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Gothic Revival for the Royal Engineers - HDR

TonyCrehan

Hobart, Australia

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Taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH1 point & shoot. Processed in Simply HDR for Mac.

The Royal Engineers’ Building, Sullivans Cove, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

History of the Royal Engineers Building:

The Ordnance estimates for 1846-47 authorised the work which was commenced on 2nd December 1846 and was completed by the end of 1847. The building was constructed to be the Royal Engineers Office as part of the Royal Engineers Headquarters complex. It is built of sandstone to front and facings, but brick sides and rear which were subsequently cement-rendered. One interesting feature of the building is that two of the windows on the northern side are false, and only appear to be windows from the outside.

The Gothic-revival design of this sandstone and brick building is similar to that of the St. Marys Womens Hospital in Davey Street, which is attributed to W.P. Kay (Colonial Architect) leading to supposition that Kay also designed the Royal Engineers Building. However, it appears that the design was done about 1845 in Hobart, either by one of the clerks o f works, by the Chief Royal Engineer James Conway Victor R.E., (1837 Brevet Major; arrived Hobart 24th November 1842; 1846 Lieutenant Colonel; departed 30th December 1848) or perhaps by Kay. John Twiss R.E., Chief Royal Engineer after Victor departed and officer-in-charge at Launceston in 1847 signed one plan, but documents establishing the person(s) responsible for the building have not been located. The plans would have been approved by the Inspector-General of Fortifications.

The large area of adjoining Crown Land included the engineers parade grounds, workshops, houses and earlier, works store, timber yard and jetty; much of which dated from John L. Archer’s time as Engineer and Colonial Architect (1827-1838). The site remained public land and on the withdrawal of the Imperial Forces was vested in the Colonial authorities.

The Tasmanian Main Line Railway Co., which built the Hobart to Western Junction railway (and modified the line to Launceston) from 1873 and operated it from March 1876, occupied the building as its headquarters until the State Government acquired its assets in 1890. The building continued as the railways headquarters, (the first General Manager of Railways being appointed in 1888 and this office converted to Commissioner for Railways by the 1910 Railway Management Act) until the Transport Act 1938 set up the all embracing Transport Commission.

The building subsequently became the Railways printery and stationery store, and was owned by the Australian National Railways Commission. It gradually fell into disrepair and in the early 1980’s the railways thought it should be knocked down and turned into a commercial site. Henry McFie led successful efforts to save the building. It is now the property of the State of Tasmania and leased to Engineers Australia.

The restoration was funded by the State Government, National Estate, Engineers Australia and a public appeal.

The building is heritage listed:
Register of the National Estate
Tasmanian Heritage Council
National Trust of Australia (Tasmania)

Artwork Comments

  • Audrey Clarke
  • Marc Grossberg
  • TonyCrehan
  • Marc Grossberg
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  • DonaldCole
  • TonyCrehan
  • Dave Callaway
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  • Jan Fijolek
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  • stufotoart
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  • © Jolie  Buchanan
  • TonyCrehan
  • Warren  Patten
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  • Jenny Brice
  • TonyCrehan
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