As the Moreton Bay area was a convict colony from 1824 until 1842, the earliest buildings were constructed by convicts under military supervision. Andrew Petrie, a foreman of works with the Royal Engineer Establishment, was sent to the area in 1837 as Superintendent of Works to repair the windmill and supervise convicts in duties of soap and nail production, as well as building. He stayed after his duties ceased in 1842, establishing a successful building firm which constructed many of the government buildings required in the 1850s and 60s.

Government works in Moreton Bay and other areas of northern New South Wales (later to become Queensland) were supervised by clerks of work under the direction of the Colonial Architect of New South Wales.

ALEXANDER BEAZELY (1856-1857 Clerk of Works for Moreton Bay)

In 1853 Beazely was appointed as a First Foreman of Works in New South Wales and worked on the lighthouse at Cape Moreton. He was promoted to Second Clerk of Works in 1854 and then Clerk of Works for Moreton Bay in 1856. Lack of funds precluded the construction of any notable public works in the area at that time. Beazely resigned in 1857 to enter private practice in Sydney, then joined the New South Wales Roads Department.

CHARLES TIFFIN (1857 Clerk of Works, 1859-1868 Colonial Architect, 1869-71 Superintendent of Roads and Bridges)

Born in Newcastle, England, Tiffin studied and worked under local architects before migrating to Geelong in Victoria in the mid 1850s. He then moved to Hobart as a partner in an architectural practice. In 1857 he was appointed Clerk of Works for the Moreton Bay District, where one of his first projects was the court house for Ipswich. In 1859, at the age of 26, he became Colonial Architect for the newly separated colony of Queensland. Initially his office operated from a local house with no assistance, but as the work increased he was assisted by an office clerk and two clerks of work, who also acted as architectural draftsmen. There was no official government accommodation when the colony separated and existing buildings were converted for government use: the Baptist Church became the post and telegraph office; the police station occupied premises formerly occupied by the female factory and prison; Parliament House and the court house took over the convict barracks; the Treasury occupied the military barracks; and the Colonial Architect moved into the old armoury. Three hundred buildings in Queensland are attributed to Tiffin: the associated scope of the work and the size of the colony thus necessitated the division of responsibility to staff in the northern region. In 1864 he won the design competition for the Houses of Parliament. Other buildings still in use are: Old Government House (1860-62), now in the grounds of the Queensland University of Technology, Maryborough’s post office (1865-6), and the government bond store in Maryborough (1863).

Tiffin was active in the Brisbane School of Arts and the Queensland Philosophical Society. His interests extended to principles of ventilation and sanitation: he developed an earth closet, which became the accepted installation for the disposal of nightsoil.

Economic restraints in 1868 meant a transfer of responsibility for roads and bridges to Tiffin’s office, and he became Superintendent of Roads and Buildings. Locally funded roads trusts were set up in an attempt to improve road conditions, but Tiffin’s office was left overworked and under-supported. His career ended in 1871 when he publicly criticised government policy on roads and bridges. After taking a year’s leave, he retired on medical grounds in 1872, and died the following year.

FRANCIS DRUMMOND GREVILLE STANLEY (1872 Superintendent of Roads and Buildings, 1873-1881 Colonial Architect)

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1839, Stanley was articled to and employed by a firm of architects, Brown and Wardrop. He migrated to Queensland in 1861, joining the Colonial Architect’s office in Queensland in 1863 as one of two clerks of works assisting Tiffin. He designed and supervised the construction of buildings in Toowoomba, Dalby and Roma, and his design for the General Post Office in Brisbane won the competition in 1871. In that year he took over the position of Supervisor of Roads and Buildings. vacated by Tiffin He was confirmed in this position in 1872, but the following year the responsibilities were again separated, and his position reverted to that of Colonial Architect. During his term of office he also worked privately, although this right was challenged by private architects and measures taken to restrict the work. After resigning in 1881, he continued a very successful practice and has left a substantial legacy of commercial and church buildings in Queensland. His talents were recognised in 1886 when he was elected as a Fellow of the RIBA, the first Queensland architect to achieve this distinction. He became the foundation president of the Queensland Institute of Architects in 1888. Among his notable government buildings are the General Post Office (1871-2); Maryborough’s court house (1875-77); Gympie’s public offices (1878-80); Brisbane’s Boggo Road gaol, and the Lytton Battery; and Toowoomba’s post and telegraph office (1878), hospital, railway station, and school of arts. The prestigious Supreme Court building (1874-9), was destroyed by fire in 1967. Stanley died in 1896 after a brief period of twelve months as a temporary inspector of works.

JOHN JAMES CLARK (1883- December 1885 Colonial Architect)

Early biographical details on Clark are to be found in the section on Victorian Government Architects. After his retrenchment from the Victorian Colonial Architect’s office on Black Wednesday 1878, he continued in temporary employment to supervise the construction of the Melbourne Law Courts. After moving to Sydney, he went into private practice with his brother and then moved to Brisbane in 1883 as Queensland Colonial Architect. The position had remained unfilled since Stanley’s departure. Clark is best remembered for his design for the Treasury building, and for the fact that expenditure in his department rose dramatically during his term of office. He remained in the partnership which he had established with his brother while in Sydney: the firm of Clark Bros was successful in competitions for the town halls in Brisbane, Gympie and Warwick, although only the Gympie design was built eventually in 1890.

During his term, designs were drawn up for the Supreme Court in Rockhampton, 1885-7, court houses at Warwick (1885-7), and Mackay (1885), and the post and telegraph offices in Townsville (1885-8). Despite increases in staff numbers and rising expenditure in the office, delays in work output led to criticism, and Clark was dismissed in 1885. He continued to practise successfully in Brisbane until his appointment to the Public Works Department of Western Australia as a draftsman in 1896 and 1897. Remaining in Perth in private practice until 1899, he returned to Brisbane, where he worked with Queensland Railways on designs for Townsville’s station and Brisbane’s Central Station. He may have influenced Henrik Hansen’s designs for country stations on the central line. He returned to private practice in Melbourne in 1902, after winning a competition for the design of the Melbourne Baths. His death in 1915 ended a long and fruitful career.

GEORGE ST PAUL CONNOLLY (1881-3 Acting Colonial Architect, December 1885-1891 Colonial Architect)

Born in Brisbane in 1847, Connolly served his articles in architects’ offices and joined the Colonial Architect’s office in 1872. Following Stanley’s resignation, he did the work of Colonial Architect until Clark’s appointment, designing the Mackay post office (1881-3); the Northern Supreme Court and Public Offices at Bowen (1881); and the court house at Bundaberg (1882-3). When Clark was appointed he reverted to Senior Draftsman but was formally appointed to the position of Colonial Architect when Clark resigned. He was assisted by a very able team which included Thomas Pye and Charles McLay. McLay designed the Brisbane Custom House (1886), and the Bundaberg Post Office (1885-9). Hospitals formed a major part of the department’s work during Connolly’s term of office. He was dismissed in 1891 as a result of complaints within the department, and practised privately until his death in 1908.

ALFRED BARTON BRADY (1891 Government Architect and Engineer for Bridges, 1900-1922, Under-Secretary for the Department of Public Works, Government Architect and Engineer for Bridges)

Born in 1856 in Manchester, England, Brady trained with and worked for the architect, Charles Green, who was responsible for the buildings of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. He went on to work in areas of surveying and engineering and, when he migrated to Queensland in 1884, he joined Queensland Railways. He was promoted rapidly and in 1889 became the Engineer for Bridges in the Public Works Department. When Connolly was dismissed, the duties of architect and engineer were combined under Brady, who distinguished himself as a very able administrator. When the department was reorganised in 1901, responsibility for buildings in the north was handed to John Smith Murdoch, and in the south to Thomas Pye. Murdoch designed the Sandgate Post Office (1887), the custom house in Maryborough (1898-1900), and Mackay (1900-1), and the court house in Gympie (1900-1). When Murdoch transferred to the Commonwealth in 1904, Pye took responsibility for all of Queensland and was appointed Deputy Government Architect in 1906. Pye designed the Lands and Survey building in Brisbane (1899-1905); custom house in Rockhampton (1899); and was probably responsible for the design of the Ipswich post office (1899-1900), and the Warwick police station (1900). Brady retired in 1922 after a creditable career as an engineer and administrator, and died in 1932.


Buildings of Queensland, Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Jacaranda, 1959.

Cameron, Ian, 125 Years of State Public Works in Queensland, 1859-1984, Director General, Premier’s Department, Queensland, 1989.

Information from the Department of Works, Queensland, and Queensland Rail. Watson, Donald, McKay, Judith, Queensland Architects of the 19th Century, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, 1994.