DIGGING UP THE PAST.
Research Among Old Documents. Officials and Soldiers.
VII.— By C. E. Owen Smyth, C.M.G., I.S.O.
As I set myself the task of writing the true history, as far as possible, of the works and building branch of the South Australian Civil Service, with side lights, as far as one's judgment went from read- ing old documents, on the men who held the reins from 1836, I will, before going
further, just set out the names of the officials in their proper order of succession, and I beg leave to say that this will be the first time, to the best of my belief- and Mr. A. T. Saunders can correct me if I am, wrong — in-the history of South Aus- tralia that these names have been put together in print. As I said before, George Strickland Kingston, civil engineer, carried out the erection of the first permanent portion of Government House, and also a portion of the Government offices— on commission — but holding no appointment other than supervisor (on commission). Kingston's
MR. C. E. OWEN SMYTH.
MR. C. E. OWEN SMYTH.
appointment for a short period as Govern- ment Civil Engineer was soon abolished, and had nothing to do with buildings. Lieut. Edward Charles Frome, R.E., as Surveyor-General and Colonial Engineer, carried on the works and buildings from October 2, 1839, until he returned to Eng- land in February. 1849, to rejoin his corps, from which he was originally seconded for service in the new Province of South Australia. Lieut. Frome, in 1839, brought out a detachment of Royal Sappers and Miners, called also Royal Engineers, who assisted him in his various duties as sur- veyor, draftsmen, mechanics, and also Government horseshoers, &c, and al- though Frome did not occupy a military position in South Australia, this detach- ment, seems to have been always per se under his direction, and quite apart from the Imperial troops in Adelaide. From February, 1849, to July, 1849, when Capt. Freeling, R.E., arrived, the duties apper- taining to works and buildings were car- ried out by Richard Lambeth as clerk of works. Capt. A. H. Freeling's appoint- ment was the same as Capt. Frome's. Both these Imperial officers were members of His Excellency the Governor's Council, and were styled officially 'The Honour- able.' H. E. Rawnsley, although never styled Architect or Colonial Architect, was undoubtedly under Capt. Freeling for some time, sub-head, with the title of Assistant Colonial Engineer. W. Bennett Hays— or Hayes as his name is sometime spelled— was appointed Clerk of Works and Archi-
tect on March 8, 1850, but Rawnsley still held the post of senior officer under Free- ling, and as such for a time was in control of works and buildings. However, on De- cember 31, 1851, Hays became Architect and Supervisor. In his letter of accep- tance of the position with £150 increase in pay over the previous position of Clerk of Works and Architect, Hays stipulated that he must have J. B. Porter as his right-hand man, and no superior between him and His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor! Whether both of his condi- tions were accepted I do not know. J. B. Porter, however, went a step up, and be- came clerk of works instead of overseer of works. Later in the forties I find J. B. Porter's name frequently as certifying accounts for the Governor's approval, which certjficate of the Governor's seems for a time to have been essen- tial to secure payment in the Treasury. I am inclined to think, after reading many of Hays's letters and re- ports, that he was the best architectural man in the service in his time — only a few years— and further, he was a man of con- siderable versatility in other matters, and I should imagine also that when he got a chance during temporary absences of Free- ling— while he was under the latter— he lost no opportunity of keeping himself in the limelight. He seems to have been especially active in pushing on the vari- ous works at Port Elliott which appears to me — I may be wrong— a rather sure way of securing the favourable notice of His Excellency the Lieut-Governor (Sir Henry Young). Engineering and Architecture. Among other ideas held by the Lieut. Governor was that it was possible, and indeed advisable, to connect Goolwa with Port Elliot by canal to carry the Murray trade to the sea at Port Elliot. Of course, Port Elliot proved utterly hopeless as a seaport, but His Excellency and his ad- visers evidently did not see that until some tens of thousands of pounds sterling were wasted. Previously I told how Hays wrote reams in letters with a view of get- ting himself sent on a P.W. mission to England; when his appeals failed, he got leave of absence, but never came back, at least to office. The absorption of £76 paid to Hays by a contractor in connection with a jetty sealed his fate in the public works service. The title of Colonial Architect was carried by Capt. Freeling after Hays departed, and £225 a year was paid to the former
while so acting, in addition to his pay as Surveyor-General and Colonial Engineer, £700 per annum and a gratuity of £120, making a total of £1,045 per annum. The gratuity, I imagine, was in lieu of two forage allowances. A new name appears on the public building staff while Hays was in charge, Edward Angus Hamilton, evidently a trained architectural draftsman, also a man of education, I should imagine. He was, so I am told, a brother to old 'gentleman' George Hamilton, who was a retired Royal Navy man, and held the post of Commissioner of Police when I came into South Australia in 1876. Edward and George Hamilton lived out in Ken- sington, near where the Hon. Lavington Glyde had his home for many years. Dur- ing my term of office as permanent head of the works and buildings I knew of the fact that a certain E. A. Hamilton was for a time Colonial Architect, but had no particular views about his capabilities, but after carefully reading his minutes, letters, and reports— some extracts from which I may have occasion to write lately-I have come to the conclusion that he wrote very sensibly, and does not appear to bear malice against those who disagreed with him. He was decidedly economical in his recommendations, and appears to have had quite a wide know- ledge of other matters than mere architecture in his pnblic works duties. I venture to think that to be a success- ful Public Buildings Chief, considerable versatility in handling men, a sound judg-
ment in carrying on work, together with inflexible courage, mingled with common sense, are qualities absolutely essential, in addition to knowledge of construction, &c. E. A. Hamilton was appointed Assistant Colonial Architect on January 1, 1856, at £300 per annum, with a gratuity of £112 per annum. On July 10 of the same year he was appointed Colonial Architect at £450 per annum, with the £112 gra- tuity (possibly in lieu of two forage allow ances). He resigned between July and September, 1860. Later he was in the firm of Wright, Woods, & Hamilton, archi- tects, and later still went to South Ame- rica.
R. A. Hyndman was Assistant Architect in 1856, but I know little about him, except that he came out from England in connection with the erection of a lighthouse, passage paid, and salary fixed. He may have been the Hyndman who was City Surveyor in the early seventies. Wil- liam Hanson became Engineer and Archi- tect January 1, 1861, at £550 per annum; he resigned in 1867. Hanson was Engi- neer of the Gawler Railway, and I find his name mentioned officially as Commis- sioner of Railways in 1857. Robert George Thomas, a son of Robert Thomas, the founder of The Register, and who came out with G. S. Kingston from London as Assistant Surveyor or Drafts- man, was appointed Assistant Architect in July, 1866, and Architect in 1868 at £600 per annum. The office of Architect was abolished on September 31, 1870. R. G. Thomas, after first coming out, returned to England, and there probably learned the profession of an architect; he had a very distinct style, easily to be seen in some of the buildings erected during his short term of office. Thomas was a very clever penman. G. T. Light, who was by trade a musical instrument maker— in Bristol I think he told me— and afterwards was a draftsman in a foundry, became temporary draftsman in the Colonial Architect's office on July 10 1856, and was appointed Architect on Januarv 1, 1874. When the Hon. James Penn Boucaut, Q.C., as Premier, appointed Edward John Woods, F.I.A.S.A., Archi tect-in-Chief in 1877, from the position of architect to the Council of Education (with right of private practice), G. T. Light for a few years was retained with the title of Assistant Architect until June 30, 1881, when Government abolished his office. In E. J. Woods's time the Public Library on North terrace, the Pnblic Works Building, the Marble Hill viceregal residence, extensive additions to Adelaide Gaol and Yatala Labour Prison, -the Custom House, Port Adelaide, also additions at Parkside Lunatic Asylum were carried out. The great movement of the Boucaut policy of extensive public works throughout the State was started, including a considerable number of public schools. The first and second- contracts for the present Parliament House were got under way, also in E. J. Woods's time. New Departures. In June, 1886, the Department of Archi- tect-in-Chief having been abolished. I took over the Department of Works and Buildings, having served for 10 years under E. J. Woods, first when architect to the Council of Education, and then for eight years while he was Architect-in-Chief, during which period I was chief of staff. I resigned from the public works service in 1920, after 34 years' service as perma- nent head of the Works and Buildings Department. A. E. Simpson, F.I.A.S.A., the present Architect-in-Chief, took over the Works and Buildings after my resig- nation, and is the reigning permanent head of the Works and Buildings Depart- ment. I might say here that the Archi- tect-in-Chief is very keen upon obtaining photographs or copies of paintings of the men who preceded him, and would be glad of any information that would help this object. Before the appointment of a Minister for Works, which took place in 1857, all the public buildings official correspondence went through the Colonial Secretary's office to His Excellency the Governor, whose authority seemed abso- lute in most matters. In 1847 the title of Town Surveyor first appears in the documents which have so far come under my notice. This official was under the direction of Capt. Frome, R.E., as Colonial Engineer. In 1846 a Lieut.-Col. Gordon, R.E., seems to have visited the province officially, which leads one to think that possibly he was inspect- ing the detachment of Royal Sappers and Miners stationed at Adelaide. It may be of interest to the few surviving old officers of the Survey Department to know that on June 7, 1851, Capt. Freeling, R.E., the Surveyor-General, recommended His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, 'to approve the appointment of a Mr. Goyder as a draftsman to succeed Mr. Moody, deceased.' 'Mr. Goyder,' so Capt. Free- ling states, 'had attended for two days at the office for purpose of examination, and as the result was satisfactory, G. W. Goyder entered into H.M. Colonial Civil Service, to become afterwards a most im- portant Civil servant and great Surveyor- General! The deceased S. B. Moody had only £100 ner annum. Freeling thought highly of him, and when he applied for leave without pay to visit Java on private business Freeling recommended that he should be taken back into the service on his return. Poor chap, he never returned. A Southern Port Scheme. By-the-way, I should have mentioned when I was dealing with the Port Elliot works that Freeling, in reply to Sir Henry Young's request for an estimate of the cost of a canal from 'The Goolwa' to Port Elliot, stated that he estimated it would cost £28,000, pro- vided no rock was struck in the excavation, the suggested canal to be 30 feet wide at the top, 10 feet at the bottom, and eight feet deep. Freeling also stated that his estimate was for level ground. Evi- dently he meant no sandhill cutting. In connection with the Goolwa and Port
Elliot Railway the following names appear as owners of land which would have to be acquired by the Crown:— H. B. Strang- ways, 14 acres odd; J. W. Higgins, 3 acres odd; James Chibnell, 6 acres; and J. F. Lindsay, 1 acre. A contractor named W. Rogers having been appointed vice Jones, evidently on leave, for Jones appears again as superintendent of works at Port Elliot. His Excellency the Lieut.-Governor discovered that he had been two days away from headquarters and directed the Colonial Engineer to stop his pay, which was at the rate of four guineas a week. Capt. Freeling al- ways stood up for his men— always— aud he respectfully informed His Excellency that Rogers, being urgently in need of orders— which had not reached him, 'mounted his own horse,' and rode to Adelaide to obtain the information at the office— pure zeal— but His Excellency, re- quired the man in charge to be always on the job-quite right too, generally speaking, but stopping his pay for seeking orders was pretty strong medicine. This was in July, 1851. I cannot help feeling that Freeling must have been a fine chief to work under — anyhow he was a British officer and a gentleman. His sticking up for Rawnsley, his second in command, related previously, was just what one would expect from such a man. I remem- ber a case here where an engineer was most unjustly dropped by his chief because the Premier had an animus against a really good officer. That was not Free- ling's way. In February, 1851; there was a Judge Crawford on the Supreme Court Bench. He was one of two Judges, and his name appears in the P. W. correspon in connection with some alterations at the Supreme Court A Worrying Officer. Poor Freeling seems to have had con- siderable trouble with his contractors over the larger jobs-one imagines through lack of proper conditions of contract, and through rather loosely drawn specifica- tions, and possibly scarcity of detail draw- ings. The conditions of contract difficulty was apparently got over in 1850 or 51, when our friend— of the late thirties— Charles Mann (who was Advocate-General in the early days, but was suspended for his share in the scrap between Gouger and Gilles— when Robert Thomas tried to be peacemaker) again appears as Solicitor General, or Crown Solicitor, and evidently puts the legal finishing strokes on the P.W. conditions of contract, a great help to Freeling. Carpenter-contractor Pitt- man gave no end of trouble over a roofing contract, and lots of other things, too, he refused to 'close-board the roof to receive slates unless paid extra. The specification was loosely drawn, and with a hair-splitter as contractor much trouble ensued. His Excellency directed Arbitration, but Freeling, through Rawns- ley, very promptly, but respectfully, in- formed the Lieut.-Governor that this was a matter for him (Freeling) to give a ruling upon— if Arbitration were once al- lowed over every point in dispute, good- bye to discipline. Freeling saw the same as I, or any experienced public works chief would see at a glance, that the Lieu- tenant-Governor did not understand the importance of the position taken up by him— Freeling. Reading the whole busi- ness over — I have not a shadow of doubt that the departmental intention was to have a close-boarded ground for the slates, but the wood 'battens' and 'sheeting' were so badly intermixed that the wilely Pittman saw his chance, but Freeling was firm, and the same time absolutely fair. Again at the Government Cottage, Glen- elg, which His Excellency was most anxious to occupy during Christmas of 1810 — the contractor, one Herbert-causes no end of correspondence. Freeling has to put men on at Herbert's expense, and gene- rally there was a mix up. At the Supreme Court R. G. Bowen actually refused to allow the law officers and Judges to take possession, pending a settlement of some disputed items— the correspondence is very interesting. Freeling quiet but firm, all the time one who who undestands such matters can see that the Public Works De- partment had few precedents to go upon, and the need of firm conditions of con- tract, setting forth the powers of tbe pub- lic works chief were urgently needed. In my time we had a very short way of set- tling disputes. A contractor's claim was right, or it was wrong; if right he got jus- tice, if wrong, or a try on— well— he was invariably 'sorry he spoke.' Here are a few excerpts from a minute from Free- ling's second in council, Rawnsley, after Freeling received His Excellency's instruct- tions to name an arbitrator over the Pitt- man trouble: — 'I beg, with reference to the course proposed by His Excellency, most respectfully to state that if it be pursued — great inconvenience is likely to arise to the public service, for if the door is once opened to permit of the specification for works being deemed insufficient, contrac- tors will evade them on all occasions by demanding an arbitrator who will most certainly give an opinion in favour of the contractor.' 'The course hitherto pur- sued on all works upon which I have been employed is to hold the 'opinion of the engineer to be binding.' 'If the term employed admits of the slightest doubt I would say give the contractor the bene- fit without question, if not, hold him to the letter.
. Bravo Freeling and bravo Rawnsley! Tbe minute haB a splendid closing para graph:— 'Mr. Pittman has been informed that his claim cannot be allowed, and he is proceeding with his work— that being the case, I beg I may be further in structed.' The abdvo was written by Rawnsley for Freeling according to a spe cial arrangement mentioned in a previous article. I wonder what the further in structions consisted of. Probably I shall keep on wondering, as I have not one-half of the correspondence. Yes, South Aus tralia had some good officials in those day».