Website Banner. John Monash: Engineering enterprise prior to World War 1.

[Introduction] [Main Index] [Buildings Index] [Index of Architects] [Index of JM's staff and others] [Abbreviations] [Units & Currency] [Glossary]

Notes on Building Projects
[ prev ]  Page 13  [ next ]

Caution. The information on this page concerning buildings comes mainly from a speedy 'first pass' through the RCMPC records at UMA and from dipping into the Monash Papers at NLA looking for information on other themes. It is presented to indicate the nature and scope of John Monash's work in building construction. Details should be used with caution. For an overview of early development of reinforced concrete in Australia, see e.g. Lewis, M. 1988.

Benevolent Asylum, Cheltenham (Melbourne).

RCMPC first considered this project in February 1906, but I have indexed it under '1909' because construction was long delayed. The project was to consist of four buildings with a total floor area of 200 squares. Initially, architect-engineer Charles D'Ebro had prepared a design employing cast iron columns and steel beams. Monash calculated its cost, then proposed a reinforced concrete alternative at £1850. A drawing was prepared by P T Fairway and signed by JM on 29 March.

Each building was to have six reinforced concrete columns. The floor plates, designed for 84 psf, would be either 2.5 or 3.5 inches thick, depending on the distance between r.c. joists. One of JM's selling points was that the r.c. alternative eliminated the need for riveted and bolted connections.

Monash wrote to Gummow Forrest & Co in Sydney that gravel was "not to be had" on site, and that "bluestone shivers" and screenings were expensive. However, excellent sand was available, as used by RCMPC for pipe-making. Would it be advisable to use a concrete consisting only of sand and cement for this class of work? If so, in what proportions?

For several years the rival Ferro-Concrete Company of Australasia, active in New Zealand and South Australia, had been trying to break into the reinforced concrete business in Victoria. In September 1903 it had moved to undermine the Monier patent that gave RCMPC local protection. Monash had been able to prevent this thanks to his knowlege as a patent attorney, but the firm still looked for work in Victoria. In April 1906 its manager, a Mr Robertson, met the committee of the Asylum and as a selling point invited them to visit a reinforced concrete building under construction in South Kensington [Melbourne]. This just happened to be one of RCMPC's projects [AMLF Stores?] as JM was quick to point out once he learned of the offer.

Despite the business rivalry, correspondence between JM and Robertson was cordial.

In November 1906 RCMPC received requests from contractors to quote for the reinforced concrete work, but in June 1907 the papers carried news of an "unexpected check" and "removal of the asylum". It was not until March 1908 that new tenders were called. Monash told D'Ebro that he could not quote this time at the same price offered in 1906. The price of cement had gone from 9/6d to 12/- per cask, and building labour was more expensive. His new price was £514 "for each of the pavilions", totalling £2056 (as against £1850 in 1906).

The general contract was awarded to C. Wadey and RCMPC was engaged to build the floors. However, it was not until March 1909 that Monash wrote to Wadey asking "when do we start?". RCMPC's first requisition for materials was issued on 5 June. Their work on the first pavilion was finished by 9 August.

There was concern in September when it was discovered that 2.5 tons of small diameter steel rods were missing. JM told Lynch: "It is difficult to say whether these losses are due to more steel having been used than the drawings show, or whether to some parcels having been stolen or mislaid. The latter explanation appears the more likely; but I can scarcely rest satisfied without fuller enquiry … Please pursue, but it is not urgent".

In October the usual problems of interference started, with Wadey complaining that RCMPC were slow in erecting columns. Gibson replied "We have not delayed", but he sent a Mr Ekberg to take charge of the job. Soon after, there was a dispute over RCMPC's claim to have appointed sub-contractors to speed up plastering of the ceilings and then dismissed them because of a complaint from Wadey. The latter evidently felt he was being given the run-around and wrote a furious letter. "We have done so much for you", he asserted, but after such "shabby" treatment he would withdraw all facilities. RCMPC responded by handing over the plastering work to Wadey and crediting him £85 per pavilion.

The third pavilion was declared finished by 3 November and a start was made on the fourth. By 30 November RCMPC declared its work almost complete and started squaring up accounts with Wadey. D'Ebro insisted on a load test and Monash suggested that a load of bricks placed on the first floor slab symmetrically about one column would be "fairest". On 2 February 1910 D'Ebro reported that the test had been successful. After some minor fixing of the floor in the fourth pavilion the final account was submitted on 1 July 1910, though correspondence continued for some time after this.


Kingston Local History.
AAI gives: BEMJ 23 Feb 1904 p.51; Building Aug 1910 p.37.

Post Office, Brunswick (Melbourne)

This job involved a reinforced concrete first floor for a suburban post office, supported mainly on masonry walls with the assistance of four r.c. columns with footings. Stairs, landings and lintels were also of reinforced concrete. The client and architect was the Commonwealth [of Australia] Public Works Dept, Director Thomas Hill.

First floor plan showing grid of beams.RCMPC were alerted to the job by calls for tenders in The Age of 21 June 1909 and obtained a sketch plan. Early in July they received enquiries from builders and on 16th wrote to W H Deague & Sons of North Fitzroy, the successful tenderers, to say that if they intended to give the job to RCMPC they should allow plenty of time for calculations, drawings and obtaining building approval. The working drawing was initialled by J A Laing on 24 September and signed by Fairway on behalf of Monash. It provides detailed dimensions for concrete members, but lacks major dimensions, suggesting that the builder had failed to pass these on, and RCMPC had worked by scaling from initial plans.

Late in October a dispute arose over a "girder or lintel" of span 16'-7" carrying the central portion of the front wall. RCMPC claimed it was a lintel, and therefore to be paid for by Deague per cubic foot of volume. Deague maintained it was an integral part of the first floor, and was therefore covered by the price for the floor.

In January 1910 the vexed question of a load test was raised. Monash was strongly opposed to the idea on the grounds that the theory and practice of reinforced concrete were now thoroughly established and such tests were a waste of time and money. He was even more opposed to the common expectation that RCMPC should conduct tests on its own structures. He told Deague he had not been aware that a load test was expected and that RCMPC was not equipped to apply it. Instead, he offered an absolute guarantee of the efficiency of work. This was contained in a letter to Hill reading: "we hereby absolutely guarantee the work carried out by us for the loading specified in the manner specified, and we further undertake that if at any time any defect due to our default, whether in design or construction, of these floors should manifest itself, we will make same good at our own cost, and we will also be responsible for making good, at our own cost, any consequential damage or injury which may occur to the building or any of its contents through any such defects".

The final account, submitted on 18 April 1910 was for £336 plus £13-16-0d for the disputed lintel/girder.

Conservatorium of Music.

The RCMPC file under this heading contains computations and estimates prepared in July 1909 for a suspended floor and lintels at the Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne. In a private letter to Peebles covering the bid, Monash wrote: "I have cut down the price as low as it is possible, consistent with doing a decent and satisfactory job". This was perhaps a stab at his competitors. By this stage they would have included the Master Builders, who where breaking into RCMPC's monopoly of reinforced concrete construction claiming they could do the work just as competently. (The price was £461, less 10 per cent = £415.)

There is no correspondence preserved in the file of the sort normally generated during the construction process. There is however, a single drawing: a blueprint headed "Drawing 7. Proposed Conservatorium …" The drawing number, relatively high for an RCMPC project at that time, suggests that reasonably comprehensive documentation was produced - something that Monash avoided until he was confident of securing a job. On the other hand, the use of the word "proposed" is unusual.

G Tibbits, who researched the history and conservation value of the Conservatorium building, was convinced that RCMPC did build the r.c. floor (Lewis 2004, p.102). Lewis notes that the general contractors were Swanson Bros, and their contract was signed in November 1909, some months after they had deprived RCMPC of the r.c. work in the Melbourne Public Library. We know that in September, Peebles had tried to arrange a meeting between JM and one of the Swansons, but was not confident that Swanson would agree.

Three Consulting Jobs, 1909.

Tarrant Motor Garage (consulting).

In July and August 1909, Monash advised on alterations to the structure of a garage at 104 Russell St, Melbourne, owned by the Tarrant Motor & Engineering Co. The ground floor was obstructed by a row of steel columns down the middle. These supported the first floor, which was carried on lateral steel beams spanning 13 feet from the side walls to the column tops. At one stage, Monash considered installing vertical tie rods in the upper floor to do the job previously performed by the columns, but opted for 26-foot steel beams running from wall to wall. He managed to do this without greatly encroaching on the original factor of safety of 4; prepared a specification; and supervised the letting of the contract to steel fabricators Johns & Waygood.

Engine vibration (consulting).

This was a small consulting job in conjunction with T W Fowler, lecturer at the University of Melbourne. A gas engine in a building owned by Andrew Jack & Co was transmitting vibrations to the adjacent Aberdeen Buildings, on the corner of Collins and King Sts, owned by Colonial Mutual. Monash inspected the site on 27 August 1909 and drafted notes for a report, telling Fowler "Do not hesitate to dissent both from verbiage and from the opinions". On 11 April 1910 he sent a list of professional services which included assistance with some sort of legal settlement.

Swanson Bros test plates for MPL.

In August 1909 Monash calculated the strength of concrete plates experimentally reinforced with meshes of fine wire. Our research notes do not indicate whether Swanson Bros initiated the experiment or whether JM supervised actual load tests. Documents dated 7 August refer to the 3rd and 4th plates as "reinforced with lattice mesh".

JM noted: "The Reinforcement here consists of two members, (1) Main straight bars in direction of tension (2) A diagonal system of thin bars with compression members supplied by concrete". [See sketch below.] He continued: "(2) can be neglected because [a] the wire is of very small diameter and [b] the diagonals are very flat (i.e.) badly conditioned". JM then calculated the Moment of Resistance [bending strength] for two cross-sections. One had bars 1/4 inch in diameter spaced at centres of 41/8 inches. The other had groups of three 7/32 inch diameter wires, the groups being spaced at "4 inch pitch" (i.e. 4 inches clear space between groups). On 14th, JM worked out the strengths of four more plates, noting they were "Computed by Spitzer's method - (see home black note book)". Two plates were reinforced with 3/8" rods at 2.5" centres, one 4" thick, the other 5" thick. The other two were reinforced with " Mesh 1/4" × 41/8" ". Again, one was 4" thick and the other 5".

A strip of mesh is shown, like a row of diamond shapes joined at their sides. When a pull is applied in the direction of the strip, the diamonds tend to expand in that direction, but contract in the other direction. This contraction is resisted by the concrete contained within the diamond shapes.

Approximate reproduction, with added colour, of JM's sketch for the mechanics of mesh reinforcement. The pull in the direction of the arrows causes the width of the mesh to contract concertina-fashion. This effect is resisted by the concrete infilling the mesh, which operates as a row of compression members (one of which is indicated by the green dotted line).

Melbourne Hospital Floors (bid).

A "Great Rebuilding Scheme" for the Melbourne Hospital was announced in The Argus on 11 January 1907. In August 1909 RCMPC quoted the architects, J J & E J Clark, for reinforced concrete floors, roof, verandahs and stairs. In October they provided another estimate based on a reduction in design floor load from 112 pounds per square foot to 80 psf. The proposal resurfaced in the middle of 1910, when Monash was on his overseas tour. Gibson informed him that Clark had "quite backed out of Reinforced Concrete work in the new Melbourne Hospital" and "knowing Clark", he doubted that he could be persuaded to change his mind. Nevertheless, Fairway remained hopeful and submitted a hand-written quote for £1976.

In November Monash, back from his tour, worked on more figuring and estimates. Early in January 1911 he looked at costs, strengths and spans of different floor systems, and possible applications particularly in regard to the hospital. He made notes on German proprietary systems of hollow floor, and devised his own scheme for ribbed floors using 'lost formwork' in the form of inverted reinforced concrete troughs. On 17 January the builders, Peters & Hetherington, wrote to say "With regard to the Reinforced Concrete work in our Contracts at the Melbourne Hospital, we intend executing the work ourselves" - another reminder that RCMPC had lost its monopoly on reinforced concrete construction.

Strengthening of floors at BATC factory, 1909. (Consulting.)

Monash was called in to investigate structural problems at British Australasian Tobacco's factory in A'Beckett St, Melbourne and its Stewart Street Store. Notes dated 25 August 1909 from "today's inspection" show that a timber beam had cracked longitudinally at about mid-depth and sagged badly. After making calculations, JM reported on 6 September:

JM recommended [once again] the removal of the cast iron columns under the ground and first floors. He pointed out that the cost of this radical measure would be very little more than that of piecemeal solutions. These floors should be treated just as the second and third floors were treated "some fourteen-and-a-half years before" (by removing the central row of columns and installing rolled steel joists to carry the floors across the full width of the building). JM estimated the cost at £440. He noted that his design for the RSJs allowed for future replacement of the wooden flooring by reinforced concrete. In his opinion, the foundations were "close to overloading" - despite an assurance by the owners that they were "fine". JM offered to carry out the work using day labour.

On 17 September, Mr Wilkins, Manager for BAT, gave the green light. Monash accepted a quote from Johns & Waygood for 12 steel girders for £348 and gave them military-style instructions for delivery of 2 girders per week at 12.00 noon sharp each Saturday. Similar instructions were sent to a Mr George Hatswell, evidently an employee of BAT who was to act as Clerk of Works. He proposed some modifications to the procedure for switching beams from timber to steel. These were approved by JM as long as the floors were used only for office space at the time.

On 26 November, Monash wrote to BAT management with high praise for Hatswell who had conducted the "difficult and hazardous undertaking" with success and economy. As a result, the cost had been reduced from £440 to £410. JM's fee for the work was 5 per cent commission (which worked out to £20-8-0, based on a final cost of £408) and 3 guineas (£3-3-0) for the inspection and design.

Monash's previous project for BATC was the addition of an extra storey in 1907-08. Their next project was the addition of a kitchen.

Dunlop Wall (consulting).

This was a very small consulting job between 3rd and 7th November 1909, checking the stability of a bluestone wall at the premises of the Dunlop Tyre Co. It adds to the impression that Monash was seriously considering a move into the field of consulting, as RCMPC's monopoly of reinforced concrete construction began to crumble.

Sack Factory floor (bid).

This was a slab-on-ground at Tye's Warehouse, Little Bourke St. On 18 October 1909 RCMPC quoted Reynolds Bros, the contractors, 8/6 per super yard (i.e. per 9 square feet). On 19 November they reduced this to 7/6. The final account was issued on 17 February for 183.5 square yards costing £68-16-3.

Craig's Lane Warehouse.

The architect for this project was R B Whitaker and the builder J S G Wright. The site was "just off Bourke St", Melbourne and the building was about 27 × 62 feet in plan. RCMPC built three r.c. floors supported on the masonry walls. No columns or footings were required. The drawing was prepared by P T Fairway and signed by him on behalf of Monash. It assumes a thoroughly experienced work force. Only the ends of typical main and secondary beams are detailed, in elevation and cross-section, indicating shear reinforcement and main bars. The plan of the first floor slab has cryptic indications of number or spacing of rods and their diameter. The second and third floors are described as "similar".

RCMPC's first tender on 1 October 1909 was for £419. This was reduced to £394 on the understanding that Wright would supply some plant. He accepted it on 3 November. Calculations and quantities were then prepared and the drawing produced on 5th. Later, Wright was warned that the cost would be £15 greater because the City Building Surveyor was insisting on 1:2:3 concrete instead of the 1:2:4 specified. RCMPC explained they were following the architect's orders in this respect. On 24 December, they reported to Wright that all work was complete, except for stripping of formwork and removal of plant.

BATC Kitchen.

The first mention of the "BAT Kitchen" in our research notes is of a decision to revise its design in October 1909. It seems to have been added on top of an existing building. The first requisition for materials was issued in December 1909 and details sent to the Building Surveyor three days later. In February JM informed the architect, F J Davies, that "The timberwork erected for us by the Company's workmen has deflected under the weight of plastic concrete and the floor is likely to have a sag. We trust we shall be absolved from responsibility." It seems that BATC was trying to save money and/or time by having its own workforce prepare the falsework and formwork. The cost of RCMPC's work was calculated at £350 and the final account was issued on 26 April 1910.

Monash's previous project for BATC was the strengthening of floors in 1909. The next was an additional building in Stewart St.


BATC Stewart St Building.

RCMPC carried out several overlapping projects for the British Australasian Tobacco Co at its premises at the top of Swanston St, bounded by Stewart St and A'Beckett St. Working only from our research notes and drawings preserved in JTC, it is difficult to separate them. Most of the following jottings refer to a building designated "BAT Stewart St" (often spelled "Stuart") or "BAT No.2". Some have been provisionally allocated by me to this project. Eventually I hope to educate myself by reference to other sources such as AAI and Building. A.H.

Monash held an important meeting with Mr Cameron of BATC in September 1909. His notes, dated 17th, are accompanied by four pages of calculations and estimates. On 5 October he presented the following report to Cameron:

Re fireproofing portions of the Stewart St Store Buildings (floors).

The loading is "exceptionally high" being 4 cwt/sq ft on the two lower floors and 2 cwt/sq ft on the two upper floors.


Front Block: 
  2 lower flrs (inc r.c. secondary girders) each 19 squares£380
  Two upper flrs each 19 sq£323
Back Block (21 sq) 
Concrete-casing existing and new steel girders.£276
Granolithic surfacing 1800 sq yd.£270
Trimming at lifts and stairs, adjusting to falls, sundries    £75

However, on 10th RCMPC quoted for a revised scheme:

For 2 complete floors:
approximately 67' × 115' and a roof of half that area;
for 1.5 cwt/sq ft and 70 psf respectively, plus columns, lintels, and parapet

For additional extension of roof:£480
Stairs and enclosing walls:£206

On 21 June came an "Amended Quote":

1 floor 67' × 116' and roof 67' × 116' plus columns, tank stand, etc. etc.£2560
staircase and well:£165

On 23 August Fairway prepared calculations for "Scheme No.4", resulting in:

1 floor 67' × 50', roof 67' × 50', etc., etc.£1045
additional storey£330

The first requisition for materials was issued on 16 September 1910. Calculations and drawings were sent to the Building Surveyor (Morton) on 28th. In mid-October Cameron asked RCMPC to work 7 days per week. The final account for BATC Project No.2 was issued on 22 February 1911, with RCMPC requesting compensation for the fact that they had been obliged to pay all workers an extra shilling per day because of "threats and rumours of labour troubles".

Note on spelling. Around the turn of the century Australians favoured the -or ending over -our (e.g. Melbourne Harbor Trust, Labor Party). This was reflected in the correspondence of Monash and his colleagues. However, by the period now under consideration (c1910) -our was more common.

RCMPC's previous project for BATC had been the addition of a kitchen. Their next involved several additions including the Dryers Roof, a Pantry, and a Strong Room.

McCracken Buildings.

This project provides insights into the relative costs of different types of construction and the changing nature of competition as RCMPC's patent protection neared its end. It confirms that Monash and Gibson had responded to the Master Builders' challenge by going into business as master builders themselves. The project was described as "New Warehouses and additions and alterations to McCrackens Brewery Co. Ltd.". Drawings in JTC show a plain rectangular building bounded by McCracken Lane, New Lane and Church Lane, with an internal roadway in the Ground Floor for deliveries. The architects were Purchas & Teague and the builder R McDonald. There is a memorial wall-painting of the Brewery in the foyer of the new multistorey building at '500 Collins St'.

Two historic images of this building may be found in the University of Melbourne Archives Image Collection UMAIC. Search under Record ID for UMA/I/6160 and 6161. Any enquiries to UMA regarding these images should quote Location Numbers BWP/23721 and 23722.

Late in September 1909 Monash wrote an urgent letter to Gibson setting out his estimates of the probable lowest tenders for a competing construction in brick and timber (£23,000) and for reinforced concrete construction as designed by Purchas (£26,000 or £26,250 depending on the amount of work included). Monash noted that the actual cost of RCMPC's own r.c. design was only £21,000. What profit did Gibson think would be appropriate?

The fact that architects were now carrying out, or commissioning, r.c. design indepently of RCMPC was of great significance for the firm.

Monash was heavily engaged at the time in other civil and military matters. On 5 October he went to Adelaide to deal with SARC concerns, returning on Friday 8th. On Saturday 9th he was to leave for Sydney to attend a fortnight's course in military staff duties, taking a few minutes while the train stopped at Benalla at 8.24 p.m. for a discussion with foreman Jones on the progress of the local bridge. Somewhere in this, according to Serle, he fitted in a conference with senior military officers to consider Bruche's secret defence and mobilization scheme for Australia.

Before leaving for Adelaide he wrote a personal letter to Purchas, explaining that he had delayed his departure for a week in order to prepare the tender for McCracken's. He asked, as a great personal favour, if Purchas could drop a hint to Gibson or Fairway as soon as the result of the tenders was known. On 6th Gibson wired that RCMPC's tender was third lowest. "Have seen Architect. Pointed out our excellent work. Relief to him guarantee clients. That work should be given to most reliable tenderer not necessarily lowest. Believe difference not great. Can you suggest further arguments. Not hopeful."

The clients did indeed instruct Purchas to accept the lowest tender, submitted by R. McDonald. RCMPC then sought appointment as subcontractor for the reinforced concrete work. On 16th Gibson wired Monash (now in Sydney) "Have asked Mac ten thousand eight hundred he offers nine five hundred which have refused final meeting Monday propose split difference but do not think should go below ten thousand wire me your opinion to Kew writing". On 18th it was "Fixed with Mac nine thousand nine hundred and five pounds and free water exclusive grano and excavations as per your estimate subject architect accepting our design".

The bugbear of penalty clauses must have been raised in discussions because on 27th Monash assured McDonald that RCMPC would take the responsibility of protecting him against any loss due to delay on RCMPC's part. "At the same time, we will rely on your active cooperation in imposing upon the Architect the responsibility for any delay due to him." There had already been delay due to slow delivery of information from this source. Perhaps to emphasise formal responsibilities, JM insisted it was the architects' job to apply for special permissions from the Building Referees. When the Building Surveyor, Morton, questioned the calculations and drawings for the foundations, JM replied "We submitted the calculations and drawings in pursuance of instructions from the Architects (Messrs Purchas & Teague). We have no knowledge of any question of submission of this matter to the Official Referees, and have no standing for any such reference. Would you be good enough to communicate direct with the Architects as to your requirements in this matter".

Apart from this, the work of engineering computations, drawings, and construction must have proceeded rapidly and smoothly. Our research notes for November and December simply list the issue of engineering drawings, many preserved in JTC, and requests for progress payments. In mid December RCMPC quoted McDonald £640 for stairs, to be added to the original £9905. Towards the end of the month JM told him that if the architect wanted to make a bigger deduction than 10 per cent for retention money, he should point out that much work was done during the period between lodgement of a progress payment claim and the actual payment, and this could be considered as money held by the client. Reflecting the rate of progress, or perhaps making a point, on 6 January he increased the claim made on 21 December by £2000 to cover work done in the meantime. Monash gave the architect and builder a full guarantee on the reinforced concrete work; guaranteed the floors to hold 2 cwt per square foot; and accepted that a test load could be applied.

On 18 February 1910 he said he was keen to get on with the lift enclosures and asked McDonald to press the architect, who was "in no hurry to fix things". The drawing for the roof was issued on 16 March. On 19th RCMPC quoted £240 for "enclosing walls". These may have been for the stairs and/or lifts. The latest drawing preserved in JTC was issued on 8 April (after JM had left for his overseas tour) and the final statement of accounts on 28 May.

On 10 August Fairway told McDonald that RCMPC were going ahead with urgent alterations to McCracken's following a verbal request, but would like a formal request in writing. They were disappointed by the delay in settling accounts for the main contract and though they realised he was pushing the architects, when would the matter be finalised?

The alterations continued through September. In October one of the tenants, Queen City Printers, complained that the floor supporting their machines had cracked badly. Fairway reported the cracks were minor and limited to the granolithic surfacing. In January 1912 the printers complained of cracks in the roof, to be told they were only "thermal" (due to contraction of the concrete). In December 1913 and January 1914, RCMPC advised on the installation of bearers to spread the load of machines in the building.

Strong Room for Savings Bank.

This small job is mentioned as typical of many others. In October 1909 RCMPC quoted £80 for a reinforced concrete strong room at the Savings Bank in High St, Armadale (Melbourne). The job was obtained through RCMPC's representative with the architectural profession, W E L Wears. He gave the go-ahead on 1 December. On 13th he was told that site conditions required the vault to be 6 inches larger than advised and was asked if he could extract a higher price from the architect.

Stuart's Warehouse.

This building was situated at 92-94 Flinders St, Melbourne. The client was F Stuart and the architects Billing Son & Peck. It was a long, thin building with a frontage of about 37 feet and a length about 180 ft. Drawings show three floors. The vertical load was carried entirely by masonry walls. Some of the main reinforced concrete girders spanned the entire 33 feet clear between side walls and were almost 3 ft deep. Others had lower spans, where stair wells and access ramps provided additional walls for support. Apart from this, the structure was relatively straightforward and repetitive.

Plan showing grid of beams in this long, narrow building. Main girders span between the masonry side walls. There are four rows of secondary beams spanning between the main girders, except where interrupted by stairwells, etc.

Typical floor plan showing load-bearing masonry walls and reinforced concrete beams.

The first mention in our research notes is of "Estimate No.2" at £7130, evidently for the whole building. RCMPC also quoted the architects £1675 for two floors, a roof, partitions and minor work, perhaps hoping they would specify this as a "prime cost item". The project must have grown, because in March 1910, the estimate for the whole building was £8300, and they quoted master builders £3419 for r.c. work involving three floors, roof, partitions, etc.

The successful bidder proved to be J J Oliver. Monash told C H Goodwill, RCMPC's travelling representative, that Oliver was "hard to get hold of" and did not keep appointments. "Try to catch him", he ordered. Goodwill must have been successful because RCMPC's first requisition for materials for the project was issued on 18 April. Thereafter, progress seems to have been reasonably smooth. The Building Surveyor, H E Morton had to intervene in May after noticing that a girder was being erected to carry a front wall though he had been given no particulars of it.

Calculations for the project were done mainly by Fairway. Drawings were prepared by J A Laing and signed by Fairway on behalf of Monash who was on his world tour. A number of changes were made by the architect during construction, but seem to have caused no major problems. The drawing for the roof was issued on 1 June 1910 and most major work may have been finished by that time. On 18 August Lynch reported the job complete and all plant removed. The final account to Oliver was for £3132.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict[Top.]

Other 'Building Notes' pages: [Previous] [Next]

[Main Index.] [Building Index.] [Brief Overview of Projects.]