Western Australia

HENRY REVELY (1829-1838 Civil Engineer)

Born around 1789, Revely was the son of an English architect whose style was influenced by the Greek Revival. At ten years of age he went to live in Italy, where he eventually studied science and engineering at the University of Pisa. In 1826 he was offered a position as Civil Engineer at Cape Town in South Africa. It was here that Captain Stirling, on his way to found the new colony of Western Australia, met him and offered him the position of Civil Engineer.

Using a tent as an office, Revely lacked even basics such as nails and sledgehammers, or an efficient workforce. Nevertheless, by 1831 he had achieved the completion of the Round House gaol at Fremantle (1830-1), a temporary residence and office for the governor, a stone granary and store, a stone jetty, a temporary church and four public offices. Other necessary buildings were a barracks for the soldiers, a commissariat store and court house. Of these only the court house (1836), remains, and is now the oldest building in Perth. Revely’s last work was the construction of the public offices and Legislative Council chambers (demolished in 1961). In 1838 Revely returned to England, where he lectured in arts and sciences.

HENRY TRIGG (1829-38 Clerk of Works, 1838-1850 Superintendent of Public Works)

Born in 1791, Trigg was a builder by trade. He arrived in the colony in 1829 at the time of the first settlement. In proportion to the 200 pounds, which he brought to the colony, he received 2,986 acres of land. When the boat on which he arrived was unable to berth, Trigg made his mark by going ashore and fetching fresh water. Once ashore he spent a fortnight living in the open with the rain and mosquitoes.

His resourcefulness attracted the attention of the governor, who appointed him Clerk of Works. Trigg became very involved in community affairs and the Congregational church. By the time he was appointed Superintendent of Public Works, the colony was in economic recession; few buildings apart from churches were being built. However, gaols and lock ups were built in newly developing towns; Guildford received a gaol (1841), and Bunbury a lockup and public offices. The original section of a house for the Government Resident in York was built around 1843. Major public works carried out in Perth were the causeway and jetty. Trigg died in 1882.

JAMES G. AUSTIN (1851-1853 Superintendent of Public Works)

In 1840 the Western Australian Company was planning to establish a settlement, ‘Australind’, and Austin was brought to the colony as its Chief Surveyor. After leaving this position, he worked privately, and was involved in science and viticulture as well as architecture. After approaching the governor, he became involved in additions to Government House.

In 1851 he replaced Trigg as Superintendent of Public Works, but no buildings bear witness to his short period in office. He resigned in 1853, to be replaced by Richard Roach Jewell. The arrival of the convict establishment during his term of office, provided additional skills for public works, and the military ‘architects’ worked in collaboration with the department on many projects. Austin died in 1853.


The recession of the 1840s was made worse by an acute shortage of labour. Many settlers left for the eastern colonies; those who remained began to agitate for convict labour to be introduced. In 1849 the British government agreed to this request, and provided sufficient funds to pay for equal numbers of free settlers to emigrate. Convicts were to be employed on public works and then be available to the colonists after proving their good behaviour. Fremantle was the initial base for the convicts; later, in country towns such as Guildford, the local gaol was used as a hiring centre for convicts working for local settlers. As a result, there was a burst of activity in country towns, particularly Guildford, Toodyay, and Northam. Three significant figures in construction work at this time were Captain Henderson, James Manning and Henry Wray.


Henderson arrived in 1850 to control the new convict establishment and direct its program of public works. He had graduated from the Royal Military Academy in 1838, and had completed a course in engineering and building instruction at Chatham. He was 29 years old when he took up his appointment at Fremantle. He was in England from 1856 to 1858 and finally left Western Australia in 1863.


Manning arrived with Henderson in 1850 as Clerk of Works. He did not have a military background but had trained as a civil engineer. He was seconded to the colonial administration to assist with projects such as the supervision of the construction of Perth’s Town Hall (1865-70), and pensioners’ barracks. He is credited with the first stage of the Albany Post Office and Customs building (1869-70).

HENRY WRAY (1851-1858)

Wray arrived in Fremantle in 1851 with his company of sappers and marines to provide additional security. Born in 1826, he had architectural and engineering skills most valuable to the building program. The three men combined their skills on major projects in Fremantle: gaol (1857-59) (Henderson, Wray and Manning), asylum (1861-65) (Henderson and Wray), commissariat and customs (1851), and commissariat stores (1852) (Manning and Wray).

RICHARD ROACH JEWELL (1853-1884 Clerk of Works and Superintendent of the Towns of Perth and Fremantle)

Jewell was born in 1810 in North Devon. He trained as an articled architect and builder, and supervised construction works in various parts of England. He arrived in Western Australia in 1852 and was appointed as Foreman, then Clerk of Works in the Colonial Public Works Department. He replaced Austin in 1853 with the title of Clerk of Works and Superintendent of the towns of Perth and Fremantle. For nearly all his 32 years in office Jewell was the only experienced and qualified architect in the colony. He worked at first with the assistance of a clerk in Perth, and the services of a supervisor in Albany. During his term of office the staff increased with two additional draftsmen, a surveyor and inspector of works. The depressed state of the economy necessitated minimum expenditure, so bricks made locally near Perth were used for construction instead of stone. Although the officers of the convict establishment did most of their building work in Fremantle, Manning in particular worked closely with Jewell in Perth. Despite the economic restraints, Jewell produced some very beautiful and noteworthy buildings - the Perth Gaol and Court House (now incorporated into the museum) (1856), and the Town Hall (1870). The Government Offices (first stage, corner of Barrack Street and St. George’s Terrace) (1874-75) were extended in 1877-8 and again in 1883. During his term of office court houses were built in Fremantle (1884), and Guildford, (1865), and a gaol was constructed at Toodyay (1862, extended in 1877). Jewell had acted as Director of Public Works on three occasions before retiring in 1884. He died in 1891.

GEORGE TEMPLE POOLE (1885-1891 Superintendent of Public Works, 1891-1897 Colonial Architect)

Born in Rome in 1856, Poole was educated in England. He served his articles with his stepfather, an architect and surveyor, and in 1881 was admitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects. He worked in private practice and for firms of engineers and architects before moving to Western Australia. During his term of office Western Australia was granted responsible government, which brought with it its associated departments. In 1890 Poole became Assistant Chief Engineer and Colonial Architect of the Public Works Department. He was a founding member of the Western Australian Institute of Architects, and was involved in many local organisations. Poole traveled to England after his resignation in 1897, but later returned to Western Australia and the Public Works Department. He went into private practice in 1903 and died in 1934.

Poole was in office during a boom time for building activity in Western Australia. Unlike the other colonies, which were gripped by economic depression, Western Australia was enjoying the benefits of gold discoveries. Many architects from the eastern colonies migrated west to join the Public Works Department, bringing a wealth of experience and talent. Notable among them were J.J. Clark, Gustav Joachim, C.G. Ross and J.H. Brabin from the Victorian Public Works Department; Hillson Beasley, who had been lecturing at the Working Men’s College in Melbourne; and A.R.L. Wright from a private practice in Brisbane.

It is difficult to select the most significant of the buildings designed during Poole’s term of office. Some noteworthy examples are Perth’s General Post Office (1889), which was extended by a third storey in 1898; the Museum and Art Gallery (1896-99); Lands Department (1893); Titles Office (1896-97); and Royal Mint (1896). Court houses were built at Fremantle (1890); York (1895); Northam (1896); and Toodyay (1896-97), as well as numerous post and telegraph offices, including Albany (1896); Northam (1892); Toodyay (1897); and Coolgardie (1894).

JOHN GRAINGER (1897 -1905 Principal Architect)

Born in Durham in 1855, Grainger migrated from England to Adelaide in 1877. Moving to Melbourne in 1880, he set up a successful private practice with Charles D’Ebro, and in 1882 their design was selected for the Fremantle Town Hall. After a return trip to England and Adelaide, Grainger settled in Western Australia, first in Kalgoorlie then in Perth. In 1897 he was appointed Principal Architect in the Public Works Department. From 1899 to 1901 he worked on the Paris Exhibition, and was again absent in 1904 through illness, with Hillson Beasley acting as Chief Architect. Grainger retired in 1905 and went into private practice. He died in 1917. Some of the major works of his time in office were the Public Offices in Kalgoorlie (1899), Perth’s Supreme Court (1906), and the first stage of Parliament House.


Australian Dictionary of Biography, vols 1, 2, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Victoria, 1966-
Le Page, J.S., Building a State: the Story of the Public Works Department of Western Australia, 1829 - 1985, Leederville, 1986.

Oldham, Ray and John, ‘Documents on Australian Architecture, Richard Roach Jewell’, article in Architecture in Australia, Nov. 1966.

Pitt, Morrison, M., Immigrant Architects in Western Australia, 1885-1905, c.1982, Battye Library, PR 13589.

Reference files including ‘A History of Government Buildings, 1829-1979’, held by the WA Department of Contract and Management Services, Perth.
Tanner, Howard (ed.), Architects of Australia, Macmillan, 1981.
van Bremen, I., The New Architecture of the Gold Boom in WA: Government Buildings under the Direction of G.T. Poole, 1885-1897, PhD, UWA, Arch., 1990.

‘Trigg: Man of Many Parts’, West Australian, 12 February 1980, p.38,