leases had buildings on them.

The development of Manuka Centre to date has been slow due to the fact that the suburbs which it is to serve immediately have not progressed at the same fast rate as some other portions of the city. Blandfordia and Red Hill are the suburbs which the centre is designed to serve, but apart from the earlier Blandfordia cottages [Forrest – Ducane & Franklin Streets] which have been built for higher paid Commonwealth public servants are largely unoccupied, and it will not be until March next that a material influx of this class of population will be in evidence.

Other cottages at Blandfordia are now in progress, and one contract for 100 concrete cottages [built by the Monolyte Co – only 25 erected in Griffith] in the southern end of Blandfordia is beginning to make showing though none of these has reached an advanced stage of construction.  The development of Red Hill is in its initial stages at the moment, thought within the next few weeks considerable activity will be seen on residential under construction in this suburb.  By May of next year both Blandfordia and Red Hill will present a totally different appearance and vacant lots will be exception rather than the rule by the middle of the year.  Manuka Centre …[too light to read] its true role as a southern shopping and business centre. It is not likely either that the additional leases may be made available to the public in the vicinity of Manuka before May next  and the speedy development of additional area would accelerate the realization of Manuka’s prosperity.

Lease holders at Manuka have realized however, that now is the time to commence buildings which would have been commenced some time ago had the transfer of the seat of Government not been deferred until May next. The centre is one of the subdivisions in which every block was sold at the first sale, but since then the majority of lease holders have turned their holdings over to other hands, who are to carry out the building covenants. The sale of some of the leases has achieved a better position for the building of the centre and by the consolidation of some of the holdings the architectural aspect of the finished Manuka Centre, when completed will be much improved.


A special design was laid down for Manuka Centre before the leases were submitted at public auction.  The building plan was more varied than that of Civic Centre, and the class of buildings which could be erected on the various  leases differed somewhat.

The feature of Manuka Centre is an arcade which faces Road E23, which was to be two stories, the ground floor to be used as shops not more than 12 in number, forming a shopping arcade, and providing access from Road E23 to the laneway at the rear of the block, which passes longitudinally through the shopping centre.  The upper floor of the arcade was permitted to be used as offices,  consulting rooms, sample rooms with or without business connection with the shops on the ground floor. This lease is owned by Canberra Shops Ltd and Messrs Fink and Plottel, architects are considered tenders for the erection of the building which will contain 12 shops and 20 offices.

At the rear of the arcade block, across the laneway and having frontage to Road E24 is a reserved block which is to be used for the chief post office in the southern suburbs. One either side of this block but separated by a 10ft land are leases numbers 5 and 6 on each of which five single storeyed shops are being erected.  The design of the remaining block is fairly uniform. Blocks numbered 1,3,4,7,8, 10,11,13,14,15,16,18,19,20,21, and 23 are to be used for a shop with dwelling attached, to be built in a uniform external design. Leases numbered 2,9,12 and 22 were to be single storied shops, these leases being only 20 by 40 feet in dimension s and much smaller that the average block in Manuka Centre.

A special condition attached to leases 11 and 123 and leases 22 and 23. It was laid down that in the event of either of these pairs of leases being held by the same lease, a two storied building would be permitted having two shops and a dwelling on the ground floor, with offices, consulting rooms, sample rooms etc on the upper floor. Leases 11and 12 are separated on the ground plan by 20ft entrance to the 40ft roadway which divides the shopping centre in two but the joint owner of the leases is permitted to carry the upper floor of his two-stories shop over the entrance thus effecting a neat design without undue gaps in the external architecture. The same conditions applied to the holding of leases 22 and 23 by the same owner.

At the first sale both pairs of leases were purchased by different owners, but since then extensive sales of leases have occurred at Manuka and the leases have been consolidated in ownership, thus permitting of a better treatment of the completed shopping centre. Lease NO 11, the upset price of which was £400 was sold at auction  to Mr SH Ramsden of Melbourne at £660 while lease No 12 the upset price of which was £150 was purchased by Mr  CT Campbell of Queanbeyan for £220.  These leases have been purchased by Mr C Francis of Canberra who is having erected on them a two-storied structure as permitted under the lease conditions.

In the case of leases numbered 22 and 23 they were purchased by different owners also. Mr SH Ramsden secured least No 22 at the upset value of £100, while lease No 23 was sold at the upset value of £350. These two leases have been secured recently by the Canberra Building and Investement Co Ltd which is proceeding with plans for a two storied structure. The architect for both sets of buildings is Mr LH Rudd of Blandfordia.

Mary sales of leases have been recorded in Manuka since the auction sale in 1924 and only a few of the 23 leases are being developed by their original owners. Lease No 1 is still held by the original purchaser, Mr JA McInnes, who will have a shop and residence erected on it at a early date.

Lease No 3 purchased in 1924 by Ernest Murray at a value of £490 compared with the upset price of £375 has been sold to Miss Hy7les who is having a shop and residence placed upon it.

The next block, No 4, which was secured at auction by S Richmond for £377 compared with £375 upset value has been purchased by Mr HM Rolland and a shop and residence are to be erected thereon. Leases numbered 5 and 6 both of which were purchased by Mr AL Turnely for £625 each at the original sale compared with the upset value of £550 have changed hands and five shops are nearing completion on one lease and another five are to be commenced immediately on the other lease. Lease No 7 was purchased at the upset price of £375 by Mr SH Ramsden but has changed hands and a shop and residence is being erected on the lease. Lease No 8 was secured at the auction sale by J Murray and Son for the upset price of £375 but is now in the hands of Mr FM Hyles who is having a shop and residence erected on it. Lease No 9 which was purchased by Mr WH Mason on a valuation of £225 compared with the upset price of £225 remains in the same hands and is to have a shop erected on it.

The Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd has purchased several leases in Manuka Centre and plans are being prepared for buildings to be erected for the company on leases numbered 10, 16, 20, 22 and 23. Lease No 10 was originally in the hands of Mr JW Keegan who secured it for £719 [very light hard to read] compared with the upset price of £560.  Lease No 16 was purchased originally be Mr B McGill at the upset value of £550 [or £350?] but is now to be developed by the Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd. Lease No 20 is another block which has been purchased by the Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd for the purpose of a shop and residence. The block was knocked down at the first sale to Mr S Cusack of Yass for its upset price of £275 but he sold recently. He purchased in the meantime the adjoining lease No 21 which is a somewhat larger block. This had been formerly in the name of Mr M Lahiff of Melbourne who paid the upset price of £275 for it at the sale, and Mr Cusack is having erected on the block a large store. On the corresponding corner facing the same road is Lease No 12 [? Very light hard to read] which has been held from the beginning by Mr RJ Dunne who secured it at the fist sale on a valuation of £600 compared with the upset value of … Mr Dunne is having a shop and residence erected on the lease.  Leases 18 and 19 which have been held from the start by Mr JG Harris are to have shops  and residences on them.


In connection with the building on the various leases at Manuka Centre the bulk of the work is in the hands of Mr LH Rudd of Blandfordia.  Mr Rudd is the architect of the shops and residences which are being and to be erected on leases numbered 3,7,8,10,11,12,12,16,18,19,20,21,22 and 23 on considerably more than half of the centre. The whole of the buildings at present in course of construction on the Manuka Centre are being erect5ed by the Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd.

When completed the Manuka Centre will comprise 42 shops, 12 residences and more than 20 offices. This in addition to the facilities existing already at Eastlake [Kingston] will provide the retail trading and business wants of the Southern suburbs for some years.


Barracks & Camps

The Canberra Times, 6 September 1927 & October 1927: 

 Above F McKay at Westridge outside one of the ex-Molonglo dwellings moved to the area for single men.  This building was in the area of modern Banks Street.  Several of these cottages were moved to the area for married men and they sat near the site of the Forestry School in Banks St.  They were moved to the area in 1921 and removed around 1926


The Canberra Times, Tuesday 6 September 1927 page 1:



A total of 751 workmen were accommodated in the various barracks on August 31.  Of these 286 were employed by contractors.  Vacancies still exist for 510 (or 610 hard to read).


In the tent camps 603 workmen were accommodated 92 of these being employed by contractors.


A total of 102 men accommodated at Molonglo Barracks; Capitol Hill Mess 92; Mt Ainslie Mess 45;  Tradesmen’s Mess 56; Acton Survey Mess 16; Mugga Quarry Mess 17; Brickworks Single 40; White City cubicles 200; Causeway cubicles 186.


Of the tent camps Russell Hill accommodated 108; Riverbourne 16; White City Mess 107; [1] No  1 Labourers 192;  Red Hill Mess 107; Red Hill Horse 91; Outfall Camp 19 (? Blurred); Northbourne 132; Duntroon Labourers 28; Stromlo 1; Kowen 1 and Uriarra 4.


At the end of the month 311 workmen were waiting for cottages. One cottage was allocated during the month, whilst nine new applications were received.  The following figures for the trades of those  waiting for cottages:-


Fitters, engine drivers etc 12; carpenters 10; painters and plumbers 26; plasterers 3; electricians 27; Stores Branch employees 31; horse & dray drivers 19; miners 12; bricklayers 9; labourers and miscellaneous 132.


A total of 120 cottages at the Causeway were occupied on August 31; Molonglo 105; Westlake 61; Eastlake 15; Acton 15; Howie’s 12[2],  Brickwork’s tenements 11.[3]


The Canberra Times, Tuesday 11 October 1927 page 1:





At the end of September a total of 281 workmen were waiting for cottages in the city area. All available cottages were occupied with the exception of one condemned cottage at Howie’s and four at Molonglo which were under repair.


Cottages occupied at Howie’s totaled 12; Causeway 120; Westlake 61; Brickworks 11; Molonglo 104; Eastlake tenements 15 and Acton Cottages 15.  Of those on the waiting list 12 were fitters or engine drivers, 26 carpenters, 26 painters and plumbers, 1 (part text missing – may be more than one) plasterers, 27 electricians, 31 Stores Branch employees, 19 horse and dray drivers, 12 miners, 9 bricklayers and 106(? Hard to read) labourers and miscellaneous.  A total of 1,437 men were accommodated in camps and barracks under the control of the Commission. Of these 931 (hard to read) men were employed by the Commission and 446 by private contractors.


Of the barracks, Molonglo accommodated 85; Capitol Hill Mess 116; Mt Ainslie Mess 12;  Tradesmen’s Mess 53; Acton Survey Mess 12; Mugga Quarry Mess 21; Brickworks (single) 40; White City cubicles 222; Eastlake barracks 225; and Causeway Quarters 54.


Of the tent camps Russell Hill accommodated 112 men [4], No 1 Labourers 92; Red Hill Mess 90; Red Hill Horse 101; Outfall Camp 10; Riverbourne 1; [5] Mt Stromlo Nursery 1; Kowen Camp 1; Uriarra Camp 4.


The sum of 422 pounds 13 shillings and 5 pence was collected during the month for camp rentals.

[1] White City Camp was originally tents and in 1926 a number were replaced with cubicles. The site of the camp was in the area of the old Canberra High School now the Canberra schools of Music and Art near Civic Centre.

[2] There were 13 cottages at Howie’s but one was condemned. This may have been the hut built by Charles Dinnerville which was a two roomed hut.  By this time Charles Dinnerville and his son Ken had left Howies. The other cottages were two and three bedroomed timber dwellings erected by Howie’s men.

[3] These were like the Eastlake Tenements and some at Civic, ex-Molonglo cottages moved from the Ex-Internment Camp to new sites.  At Westridge the single men’s quarters from 1921 to circa 1927 were also ex-Molonglo Internment Camp buildings.

[4] Russell Hill was an area set aside for men to build their own humpies – married quarters.  120 lots were made available to men.

[5] Riverbourne Camp was a married men’s area where 80 sites were set aside for men to build humpies for themselves and their families.  It was opened in 1925 and majority of men moved to Russell Hill or other sites in 1926-1927.  The site was on the south side of the Molonglo River three miles from Queanbeyan Post Office –known as the THREE MILE. – roughly opposite Harman Naval Base.

Building Canberra - Initial Difficulties - Col. PT Owen

The Canberra TimesTuesday 7 February 1928 page 1:



Initial Difficulties



The Chairman of the Canberra Division of the Institution and the Deputy Chairman of the Development Committee, Colonel PT Owen addressed the meeting on the engineering difficulties that had been overcome in the initial stages of construction at Canberra.


'The creation of a Federal Capital City,' said Colonel Owen, 'was a definite objective calling for action in many essential directions, but the first steps in its devolved on Engineers.  No better example of the importance of our profession in providing for the needs of civilized man can be found than the building of a modern town.  The Engineers must work in co-ordination with many professions, arts and crafts, thus besides him there are the surveyor, architect, the builder, the doctor, the chemist, the physicist, the geologist, lawyer, clerk and accountant.


The engineer with his cousins of meteorology and geology were called on to advise.  Other considerations were the economics in relation to this development of New South Wales.


For water supply and sewerage the engineer was an important man, and so with electric supply including the possibilities of hydroelectric development.  All the time the engineer was to use the wealth of knowledge built up by his own profession and by his friends in most sciences and the antecedents in arts and crafts. 



The scheme for the construction of the Federal City was arbitrarily divided into three initial stages of enabling works of which the most important were:-

* Access, Water Supply, Sewerage, and Surveys, Electric Supply, Railway and Road Development, and Materials for some construction in advance.


These stages were not necessarily successive, but overlapped or interlaced.  Carrying out the stages involved subsidiary works for instance preliminary water supply, steam power, temporary sewerage disposal, camps and accommodation for workmen, supplies or plant for the works in view, transport and so on.


Water supply almost failed in the period between 1912 and 1914.  It is unnecessary to enlarge on these difficulties which were real to the Engineer at the time.  Because many here tonight will have encountered them.


The base for construction was first at Queanbeyan as a rail head in which town the first plant, tool and material depot was founded.  The construction of the railway to Canberra came at a later stage as an enabling work.



One of the enabling works was water supply.


Prior to the selection of Canberra the Department of Public Works of New South Wales and with its associated names of the late LAH Wade, Mr EM Deburgh, and Mr Pridham remain particularly in his mind. 


There were three sources from which supply might be taken:-

The Queanbeyan River Catchment Area.

The Gudgenby-Naas Catchment Area and

The Cotter Catchment Area.


Each presented advantages and disadvantages.  The Cotter area was found to be the source of purest water supply, the best catchment area for conservation and was a tract practically unalienated by the Crown. 


The behaviour of the Gudgenby-Naas  Catchment area in comparison with the Cotter Catchment Area after prolonged drought was quite remarkable and in favour of the Cotter Area.  On the other hand the Cotter presented difficulties for service to Canberra as it involved a pumping scheme, unless three times the capital outlay was to be spent for gravitation scheme.


Weighing all the pros and cons the Cotter Catchment was accepted as the source of water supply.


The construction of the dam presented no great engineering difficulty beyond dealing with water during river floods.  One of the floods carried away part of the construction plant which had been occupying the river bank, as there was no space for it on the steep slopes of the gorge. The dam was designed and

construction began with a gravity section with crest about 40 ft higher than the present crest level.  it would as designed have impounded about three times the volume of the water at present impounded and have improved the safe draft from seven millions of gallons per day to eleven millions of gallons per day.  The alteration in height of the dam was against my advice.


The dam if raised 40ft higher would have warranted the construction of a Power House and installation of turbines to develop 1000 kilowatts using the surplus

discharge of the Cotter River.  Such a hydro-electric development could not have been relied upon for the city electric supply, but would have been a useful auxiliary for pumping and to augment power generated at the City Power House.


The main question whether water supply to the city should be by gravity instead of pumping was considered, but pumping was decided upon. It has been suggested that when the population of Canberra should reach 100,000 people a gravity scheme might be warranted, but again contemplating the large sum involved to construct the dam nay miles by river above the present dam, the pipe line and other works and regarding some certain future hydro-electric development in this part of New South Wales, and presumably low cost of current for pumping it may be that pumping will always hold its own.



In the early stages before an electric generating station could be equipped, portable steam engines were used. for instance, Cotter River water supply works for stone crushing for road making for pipe making and in other directions.  It was known however, that power would soon be required for larger works, for instance - sewer construction, brick making and for pumping water: thus the question of electric supply for the future city was considered at a very early stage. Naturally as the generating station had in the future to supply the city, the Molonglo River flowing through the city site, was accepted for condensing water.  In due course electric supply was established for brickmaking, pipe making, quarrying, joinery work and all other sources of demand.




Another enabling work referred to earlier in this address was the disposal of sewerage.  The region presented difficulties in topography, because the general slope from Canberra to the only area which could be used for sewerage treatment was roughly three foot to the mile.  Another difficulty was the necessity for safe guarding the purity of the Molonglo River, so far as sewerage disposal was concerned, having in mind that the Molonglo River discharges into the Burrinjuck Dam.  Although at the present time and for years to come the amount of effluent can be easily dealt with but the long view into the future had to be taken in regard to the effluent discharged from a city of larger population say a century hence.


The only area which could be used was that of Western Creek beyond which the country against rises to the west, precluding a discharge from the Outfall Sewer near the surface.  The country along the course of the Molonglo River towards the Murrumbidgee through which the gradient of two foot to the mile could have been continued did not afford any possibil8ity of sewerage treatment combined with final disposal of effluent over the land.


Even at Western Creek area below the invert of the Outfall Sewer, the space was too limited for land treatment of effluent to gravitation and thus the early scheme for treatment was to either pump crude sewerage to the treatment tanks on a higher level or to sink the treatment tank and pump the effluent.  The only possible gravitation scheme having been ...(?) upon the method of treatment was left open having in view the world wide developments of treatment and knowing that some years might be allowed before a scheme should be definitely determined.



It was known that bricks would be required for construction - investigations were made primarily to find out where suitable clay or shale could be obtained.


The first bricks made at Canberra were in Scotch kilns and the shale was ground by steam operated plant.  Sufficient bricks were thus made by dry process to build the Staffordshire Kiln now operating.  Naturally the plant for processing bricks was the soft-plastic process was more expensive to install and operate and further as it was known that it would be necessary to make tiles as well as bricks the Staffordshire Kiln was decided upon.  It afforded means for either down draft or ordinary draft.



A team match between visiting members of the Institution of Engineers and members of the Canberra Golf Club will be played on the Canberra Links on Friday next commencing at 10 am.  Members of the Canberra Club who desire to take part are asked to inform the hon secretary as soon as possible.  A mixed tournament will be played on Thursday afternoon.



Brodie's Garage 1927




The top photograph shows Brodie's garage around 1927 and below it a 1933 map. The site of the  garage is near the peak of the triangle formed by the meeting of the two roads, Canberra and Wentworth Avenues.

My father, Leonard Austin (1896-1976) at the time of my birth in 1937 managed a small garage in Collerenabri NSW. In 1941 during an Easter holiday visit to my grandparents in Dunedoo he received a letter from the owner of the garage who stated that he could no longer afford to pay a manager.  However, this news was tempered by his search for positions in other towns for Dad.  One, was at Brodie’s Garage in Wentworth Avenue in Canberra – and that is why we came here.

The garage was built in 1927 for Mr Brodie of Bredbo who determined to buy the site. The upset value was 1,500 pounds.  Brodie paid 11,400. The garage, which was finished in white stucco was designed by architects Messrs Rudd and Limburg and was built by McCauley.

The garage that in addition to having the usual repair section, had eight bowsers undercover and a car sales room. May 1927 issue of The Canberra Times added to the description -  a distinguished feature of the edifice will be a small surmounting lantern tower which will serve as a road lighthouse to incoming motorists.  This lantern was intended to light the way to Canberra.

When first built contemporary aerial photographs show the garage to be like an island in a sea of paddocks. In the 1920s, 30s and 40s  Brodie’s  was still a major landmark. During the 1920s and 1930s It was known as the six mile and was the turning point for many of the cycle races that usually commenced at the Queanbeyan PO.  Molonglo (Fyshwick) was known as the 4 mile and Riverbourne Settlement (opposite Harman) as the three mile.

Nobby (Norman) Robertson of Oaks Estate was one of the cyclists that I interviewed.  He lived at Oaks Estate and mentioned that the prize winnings made the difference to the finances in the years of the Depression.  The bikes that the contestants rode were not the stream lined bikes used today.  They were the same bikes ridden daily to work.

There are many reports of these races in The Canberra Time.  One example in the issue dated 2 September 1939 states: Races set down for decision by the Queanbeyan Cycling Club to-morrow are a 32 mile senior handicap is to be ridden over the Jerrabomberra Avenue and Brodie’s Garage courses, and 10 mile junior handicap. Both events will start and finish in Crawford Street, the first being timed to start at 10.30am...

A story told to me - During the war, Brodie’s was the scene of the discovery of a German spy.  The girlfriend of a Dutch officer, who turned out to be German, without his permission, decided to have his car serviced.  Unfortunately for him the plans of Harman and a machine gun, stored in the car, were found with the result that he disappeared.

My father finished work at Brodies in 1943 or 44 when he moved to Darwin with the Civil Construction Corp.  After his return he did not return to Brodies but took up a position in the Fitters & Turners Shop next to the Power House where he remained until his retirement.

Sometime in the 1950s or later Brodie’s lost its name.  It became the Mobil Garage in Wentworth Avenue.  The lantern and old entrance went and the old building was obscured by new workshops and office.  The last traces of the garages went with the demolition of the structures in October/November 2009.

The demise of Brodie’s has not been marked by any ceremony or mention in a paper.  This building, like the old Capitol and Civic Theatres has gone and another link with the beginnings of the city has been removed and forgotten.

Ann Gugler 10 November 2009




Brodie's Garage Canberra Times articles

The Canberra Times 13 April 1927




A substantial advance in values of business sites was a feature of the third sale of leases held in Canberra on Saturday last.

The record price of 175 pounds a foot was reached for a Civic Centre block and the motor service station at Eastlake brought 11,400 pounds.

Residential leases sold better than at previous sales and there was keen bidding for leases where the building covenant was low.

The total value of the leases sold was 69,835 pounds of 35,000 pounds more than the total upset prices.

Preparatory to offering the lease at auction Mr TE Woodgers , who presided at the rostrum, acting on behalf of the auctioneers, Messrs Woodgers and Calthorpe, state that this was the third sale of leases at Canberra over two years having elapsed since the first sale. ‘In 1924,’ he said, ‘ Canberra was a place of paddocks. To-day a mighty development has taken place. It has been phenomenal.  Those who bought at the first sale were fortunate and those who bought at the last sale were also fortunate.  Within a month, Canberra will enter her own as the new seat of government of Australia.  For all time Parliament will make its laws and the whole country will be administered from here. To-day affords a wonderful opportunity to invest in this country. Canberra will grow in leaps and bounds during the next few years until a population of 30,000 or 40,000 is reached and will go on increasing as Australia increases as happened in the United States. Australia has been slow in development, but after a certain limit has been passed the development becomes faster. After the ten million mark has been reached, 15,000,000 will come quickly.

The leases which are being offered to-day are inside city lots. At a later period buyers will be forced to go further back. Canberra will increase.  It is a wonderful place for investment and it has wonderful climatic conditions for residential purposes. It is being built as a garden city, and we are starting with all knowledge gained in other cities of the world.  The city will compare with any other city in the world as it develops.’

From the outset, it was evident that sales of business sites would bring out keen bidding. The first lease offered was bid to 3,500 pounds or 175 pounds a foot before it was secured by the Federal Mutual Insurance Co Ltd.  Other blocks although not so highly priced realised big prices, the total value being 35,100 pounds. Local buyers predominated.

The sensation of the sale was the motor service station at Eastlake Circle for which there were several bidders and with remarkable rapidity bidding went from 2,000 pounds to 11,400 pounds when it was knocked down to H Brodie of Bredbo.

Industrial sites realised substantially more than in 1924 when the highest price paid was 1,350 pounds compared with 2,000 pounds on Saturday. The boarding house sites were sold readily at near upset prices, two going to local owners.

North Ainslie [Ainslie] residential sites on which building covenant is only 700 pounds were bid for with avidity and private buyers were outdistanced by builders.

A large number of leases at Blandfordia [Forrest] were sold for building and resale purposes. Mugga Heights [Mugga Way] blocks failed to attract buyers and the subdivision was withdrawn.


Lot 22     Federal Mutual Insurance Co Ltd 3,500 pounds (upset price 1,000 pounds)

Lot 23     LH Rudd architect Canberra 2,800 (1,000)

Lot 24     Canberra Shops Ltd Canberra 2,200 (1,000)

Lot 25     Canberra Shops Ltd Canberra 2,500 (1,000)

Lot 26     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 2,400 (1,000)

Lot 27     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 2,200 (1,000)

Lot 28     Canberra Shops Ltd 2,600 (1,000)

Lot 29     Canberra Shops Ltd 2,700 (1,000)

Lot 30     DE Limburg 2,900 (1,000)

Lot 1       Dr Duffield 5,100 (3,000)

Lot 2       DE Limburg 2,800 (1,000)

Lot 3       Canberra Shops Ltd 3,500 (1,000)

Average price per foot 112 pounds



Section 25

Lot 1 11,400 H Brodie Bredbo (upset price 2,000)



Industrial sites


Lot 6       CW Davies solicitor Canberra 1,800 (upset price 1,000)

Lot 4       J Burcham Clamp architect, Sydney 1,900 (1,000)

Lot 3       W Perry 2,000 (1,000)

Lot 2       Bruce Smith 2,200 (1,000)


Boarding House Sites


Section 57, Lot 1 J Burcham Clamp, 1,100 (upset price 1,000)



Section 18, Lot 1 AE Wright 1,100 (upset price 1,000)

Section 19. Lot 1 J Carghill 1,100 (1,000)



Canberra Avenue Subdivision

Section 6

Lot 6       Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 320 (upset price 160)

Lot 12     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 340 (160)

Lot 13     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd  360 (140)

Lot 14     ..E Greville 450 (160)

Lot 15     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 440 (160)

Lot 16     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 450  (160)

Lot 19     E Greville 450 (165)


Section 9

Lot 12     E Greville 260 (upset price 225)

Lot 13     HL Dawson 320 (225)


Section 10

Lot 14     HL Dawson 500 (upset price 250)


Section 11

Lot 9       HL Dawson 450 (upset price 200)


Section 13

Lot 1       HL Dawson 450 (upset price 325)



Section 5               Upset 275 passed in


Section 16

Lot 7       J Tamhakin 300 (upset 250)


Section 17

Lot 10     Government Saving bank of New South Wales 360 (250)


Section 20

Lot 12     Mrs Ryan Dodd’s Hotel Cooma 410, (350)


Section 36

Lot 18     upset 225 passed in


Section 38

Lot 8       J Sweetnam 230 (220)

Lot 12     upset 320 passed in



No 5 Subdivision


Lot 4       withdrawn from sale

14 and 10 reserve in each case 250 passed in



Lot 2       A Sweetnam 275 (upset


Section 6

Lot 2       Upset 325 and 18 upset 350  350 passed in


Section 10

Lots 7, 12, 15 upset 400, 350 and 350 register passed in.

Section 12

Lo6 6      HL Dawson 380 (upset 375)

Lot 12     HL Dawson 350 (350)

Lot 13     upset 350 passed in

Lot 5 and 30          withdawn from sale


Section 13

Lot 3 and 37          withdrawn from sale

Lot 1       Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 400 (upset 400)

Lot 4       Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 325 (325

Lot 6       Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 275 (275)

Lot 7       Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 275 (275)

Lot 8       Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 295 (275)

Lot 10     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 250 (250)

Lot 11     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd  220 (200)

Lot 12     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 200 (200)

Lot 13     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 200 (200)

Lot 14     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 200 (200)

Lot 15     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 150 (150)

Lot 16     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 150 (150)

Lot 17     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 250 (250)

Lot 18     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 250 (250)

Lot 19     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 270 (250)

Lot 20     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 370 (250)

Lot 26     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 310 (300)

Lot 28     Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd 330 (250)




Lot 9       AT Barden(?) 340 (upset price 300)




The Canberra Times 24 November 1933




Arrangements are now finalised for the Canberra Aerial Pageant the culmination of many months of preparation by members of the Canberra Legacy Club.

The programme for the day will be:-

10.30:    Arrival of aeroplanes

10.30:    Joy Riding

1.30:       Slow cycling race 50 yards

1.40:       School relay race

1.45:       Egg and spoon cycling race

2.00        Grand parade of all machines

Official opening by His Excellency the Governor-General (Sir Isaac A Isaacs). Welcome to visiting airmen by the Prime Minister (Mr Lyons)


2.15pm: Formation flying and aerobatics, Aero Club NSW

2.30:       Balloon bursting.

2.45:       Canberra Aerial Derby

3.30:       Display by the RAAF Moths

4.20:       Aerial combat

4.30-6pm Joy Riding

4.45:       100 yards FCT championship (post entry)

5.0:         Car balloon bursting race.


The Canberra City Band will render selections throughout the afternoon.


The members of the Legacy Club are making cars available to convey the public to the aerodrome at about 10am on Saturday.


The cars will leave from the undermentioned point: Kingston: JB Young’s corner: Civic centre: Snow’s Corner, Reid: Gorman house.


Holders of combined bus and admission tickets may travel in private cars. Ticket sellers will be stationed at various points along the route both from Canberra and Queanbeyan, thus avoiding congestion at the entrance to the ground.


The Canberra Aerial Derby, the machines will fly over a triangular course, commencing at the aerodrome. The first turn will be directly over Brodie’s Garage on the Queanbeyan Road, while the second will be at Railway Point (Queanbeyan road). The entire course will be in full view of the crowd at the aerodrome.


The boundary of the landing ground will be marked off with barriers and flagged stakes, and only those persons who are holders of tickets for aeroplane rides are to be allowed on the landing ground.


Prior to the pageant, an ‘air lane’ or gap, 150 yards wide will be marked off on the roads by flagged stakes. The actual location of this gap cannot be determined until the direction of the wind is known.  This land is to include the portions across the road, and no vehicles are to be permitted to remain stationary on any part of the road within this area. It will be necessary for a constable to be stationed at each side of the gap on the road to control through traffic.


The Aero Ball at night is the Albert hall premises to be one of the most enjoyable functions ever held in Canberra.  In anticipation of a record crowd it has been decided to have supper in two large marquees on the lawn outside and the entire floor space of the hall will be utilised for dancing.


Canberra-The City Plan

The Canberra Times, Wednesday 13 June 1928 page 5:



The following statement has been forwarded for publication by the Secretary of the Federal Capital Commission:-


‘In the issue of the ‘Canberra Times’ of June 9 there appeared a letter to the editor from D Maloney MP, which stated that Mr Griffin in his amended plan, intended to concentrate inhabitants within a square mile of the lee of Capitol Hill, and the letter to the editor infers that the departure from that scheme has led to the wrong development of the city, and caused a huge loss, unnecessary expenditure of millions and a huge loss.  Incidentally the letter from Dr Maloney stigmatises departmental officers, who were dealing with Mr Griffin’s plan and inferentially the Advisory Committee.


How the amended plan referred to by Dr Maloney came into existence and what was done with it entails elucidation, going back to the time when the completion for plans was the late Mr John Kirkpatrick, architect, Sydney.


In May 1912 the Board of Assessors awarded the first premium to Mr WH Griffin.


After Mr Griffin’s plan had been awarded the first premium, there were some doubts raised as to its adoption in its entirety and the Government formed a board to consider and report on the first premiated design and other premiated designs received.


A Departmental Board was formed in June 1912 and a design (since called the Departmental Plan) was submitted to the Government and approved. One of the important principals of which was the development of the civic zone of Canberra on the southern side of the Molonglo under the lee of Capitol Hill.


In this connection Mr Kirkpatrick in Sydney giving evidence to the Public Works Committee, in 1915, said, ‘I think Mr Griffin’s design could be substantially adhered to, and ultimately carried out even with the civic centre south of the Molonglo.  I have argued the point with Mr Griffin, who, however, declined to break away from his design.’  This is a clear indication of what the Chairman of the Board of Assessors on the subject at the time.


After the acceptance of what was called the Departmental Plan in 1912.  Mr Griffin at the suggestion of the members of the Departmental Board was invited in 1912 to visit Australia to discuss the development of that plan.  Mr Griffin arrived in August 1913 and was placed immediately in touch with the Departmental Board, but instead of being asked to discuss the Departmental Plan the Acting Minister for Home Affairs (there having been a change of government) requested him and the Departmental Board to discuss his (Mr Griffin’s) plan, in distinction to the Departmental Plan.


Some weeks were spent then spent in trying to modify Mr Griffin’s plan for a civic development on the south of the Molonglo near the present Kingston together with a railway station about half a mile from Parliament House and Mr Griffin then prepared a sketch plan on which he showed the initial city in the locality referred to by Dr Maloney.


In October 1913, the Departmental Board was dissolved, and in the same month Mr Griffin was appointed Director of Design an Construction.


The Department of Home Affairs continued the construction of the enabling works such as water supply, sewerage, electric supply etc, but made no city roads.


The work was taken out of the binds of the Department of Works and Railways, which had succeeded the Department of Home Affairs in construction and it was placed entirely under the control of Mr Griffin who began the development of the city in accordance with his plan on the northern side, discarding his initial city on the south.


In giving evidence to the Public Works Committee in July 1915, Mr Griffin had discarded the idea of an initial city south of the Molonglo as is indicated by his evidence: ‘I believe that it would not make for economy to have two initial cities and I think that the people at t he outset may be induced to consider the matter seriously, and to agree that the way in which the city can be best developed is not a matter on which they are compelled to judge. I want the city to take advantage of the southern residential site in the very best possible way for the benefit of the future and not the immediate village of Canberra.  The danger of establishing immediate convenience is that demands will be made for further favour of continuing the development from that centre and so everything on which the proper future development of the city depends will be thrown out of its proper place.  We must do what is necessary to control the growth of the city, and prevent the creation of vested interests and public opinion that would work against accomplishment of our design.’


Later on in evidence:


‘When I suggested the modification of my plan which has been referred to, i took the view that there were insuperable obstacles to the construction of the line from Yass.  I do not take that view now.’


In my own evidence to the committee I stated: ‘I understand that Mr Griffin now thinks there is no need for an initial city and reverted practically to the original railway route shown on his premiated plan.’


If any further proof were necessary that the development at Civic Centre was begun by Mr Griffin on behalf of himself and not by any other authority, and that he himself abandoned the idea of a civic development near Capitol Hill it may be found in the work which he first undertook when placed in immediate control of construction such as a road bridge heading from the southern site along Commonwealth Aveneu in the Civic Centre and a railway bridge and construction train-way along the Causeway and over the Molonglo itself to the Civic Centre.


Further, he began the construction of the roadways around the hexagon of Civic Centre, Ainslie Avenue, and several roads in what he called No 1 Neighbourhood, namely, Ainslie [now Braddon].  The principle work he did on the southern side was the road in cutting an embankment around Capitol Circuit and Adelaide Avenue on the opposite side of Capitol Hill to area mentioned by Dr Maloney.


He did no road development in the square mile on the lee of Capitol Circuit mentioned by Dr Maloney.


The Advisory Committee of which I was a member was appointed in January 1921 and that was when Mr Griffin resigned.  Three members of the committee were from outside the Commonwealth Service.


The Committee considered that to conform to the principles and zoning of Mr Griffin’s plan which was the... charter, the civic city development should not be to the south of the river, and thus they acted in complete sympathy with his views.


They carried out the work at Braddon, then called Ainslie, in conformity with what Mr Griffin had started and from that neighbourhood (Mr Griffin’s No 1 Neighbourhood) the city north of the river has grown outwards.


On the south of the river the residential location was begun, together with community centres to, as far as feasible, afford shopping facilities to the locality because of the distance to Civic Centre.



Deputy Chairman

Development Committee

(Chairman of the Departmental Board 1912)


[The Departmental Committee did get their own way in that they had the Power House constructed on a site that Burley Griffin did not want.  The main shopping centres used by the locals well into the 1970s were Kingston followed by Manuka and last Civic.]


March 1927 Building Progress

The Canberra Times 12 March 1927


Many Works Nearing Completion


The monthly progress report of the Federal Capital Commission reveals further activity in all directions of the transfer of the Seat of Government.

The constructional work at Parliament House is now practically finished. The rooms are now ready to receive the furniture which is arriving daily. It is expected that all furniture will be placed into position by the end of the present month. Carpet and linoleum laying is generally in hand. It may be staged that a carpet measuring approximately 50ft x 33ft has now been laid on the floor of the House of Representatives.  All  electrical and mechanical services are on the verge of completion.

The surrounding area is the scene of much activity. Concrete kerbing and guttering, the gravelling of paths and the formation of roads are almost completed. The edging of gravel paths around the gardens was commenced during the month and is making good progress.

To add to the beautification of the garden surrounding Parliament House the formation of an artificial lake will be constructed immediately in front of the House, and its approximate size will be 400 feet in length by 300 feet in width. [not built]

Operations at the Public Offices and National Library Building are proceeding rapidly [refers to the first National Library not the present one – this may be in one of the secretariats –the National Library building in Kings Avenue may be the second one?]

Work at the Prime Minister’s residence and also at Government House is confined practically to sand papering floors and general cleaning. The furnishing of these buildings is well in hand. [Government House is the renovated two storey home of Frederick Campbell on Yarralumla Property.]

Good progress is being maintained in connection with the construction of the Commission’s four Guests’ Houses.

At the School of Forestry Building, Westridge, all fixing is well in hand. Plastering is advanced and the ceilings have been finished. Painting is now proceeding.

Extensions to provide additional class-room accommodation are to be carried out at Telopea Park Public School [opened in 1923] The plan for this work is now on the site and the laying of the foundations has been commenced.

Excavations for all trenches in connection with the construction of an up-to-date infant’s school at Ainslie have been finished. [Ainslie Infants & Primary School.]  The concrete has been laid and reinforced and the brickwork has been completed in cement mortar to floor line. Portion of the work has proceeded to a height of 4ft 6in above the floor level. The shelter shed is in course of erection and ready for tiling.

The contract for the new Commission store building at Eastlake is proceeding satisfactorily. Good progress has been made with additions at Canberra Hospital. Approval has been given for the provision of a new motor garage at Eastlake and the work will be put in hand shortly. [This was Brodie’s Garage – later Mobil Garage in Wentworth Avenue. The buildings were finally pulled down in October 2009.]  The contract for a new railway station at Canberra is proceeding satisfactorily.

A public building is to be erected in the Commonwealth Avenue adjacent to the Hotel Canberra. Tenders for the construction of this building have been invited and were returnable on March 14.

Cottage construction at Ainslie, [Braddon], South Ainslie [Reid] Eastlake [Kingston], Blandfordia [Forrest] and Telopea [Barton] is showing good progress. 

Engineering activities are represented by sewerage construction and reticulation, water supply and bridge construction.


During the month a large amount of levelling off was done and gravel paths formed at the sewerage treatment works, Western Creek.

Most of the plant ant these works has been dismantled.  The construction of the sewerage syphon   has almost been finished. Driving has been completed and only a small amount of concreting remains to be done.

Sewerage reticulation services at South Ainslie [Reid], Blandfordia [Forrest] are progressing favourably.  Eleven thousand, seven hundred and ninety-seven feet  of pipes have been laid on these two works at an average depth of 247 feet.  The sewerage work at the Civic Centre shopping sites has been completed: other reticulation services are in hand at the Public Offices and National Library building, Hotel Canberra, and the Prime Minister’s residence. [prior to the availability of the sewerage system septic tanks were placed in the settlements and suburbs. One, a temporary one used in the Westlake Settlement is to be found in Section 22 in the Gap where two creeks meet.  It is the only known septic tank remaining from the construction era.]

Stormwater drainage has been finished at Eastlake [Kingston] and Telopea Park [Barton].  Similar work is at hand at Ainslie [Braddon].  Water reticulation work has been completed at the Public Offices and National Library building and section 8 Blandfordia [Forrest].  Good progress has been made with the Wellington Avenue and Russell services. A commencement has been made with water supply for the gardens surrounding Parliament House.

Road work is progressing in all districts.

Experimental work in connection with sealing gravel roads within the city area is well in hand. Roadmaking on the Telopea Park [Barton] sub-division is well advanced. Reconstruction work between Commonwealth Avenue and the Hotel Canberra to the bridge is making good progress. Extensive kerbing and guttering is being carried out around Eastlake [Kingston] business blocks and also at Ainslie [Braddon].  The formation of footpaths and plantations on the Blandfordia [Forrest] sub-division is in hand.

It is expected that the contract for the construction of a bridge at Ginninderra Creek on the Yass Road will be completed by the end of the present month. The number of workmen employed by the Federal Capital Commission at the end of February was 2928.


At the Civic Centre shopping block there are 30 shops, 4 banks, an d one insurance building in course of construction. The building which is being erected for the Australian Provincial Assurance Co is proceeding satisfactorily.  The brick work has been completed all round to the first floor level, including the facade on the building line. The brick work on the building line of the premises which are in course of construction for the Commercial Banking Co of Australia has been laid to a height of 10 feet.

Structural work, with the exception of shop fronts, has been completed in connection with the Queensland National Bank. The construction of the Commercial Banking Co of Sydney premises is proceeding satisfactorily. The brick work all round has been finished. Roof timbers are being pitched, the faced brick work has been erected and all joists have been laid.  Satisfactory progress is being maintained in connection with the erection of the Commonwealth Bank. The brick work at street angle all around the yard at the rear has been erected up to first floor level.

The building in course of construction for the Bank of Australasia is progressing favourably: the brick work has been completed up to the first floor level. On lot 21, section 1, a commencement has been made for the erection of a building for the Bank of New South Wales.

Good progress is being made with the building which is being built for the Methodist Church authorities. The brickwork of this structure is up to a height of 8 feet all over the job, and the door frames have been fixed into position.

At Ainslie one cottage was completed during the month, whilst five others are in hand. The Presbyterian School Hall has been finished. At Manuka 17 shops are in course of construction. The Capitol Theatre is showing good progress.  Six residences are in hand at Red Hill. Seven shops were completed at Eastlake during the month. Eight others are in hand. Three cottages were finished and there are 14 in course of erection. There is one cottage in hand at Telopea Park.


Social Service Association Report 1927

The Social Service Association was formed in 1925 under the auspices of the Federal Capital Commission.  It ceased in 1929.  The following documents is the 1927 report published in the Canberra Times

The Canberra Times 8 July 1927


It is not possible to embody in this report a comprehensive survey of the last year’s activities of the eleven districts branches but it is considered that this(?) report would be incomplete without a brief mention of the varying degrees of success attained in the promotion of social service projects by the various branches of the association.


Under the energetic guidance of the chairman (Mr JH Saunders) and the secretary (Mr S Margules) the Acton Branch has every reason to be satisfied with the operation of the period under review.  The committee of the branch organised the whole of the labour necessary for the construction of the Acton Park tennis court, which was officially opened by the Chief Commissioner.  The recreational  needs of the children of the dist4ict are amply catered for by voluntary labour under the usual basis (?).  Mr Saunders ably represented the Acton branch on the council of the Association [Social Service Association – the usual basis was 50-50 the men supplied the labour and the FCC (Federal Capital Advisory Committee) supplied the materials.]


The Ainslie branch has jurisdiction over the largest district in the Association. The active development of this suburb and the continual influx of new residents calls for a particularly progressive social service policy in the ...(?) of the local branch committee. The absence of a suitable hall in the district has not been conducive to an active programme of indoor recreation, more particularly for the winter months ...(?) the branch is now formulating a scheme for the erection of suitable and commodious premises as early as possible.  The position was somewhat alleviated through the action of the Federal Capital Commission in place a cottage at North Ainslie at the disposal of the district branch for social service meetings. A young man’s club has been formed and a billiard table installed at the temporary social service headquarters. [In 1930 the Russell Hill School which was originally the Masonic Hall at Acton built by Contractor John Howie, was moved to Corroboree Park where it still serves as the Ainslie Hall.]

Application was made for six new tennis courts in the district to be constructed upon the usual 50-50 basis in order to relieve the congestion on the existing courts. A certain delay has arisen, however, pending a decision as to the ,,,(?) of control of the courts. It is anticipated, however, that work will be commenced on this project in the near future. Through the Northbourne Cricket Club, an attractive pavilion has been constructed at Northbourne Sports Ground. The whole of the work was carried out by members of the club by voluntary labour.

Picturesquely situated children’s  playgrounds at Ainslie and North Ainslie (Braddon and Ainslie) are a testimony to the responsive sympathy extended by residents to appeals for assistance in the way of voluntary labour. Drinking fountains are to be installed at both playgrounds before the advent of warmer weather. The district has suffered a loss of the departure from Canberra, of Mr Knox, the chairman of the branch committee. At the annual general meeting of the branch the opportunity is taken of making a suitable presentation to Mr Knox in recognition of his valuable services to the district.

Mr PT McNamara proved a most energetic branch hon secretary and on his resignation, Mr T Gillard was elected to the office, and again at the recent annual meeting Mr A Swane has most ably represented the district on the council.


With the continual advent of new members to the district and the rapid expansion of the business centre at Manuka Circle there will arise a great increased necessity for a continuous and efficient policy of social service at Blandfordia.  The comparatively few people hitherto residing in the district has not called for considerable effort on the part of residents but the needs of the community have been closely watched by Mr L Marriott (delegate to the council of the association) and Mrs ..L Brownless who  has been closely identified with the social service movement in Canberra since its inception and request for a children’s playground Blandfordia will be considered by the council of the association at it next meeting.


The commodious recreation reserve at the Causeway is ample evidence of the whole hearted manner in which residents have provided for the recreational needs(?) not only of themselves but of the children of the settlement as well the reserve is divided into three sections, one of which contains the hall incidentally the largest hall of its kind(?) south of Goulburn and the remainder of the reserve is taken up by the children’s playground and the tennis court.  The Commission supplied the whole of the material for these projects, the local residents doing the necessary constructional work by voluntary labour.  The hall reserve has been suitably fences and the area laid out with distinctive shrubs and hedges, which in the course of time will considerably enhance the appearance of the Causeway. The provision of a suitable hall ad...(?) in the reserve for the sole use ..the Boy Scouts Association proved a boom to the local Scouts.

During the summer months a cricket  pitch near the old –co-operative store was(?) constructed by members of the Causeway Cricket Club on the usual 50-50 basis.  The Causeway Branch has ...applied for a suitable recreation ground more adjacent to the settlement. The chairman of the branch committee (Mr SH Horne) and the hon secretary (Mr ET Sorenson) have been untiring in their efforts towards the general welfare of the community and Mr Horne also represented the branch on the council of the association.


Of the eleven social service districts of Canberra as prescribed in the constitution last year, the central district only did not actively function. This district comprise of those camps in the vicinity of Parliament House and includes Capitol Hill Mess, No 1 Camp and Tradesmen’s Mess. Several efforts were made to induce the men at these camps to link up with the movement, but meetings were sparsely attended. There has been a continual coming and going of men in the camps which has not been conducive to a settled form of welfare administration of this district. Nevertheless a number of social service projects have been development during the year – one of the best efforts being the laying down of a cricket pitch and the building of a cricket  pavilion, which work was performed entirely by voluntary labour by residents of the Capitol Hill Mess. The activity of the library committee in this district proved of great benefit to the men in the camp.


Taking into consideration the importance of Eastlake as a business and residential centre the local branch of the association did not function as actively as anticipated.  At the recent annual general meeting of the branch, however, a strong committee was elected to watch over the social service needs of the district for the ensuing twelve months.

As was the case of the leading suburb on the northern side of the river, Ainslie, the question of a central amusement hall did not reach finality, although the position was somewhat alleviation by the provision of a Lodge hall at Eastlake which has been freely utilised by the United Friendly Societies for lodge meetings. A suitable recreation hall at Fire Brigade headquarters was also made available to the Fire Brigade Recreation club, an organisation which is of great value to the community in promoting boxing, swimming and other branches of clean sport.

As a result of the efforts of Eastlake cricketers  a new cricket ground was opened below the Printers Quarters. Members of the club laid down a cement wicket and constructed a pavilion on the ground by voluntary labour

Mr JR McRae Dunn proved an energetic chairman of the branch committee and Mr G Cordan was responsible for the secretarial duties. As Eastlake Delegate to the council of the association Mr TJ Coy proved a keen representative, and his sound advice  on matters pertaining to the general welfare was at all times appreciated by the council.



The Molonglo branch was fortunate in possessing a live secretary in Mr RF Brown, who also represented the branch on the council of the Association. Mr Brown also acted as trustee of the Molonglo Hall in conjunction with Mr PJ Gulgley, another keen worker in the cause of social service. Representations were forwarded by the branch for adoption of the Molonglo Hall for moving picture performances. Plans and specifications for t his service have now been completed and will be submitted to the next meeting of the council of the association for determination as to the means of performing the necessary labour entailed on the alterations to the hall.

A number of projects were taken in hand by  voluntary labour, including the construction of a tennis court at Riverbourne Camp, which settlement is included in the Molonglo district.  A pavilion was erected at Molonglo football ground and minor improvements were effected at the tennis  court.

Thanks to the untiring energy of Mrs Bland, Mrs Palmer and other ladies, the Canberra Mothercraft Society is functioning with splendid success at Molonglo.


During the past year the activities of this district were confined to the Red Hill Mess, Monlyte Mess and the labourers’ camp. With the gradual occupation, however, of the many houses in this locality, it may be anticipated that the Red Hill district will occupy a place of importance in future deliberations of the association.

Mr B Quine, as secretary of the Red Hill Branch and delegate to the council of the association, and also delegate to the Library Council, gave a great deal of his leisure time towards the welfare of the men resident in the three camps mentioned.

Red Hill sportsmen worked hard on the erection of a cricket pavilion on the local cricket ground, which was completed by voluntary labour well within the scheduled time.


One of the livest units in the organisation of the association the Westlake branch has participated in matters pertaining to the social welfare of the residents of the locality familiarly known as the ‘Gap’. The construction of a children’s playground in the Post Office Reserve an d a tennis court adjacent to the hall are testimony to the statement contained in the preceding paragraph.  It is to be much regretted that vandalism has taken place at the children’s playground, which militates very seriously against efforts of residents in providing healthy recreation for children.

The dilapidated state of the Westlake Hall has impaired the efforts of the branch committee in conducting an efficient programme of social entertainment, but with the provision of lavatory accommodation and the adjustment of a number of minor details the position is not so acute as it was hitherto.

This branch in common with many others, has submitted numerous matters to your council which may be construed as ‘municipal’ and pending a decision on this vexed question your council was in many cases unable to assist as desired.

In Mr Les Dwyer, the Westlake branch was fortunate in possessing one of the most energetic branch secretaries in the association, and Mr S Champ as chairman of the branch and delegate to the council of your association and the Community Library is untiring in his zeal for the progress of the branch.


The most western suburb of the city area is a community which has always evinced a keen desire to participate in all matters affecting the welfare of residents. Lack of transport has not always been conducive to regular attendance at council meetings but frequent and continuous correspondence has prove the desire of residents to maintain their rightful place in the social service organisation.

As a result of recent visits to Westridge by the general secretary, a number of matters have been discussed and will be submitted to the council for consideration

Mr J Dillon representing the district as trustee for the Westridge Hall has been untiring in his efforts in this regard, and a number of minor improvements have been effected as a result of representations made by him.

The local tennis courts have been somewhat neglected but arrangements have now been completed for both courts to be put into good working order on the 50-50 basis.

Mr E P Corey has well filled his post as branch secretary, and has also represented Westridge as delegate to the councils of the association, and the Community Library.

Mrs Turbitt (sic Turbit) has taken an active interest in the Canberra Mothercraft Society and it is anticipated that a strong branch of the Society will be formed at Westridge in the near future.


Although considerable sums of money have been made available by the Commission to the men in this large settlement both for the purpose of providing the recreation hall and tennis courts, there is existing a certain apathy so far as the ‘self help’ principle is concerned.  That the men however, are alive to the possibility of the movement is shown by the voluntary effort which was made in the provision of a suitable cricket ground on which a concrete pitch was laid down, and a pavilion erected.

Mr T O”Gorman who has continually represented White city on the council of the Association has submitted from time to time matters pertaining to the general welfare of the settlement and it is pleasing to record that arrangements have been completed for a general meeting to be held at which the whole question of White city’s participation in social service projects will be discussed and a programme formulated.




Lady Hopetoun Club 1928

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


The Power House 1915-1927



Canberra’s Electric Supply


Canberra’s electric supply, as one of the cardinal forces in the development and life of the city, has been prepared for the big demands which the growth of the city entails.

The Eastlake Power Station is well ahead of Canberra’s needs and though an inspection this week by a representative of ‘The Canberra Times’, the public is afforded a glimpse of the working of this public service.

Completed in 1915 at a total cost of 88,196 pounds the power station was the first large building erected in Canberra. The capital cost since then written down to 77,500 pounds.  In building this steel and concrete structure provision was made for the installation of additional plant at such times as the expansion of the city warranted.


The rapid growth of Canberra during the past year has resulted in the station being taxed to capacity, and the installation of a new generating unit was rendered necessary.  During the past six months it has been necessary to do all pumping at the Cotter River pumping station at night, as the day loud had almost taxed the limit of the 1200 kilowatts.  Water is pumped on about five nights each week at present and it will probably be necessary to pump more frequently during the coming summer.

The consumption of electricity supplied by the station increased by nearly a million units during the year ended on June 30.  During the year approximately 4,500,000 units were used, whereas the year ended June 30 1926 the total consumption was 3,525,000 units. A total of 6,000 tons of coal was used during the year just ended, as against 4,500 tons during the  preceding year.

During the year ended June 30 1925 4,448,000 units were generated and 3,500 tons of coal were consumed.  During the year ended June 20, 1924 1,790,000 units were generated and 2,600 tons of coal consumed. The succeeding year 1924-1925 – witnessed an increase in units generated to 2,119,000, 2,300 tons of coal being consumed.


The new generating unit is a turbo alternator made by the British Thomson-Houston Company of Rugby, England and installed by the company’s agents in Australia, the Australian General Electric Co.  With a capacity of 1,500 kilowatts, it more than doubles the capacity of the station.  The new unit has been undergoing a series of tests this week, and each day has supplied the city with electricity from about 7.30am to 5pm.  It is probable that it will be taken over next week if tests prove satisfactory.


The station is a model of efficiency and orderly operation. With a total operating staff of 18 men, steam is maintained in the huge boilers; the pumps, engines, condensers, alternators, transformers an switchboards are tended and controlled; and the hundred and one minor tasks inseparable from duty in a power-station are performed.  The majority of the staff works the day shift from 1 (5?)am to 4pm while and engineer and fireman only are on duty during the afternoon shift from 4pm to mid-night – and during the night shift from 12 midnight to 5am.

The spic and span appearance of the various sections of the building impresses one during an inspection, whilst the engines and dynamos are a glitter with polished brass and copper. In charge of the station is Mr T Trevillian Station Operations Engineer.  Mr Trevillian has been attached to the staff of the station for the past eight years, and has held his present position during the latter half of that period.  Before coming to Canberra Mr Trevillian had wide experience in electrical engineering in Victoria.  He operated the first  Weymouth electric locomotive for underground traction at the Prentice and Southern mine at Rutherglen in about 1904.


It is Mr Trevillian’s boast that the station has never been without a light during his four years of control. During his eight year’s association with the station there has only been one breakdown in the supply of current and that occurred about seven years ago.  This was the only occasion on which the station was at fault. Other temporary failures of current had certainly taken place, but these were traceable to defects in, or damage to transmission lines. Recently current was temporarily cut off at the station when fresh feeders were being connected to the high tension bus bars(?)/


An inspection at Canberra’s power station unfolds a wealth of interesting facts concerning one of our primary services.

Four Balcock and Wilcox boilers, each having 2,427 square feet of heating surface and fitted with super heaters, supply the steam to the engine.  The working pressure of the boilers is 180 (?) lb to the square inches.  Condensation enables the same water to be used continually, while losses resulting from boiler blowdowns and other causes are made up by additions from the city supply.

Evaporation (?) amounts to as high as 27,000lbs per hour equivalent to 2,700 gallons. The exhaust steam from the engines is condensed and then passes through the Paterson eliminator where it is purified of oils and greases assimilated in contact with the cylinders of the triple expansion steam engines.  From the preiner(?) the water flows through a Wright meter which registers the volume of water evaporated per hour.  Thence the water is pumped through to a Babcock and Wilcox feed water heater which raises the temperature of the water from about 80 degrees F to 120 degrees. A Green’s economiser in which the exhaust gases from the furnaces are utilised to further heat the water raises the temperature to 260 degrees.  Thence the water goes directly to the boilers.


The boilers are fuelled by coal elevated from the ground level to overhead bins. The coal is weighed by Avery coal weighing machines before entering the hoppers of the mechanical stokers.  From the hopper the coat passes to a slowly revolving chain grate, which carries the fuel into the furnace and deposits t he ashes at the far end of the furnace.

There is ample space in the boiler room for additional heating units, and provision for expansion was made when the building was erected by the installation of potion of the essential steel works of additional coal bunkers.

The boiler room supply of steam to two Bellis and Morcom triple expansion engines and to the new turbo unit.  The Bellis and Morcom engines are directly coupled to Brush alternators fitted with exciters the current is at 90 volts, and is raised to 5,300 volts in the alternators.  Thence it passes to the switchboard and is distributed by the main feeder lines to the various areas served by the station.


Main feeders run to the Cotter River, the brickworks, Acton, Blandfordia, Duntroon, the workshops, Queanbeyan and Parliament House. The lines are protected by time relays and instantaneous cut-outs which cut off the current of the line damaged. Branches of these feeders supply other parts of the city.


The Cotter line serves the Cotter River pumping station with a branch line to Mt Stromlo. The voltage on this line is stepped up to 11,000 before leaving the station and is lowered to 2,400 at the Cotter. At Stromlo it is stepped down to the ordinary voltage for light and power.

The Acton feeder supplies Acton, Ainslie, Westlake and the Hotel Canberra, Parliament House and the eastern and western blocks of the Commonwealth offices are fed by the Parliament House line, Blandfordia, Red Hill, Manuka, Telopea Park, Hotel Kurrajong and Western Creek sewerage treatment works are connected to the Blandfordia feeder, whilst the Duntroon line feeds the Royal Military college only.  Eastlake, the stores yard, joiners shop and adjacent buildings are connected to the workshops feeder.  The brickworks, Yarralumla, Westridge, the forest nursery and the School of Forestry are linked to the brickworks main.  The Queanbeyan line supplies the Causeway, Canberra railway station, Molonglo, Mugga quarries and Queanbeyan.


Where They Lived May 1928

The Canberra Times 4 May 1928



Figures of the population of each suburb of Canberra were supplied by the Minister for Home Affairs.  He said the total population was 7,400.

The individual totals were Parkes 40, Barton 435, Deakin 60, Yarralumla 225, Acton 989, Ainslie 770, Braddon 885, Reid 192, Duntroon 730, Fyshwick 1650, F Griffith 500, Kingston 700, City 50, Mugga 79 and Capitol Hill 35.

[I presume this may include the camps and temporary settlements but appears to have left out Oaks Estate.  Yarralumla may include Westlake?  Griffith would include Manuka and Kingston would include Causeway.  Russell Hill appears to have been left out and Capitol Hill would be Capitol Hill Camp?  Fyshwick was Pialligo and is also mixed with Molonglo.]


Representative Movement 1928-1929





The year 1929 saw stilted measure of representation in local affairs thwarted in the Federal Capital Commission. In the process, the Commission itself fell, but Canberra people were eventually left further than ever from parliamentary or local representation.

In the later afternoon of an otherwise beautiful spring day in September 1928 the Minister for Home and Territories (Sir Neville Howse) moved the second reading of the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill, the first purpose of which he said, was to fulfil a promise made by the Prime Minister that action would be taken to insure to the residents of the Territory representation by an elected representative on the body administering the Territory.’

The bill provided for the Federal Capital Commission to consist of a chief commissioner, second commissioner and a third commissioner.  The first two were to be appointed by the Governor-General and the third to  be elected but the right to vote was to be confined to rate-paying lessees of the Territory.  The chief and second commissioner’s terms were to be five years each and that of the third commissioner, three years. Officers and employees of the Commission were precluded from nomination as third commissioners, also person peculiarly interested in any agreement with the Commission except as share holders of a company. Officers of the Department of Home and Territories were also barred.  The third commissioner was to be entitled to attend and vote at meetings of the Commission, but not otherwise to take part in any of the executive or administrative work of the Commission.

The bill aroused an immediate storm of opposition.  The Citizens’ League took strong opposition to the proposal on the grounds that the powers of the third commissioner were too restricted, the restriction of the franchise was diametrically opposed to the spirit of the petitions for representation and the remuneration of the third commissioner (250 pounds compared to 3,000 pounds for the chief commissioner and 2,000 pounds for the second commissioner) was inadequate.  It decided to press for a widening of the franchise.

When the debate was resumed a week later, the Bill was opposed from both sides of the House.  The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Arthur Blakeley) declared that the Bill was a hollow pretence and that the Federal Capital Commission should be abolished.

Through the forenoon and the afternoon, criticism came from members irrespective of party and shortly after 5 o’clock the Minister announced that the Government had reconsidered the Bill. The terms of the second and third commissioners would be limited to 12 months so that the term of all three commissioners would expire on November 2, 1929. Parliament would then review the question of representation and review the future control of the Territory.

Early in 1929 the first election for third commissioner was held. Meanwhile in December 1928 Mr CLA Abbott had replaced Sir Neville Howse as Minister. The four candidates for the third commissioner included in their policy statements the principle of representation in Parliament for residents of the Territory. The restricted franchise resulted in the roll being reduced from 4,698 in 1928 to 1,069.  Dr Frederick Watson was returned and assumed office on February 11.

The first meeting of the Commission was held in camera and a motion by submitted by the Chief Commissioner  (Sir John Butters), ‘that in view of the necessity for t he exercise of powers and functions of the Commission from day to day notwithstanding the fact that Commission meetings could be arranged only at intervals, the powers necessary to carry on the functions of the Commission under the Act delegated to the Chief Commissioner,’  This was agreed to, Sir John Butters giving an assurance that the words, ‘carry on’ did not imply any independent action on his part.

This delegation was thereafter used by the Chief Commissioner to refuse Dr Watson access to officers or files of the Commission except with his permission and to deprive the Third Commissioner of any purpose or use.


Following his announced policy intention, Dr Watson proposed that a Bill should be introduced in Parliament for the abolition of the Commission and its replacement by a legislative council of seven members two to be nominated by the Governor-General as executive officers, tow to be elected by Parliament to represent  the taxpayers of Australia and three to be elected by the residents of the Territory.

After a month in office in which it became abundantly clear that the other two commissioners were bent on thwarting the elected member, Dr Watson resigned.

A new election was ordered at which Dr Watson was defeated by three votes, but the successful candidate, Dr RM Alcorn was irreconciliable opponent of the Commission and owed his election to the fact that he was the most radical of the candidates.

The obstruction of the intention of the representation on the Commission continued, and as month succeeded month, public  discussion in Canberra centred on what would happen not if, but when, the Commission was abolished.

Meanwhile, the Citizens’ league continued the agitation for representation in Parliament but it was left to a mere handful of public spirited men to carry on the fight.

An electoral landslide in October resulted in the return of the Scullin Government and the appointment of Mr Arthur Blakeley as Minister for Home Affairs.

On November 24 Dr Alcorn called a public meeting to consult public opinion. The fact that Hotel Canberra was chosen as the venue indicated the recognition that public interest had waned very considerably.  The meeting decided that as the Third Commissioner was the only link that citizens had with the local governing body and in order that the Government should not hastily frame a measure of self-government for the Territory, Dr Alcorn should withdraw his resignation.

The meeting was notable, however, for a resolution moved by Mr JS Crapp, now president of the Citizens’ League, and carried unanimously:

‘That this meeting emphatically declares that no form of government will be acceptable to the citizens of the Federal Capital Territory unless:

a.        In the House of Representatives with full voting power and

b.       On the local governing body will full and effective voting powers on all matters affecting citizens and tax payers.


On the following night a meeting of the Citizens’ League discussed representation and endorses the proposal of Dr Watson for legislative council.

Dr Watson expressed the view that it would be unwise to press for parliamentary representation at present, but favoured concentration on local government.

Mr JE Edwards who opposed the legislative council favoured an advisory council.

The meeting decided to bring before the Minister the necessity for representation in Parliament for residents of the Territory.

Dr Alcorn faced the position by exercising his power under the Act to appoint Mr CW Davies to act in his place.

Meanwhile the personnel of the Commission had changed by the retirement of Sir John Butters and Mr E(or H) Crosbie Gould, chief and second commissioners whose terms expired, and Messrs AJ Christie and JS Murdoch respectively were appointed in their places for six months.

These retirements were the occasion of further suggestions regarding the future control of Canberra.  Sir John Buttes favoured a commission to control the general administration and the construction of Commonwealth buildings and works, the creation of a committee in charge of essential control of city design and development and a municipal council to carry on local government.

Mr Gould favoured a body with full control of the Territory and removed from political control, comprising of five members, the chairman and two members elected by residents. The members would be charged with not watching local interests only but with assisting in the establishment and government of the Federal Capital.

As an alternative he favoured the appointment of a city manager, as chairman of the local governing body, two members of which would be elected by Parliament and two by the citizens.

The year ended with a New Year message by the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Blakeley) in which he referred to the difficulties that Canberra residents faced.

‘It (the Government)’ he said, ‘has done its best to minimise the physical difficulties but realises that many of the problems are psychological in character. This was only to be expected but it is good to see that the proper community spirit is now being firmly established and that the residents are much more contented...

We intend to make Canberra a capital worthy of a great nation. The residents, however, must play their part. They are not to regard themselves as merely automatons in the hands of a benevolent Government – they must develop an inculcate proper civic pride. Anything that the Government can do to assist in this direction will be done, but we would like to see the residents now settled here, as did the citizens of ancient Rome, regard their citizenship as their proudest boast.’

But, nearly 15 years later, Canberra is largely a city of these very ‘automatons’ and those who are not ‘automatons’ have had to play their part unendowed with rights possessed by citizens of other cities and town in Australia.


Dr Watson Third Commissioner

In January 1925 the Federal Capital Commission headed by John Butters (later Sir John Butters) from the Federal Capital Advisory Committee (FCAC).  In particular, the FCC, angered many of the locals because of the autocratic manner in which it governed the territory.  The election of the Third Commissioner was a means of trying to give the people of the territory some rights and say in what happened in the territory.  Dr Frederick Watson was elected Third Commissioner.

The Canberra Times 4 February 1929


Dr James Frederick Watson of Gungahleen, was declared the elected candidate in the election of the Third Commissioner soon after ten o’clock on Saturday night by the Returning Officer (Mr JD Farrar).

Electors of the Territory polled well and 87.5 per cent of the electors recorded votes, while less than one per cent was informal.

The result was achieved after distribution of the preference votes of Col Goodwin and Mr JS Crapp, the final count being:

Dr JF Watson 507

Dr RM Alcorn 444

Majority for Watson – 63

The election was quiet and without incident and the stream of voters to the polling booths was steady throughout the day, although poll clerks, naturally experienced a quiet time in view of the fact that there was only a possible of 1,098 voters to visit the 13 booths. [This election disenfranchised all who lived in camps and Russell Hill settlement. Only those who owned or rented cottages above a certain rental could vote and then only one per household.]

The feature of the election was the handling of the count by the Returning Officer (Mr JD Farrar) assisted by the Registrar (Mr Jeffreys) and the staff of the electoral office.

Punctually at 8pm the postal votes numbering only 19 were tabled and counted. The first ballot box arrived from Acton at 8.13pm and contained 56 ballot papers which were soon disposed of. Five minutes later the Westridge Box was received and soon afterwards the Ainslie, Westlake, Kingston, Manuka and Hall boxes were to hand.  The collection of the ballet boxes near to the city was in the hands of the police, under the direction of Sergeant Cook.  The outlying centres were visited for the purpose by members of the staff of the Department of Home Affairs.

From the commencement of the count it was evident that a close contests might ensue and the early returns gave the lead first to Lt Col Goodwin and then Dr Watson.

Prior to counting of the Kingston return the totals were Watson 134, Alcorn 120, Crapp 88 and Goodwin 73.

The poll at Kingston was heavily in favour of Crapp and Alcorn and the progress count was the:

Alcorn 223, Watson 222, Crapp 189 and Goodwin 123.  At this stage Mr Farrar judges that with only a limited number of votes to come the first to be eliminated would be Goodwin. He thereupon commenced couting of the second preferences on Goodwin’s ballot papers in readiness for a later stage. The final count of first preference votes resulted as follows:-

Dr Alcorn               324

Dr Watson             268

JS Crapp                 195

Lt Col Goodwin     181

Informal                 9

Total                       960

The second preferences of Lt Col Goodwin were then counted and resulted:

Watson 75, Crapp 60, Alcorn 29 and the count then stood as follows:

Dr Alcorn               253

Dr Watson             343

JS Crapp                 255

The distribution of Crapp’s preferences gave Watson 184 and Alcorn 444

Majority for Watson 63.

The whole of the count had proceeded so quickly that the final result was known soon after ten o’clock.  Mr Farrar then announced the result of the poll from the steps of the Electoral Office and declared Dr Watson elected.

In the absence of Dr Watson who arrived later, Dr Alcorn the next highest candidate moved a vote of thanks to the Returning Officer (Mr JD Farrar). He complimented the electoral officers for the courteous and efficient manner in which they had carried out their work.

‘This election only seems a small thing in comparison with other election,’ he continued, ‘but it is a big thing for Canberra. It is the first concrete step towards representation for this community.’

Mr JS Crapp in seconding the motion which was carried with acclamation, said that the counting of the votes had been carried out in a clean and straightforward manner just as the campaign was fought.

Dr Watson returned thanks to the electors after being informed by the Returning Officer of the result of the poll.

‘I have only enunciated a few of the problems of Canberra in my policy speeches,’ he said, ‘and, I want to say now that if any man in this Territory has a grievance let him bring his grievance to me, and if it is a sound grievance I will make it my own and endeavour t o right it.  I think that we have a fair chance to make this a delightful place to live in, and this election is one of the first steps towards a glorious future for this capital city.’

‘I would like to thank my opponents for the good and fair fight in the election and I am sure that nobody could have wished for better.’







Dr Watson last night handed his resignation of the office of Third Commissioner to the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr CLA Abbott)

The resignation was handed to the Minister in the King’s Hall, Parliament House at 9.40pm.

Dr Watson declined to give any reason for his action but has promised to make a full statement to-day.

The letter of resignation read as follows:-

The Hon CLA Abbott

Minister for Home Affairs

Dear Sir,

                Will you kindly inform His Excellency, the Governor –General of my resignation of the office of Third Commissioner.

                                FREDERICK WATSON


The resignation came as a bombshell and is not unlikely to have profound effects. From one standpoint, however it is not unexpected, with very few exceptions the present proposal for representation introduced by Sir Neville Howse in Parliament in September was roundly condemned. The course of events since has only proved the soundness of this criticism.


1930 end of Commission

The Canberra Times 13 March 1930





Disappointment was general among Canberra residents who listened from the gallery in the House of Representatives yesterday to the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Blakeley) in introducing the bill for the abolition of the Commission.

The term for which the new advisory council is to be elected is only twelve months and both the speech and the bill fail to give any indication that the residents will be any better off ultimately than under Commission rule.

It is regarded as inevitable that under the new scheme Parliament will be worried more than ever by local troubles.

The Minister announced that the present functions of the Commission will be divided as follows:-


Protection of public health.

Sanitation – omitting night soil and garbage removal

Medical inspection of school children.

Control of preparation and sail of drugs and food including abattoirs, dairy supervision, milk supply, sale of meat.


Control of stock diseases

Orchards, fruit and plant pests



Construction and maintenance of all engineering works including roads, footpaths, bridges, culverts, levees, sewers and treatment works, water courses, drains, water supply, dams, reservoirs, electric power stations, mains and services, mechanical works etc

Construction and maintenance of all buildings and residences other than those constructed privately.

Provision of electricity and water.

Acquisition and disposal(?) of all ...(?) suitable(?) buildings excluding hotels, private buildings and residences.

Control and management of factories and workshops, brick works, quarries, cement products etc.

Plant required for construction of all works.

 Purchase and supply of materials and stores.

Supply of furniture and fittings for all Commonwealth requirements.

Surveys, maps and plans.



Registration of ...(?)

Preparation of ordinances, by-laws, regulations etc for the government of the Territory.



Development of the city according to the Griffin plan.

Special local government activities.

Social Service.

Preparation of balance sheets.

Collection and accounting for all amounts due for rents, rates, electricity, water, garbage etc.

Approval of designs etc of all buildings erected in the Territory.


Fire Brigade etc.

Land valuation.

Control and maintenance of Crown lands.

Levying and collection of rates.


Destruction of vermin and noxious weeds.

Disposal of residences including, sale, letting and inspections.

Advances for buildings to lessees.

Credit Fonclee(?)

General municipal government.


Hostels and boarding houses.

Bus and Transport other than for works, tractors and cars for work inspectors.

Collection of charges for electricity, water and sewerage.

Markets, weighbridges, pounds.

Sanitation, garbage removal.

Industrial matters including tribunals.

Cemeteries and burials

Parks and gardens, recreation grounds.

Administration and accounting for above.


This allocation of responsibilities was made at a conference of permanent heads and Commission and the Departments are ready to function in their new capacity as soon as this law is passed.  An Advisory Council will be created consisting of the Civic Administrator, as president, the secretaries of the Home Affairs and Works Departments, the Director-General of Health and three residents of the Territory elected for a period of twelve months under the ordinary adult franchise system.


It is proposed to pay each of the elected members of the Council and honorarium at the rate of 100 pounds per annum.


The functions of the Council are to advise the Minister in relation to any matter affecting the Territory including advise as to the making of new ordinances or the repeal of amendment of existing ordinances.


The Minister informed Parliament that this change will be affected by ordinance. The reason for not including the terms of the ordinance in the bill is purely for convenience.


In moving the second reading of the bill the Minister said that it was introduced in accordance with the expressed policy of the Government to alter the present system of administering the Federal Capital Territory and to provide for more direct Ministerial and Departmental control.


He said that since the decision to establish the Capital City in Canberra was first made there had been many and varied forms of control. This was in part due to changes in the administrating departments and in part to the unique character of the project upon which the Commonwealth had embarked.  For the first time in history, a capital city was to be created not by the normal process of economic development, but by the order of the Government and Parliament. It was to be expected that in the process unforseen difficulties would be encountered and rapid re-adjustments entailed.  As a result the administration of the Territory presents a picture of many administrations each of which served its particular purpose and then gave way to something better calculated to advance the progress of the city to a further stage.


Reviewing past forms of administration the Minister said that the greatest setback for the establishment of Canberra had been the war, which cause a drain upon all the resources of the Commonwealth and brought the Capital City for many years to a standstill.


In 1921 it was decided that construction should be speeded up and Parliament and the Departments transferred as soon as possible.  A criticism of the existing system was that officers in charge of construction in Canberra were responsible to Ministers in Melbourne.   The Government of the day thereupon introduced a bill providing for the appointment of the Commission with very wide powers and with instructions to proceed with construction as quickly as possible.  The appointment of the Commission was opposed as being unnecessary and expensive and an abrogation of Ministerial and Parliamentary responsibilities.


‘With the transfer of Parliament,’  the Minister said, ‘the purely constructional stage of Canberra gave way in importance to the occupational stage. From then on, the capacity of the Commission to control the civic affairs of Canberra was put to its critical test.  It was then that the fears originally expressed by the Labour Party began to take shape. The Commission, originally selected because of engineering, construction and town planning qualifications found itself faced with the task of administrating in a civic capacity, the affairs of a modern city.  Their task was rendered even more difficult by the fact that the land was to be rented under the leasehold system and the outside financial (? Or Industrial?) and business agencies, were therefore not disposed to co-operate in any considerable way.  There was too, a very human factor associated with the transfer of thousands of citizens to a place far from their old associations and under conditions which they had not then become accustomed. It was inevitable that there would be a certain amount of discontent and it is not to be wondered why the Commission was soon involved in bitter disputes and hostile criticism inside and outside Parliament.


‘I have nothing to say about the capacity of the men who then comprised the Commission,’ said Mr Blakeley. ‘In their particular and specialised spheres, they did some excellent work and it may be that the sociological problems which so suddenly confronted them were beyond them.  I do say, however, that the Commission form of control under the powers conferred irrespective of the individuals who might comprise it, was doomed to failure.  It was blamed sometimes unjustly no doubt for all the disabilities under which the citizens labourered, and despite its every effort, daily lost the confidence of the residents.


Realising the position the Government of the day amended the Act in order to provide for local representation by means of election.  This step, however, proved to be merely another patch upon a city of many vicissitudes.  Two such representatives have been appointed, one of them resigned before  his term expired whilst the other tendered his resignation but withdrew it pending the disclosure of this Government’s intentions with regard to a new form of control. [The first man was Dr Nott and the second, Dr Alcorn – elected as third commissioners.]


The relationship between the citizens and the Commission can, perhaps best be illustrated by a survey of the Commission meetings since public representation was introduced.  Broadly speaking it has been a succession of acrimonious disputes between the representatives of the Commission and the people’s representative, followed usually by a protest from the latter as to his ineptitude in the circumstances.


‘It may be taken as certain that if the

 present form of control were continued discontent would undoubtedly grow and the whole system collapse.


This was recognised by the previous Government. Before the close of the last Parliament, the later Government recognised the failure of the Commission form of control.  This coupled with the drastic curtailment of the constructional programme and the almost complete cessation of building activities in Canberra compelled the Government to refuse to sanction the continuance of the Commission for a period longer than twelve months.


‘I say unhesitatingly that the Commission form of government has failed on many counts,’ said the Minister. ‘It was wrongly conceived and because of its extraordinary powers it tended to usurp the functions of the Parliament and the Government. It failed to understand the temperaments and aspirations of the citizens, who, disenfranchised by circumstances, felt themselves unsympathetically treated and powerless to protest.’


Mr Blakeley refuted the suggestion that the Commission form of control had succeeded at Washington.


He quoted a report by Sir John Sulman, who pointed out that the difficulties at Washington would have become acute ...(?) now but for the fear of the negro vote and its manipulation by unscrupulous wire-pullers.


Mr Blakeley said that the Government expects to save at least 80,000 pounds of the present year’s vote for Canberra.


On administration alone, savings at the rate of 30,000 pounds per annum have been effected and these will be of a permanent character.


Mr Blakeley said that the Government would welcome the time when Canberra in its municipal services was self-supporting and would in that case hand over complete control to a body elected by the citizens.  That day is not yet.


‘We have gone as close to direct control as the circumstances permit.’ He said. ‘The Council will be the only body dealing generally with all the activities of Canberra, and there will be no higher tribunal sitting on top of the Council rendering all its deliberations and recommendations abortive. Every important subject at present dealt with by the Commission will come before the Council.


The elected representatives will sit alongside the heads of the various Departments controlling whatever subject is before the Council. First-hand information will be always available and the necessity for frequent deputations appealing against the abuse of what was regarded as an autocratic body should disappear.


The heads of the Departments will, of course, be in direct contact with their Ministers and also the representatives of the people. A better understanding of the problems to be solved and a greater sympathy in regard to them must ensue.


In Parliament the responsibility of the Commission as it now exists, while it will still be mainly the responsibility of the Minister for Home Affairs, will be shared jointly by no less than three Ministers.


The past has been full of disappointments and bitter recriminations,’ said the Minister, in conclusion. ‘We have had various forms of control and many controlling authorities. Mistakes have naturally been made, and experiments initiated with great hopes have sometimes ignominiously failed.  We should take to heart the lessons we have learned during the many vicissitudes of the promising city, and then relegate the troubles to the past, to the limbo of forgotten things.’




Manuka 1927

Above is a photograph taken in 1926 showing cottages erected in Ducane and Franklin Streets Manuka in  1923.   


Manuka when I was young 1940s - 1950s was not the main shopping centre on the south side of the river. The main shopping centre in Canberra was at Kingston and secondly - Queanbeyan and during the war we often went to Hall where some things not available in other parts of Canberra, were.  The Capitol Theatre was the theatre that we, at Westlake, used and Wilkie's Pies along with Gumley's milk bar were important draw cards in their day.  Just across the road was St Christopher's School which was co-educational and went up to 3rd Year High School - Intermediate. The good nuns - also taught music and singing.   No far away was Telopea Park and Canberra's one swimming pool - just known as The Swimming Pool - now Manuka Pool.


The Canberra Times 17 June 1927




The last few weeks have brought rapid changes round Manuka Centre, and building operations, though in their initial stages in some directions point to a healthy future for Canberra’s second centre on the Southern side of the city.

Considerable activity is now in evidence in the residential area immediately surrounding Manuka while the shopping block itself is taking a more definite shape.

By the Spring a new complexion will be put on Manuka’s position, but it will not be until the Capitol Theatre is opened that Manuka will become an important centre under present conditions.

Although the whole of the 23 leases sold for retail trading purposes of Manuka centre in 1924 are to be completely developed by December 12 next, on several leases building has not progressed beyond foundations.  Nevertheless sufficient buildings have been completed to enable Manuka to be recognised as the location of several businesses.  The first was that of Mr JW Keegan on lease No 14 followed by the establishment of Misses Edwards and Nolan on lease No 7.  Meanwhile a lock-up shop had been erected on lease No2.  To-day, however buildings have been completed on leases No 2,4,5,7,8,11 and 14.  The buildings on these leases provide an aggregate of eleven shops and the residences.

Buildings on several other leases are on the point of completion. A shop and residence has been completed on lease No 19 for Mr JG Harris of Queanbeyan and on lease no 16 a shop and residence has been built for Mr JH McInnes.  Construction is well advanced of a shop on lease No 12 for Mr CE Francis of a shop and residence on lease No 20 and of a similar structure on lease No 15. The largest building in the arcade on lease No 17 which has reached first floor level and the directors of Canberra shops ...(can’t read)the owner of the property expect completion by December. Active development has yet to be proceeded with of lease Nos 1,3,6,9, 10, 13, 18, 21, 22 and 23.

A number of these leases are held by Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd which proposes to devote considerable attention to the development of Manuka, externally as well as internally.  The completed programme at Manuka entails 42 shops and 20 offices, the latter being accommodated on the second storey of the arcade buildings.  The problem of Manuka to-day is how these premises are to be occupied profitably by about 50 businesses. It is to be surroundings that Manuka must look.

Up until quite recently the only residences close to Manuka were the first Blandfordia cottages [16 erected in 1923 in Ducane and Franklin Streets] which belong to the Federal Capital Commission, and which number about a dozen.  Plans for residential development of Blandfordia in the immediate vicinity of Manuka have not proceeded according the schedule. One of the outstanding features of this has been the production of a large contract from 100 to 25 cottages. Originally the contract signed by the Molonglo Constructions Ltd for cottage construction was for 100 residences which were to be completed in May.  The contract has been varied by reduction of this number of house to 50 and later to 25. None, so far, has been completed and taken over by the Federal Capital Commission. [These were the concrete houses built by the Monolyte Co – some are in Hann Street in Griffith – the story of these cottages and photographs is in Hidden Canberra [http://hiddencanberra.webs.com/Red%20Hill,%20Westlake%20Camps%20%5BBaum%5D.pdf or go to home section of this web and click to go to Early Canberra – scroll down to Red Hill Camps – Baum]

Meanwhile certain internal troubles of the contractor have affected the position but arrangements have been made for the completion of the contract.

During the past few weeks material progress has been made with another contract between the Federal Capital Commission and WH Mason for the erection of 40 cottages in Blandfordia near Manuka. [Blandfordia was later renamed – Forrest.] These are being pushed on with vigorously and rapidly the isolated appearance of Manuka is fading. Another place of residential development is, of course, that of private enterprise. Already a number of private residences have been commenced on behalf of private owners at Blandfordia in the vicinity of Manuka and a target programme is forshadowed.

The future of the recent sale of residential leases at South Blandfordia was the operations of the Canberra Building and Investment Co Ltd which secured a lease of residential blocks on which cottage construction is to be commenced. The effect of this will be to a...(?) to push Manuka about externally and supplement the actual shopping development which the company has in hand.\

Behind the immediate settlement round Manuka is the main portion of Blandfordia, Red Hill, which will be important factors. There is to the south some excellent residential land in Manuka Heights, which will prove an attractive sub-division when made available to the public, but no more in this direction is yet in sight.

There is, beyond serving its residential suburbs another distinct future for Manuka as a business centre. Opposite the shopping block, the Capitol Theatre is looming big. This edifice is in an advanced state and the roof trusses are now being added. Completion is expected before the end of the year, and, on the opening of the building, Manuka will immediately become the amusement centre of Canberra.  This, of course, may not be for long as another lease for similar purposes may be made available near Civic Centre after the Manuka Theatre is established.

Manuka Circle has not been counted on as a very important asset to date, but this will be an enclosed sports ground next year, and should attract sportsmen to Manuka.

In considering the future of Manuka also, it is well to bear in mind that the design of Mr Walter Burley Griffin visualised it as the chief commercial centre on the southern side of the city, and though it has not the appearance of this to-day, its geographical situation is quite in keeping with this and the development at present contemplated appears to confirm Manuka’s position.


Consideration to replace 1917 train track

There are a number of photographs that I have seen of the train track from Causeway across the river to the north side without the pylons swept away in the 1922 flood swinging in the breeze.  Remains of one of the pylons is still in situ on the north side of the lake.  One of the cuttings was in front of the War Memorial to the east and the old platform was still in situ near the Civic Theatre.  This article that follows refers to the early date of the establishment of the line - 1917 - built during the period when Walter Burley Griffin had some say in the plans.

The Canberra Times 27 September 1927




A new railway route has been surveyed north of the Molonglo River, which is proposed by the Federal Capital Commission to replace the existing city railway in the Griffin plan of Canberra.

Railway projects of Canberra were discussed at a conference held at the weekend between the Minister for Home and Territories, Mr Marr and Sir John Butters, Chief Commissioner.

If the new line is approved it will serve not only to connect the Northern suburbs of Canberra with the railway, but may act as the first portion of the Yass-Canberra line.

With the realisation that Canberra is not accessible readily by rail to Melbourne and other State capitals, construction of the Yass-Canberra line is likely to be referred again to the Public Works Committee for report.

In `1917 there was a branch running daily across the Molonglo River to a railway siding which is still extinct near Civic Centre [it was near the old Civic Theatre and the block that was later Rogers was built on the site – I remember the remains of the platform].  In 1922 a flood swept away the railway bridge across the Molonglo River and damaged the approaches. [It began near Causeway.]  Subsequent flood and fire completed the work of destruction leaving a twisted and somewhat disjointed line of sleepers across the Causeway flat and on the flats of the northern side of the river.

The line which was swept away was a temporary railway built during the regime of Mr Walter Burley Griffin in Canberra. It does not follow exactly  the route laid down in his plan of the city, but was not far removed from it. Since the advent of the Federal Capital Commission, the construction of the ...developed in the future as the Market Centre, where on the Griffin plan, the central railway station is located. From this point it strikes towards the foothill slopes of Mount Ainslie and through the locality which was sub-divided about twelve months ago for home garden blocks, but none of which was leased. It was notable that these leases which were for twenty years contained a proviso regarding resumption for railway or road purposes.

It is claimed for the new line that it will obviate the crossings which would be necessary in the construction of the Griffin line. The deviation of the railway from the plan on which a large number of leases has been sold, will, however, probably give rise to protest on the part of business interests in Canberra.

The railway project was discussed by Mr Marr and Sir John Butters, on Saturday, and Sir John said that estimates of the cost of a railway to extend the present line from Eastlake across the Molonglo River to the Northern Suburbs were being prepared.

Railway laid down by the Griffin plan has not been favoured and a new route follows the old line from Eastlake to the old bridge, but at a distance of about 50 feet to the east. After crossing the Molonglo River, the line proceeds to the region which is to be determined.


New First Commissoner

Lyall Gillespie's Card - Butters replaced by AJ Christie as First Commissioner.


Report of the Chief Commissioner Mr AJ Christie opening Canberra’s first saleyards yesterday. Queanbeyan Age 28.2.1930


Mr AJ Christie the retiring Canberra Civic Administrator expresses great faith in the future of Canberra, believing eventually it would become the ideal city intended by the pioneers. Queanbeyan age 1.8.1930


Two new appointments are to be made under the Seat of Government Administration Act.  Messrs AJ Christie and JS Murdoch are to be appointed Chief Commissioner and Second Commissioner respectively for a period of twelve months.  Canberra Times 7.9.1929


Sir John Butters realised that reduced expenditure would not justify the continuance of his high salary and did not propose to seek an extension of his appointment.  The second Commissioner (Mr Gould) whose services were generously made available to the Government by the Council of Malvern for a period of twelve months was desirous of returning to his permanent position.  It was accordingly proposed to appoint Mr AJ Christie the Director of Posts and Telegraphs of Brisbane and now Chief Accountant of the PMG’s Department as Chief Commissioner, and Mr JS Murdoch Director-General of Works and Chief Architect for the Commonwealth as second Commissioner. It was proposed that Mr Christie should be paid a salary of 1,500 pounds and Mr Murdoch 1,400 pounds per annum. Canberra times 9.9.1929


The Chief Commissioner of the Federal Capital Commission, Mr AJ Christie has been appointed the first Civic Administrator. Canberra Times 10.4.1930.



1929 Anzac Day Commemorative Stone

The Canberra Times 23 April 1929




Anzac Day will be celebrated in Canberra with solemnity and dignity appropriate of this solemn day of memory.

It will be a day more significant than its predecessors as the Governor-General, Lord Stonehaven, will unveil a commemorative stone, which will be virtually the foundation stone of the Australian War Memorial.

The ceremony will begin at 10.45 when the Guard of Honour from the Royal Military College will take up its allotted position.

At 10.50, two detachments of returned soldiers with four of their number in the uniform of the AIF and armed, and led by the Canberra City Band, playing one of the marches of the AIF in France, will enter the official enclosure, a detachment deploying to either side of the entrance while the four in uniform will halt opposite the Commemorative Stone. The Guard of Honour and others on parade with then come to ‘Attention’ while the four returned soldiers in uniform will ‘slow march’ to the stone, and, as sentries, take up positions at the four corners. Following the fantasia, ‘In Memoriam’ by the Canberra City Band, the Governor General will arrive at 11.5, and be received with a royal salute.  He will then inspect the Guard of Honour and returned soldiers while the Royal Military College Band played, ‘Duke of York’.  At the conclusion of the inspection, His Excellency will take up a position on the dais.

The devotional portion of the ceremony will be opened by those present joining in the hymn, ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past,’ followed by a reading from the Scriptures by the Chaplain-General (Methodist, Rev AT Holden) a prayer in commemoration of the fallen by the deputy of the Chaplain-General (Presbyterian Rev D Macrae Stewart), and the Lord’s Prayer to be repeated by all. The Prime Minister, the RT Hon SM Bruce will then invite His Excellency to unveil the Commemorative Stone. Previous to doing so, Lord Stonehaven will address the gathering. Immediately after the unveiling, a bugler will sound ‘Stand Fast,’ then ‘Last Post’ followed by one minute’s silence which will be ended by the sounding of ‘Reveille.’

After wreaths had been placed on the Stone by His Excellency as Commander-in-Chief and the Federal President of the RSSILA (Mr GJC Dyett), and the Deputy for the Chaplain-General (Anglican) Rt Rev PCT Crick, Bishop of Ballarat, will ask the blessing.

The concluding phases of the function, after the singing of the National Anthem, will be the departure of the Governor-General and the march off of the Guard of Honour and others on parade, headed by bands. The ceremony will be followed by an inspection of the Commemorative Stone by the public, during which those wishing to deposit wreaths may do so.

To ensure that everybody in the large gathering, which will be representative of the whole of the Commonwealth, will be able to hear all that is said during the ceremony amplifiers will be installed at various points.

Arrangements have been made by the Australian War Memorial authorities with the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Broadcasting Companies for the broadcasting by the ‘A’ Class stations of the ceremony. A battery of microphones installed at the principal vantage points on the War Memorial site, will be connected by special lines with interstate trunk lines. An expert announcer will be sent to Canberra to give a running progressive description of the ceremony, thus enabling listener-in throughout the Commonwealth to visualise what is happening.


The Imperial War Graves Commission set the precedent of not permitting the name of any living person to be inscribed on the Memorial erected in honour of the sailors and soldiers who fell in the Great War.

The Australian War Memorial authorities have decided to follow this precedent.  On the commemorative stone to be unveiled by the Governor-General there will not be inscribed any names.  The only inscription will be the dates of the inception, inauguration and completion of the memorial.

The only names appearing on the walls of the memorial will be the names of those of whom it can be said – as spoken by Pericles in the funeral oration in honour of Athenians who fell in the Siege of Samos more than 2000 years ago:-

‘They gave their lives. For that public gift they received the praise which never ages and a tomb most glorious – not as much the tomb in which they lied, but that in which their fame survives, to be remembered for ever when occasion comes for word or deed.’

The ceremony will mark the first step in the final stages of the movement for the erection of a majestic memorial which was conceived while the AIF were heavily engaged at Bullecourt early in 1917.

Actually the Australian War Memorial consists by Act of parliament passed in 1925 of the collection of war relics of the Commonwealth, popularly known as the Australian War Museum and the building in which it is to be permanently housed. In addition to a Hall of Memory and an Honour Roll containing the name of every Australian who died though the Great War.

The gathering of these records and relics which include practically the whole of the documentary records of the Australian forces, together with pictures, photographs, models, and materials of every description used in the Great War, began on the actual front in 1917 and when the decision of the Commonwealth Government that they should form Australia’s War Memorial was communicated to the troops the building up of the collection in honour of their dead comrades was entered into with the vicissitudes of battle from then on until the Armistice was signed.

Since then the Governments of Great Britain, the sister Dominions and the allied nations have made valuable contributions to this unique memorial. Many members of the AIF and wives, parents and others, bereaved through the war have also as a tribute to the dead, presented records and relics precious to them and to the Australian people. The records now include not only a complete war history of every man who served with the Australian forces, showing his period of service, wounds, rank, promotions and decorations. The whole thus forms not a general museum portraying – much less glorifying – war, but a memorial conceived, founded and from first to last, worked for by Australian sailors and soldiers themselves in honour of their fallen comrades. The collection has already in part been exhibited to the public, first at the Exhibition Building in Melbourne, where in the course of two years it was inspected by 800,000 people and afterwards in Sydney where the attendances to date total one and half million.


The Canberra Times 26 April 1929



Throughout Australia, yesterday, celebrations of Anzac Day were carried out on a scale and in a spirit which portrayed clearly an increasing regard on the part of the people of the Commonwealth for the sanctity of April 25.

While the great number of participants and the attendant large assemblage distinguished the gatherings in the State capitals, the keystone of the observance of the day, was undoubtedly, the impressive and significant ceremony which was carried through in Canberra on the commanding site of the Australian War Memorial.

The ceremony represented the inauguration of the form of a permanent building for the Australian War Memorial, a project which has been steadily advanced during the last 12 years.

Though a keen wind blew at times boisterously, bright sunshine prevailed for the greater period of the inaugural ceremony on the War Memorial site. The ceremony had only been eclipsed in Canberra by the scenes of the opening of Parliament on 9 May 1927.  The function was the only official celebration in Canberra and long before it was timed to commence a large number of residents and visitors to the city had taken up positions to witness the event.

The site, placed under the dominance of Mt Ainslie on the main axis of the city, itself dominates the capital and looks far out into the distant hills rolling away to the south and mottled with sun and shade passing and changing quickly at the behest of the wind.

The ceremony commenced at 10.40 am and was attended by a large number of guests of the Commonwealth Government including Con...-Generals of the Allied and other nations, high officials of the State branches of the RS League and over 1000(?) of the public.

Long before the ceremony was scheduled to commence the first car load of people arrived and a steady stream of motor and pedestrian traffic followed until the enclosure was completely surrounded. In the centre of the enclosure rested the Commemorative Stone covered with a Commonwealth flat.

The most appealing of the period celebration was when four returned soldiers with war uniform complete to steel helmet, were posted as sentries at the four corners of the stone. At the conclusion of the ceremony the sentries withdrew standing at each corner of the stone through the ceremony they were compelling reminiscent of war days and the Anzac’s fame.

Punctually at 10.40 am the Boy Scouts under Scout commissioner RM Alcorn took up position on the right of the dais for the guests of the Government while the Girl Guides and Junior Red Cross were aligned on the left. The Royal Military Cadets guard of honour and Royal Australian naval Cadet-Midshipmen marched to the opposite side of the square and returned soldiers in ...(?) and wearing medals formed on the remaining sides, the sentries taking up their post at the stone.

At 11.5 the Governor-General arrived and was tendered a royal salute by the guard of honour. An inspection of the guard of honour, the cadets, returned soldiers, Scouts, Girl Guides and Red Cross followed.

The choir of the Canberra Musical Society led the singing and the hymn, ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past,’ and was accompanied by the Canberra City band. Psalm 24 was read by the Chaplain General of the Methodist Denomination, the Reverend AT Holden CBE, BA, VD and the deputy for the Chaplain General of the Presbyterian Denomination, the Rev D McCrae Steward read a prayer for the commemoration of the faller.

The Prime Minister then invited the Governor-General to unveil the stone.

Mr Bruce in an inspiring speech pointed out the great significance of Anzac Day to the people of  Australia. Many war memorials had been erected in different parts of Australia but none could have the same significance as the one which was to be inaugurated in Canberra.

‘because the war created the Australian nation and the memorial which we are about to inaugurate is the memorial of the Australian people as a nation,’ he said, ‘This memorial has great significance for all. It is erected to the memory of those men who gave their lives for their country, but it is also erected to commemorate the sacrifices and the sufferings of a nation and is symbolical of the creation of Australia’s nationhood.

This memorial is also something more. It is the completion of a task which was entrusted to the Australian nation by men who went and fought for her in her hour of peril. Even in the heat of battle and in the face of danger, the soldier always desired to commemorate the spot where his fallen comrade was buried, and on the battlefield that memorial took the form of a rude cross or board tied across a rifle, with a helmet on the top. The spirit was there.

That task, which really handed to us by the soldier during the war, is being carried out on the graves of all soldiers at their place of burial, where it is known, and is marked with a headstone. Beautiful cemeteries have been created, and in each of them with all their beauty and their simplicity, we have carried out the ideals of the cemetery in that way. These cemeteries are really commemorative of the men who fell, but are also symbolic of the ideals we fought for in the war.

One task is left to Australia: to complete the work handed on by soldiers of the nation, and that is to erect in the National Capital a memorial commemorative of the deeds of the men, and also to remind us that these men laid Australia’s foundation of nationhood. I trust that the memorial will go forward to completion as rapidly as possible, and trust that the people of Australia will demand that this will be done and that we should listen to no voice to hold us up in the task which has been entrusted to us.

A nation must have sentiment and tradition, and in Australia, above all nations, we should strive ever to remind our people of the great traditions of which we are the inheritors, because there is no nation on the world so rich in tradition as this nation of ours. We inherit the traditions from the nation from which we have sprung, but we have added to them by the glorious deeds of our men in the war.

This memorial set in the beautiful site in our National Capital will become a place to which people of the nation will come on pilgrimage. Their tribute of reverence to those men who, in the beautiful words on the stone of remembrance, ‘Whose name will live for evermore, will be paid here at the memorial in which will be the history of Australian achievements during war. They will be inspired. They will realise the sacrifices and the sufferings of the nation during that critical period in our history, and they will go forth from this memorial inspired to try and live up to those same ideals and, in their day and generation, will try and render services equivalent to those rendered by the men who gave their lives.

If that does come about and if this memorial stands in the years to come and is the shrine to which future generations pay their pilgrimage, then they have drawn inspiration from the memorial and the sacrifices of the country will not have been in vain, but will have laid the foundations for future deeds of this Australian nation. From this memorial will go forth men and women inspired with the great ideals of service to their country, and if we can bring that about, then we will build a memory, lasting and enduring.

No building can ever hold the same place in the hearts not only of Australians,’ said His Excellency, the Governor-General, Lord Stonehaven, ‘but of their fellow citizens overseas, as this war memorial will hold, even though Canberra is enriched and will be enriched with many More(?) and beautiful buildings.

No day could be as appropriate as Anzac Day for the inauguration ceremony, because 11 years ago the flower of Australian manhood faced the ordeal by battle on the shores of Gallipoli. For most of them it was their baptism by fire, and how gloriously they acquitted themselves is a story which will hold for all time an honoured place among the splendid records of the race.

It is to those men that this memorial is dedicated. Those whose names will honour t he walls destined to be raised around this stone gave their lives to Australia. It was not only for the land they loved that they died, but to save the institutions and the ideals which are the birthright of all who inhabit these lands. May their names and their deeds be graven and not merely on tablets of stone, but in the hearts of their fellow countrymen and fellow countrywomen for all time.

I believe that the mission of this memorial is a symbol of common hom...(?) of the honoured dead, and of a common resolve to unite in continuing the great work for which they gave their lives,’ he concluded.

At the conclusion of His Excellency’s speech, the flag draping was released and after a moment’s silence the plaintive notes of the ‘Last Post’, were carried to the silent crowd. One minute’s silence  observed as a mark of respect to those who lost their lives in the Great War was broken by the ‘Reveille’.

Wreaths were then placed on the stone by the Governor-General, and Federal president of the RSSILA and (ON?) behalf of the ex-servicemen and women of Australia. Then the unveiling ceremony concluded with the blessing by the deputy for the Chaplain-General of the Anglican denomination, the Right Reverend  ...(Blurred) of Ballarat. The guard of honour, cadets and returned soldiers marched from the enclosure led by the Canberra City Band.

When the enclosure had been cleared the guests of the Government and the Public inspected the stone.

Faultless arrangements had been made for the ceremony, which was carried through without a hitch.

Among those present as guests of the Government were His Excellency the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and Mrs Bruce, Mr CLA Abbott (Minister for Home Affairs) and Mrs Abbott,  Major CWC Marr, the Minister for Defence (Sir William T Glasgow), The Post-Master general (Mr WG Gibson), the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr Gullett) and Mrs Gullett, Mr A Blakeley, representing the Federal Opposition and Mrs Blakeley, and Mr GJS Dyett, Federal president of the RSSILA.  Representatives of the Australian War Memorial Board were Lieutenant-General Sir Harry Chauvel, Rear-Admiral WR Napier, the Hon D Ferguson and Mrs Ferguson, Mr CEW Bean and Air-Commodore R Williams, First Member of the Air Board. The Chief Commissioner Sir John Butters and Lady Butters were in attendance. The three chaplains were the Right Rev the Bishop of Ballarat (Church of England), the Rev D Macrae Stewart (Presbyterian) and the Rev AT olden (Methodist). Mr John Garlick represented the Civic Commission of Sydney, and Lady Gaffran was present as a representative of the Anzac Fellowship of Women.


The Canberra Times 26 April 1929


After the ceremony, the commemorative stone was inspected by a dense crown and when the people had dispersed the stone had been smothered in wreaths.  The wreaths placed on the stone were from the following: Mr and Mrs Crockford, RS Crease and family, Mr and Mrs Hill, Leslie, Wreith and Doreen Carnall, Ralph A Muir, LM Honey, Mrs AM McDonald, Mrs Carnall, the Wilson family, diggers of White City Camp, the Westlake sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League and a number of wreaths from anonymous sources.

A wreath of yellow dahlias inscribed ‘Greater Love Hath No Man Than This,’ formed a touching tribute from the FCT Rugby League to Keith Anderson and ‘Bob’ Hitchcock, who lost their lives in the search for the crew of the Southern Cross.  Mr and Mrs Holmes of Westlake also placed a wreath in memory of Anderson and Hitchcock on the stone.


1933 City Progress

The Canberra Times 10 January 1934



Revival of Definite Progress


A review of constructional activities in Canberra for the year ended December 21 shown that there has been a partial return to the progress witnessed in the city prior to the depression period.

During the year 1933 an amount of 325,290 pounds was expended on works in the Federal Capital Territory. Additions and new works cost 157,573 pounds; unemployment relief 9,413 pounds and repairs and maintenance 158,304 pounds.

Provision has been made for even a greater expenditure on new buildings and roads for the current year.

Last year the buildings programme included 15 (or 16 – hard to read) cottages in addition to many alterations and improvements to existing building and the construction of a reservoir at Black Mountain. The putting into operation of the new brick kiln, as well as a considerable amount of road work.

Included in the new works for the year 1933 were the erection of seven brick cottages at Griffith; six pairs of semi-detached cottages at Manuka; two brick cottages at Forrest and the erection of a wooden cottage at the Cotter River.

In addition to the above the following new buildings were erected:- A tennis pavilion at Manuka; the conversion of the cadet block into flats at Duntroon; additions to the Government Printing Office; a pavilion for croquet players at the Hotel Canberra, construction of fireplaces in all the cottages at Westlake [tin not brick]; and the provision of fly screens for Brassey House, Gorman House, Beauchamp House and the Hotel Kurrajong. Contracts have also been let for the erection of four brick cottages at Forrest, 11 semi-detached cottages at Manuka and alterations and additions to the Hotel Ainslie.

Preliminary arrangements are in hand for the erection of a further 80 cottages. Forty of these will be erected on the North side of the river and the other 40 will be erected on  the south side of the river. Tenders will shortly be called for the erection of a group of semi-detached cottages at Kingston.

In connection with the Australian National War Museum, tenders for the first portion will close on January 25.

To enable an immediate restoration of electric supply in the event of a breakdown on either north or south sides of the river, switch houses have been erected at Ainslie Avenue and Commonwealth Avenues.

External painting was carried out on the Bachelors Quarters, the Printers Quarters, all the cottages at Westlake, the buildings at Stromlo Observatory, and several groups of houses at Ainslie, Reid, Braddon and Barton.

The new reservoir at Black Mountain is expected to be completed in about three weeks time. A contract has been let to the Australian Iron and Steel Company in Sydney for the supply of 17,055 feet of 18 inch cement lined cast iron pipes and it is expected that the whole of the work in connection with the reservoir will be completed by the end of the financial year.

During the year the large Staffordshire Kiln at the Brickworks was put into operation and 100,000 bricks per week are now being produced.  The opening of the kiln has resulted in increased employment and a reduction in the price of bricks which has been passed on to the public.

The transport service has been reorganised and seven new buses have been added to the fleet. They are thoroughly up to date and have been the subject of much favourable comment. A feature of the service is that there has been a reduction in operating costs of approximately 2,000 pound a year.

Repairs and maintenance services also received attention throughout the year and of the 80 miles of city streets approximately two miles were improved for heavy traffic by ballasting and approximately five mile improved by bituminous surfacing.

The State Circle was made safe for traffic by the erection of a safety fence. The paths of the city also received attention. About three-quarters of a mile of new gravel paths were constructed and two miles of paths were asphalled.

Recreation facilities also received considerable attention for five new tennis courts were constructed at City,  Westridge (Yarralumla) and Reid, and five reconditioned at Canberra House, Parliament House and the Causeway. The Northbourne Oval was regraded and improved.

A steady improvement policy was observed in connection with the country roads. The Cooma and Sutton Roads were widened and culvers erected throughout.

On the Cotter Road, additional culverts were erected, and many of the dangerous curves widened and banked and a large deviation provided at Western Creek to improve the alignment and the grading.

Dangerous cuttings on the Uriarra Road were widened in order to improve the visibility and on the Brindabella road all the decayed culverts have been replaced.

Considerable gravelling and forming was carried out on the Cooma, Cotter, Sutton, Yass, Fairlight, Old and New Uriarra and Charnwood roads; also the Red Hill and Mount Ainslie tourists roads were improved.

Point Hut crossing was regraded and is suitable for heavy traffic.

The Ainslie stock route is now negotiable by road vehicles and provides exceptional views of the city area for drivers.

Apart from improving the country roads a policy was adopted for the erection and improvement of bridges and new bridges were constructed at Paddy’s River and Gudgenby River near Tharwa.

At the present time two bridges are in the course of construction on the Cotter Deviation and another is being built at Yarralumla Creek to improve a dangerous curve in the road. The grade will also be reduced.


Tree Plating Canberra 1927

The Canberra Times 22 July 1927


With the advent of tree-planting season, the work of beautifying Canberra is being advanced a stage further, and an extensive tree-planting programme is being embarked upon. Good progress has already been made and details of the proposed schedule indicate that many miles of avenues and streets together with the grounds of many public buildings, will have been planted with shrubs and trees by the end of the season.

The completion of the proposed work is, however, dependent upon circumstances, and the programme is subject to alteration or curtailment.


Plans for the southern side of the city include the planting of the sides of Presentation Avenue, the eastern side of Commonwealth Avenue and the whole of the Federal and Brisbane Avenues.  Work has already commenced on the three avenues and is well in hand. Other principle roads included in the programme for the southern side, but on which work has not yet begun, are t he Cotter Road, Hobart Avenue, Uriarra Road, Eastview Avenue, Southbourne Avenue, Jerrabomberra Valley Avenue, National Circuit from Adelaide Avenue to Federal Avenue and Melbourne Avenue.

Work preliminary to the planting of the whole of the Oakley and Parker subdivision at Blandfordia is completed and planting is expected to commence at an early date.  Other southern subdivisions for attention include Telopea Park and Telopea Park section 14, division 19, Eastlake (secs 19, 21,22, 1 and 25), the Causeway and Mugga way.

Planting at the Canberra railway station is almost complete, whilst Secretariat No 1 and the Causeway Hall have been completed. Preliminary work is being done at the Prime Minister’s residence, planting is about to commence at the Hotel Wellington and in the grounds of the Hotel Kurrajong have been prepared.  The completion of planting in the Parliament House area will be put in hand almost immediately. Planting has not yet commenced at Brassey House, the Forestry School at Westridge, Secretariat No 2, the Government Printing Office and the new garage.

Inclusive in the programme is an extensive scheme of screen planting which on the southern side, will be undertaken at Capitol Hill, Causeway and Red Hill Camps, Molonglo settlement, Capitol Hill Quarry, the contractors and railway yards at Eastlake and the German gun trophy [Big Bertha].  Screen planting has been completed at the Western Creek sewerage outfall works and the transport depot at Eastlake.

Plans for sundry planting on the southern side include the entrance drive and the extension of pine and elm planting at Government House, willow plantings in the vicinity of the river above the 1800ft level, feature and park planting at Capitol Hill and Review Ground, the Cotter River recreation area and coppice planting in various parts of the city.


One of the most important sections of the programme is the proposal to plant almost 1000 trees in the area set aside for the Zoological Park. Over 160 acres in extent, this area is situated between Acton and Government House and is practically a triangle, bounded on both sides of the Molonglo River.  Its north-western end is almost at the foot of Black Mountain. It is proposed to devote the gardens entirely to Australian fauna and native trees will predominate in the planting scheme proposed for the season.


Plans for road and avenue planting on the southern side of the river include completion of Ainslie Avenue and the planting of Canberra Avenue and roads 6, 8, 10 and18 from Northbourne Avenue.

Subdivisions noted for attention include section 14, division 11 of Ainslie, Ainslie (sections 21-25, 23, 38-41, 46 and 47), Canberra Avenue, Acton, South Ainslie and Civic Centre.

The planting of the grounds of Hotel Ainslie is nearing completion. Beauchamp House [now Ian Potter House], Hotel Acton and the new school [Ainslie Primary] are included in the programme.

Screen plantings on the northern side will be undertaken at White City Camp and Black Mountain Quarry. Willows will also be planted in the vicinity of the river above the 1800ft level.

Native trees are being planted as far as possible, whilst cedars of several varieties and conifers suitable to the climate also play an important part in the programme of city beautification. Many deciduous trees, such as oaks, elms, ashes and planes are also planted.



The Canberra Times 6 January 1927


The plans of the Federal Capital Commission for eight hostels and boarding houses in the city are speeding on towards completion.  The original plans embraced four hostels and four boarding houses, and of these, Hotel Canberra, Kurrajong, and Ainslie are in use, while Hotel Acton is receiving its finishing touches and the boarding houses are in an advanced stage.

In addition to these structures, Printers’ Quarters and Bachelors’ Quarters afford accommodation of a large number of the staff of the Commission and Commonwealth Departments, while the present Hotel Ainslie is being converted into an accommodation house for the female members of the staffs.

Four boarding houses now under construction are from the designs of two Melbourne and two Sydney architects.  Tow of these boarding houses are situated on the Southern side and two on the Northern side of the Molonglo River.

One of the most picturesque structures is the Blandfordia Hostel which is placed at the junction of Wellington Avenue and National Circuit [Hotel Wellington] and is the work of Messrs Stephenson and Meldrum of Melbourne.  It is a two storey building consisting of a central dining and kitchen block, with staff rooms above, flanked on either side by wings containing bedroom accommodation on both floors. Balconies are provided at the ends of these blocks and flat roofs will afford cool sitting out space on the bedroom floor levels.  It is being finished in light colored cement with tile roof.  The building provides for an accommodation of 40 persons exclusive of staff. The builder is Mr JG Taylor.

The second building, known as the Telopea Park Hostel on the South side of the city [Brassey House] is designed by Messrs Budden and Hood, architects of Sydney and is situated on State Circuit. The building which is being erected by Col Walker affords an interesting variation in solving the problem of planning. The billiard room lounge, dining and kitchen block facing State Circuit, is of one storey only for its greater part, while a two storied wing on either side extends at an angle of  40 [?] degrees from the back of the building. This building will introduce a marked variation from the usual color of Canberra’s larger buildings by being finished in blue brick with a slate roof. The accommodation is for 40 persons apart from staff.

On the Northern side of the city, a reinforced concrete accommodation house is being erected in University Avenue close to the present Hotel Acton. [Beauchamp House now Ian Potter House.] The design is by Messrs Anketell and K Henderson, architects of Melbourne. It is another example of a rectangular solution to the plan problem. The dining room and smoking room are in the centre block, the kitchen being in the left wing and not, as in the other designs – on the centre line of the building. The remaining portions of the left wing and the whole of the right wing provide the bedroom accommodation downstairs, the whole of the first floor being devoted to bedrooms, accommodating 40 persons. The building is constructed in reinforced concrete throughout, and will have the external walls finished in roughcast and the roof covered with red tiles.

The fourth building is situated on the intersection of Canberra and Ainslie Avenues and is designed by Messrs Burcham Clamp and Finch of Sydney.[Hotel Ainslie] This building affords yet another example of variation of plan and external design.  The comparatively high pitched roof gives this building a distinction of its own. In plan, the rectangular outline is again departed from and the bedroom wings spring obliquely from the central dining and kitchen block. This building will be finished externally in roughcast, with brick trimmings and dark tile roof. The building also provides for an accommodation of 40 persons exclusive of requirements for staff.



The Canberra Times 24 September 1926


The Recreation Club at the Printers’ Quarters at Eastlake [Kingston] is to be congratulated on its efforts on Friday night last. Invitations were issued for a dance to celebrate the opening of the quarters and many attended and a delightful evening was spent. Arbuckle’s band as usual supplied excellent music and a delicious supper was served. It is hoped that this will be the forerunner of many dances in the future as all there had a most enjoyable time.

The frocking was very pretty and among many the following frocks were noticed:- Miss Doreen Grewar Pervenche blue crepe-de-chine with rose pink shawl, Miss Dixon, almond green crepe-de-chine, Miss Sherring pink satin morocain with pink shawl, Mrs E Alexander, pink satin with lace, Miss Macaffee, pink taffeta, Miss Helen Hetherington, white flowered georgette, Miss Luca, yellow brocade with georgette, Mrs Ricklar, peach satin chanteuse veiled with lace, Miss Jean Campbell, black georgette, Nurse Britton, flame coloured georgette.


The Canberra Times 11 November 1926


Jazz was supreme at Printers’ Quarters, Eastlake last Friday evening when the Printers Quarters’ Recreation Club held its second invitation dance. More than 300 were present and a most enjoyable evening resulted, the limited dancing space being taxed to its utmost.

The Dining Room, in which the dance was held, was tastefully decorated with streamers, balloons, greenery and its pretty effect was added to by sixty tinted electric lights.  The dance committee comprising Messrs WS Watkins, J Clarke, TJ Dutton, EF Phipps, J Hines and T Coomber, spared no pains to create a pleasing and convivial atmosphere. The two smaller recreation rooms were decorated and were thrown open as smoke rooms and later in the evening one was utilized for dancing purposes, thus relieving the congestion in the main hall.

The music, which was supplied by Arbuckle’s orchestra, was many times encored. Mr Watkins, president of the Recreation Club, was master of ceremonies.  Novelty and twilight dances, the latter being created by means of the tinted lights, were included in the programme. Dancing continued until 3 am.


The Canberra Times 31 December 1926


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

At the first sale of leases 71 leases were sold at Eastlake including 12 shopping blocks.  Building has been commenced on December 12 on the whole of the residential sites and on all except two business sites. On the two business sites extension had been granted by the Commission pending the completion of plans and the letting of building contracts.

At present there are 22 shops open for business in the Eastlake centre and seven will reached completion next month, while the building of nine more is in progress and plans at present in preparation contemplate  eight more.  In the residential section, there are more than 70 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 and will be developed within the next few months. 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 a locality known as Causeway and this lends a compact suburban atmosphere to Eastlake.

There being no further leases available at Eastlake, 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 and place the shopping centre in the midst of a residential area.


The Canberra Times 24 March 1927


As a result of a raid conducted by Canberra police at the Printers Quarters, Eastlake on Friday night last, Reginald Johnson (35?) was arrested and charged with selling liquor without a license under the Liquor Act authorizing the sale thereof.  Defendant was remanded until to-morrow. Bail was allowed self in £30, with one surety of £30 or two of £15 each.


The Canberra Times 1 July 1927

At the Printers Quarters, Eastlake on Wednesday night last week, the house staff met to say goodbye to Mr JL Stevens, manager of the quarters who was leaving for Sydney. Mr J Kay on behalf of the staff presented Mr Stevens with a handsome travelling rug. He said that during the time Mr Stevens was in charge of the quarters he had won the respect and esteem of everybody.


The Canberra Times 12 July 1927


Next week will see another influx of civil servants from Melbourne in the staff of the Government Printing Office. About 70 employees are involved in the transfer, and the Printers Quarters at Eastlake will then justify its name. The male portion of the married staff will be houses at Eastlake, while the single women engaged at the Government Printing Office will be located at the Lady Hopetoun Club at Blandfordia. [2-3 cottages set aside for the Lady Hopetoun Club. Miss Hawkins in charge.]

The Canberra Times 15 July 1927


The transfer of the staff of the Government Printer to Canberra is now in progress, but already operations have been commenced in the printing office at Eastlake which has been waiting occupation for about twelve months.

Preparation for the publication of the evidence of the Royal Commission which enquired into the film industry and the printing of two and a half million telegram forms constituted the first work done.

The staff engaged at the temporary office will total 70 by the end of next week. When Parliament assembles this number will be increased to 110 and when the office is fully staffed which will not be until next year, the total number of employees will be about 220.  This total will include 110 compositors, 20 linotype operators, 4 monotype casters, 15 letterpress machinists, 15 bookbinders, 15 girl bookbinders, 10 readers, 10 reader’s assistants and 15 miscellaneous staff.


Four linotype operators commenced work on Wednesday upon the first job of the new office. This was the setting in type of evidence given before the Royal Commission which recently conducted an investigation into the film industry in Australia.

The first printing job was commenced yesterday, and involved the printing of 2,500,000 telegraph  transmission forms. 

Large stocks of paper are stored in the office. Stocks of ordinary paper total 9,000 reams, whilst of paper on reels there is a total of 230,000lb.

The total cost of plant and machinery was in the vicinity of £80,000.

Mr S Fargher, who was recently appointed Deputy Government Printer is in charge of operations.


The principal work of the office while Parliament is in session will be the publication of Hansard, and it is interesting to follow through from beginning to end the process of compiling these official records in the Parliament of the Commonwealth.

The process beings with the Parliamentary reporting staff, which takes verbatim reports of all that is said in the House. Members of the staff are relieved at the end of each quarter of an hour and each man upon being relieved dictates his notes to a typist. This typed ‘copy’ is dispatched at intervals by pneumatic tube to the printing office where it is set up and proofs are taken. These proofs are returned to the reporting staff.  When the corrected proofs are received back at the printing office, the necessary corrections are made, and fresh proofs are pulled.  One man is engaged solely upon dissecting these proofs for the purpose of sending to each member who spoke in the House a copy of the report of his speech or remarks. These copies are posted each night in order that members may receive them by breakfast time.

Any corrections which a member may wish to make must be received by 4pm the same day. Upon receipt of these corrections the first edition of ‘Hansard’  is made up and printed.

The first edition is published on Thursday and Saturday of each week [something missing – a line?] ing office in 4½ minutes, but it is anticipated that this time will be reduced by half when the system has been in operation in  few weeks.


The composing room is the largest section of the printing office. The linotypes occupy one end while the other end is devoted to the readers, and the intervening space is occupied by the compositing equipment.

The linotype department at present consists of a battery of machines and will be augmented in the near future by the addition of three new linotypes and two converted English machines.

Steel enters largely into the composting department which includes 17 dustproof steel type cabinets, 20 steel galley cabinets, 10 steel worktops for cabinets, five imposing stores with cabinets for storing equipment, two wooden furniture cabinets, four regular cabinets and eight lead racks.  Each galley cabinet will accommodate 100 galleys.

The electric proof presses also form a part of the up-to-date equipment and many other time and labor saving devices are encountered in the course of a tour of inspection.

With the exception of about £600 worth of Australian made type, all the metal type for the office has been cast by the monotypes installed in partitioned section of the composing room. One monotype operator has been engaged solely upon the work of casting type for the past five months. Three machines are installed.

Steel desks at the far end of the composing room will accommodate ten readers and an equal number of assistants.


In the machine room, which is situated in the centre of the building an all-Australian flat bed rotary press is an interesting machine. Made in Melbourne by Bell and Valentine it will be devoted almost exclusively to the printing of ‘Hansard’. Two English Miehie machines in the machine room were exhibited at Wembley Exhibition. Other machines include a Miehle Perfecter, a vertical Miehie, a Furnival double crown flatbed, a Craftsman platen and a Hickok ruling machine with automatic feeder. All the Miehie machines and the Funival are fitted with cross feeders.

All the machines were installed under the supervision of Mr R Maguire. Mr Maguire came from Sydney to install the machines and as he puts it, he likes Canberra so well that he has made his home here.

When parliament is in session and the second edition embodying any final corrections which members may desire to make, is published about a week later. The second edition includes the first edition of both. Thursday and Saturday of the previous week and becomes the official record of the Commonwealth Parliament.

Thursday’s first edition contains the reports and debates of the previous Friday and Tuesdays, and Saturday’s edition covers debates of Wednesday and Thursday. Of each first edition 6,000 copies are printed for dispatch to members and subscribers. Three thousand copies are printed of the second edition.

The Lamson pneumatic tube which will be used for transmitting copy and proofs between Parliament House and the printing office is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Two tubes – one inward and one outward – are each 1½ miles in length underground, whilst several hundred yards of tubing is in Parliament House.

The containers travel the distance from Parliament House to the printing office.  A Stereotyping room is located at the rear of the machine room.

The remaining section of the building is devoted to bookbinding. The machinery here consists of two folding machines with automatic feeders – a Victor and a Brown – and a Clevland folder; a Harrild Guillotine, six Morrison stitchers, a Harrild blocking press, a board cutter, a jointing machine and a standing press, all of the same manufacture, and a Barclay perforating machine. A number of other machines are to arrive at an early date.


The Government printing office at Eastlake is intended as a temporary location only. The permanent home of the Government Printing Office is to be in the basement of the large block of administrative offices to be erected near Parliament House. It is expected that the proposed new building will be available for occupation in 1930.  The transfer to its permanent home will be accompanied by a great expansion of the printing office with a consequent large increase in staff. Plans provide for the installation of new plant and machinery to the value of £250,000 whilst the number of employees will be increased to about 600.

[The foundations for this new building were put down – near present Treasury Building in Parkes – but were not completed. I recall my Father telling me in the 1940s that the foundations were not strong enough and the work had been abandoned.  The Printing Office remained in the Power House area. Ann Gugler nee Austin]


The Canberra Times 8 November 1927


The second novelty dance organized by the Welfare Committee of the Printers’ Quarters proved a great success on Saturday night.

About 300 were present and all regretted the early termination of the dance at midnight.

The dining hall presents a unique picture. During the afternoon six members of the committee devoted their attention to preparing the floor and decorating the room with streamers, balloons, crepe draping and artistic light shades which had been previously prepared by the staff and never had the room looked so gay – in fact, it equaled that of any dance in recent months.

During the evening a chocolate dance was won by Miss Arbuckle and Mr G Bulpin. A Streamer dance towards the end of the night provided much fun and presented a pretty scene.

The pleasure of the evening was enhanced by excellent music rendered by the newly formed Boston Jazz Orchestra who under the guidance of R Maher, filled their first engagement.

Mr Alf Cross was MC in his usual capable manner.

Already the next dance organized for the 19th inst is being keenly looked forward to, when something rare in the novelties is anticipated. The committee who are being showered with congratulations for their efforts comprise: Messrs W Jamieson (President), J Cooper (Vice-president), Bulpin, Carroll, Woods, McCauslan, H McNiece (Hon Sec) and W Bond (Hon Treasurer).


The Canberra Times 14 March 1928


For the accommodation of the staff of the Government Printer, 18 new brick cottages are nearing completion on a site south-east of the present Printers’ Quarters at Kingston. These cottages are of a slightly different type to the original buildings. They contain 3 bedrooms, living room and kitchen, bathroom c.  It is anticipated that the new quarters will be completed within three weeks.


The Canberra Times 26 March 1928


The dining hall of the Printers Quarters was tastefully decorated with multi-coloured streamers and balloons at a successful dance held there on Saturday night. Excellent music was provided by the Boston Orchestra the members of which are nearly all residents of the Quarters.

The President of the dance committee was Mr Jamieson, the Secretary, Mr McNiece and the Treasurer, Mr Bond. Others on the committee were Messrs G Butlin, M Carroll and McAuslin. The dance was the first to be held in this hall.


The Canberra Times 14 May 1928


An enjoyable evening was passed at the Printers Quarters on Saturday evening when a dance was held under the auspices of the Printers’ Quarters Social Welfare Club. Between 60 and 70 couples danced to the music of Gallagher’s Orchestra. The arrangements of the function were carried out under the direction of Messrs WA O’Shannessy (Secretary) and J O’Reilly …


The Canberra Times 16 December 1929


The dining room of the Printers’ Quarters was transformed into a pretty scene on Saturday night the occasion being the revival of the dances organized by the Printers’ Welfare Club.  The committee responsible for the success of the evening were Messrs HG Downing (president), Geo Turnbull (vice-president), J Mitchell (treasurer), R Miller (honorary secretary), and Messrs Rafferty, Maclean, Ritchie and Pitt, committeemen.

Amongst those present were Mr and Mrs C Chandler, Mr and Mrs Nash, Mr and Mrs Townsey, Mrs Hammond, Mr. and Miss M Priesley, Misses Marie Keegan, Kelly (two), Clutton (two), Gibbs (two), N Durcau, V Byrne, M Henry, Carroll, Samuels, Keefes (two) Finlayson, May, Heffernan, Wall, Rodda, Dogan, Newman, Ambrose, Walsh, Sadler, Mills, Hawke, Naylor, Green, Genders, Arbuckle, P Cleary and Edna Taylor, Messrs Facer, Chalmers, Aiken, C Smith, Billings, Whatty, McCormack, Baldy, O’Sullivan, Turnbull, McIntosh, Kay, Gandon, Green, Roberts, Dundee, Gellatly, Hurley, Pui [?], Johnston, Reilly, Turner, Wicker, Napier, Wall and Kevin Wade.  Supper was arranged by Messrs B Goode and H Mountjoy.


The Canberra Times 18 December 1929


A Christmas smoke night at the Printers’ Quarters held on Monday night was attended by over 60 residents and visitors and proved to be a highly successful and enjoyable function.

The president of the Welfare Club, Mr HG Downing occupied the chair and the principal guest of the evening was Mr LF Johnston the Government Printer who responded to the toast of the visitors and was supported by Messrs D Kenna and N McMillan, the latter amusing the company with several yarns.

The musical programme was provided by Messrs AG McDonald (baritone), R Alder (Scotch songs), L Martin (tenor), W Charlton (violinist), W Maudlin (comic and elocutionist), F McKenna (baritone), Rowland (cornet) and Dunkley and the repeated demands for encores from all the artists resulted to the pleasure their contributions gave the company.

The evening ended with the usual communal songs expressive of the good fellowship of all present.