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Notes on Building Projects
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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.

Connibere's Warehouse.

This project illustrates a client's suspicion of RCMPC's attempts to 'sell' itself as the leading specialist in reinforced concrete construction; the firm's continued fear for what it saw as its intellectual property rights and, perhaps; Monash's powers of persuasion. The client was Messrs Connibere, Grieve & Connibere and the warehouse was probably at 301-309, Flinders Lane. The architect was Nahum Barnet, who had prepared a design employing a structural frame in steel. In January 1913, P T Fairway produced copious calculations for a reinforced concrete alternative and quoted £15,855 for the basic structure. There were 'optional extras' for increased strength in the foundations and columns, probably to allow for the possibility of additional floors at some future date. A memorandum by Fairway dated 4 July records details of a meeting with the client and architect.

Notes by P T Fairway, 4 July 1913.

Re Conniberes. Interviewed Mr Barnet in company with Mr Monash re above matter. Mr Barnet immediately called Mr Ernest Connibere into the discussion before we had a chance of putting the matter before Mr Barnet by himself. Mr Connibere, in the course of the interview, said that he would not allow the building to start until absolutely every detail had been entirely fixed up, even if it took two years to do so. He did not intend to have any individual or any Company dominating the matter. He had not discussed the matter of Reinforced Concrete at all, and had not made up his mind what system he was going to adopt. Mr Barnet here pointed out that he thought this matter should be left in his hands and told Mr Connibere that he had conferred with Mr Geo. Connibere who had agreed to our being consulted. Mr Connibere said that it was for Mr. Barnet to make suggestions to them and they would decide about this matter. The whole of the details must be set out on the drawings so that anyone could tender, and it was his intention to give the Contractor the option of doing it himself or employing others. Mr Monash then said that, under these circumstances, he could hardly expect us to supply elaborate details of Reinforced Concrete work, Mr Connibere's reply being "I don't know about that. I look to my Architect for this information." Mr Barnet explained that he must consult specialists, and had come to us after consulting Mr Geo. Connibere. Mr Connibere was very impatient during the whole interview, and, at various times, said that if he was going to have all this trouble about Reinforced Concrete work, he would cut it all out. In fact he would cut out the steel work as well, and erect the building with brick walls and wooden floors, or perhaps not erect the building at all.

Later in the day Mr Barnet rang me up and asked me to call. He said Mr Connibere had been very much impressed by Mr Monash's remarks and attitude. He, Mr Barnet, did not however propose to accept information from us unless he could absolutely protect us in the matter, and he proposed seeing Mr Monash on Monday morning. He asked me, however, to keep the drawings, and prepare information so that it would be ready in the event of satisfactory arrangements being made. Mr Barnet and Mr Connibere had had a long interview with Mr Morton [City Building Surveyor] who suggested that a very small amount of information in regard to Reinforced Concrete would be required.. Mr Barnet thought "nothing about foundations".

On 7th July, Fairway added a manuscript note at the bottom reading: "Mr Barnet called and after some discussion Mr Monash agreed to let him have draft specification for R. C. Floors. This was supplied today. Foundations matter left in abeyance for present."

On 17th, RCMPC produced a "final" quote of £10,987 for the reinforced concrete work in a building with steel columns. Next day J A Laing completed a drawing showing four rows of 12 closely-spaced large r.c. footings, evidently for a building with masonry external walls and steel columns. This was signed by PTF on behalf of Monash. On 20th, JM wrote to Morton: "This note is to let you know, privately, that Connibere has, at last, definitely decided to give us the concrete work in his building; and knowing the bother that he and Barnet have been to you, we have offered Connibere to take in hand the presentation to you of plans, calculations, &c, &c - leaving Barnet out of it, - (except, of course, as regards paying the requisite fees.) What I want to say is that, as you are well assured that Fairway knows your requirements, and will present everything in as clear form as possible, I trust you will facilitate the rapid dealing with the case on your side, so that we may gain kudos with Connibere, which will help us in other directions. [P.S.] Fairway and Connibere will call on you on Monday."

On 23 September, RCMPC quoted £34,421 for an entirely reinforced concrete structure, or £10,986 for concrete work in a building with steel columns. Despite the promising signs, and the fact that the project has its own file, there is no evidence that RCMPC did any construction work. The only drawing in JTC is of the proposed foundations.

Shilliday's Floor (enquiry).

On 29 January 1913, P T Fairway wrote to Alex Lynch that Mr J H Shilliday, an important store-keeper at Mildura and also a Commissioner on the local Water Trust, wanted a floor for his factory. Two weeks later, Shilliday wrote that he had seen the cracking that had occurred in a skating rink floor laid at Mildura the previous year by RCMPC and hesitated to adopt reinforced concrete. PTF replied that the cracking had occurred because expansion joints could not be installed in skating rinks, being an obstruction to skates. Furthermore, the rink was exposed to frosts during the night, and to temperatures of up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit [82°C] during the day. Despite this, there is no evidence that Shilliday changed his mind.

Wunderlich factory foundations.

In February and March 1912, Monash had looked into the design of foundations for stampers at the Wunderlich factory in Queensbridge Road, South Melbourne. Although Dr Wunderlich himself was involved, most of RCMPC's dealings were with a Mr Wood. JM had produced a report on the design of machinery foundations on the South and West Melbourne river frontages, but Wunderlich had rejected his conclusions.

In January 1913, Wunderlich approached Monash with a completely new proposal for a reinforced concrete plate floor 9 inches thick, for the whole factory. A quote for £282, including granolithic finish was accepted in February and the final account delivered a fortnight later.

Kozminsky's Building.

This was a small job. Two drawings in JTC dated 7 February 1913 show a reinforced concrete floor about 53 × 20 feet internally, supported on masonry walls. Reinforced concrete beams span in the shorter direction and what appears to be a monorail running in the longitudinal direction is bolted beneath them. Correspondence that was left in RCMPC's Quotation Files shows the building to be in Grime's Lane, Melbourne; the architect was J Plottel, and the Builder T McLean. An account for construction of the "first floor" was issued on 1 April for £131-10-0.

Show Grounds Stands 3 & 4.

Calculations for Stand 4 were done by P T Fairway in February 1913, and those for No.3 in March. Costs for the two stands are hard to separate, but the quote for No.3 dated 19 May 1914 was for £517. The reinforced concrete framing for Stand 3 was similar in conception to that of Stands 1 and 2, but there was a progressive reduction in height, so the horizontal cross-bar could be omitted from No.3. There is no drawing in JTC for No.4. Drawings were prepared by C W N Sexton and authorised by Fairway for Monash. The architects were again Billing, Peck & Kemter.

RCMPC made additions to Stand No.3 in 1914. The contract was formally accepted on 28th May for £517 and the final account was rendered on 24 July.

Paddle Bros Factory (tender).

This unsuccessful tender is another example of increasing competition. Paddle Bros Factory was in Reid St, North Fitzroy. The architects, G B Leith and C Burridge Leith, had prepared their own design with concrete floors supported on concrete-encased steel joists and steel columns. In February 1913, RCMPC estimated that a builder would price this version at £425. They then produced an all-concrete design estimated to cost £280. To this they added a one-third margin to give a quotation price of £374.

In March, builder W Hannah won the general contract and Leith handed him a copy of RCMPC's quote. P T Fairway wrote to Hannah suggesting they enter into discussions, but Hannah replied that he intended to do the concrete work himself, as he could do it "somewhat cheaper". PTF replied: "We … are much surprised that you consider that the execution of Architect's design for roof will cost you less than our quotation. Our design was most economical and a check estimate of Architect's design based on the very lowest possible figures, and allowing nothing for contingencies showed a clear difference in favor of Reinforced Concrete of about £50 to £60. We feel sure that there must be some misconception of the amount of work included in our quotation, and we would be pleased, should you desire it, to go into the matter more closely with you if you will be good enough to give us a call at your convenience". There appears to have been no response.

Chas Read's Store, Prahran (tender).

This was another unsuccessful bid. The building, of six floors, was in Chapel Street, Prahran. The architects had prepared their own design using reinforced concrete slabs on a steel frame. In February 1913, Fairway quoted £9945 for constructing the floors to this design, though RCMPC considered it "overstressed" and was unwilling to give a guarantee. Because the arrangement of steel girders chosen by the architect [principally their spacing] was not optimum, a slab designed to RCMPC's standards would be thicker and more costly than the exisitng design. RCMPC therefore recommended a change to an entirely reinforced concrete building which would allow them to save the client £5000 in the portion of the building under discussion, and £12,000 for the entire building. Further extensive figuring followed and considerable manoeuvring, but without result.

AAI provides the following reference: Building, September 1910, p.42 and May 1915, pp.64-5 (2 schemes, sketches).

Spinks & Alley's Building (enquiry).

A memorandum by Fairway dated 12 February 1913 records: "Mr McColl of Yeo, Crosthwaite & Co called and said he wished to discuss a very confidential matter with me. He then told me that some very old clients and friends of his (Messrs Spinks & Alley) were proposing to erect a building about 5 storeys in height, on land 70' × 30' in Flinders Lane, and anticipated spending at least £7000 on same. Mr McColl told me that in previous similar cases Mr Wm Pitt had been architect and Mr R McDonald contractor, that no matter what tenders were called for, McDonald always managed to secure the work at a very high figure. Messrs Spinks and Alley have a very high opinion of Mr McDonald, and refused to think that he would, under any circumstances, overcharge them, although Mr McColl has, upon occasions, pointed this out to them." McColl had asked for particulars and an estimate for a reinforced concrete building to press the matter. He wanted no commission and was doing it for the benefit of Spinks & Alley and RCMPC.

The estimate was duly prepared, but Pitt was evidently unconvinced and gave McColl his reasons for avoiding reinforced concrete. On 1 March, PTF reported to McColl that RCMPC had tried to get in touch with Mr Pitt, but he had left for New Zealand. "In regard to his contention that Reinforced Concrete is a slow method, we would like to point out that in no case have we been overtime with our work except where drastic alterations in the building have been made." RCMPC would be willing to build to a definite "reasonable time" fixed by the architect, based on other types of construction, and would adhere to it with time penalties. There is no evidence that they were successful.

Commerce House (tender).

This was for reinforced concrete work and casing of steel members in a building in Flinders Street, for the Commercial Travellers Association of Victoria. The architects were H W & F B Tompkins. In March 1913, Fairway produced computations and an quote of £7131. Quotes to builders, as was now becoming common, offered to replace the architects' design of the floors with RCMPC's own design. In April a revised quote of £6362 was offered to builder J Carter, but without success.

Cresco Building (tender).

A memorandum by Monash, dated 14 March 1913 records: "Messrs Walker Bros, whom I both know personally, and who are running a Breakfast Food Factory in Fitzroy contemplate greatly enlarging their operations and are considering erecting a four storey building about 60' × 80' in South Melbourne on the Yarra Bank. They were considering steel frame cased in concrete with wooden floors, being so advised by their Architect, but, after conversation with him today, Mr Walker promised definitely that, before finalising the matter, he would make a point of seeing me with a view to getting a Reinforced Concrete proposal from us." The architect was Colonel Tunbridge. Computations and a quote were prepared in April, but without success.

Butterworth's Stair Walls.

This project involved the fireproofing of an existing Jarrah staircase which rose from Ground to First floor in a straight line alongside a brick wall. RCMPC's contribution was to erect a full-height reinforced concrete wall on the outside of the stair and a soffit underneath it, so that the timber became completely insulated from the adjoining room. At the bottom, an iron-sheeted door gave access to the room, and a window allowed escape from the building. The project is known to us only through a single drawing in JTC dated 25 April 1913.

Rice's Warehouse (tender).

This unsuccessful tender provides an example of arguments used by RCMPC to justify construction in reinforced concrete. There are no drawings in JTC for this building and only brief notes in RCMPC's Quotation File. The client was J W Rice, and the architect C Gordon McCrae. After receiving McCrae's specification and schedule in April 1913, Fairway produced a design and tender for £10,921. At the end of May he sent a note arguing that that the available space within a 6-storey reinforced concrete building was almost the same as in a 7-storey building with brick walls. Also, the flat concrete roof could be used for storage, so 6 r.c. storeys were almost equivalent to 8 conventional storeys!

In December, PTF prepared another design and quote for an eight-storey building in reinforced concrete, as an alternative to the existing proposal with brick walls, steel columns, and timber floors and roof. In a covering letter to McCrae, PTF admitted that RCMPC's version would be about £1000 more expensive than the conventional. Estimating total building cost at £11,000 - on the basis of 8 pence per cubic foot - this represented an increase of 9.1 per cent. However, this would be more than offset by the 9.6 per cent increase in floor space and cubic content due to the smaller size of members.

"It will therefore be seen that the proposed amendment provides a Building of increased capacity at actually less cost than could be achieved by non-fireproof methods, and without the initial cost of the additional land which will be necessary - a very considerable item. In addition to this, the Building will be absolutely fireproof, and also subdivided horizontally into fireproof compartments. This practically does away with the necessity of insuring the Building at all, reduces the insurance cost, and is an immense protection to business by entirely preventing the possibility of a serious fire, either from inside or outside." Attached was a three-page list of the advantages of r.c. for Warehouse Construction and a list of the largest buildings built by RCMPC and SARC. Again, there is no evidence that RCMPC was successful.

Darwin Abattoirs.

In April 1913, H G Jenkinson informed Monash that architect Charles D'Ebro had been asked by Dr Gilruth, Administrator of the Northern Territory, to design an abattoir and canning works in Darwin. HGJ thought the opportunity was worth pursuing. However, after a meeting with John Gibson, Monash replied that they had "come to the conclusion that operating so far from our Head Quarters would not be feasible".

Showgrounds Retaining Wall.

In June 1912 builder R L Phillips had accepted a tender of £399 from RCMPC for construction of a retaining wall at the Flemington Show Grounds of the Royal Agricultural Society. However, it was not until May 1913 that Fairway started the computations. RCMPC's first requisition was issued on 24 June. The architects were again Billing, Peck & Kemter.

Myer's Warehouse (expression of interest).

Architects H W & F B Tompkins had prepared a scheme for this warehouse, and Monash must have approached them in May 1913, asking whether they would accept an alternative tender in reinforced concrete, to RCMPC's specifications. JM then wrote to let Myer know that Tompkins had agreed to this, and added "we wish to assure you that we desire nothing else than that our tender should be considered on its merits". Fairly extensive calculations were prepared by Fairway at the end of July, but when they were part way through, Tompkins phoned to advise him not to bother. The many modifications in the scheme, and "other circumstances" would make the use of reinforced concrete "impossible".

Craig Williamson's Warehouse.

This is another case where RCMPC tried to persuade architects to abandon their own proposals and accept those of RCMPC for a reinforced concrete structure. In May 1913, Fairway informed Monash that he had seen Gibbs & Finlay about Craig Williamson's warehouse, but they had resisted strongly, saying they had put an immense amount of work into their drawings. The quote had to be based on their design. Nevertheless, PTF went ahead and produced technical computations and an estimate, resulting in a price of £2690. Later RCMPC approached builders Lockington & Sinclair saying they had completed their designs and hoped to meet them. There is no sign of an outcome.

Warehouse, Launceston (enquiry).

In May 1913, architect Harold Masters asked for a quote for a small warehouse in Launceston, Tasmania. There is no evidence of any outcome.

Tivoli Theatre Portico, Adelaide.

In May 1913, H G Jenkinson informed Monash that SARC had obtained a contract for £106-10-0 to build a deck about 30 × 15 feet in plan over the portico of the Tivoli Theatre in Grote Street, Adelaide. The supporting columns might also be in reinforced concrete. The architects were Williams & Good.

A photograph of the Theatre is held by the State Library of Victoria with Image Number mp017734.

Shaw's Stairs.

This was another in the series of fireproof stairs. Again it had two flights in tandem with a landing half way. Climbing from Ground to First floor, it ran alongside an existing brick wall that supported its left side. Its right side was supported by a reinforced concrete stringer beam, propped by two r.c. columns. A 4-inch r.c. wall rose from the stringer to first floor level, thus completely enclosing the stair. The building was in Station St, North Carlton, near Macpherson St. Builder W E Reynolds accepted RCMPC's quote of £41 in July 1913. Their account was submitted to him on 25 August.

BATC Shelter Roof.

This was the cover for the Garden Roof pavilion at the British Australasian Tobacco Company's factory in Stewart Street. It had been foreshadowed in an architect's drawing presumed to date from late 1912 [extract]. The cover as built in 1913 was much flatter. It was a reinforced concrete slab, 45 feet square in plan and 2.75 inches thick, integral with a grid of r.c. beams. It appears that the nine supporting columns had been built earlier, because a note on the engineering drawing of 8 July 1913 states that the columns are to be "shortened or lengthened as required" and gives instructions to ensure a good bond between the old and new concrete. (The engineering drawing was by C W N Sexton, authorised by Fairway on behalf of Monash.)

Half-section, half-elevation of the shelter. The shelter is a low flat structure with a gently sloping roof.

Computations were prepared by J A Laing and a quote was sent to architect F J Davies on 27 June: £210 for the structure and £39-5-0 for rendering. RCMPC's first requisition for materials was issued on 13 July and, as usual, the application to the City Building Surveyor, H E Morton, was sent several days later, with a request for approval as soon as possible. On the same day Morton had posted a letter to RCMPC saying that the structure erected on the roof of the BAT factory in Stewart St was contrary to the Building Regulations. RCMPC were liable to a penalty of £20 for erecting it without giving notice to his office, and if it was not removed within 48 hours, he would commence proceedings. P T Fairway wrote a note on the bottom of this letter: "Mr Morton interviewed re this prior to receipt of letter. Matter being adjusted".

On 25 July, PTF wrote to the Town Clerk: "Some further small works are proposed to be erected … and we wish to place the matter before the Official Referees at the next meeting". He also wrote to Davies confirming an earlier telephone call: "It is absolutely necessary that the work should be stopped and our men removed, and we would be glad if you will kindly explain the matter to Mr Cameron, so that he will understand that this Company is in no way to blame for the delay, but that it is entirely due to a very unexpected attitude taken up by the City Authorities". On 31st, the Town Clerk advised RCMPC that a meeting of the Referees was to be held on 4 August "to hear and determine a matter in dispute between the Building Surveyor and yourselves". On 5th Morton acknowledged RCMPC's letter of 12 July and accompanying blueprint, and approved the design. The final account for £254-17-0 was issued on 24 September 1913.

RCMPC's previous project for BATC had involved the the vertical extension of a building in 1912-13.

Non-news Item. In Lewis (1988, p.100) there is a mention of the partial collapse in 1925 of a BATC building fronting Stewart St due to poor quality concrete. This was not one of the projects mentioned here, but a new building being erected at the time.

Arcade, Holy Angels Church, Balaclava.

There is a minimum of information on this project, left in RCMPC's Quotation Files. A pencil sketch dated 20 June 1913, from architects Thos Watts & Sons, shows a gothic arcade of pillars and arches for the church of the Holy Angels in the Melbourne suburb of Balaclava. RCMPC issued an account for £69 on 24 September.

Hewitt House.

There is very little information on this project. The documentation was left in RCMPC's Quotation Files. These record a quote to architect Felix Davies on 22 July 1913. A single drawing in JTC, dated 23 July, prepared by C W N Sexton and authorised by Fairway; shows reinforcement for ground and first floor slabs supported on encased RSJs. Details are provided for reinforced concrete oriel windows set in a masonry wall (perhaps the facade). A note on the drawing mentions a light-area on the fourth floor - also reinforced concrete walls, externally 6 inches thick and internally 3 inches thick. A final statement, for £514, was issued on 16 October.

Wool Exchange, Melbourne.

Photograph. The impression is of a red brick office block trapped inside a white classical temple. The ground storey forms a rusticated base. There is a prominent entablature at top. The classical columns appear as pilasters three storeys high. At the front is a flat classical portico. Within this scheme, regular office windows are framed in red brick, with white sills and lintels.

Historic images of construction work on this building may be found in the University of Melbourne Archives Image Collection UMAIC. Search under Record ID for UMA/I/6459 and UMA/I/6460. Any enquiries to UMA regarding these images should quote Location Numbers NN/860 and NN/861 respectively. Two more images, NN/862 and 863, show the interior seating.

This was a major project for RCMPC, at the corner of King and Little Collins Streets, though Monash had little to do with its practicalities. The architects were Purchas & Teague. A considerable number of their drawings are preserved in JTC, showing that they originally intended the building to have a steel framework supporting concrete floor and roof plates. RCMPC was approached by various Builders to submit quotes for carrying out the concrete work on a subcontract basis. On 15 and 16 July, Fairway wrote to Messrs Luff and Messrs Phillips, regretting that RCMPC was not "in a position to submit same to you", because on inspection of the architects' drawings they found that "practically the whole of the reinforced concrete work shown consists of floor and roof plates only, of which the fullest details are given". "In the event of your tender being accepted, we would be pleased to go into the matter fully with you, should we feel that we can submit a proposition which may be of advantage to you." On 19th, PTF wrote to builder F MacDonald, quoting alternatives with reduced floor plates "designed by our own methods". Based on minor differences in steel and accessories, they gave two prices: £7309 or £7651.

However, on 21st July, PTF wrote to Purchas & Teague with what seems to have been a quote for construction of the entire building ("as discussed with you"), with RCMPC acting as master builder, and with the concrete floors and roof re-designed to RCMPC's specification. On 12 August he wrote again; "It has come to our knowledge that other tenderers for above work have cast doubt upon our tender for same". He assured Purchas & Teague that RCMPC's modifications to their design were based on long and wide experience, but added that RCMPC was willing to build "as per architect's drawings" if required. The tender was accepted on this basis on 14 August at a price of £35,905.

The production of major engineering drawings continued from September to December 1913. These show a building with masonry external walls and an internal structure largely of reinforced concrete (footings, columns, beams, slabs). The draughtsman was C W N Sexton and all were authorised by Fairway on behalf of Monash. Calculations were submitted to the City Architect on 1 October.

A note dated 16 October, from clerk John McNaught to Monash, concerns union problems said to be fomented by the Master Builders' Association, who claimed that RCMPC had men working 48 hours [rather than 40 per week] and getting less wages on certain jobs, "viz: Gas Works, West and South Melbourne". Alec Lynch was warning of possible trouble because the Master Builders might inform the Factory Inspector. McNaught reported that Lynch had spoken to the Builders Labourers Representative and would take two men belonging to that Union from the Gas Works jobs, put on United Labourers there, and place Builders Labourers on the Wool Exchange.

Calculations and drawings for the roof were sent to H E Morton for approval on 15 December. Two days later, RCMPC applied to the architects for Progress Payment No.7, listing the total work done to date as £12,353. In February RCMPC complained to the architects that they had been trying since November to get definite details about the internal walls. If this were not forthcoming, work would have to stop. There is a reference in this letter to "Mack Slab" walls. In response to a query from Purchas & Teague, RCMPC informed them that the floors were designed for 75 pounds per square foot, except for the Sales Rooms and Corridors, which were designed for 112 psf. The Factor of Safety used was 4.

At this time, Monash was in contact with John Gibson about the patent Fama floor surfacing material. He told Gibson that the ingredients were: sawdust, cork, coke, lime, chalk, pulp, grey fibre, colour, and chloride. He corresponded with H J Preston over the question of colouring for the mixture, the colours Steel Grey and Dark Blue Grey having been chosen for the Wool Exchange.

A letter of 5 June 1914 is typical JM: "With regard to the whole of your instructions, I wish to thank you cordially for the great amount of trouble you have gone to to make the position clear. Your letter under reply was very helpful in clearing up a number of ambiguities, and I now feel that I am fully informed as regarding the formula and mixtures for the Wool Exchange job, so far as relates to the plain Fama work and its insulation. I had already received your letter of the 26th ult, of which you were kind enough to send a duplicate, and, reading same now in the light of later explanations and study of the documents I perceive that this letter really contained the information required as to proportions of color. It was entirely due to my unfamiliarity with the subject that many of my difficulties have arisen. I wish to say further that I by no means intend to give you so much trouble for information and explanations in the future, unless, of course, we break new ground."

On 10 July, RCMPC reported that work was nearing completion, and at the end of the month PTF wrote to Lynch regarding the scheduling of the final tasks. A final account, for £37,179 was issued on 12 October 1914.

In a letter of 10 August 1915 to Monash at Gallipoli, Gibson mentioned that there was still £1800 owing on the Wool Exchange. "The Secretary of the Coy is submitting some of the architect's decisions to arbitration, and proposes to make claim for overtime penalties." Gibson had had a conference with two of the directors and felt it possible that "by the production of innumerable documents, we will justify our charges". The Architects were on RCMPC's side, but Purchas was broken down in health, and had gone to Colombo. Teague knew little about the matter. Gibson ended this passage, "I am going to fight this matter to the bitter end as I consider that we are being very badly used indeed. The whole trouble has arisen thro the machinations of the Secretary, Mr Jolley". In October, Gibson reported that the matter was to go to arbitration with Leo Cussen in the chair. The matters at issue were: slow progress of construction; the architects' slowness in deciding the position of partitions; and a long list of minor items, e.g. a cooking stove.

Furniture Warehouse, Adelaide.

In August 1913, H G Jenkinson reported that SARC were lowest tenderers for reinforced concrete work for a furniture warehouse to be built at the back of the State Bank in Pirie St, Adelaide. It was a small job: only one floor and some wall work. The tender price was £1193 including a gross margin of £170 "as we badly need city work at present". HGJ added, "We shall endeavour to reduce working costs to a minimum as a step towards lowering the Adelaide bases of estimates". The architect was F Counsell.

Freeman's Stairs.

These were two fireproof staircases for Henry Freeman at 337 Drummond St, Carlton. A drawing by C W N Sexton, authorised by Fairway and dated 2 August 1913 shows both were tunnel-like, with ceilings following the rise of the treads. An account for the staircases plus some flooring was issued on 15 September for £193.

Roughton's Building.

1. Line drawing of facade. The ground storey is tall and has two shop fronts. The three upper storeys are three windows wide. In the first two, the outer windows are bay. In the third, the outer windows are flat while the central window projects. The roof ridge is parallel to the facade, and the slope is broken by dormer windows. Betwen them, set forward, is circular feature. 2. Photograph of facade above shop fronts (c2004). This reveals a lively sculptural effect. The bay windows of the first and second floors project sharply, as does the oriel on the third. Features at roof level are equally lively.

1. Line drawing of facade. (Cleaned up extract from a photocopy of a blueprint in the J Thomas Collection.)
2. Photograph of facade above shop fronts (c2004).

This is an entirely reinforced concrete building at 284-6 Bourke Street, Melbourne, next door to Francis's Pharmacy. It has a frontage of 40'-3" and a length of 64 feet. The architect was Nahum Barnet. Fairway provided Barnet with a rough estimate in August 1913, then a firm quote for £5400 in December. This covered footings, columns, six complete floors, external walls, certain internal walls, and some stairs. It included all architectural features in the front elevation "except finishing and pressed and modelled work". All work was to be left as stripped, and horizontal surfaces were to be screeded, not trowelled. Fairway explained that the increase over the original estimate was due to changes introduced by the client and/or architect. Otherwise, even with the rise in labour costs from 9/- to 10/4 per day, "the amount of our previous estimate would certainly not have been exceeded, as many economies have been achieved by close and careful designing".

There was some negotiation and re-calculation from 13th January. A revised tender of £4300 was accepted on 14th and a deadline of 14 May set for completion of RCMPC's work. A series of blueprints from the architect's drawings are preserved in JTC, apparently received on 27 January. Soon after, RCMPC contacted the trustees of an adjoining property, the Collins Music Warehouse, requesting a slight encroachment. RCMPC's first requisition for materials was issued on 6 February and the calculations for the foundations and columns were sent to Building Surveyor Morton on 11th. As usual, Fairway asked if he could please have approval straight away, so that RCMPC could get on with the job. He was willing to bring the plans for the superstructure round to Morton's office, so he could check the loadings.

Before the end of the month problems arose because of RCMPC's aversion to British cement, which was entitled to Imperial preference over Continental brands. In his letter to the architect, Fairway echoed views Monash had expressed in the past. "Our Mr Gibson, during his recent trip, made special visits to the cement works in Germany and Denmark, and discussed with the makers certain particulars in regard to Australian supplies. Our continuous tests very conclusively proved that these cements are much superior to and more reliable than the British makes, and, as our works are always guaranteed by us we must necessarily safeguard ourselves by using the materials which we know to be the best."

In response to a query from solicitors Gair & Brahe, Fairway sent Barnet results of tests on Camel[?] brand cement.

Specimens made of pure cement, at 7 days:   tensile strength 675 psi
Specimens of 3 parts standard sand to 1 of cement:   280 psi
Pats subjected to air drying, cold water, and steam:   all sound
Residue on a 180 × 180 sieve:   12 per cent
No trace of adulterants.

PTF ended "We think you will agree that nothing could be more satisfactory".

Barnet must also have questioned the quality of the sand and gravel used, because PTF continued: "There is always the chance of the odd load of sand or screenings not being quite up to standard, but an inspection of materials delivered to the works, both previous and subsequent to your visit, of this morning, would convince you that these are all good quality".

Production of computations and drawings continued until 4 April, when the last were sent to Morton for approval. On 6 May, PTF told Barnet that the whole of the first floor was complete and two floors had been concreted above it. RCMPC could now arrange for finishing trades to move in to the first floor. "We trust that the completion and handing over of this portion of the building before our contract time will be taken into consideration with any possible overtime in respect of the complete structure." On 11th, RCMPC's work was "approaching completion". They had received £1300 in progress payments, and PTF asked the architect for a certificate for a further £2000 worth of work, leaving about £1000 still to come. He informed Gibson that £43 (one per cent of the contract amount) was due to Barnet for copies of drawings, specifications, etc. However, RCMPC had paid Barnet £6-6-0 for computation fees, and this should be deducted.

On 14 May, Barnet pointed out that RCMPC's deadline had expired. Fairway countered that the surveyors had not fixed the boundaries of the site until a month after acceptance of the contract, and there had been delays in gaining access to the rear of the site due to the attitude of adjoining owners. RCMPC had, however, handed over a large proportion of the building in advance, so there should be no ultimate delay. On 28th, PTF wrote that work was now almost finished. £2800 had been received, leaving a balance of £1500. He asked for a progress payment of £750. On 30 June he asked for "£500 or £600". On 27 August a brief history of the project was prepared, as often happened when there was a dispute over payment. Roughton was withholding £300 on the grounds of late completion. On 23 November 1914, Gibson wrote to him expressing surprise and protesting that this was the first time it had ever been done to RCMPC. He sent a copy of the letter to Monash.

In August 1915 Gibson mentioned the problem in one of his letters to Monash at Gallipoli. "Neither Davis nor ourselves have been able to get a final settlement and I do not think it judicious to "raise Cain" in this quarter until the troubles with the more important contracts have been settled. Again, overtime is the main cause of the dispute." However, by October Roughton had agreed to pay in instalments, after a meeting with Fairway and Gibson, and RCMPC had agreed to waive their claim to interest on the amount.

Williamson Theatre, Melbourne (tender).

If our recognition of Monash's drawing and computational style is correct, this was a project in which he took a personal interest, along with Fairway. The proposal was for a dress circle 72' × 26' and gallery 72' × 38' for "Williamson's Theatre, Melbourne". No address is given in the RCMPC file. The joint architects were Kent, Budden and Greenwell, of Sydney plus William Pitt, MLC, of Melbourne. A blueprint made in September 1913 shows the architects' original steel and timber design. Late in October, RCMPC proposed a reinforced concrete alternative. KB&G replied that they would be "only too happy" to consider it "if your proposition is reasonable enough to influence our clients".

Fairway, and possibly Monash, produced computations and estimates for two schemes, the second including reinforced concrete stepped floors to the circle and gallery. The first was £1033 and the second £1447. However, nothing appears to have come of the initiative.

The design live load adopted was 180 pounds per square foot.

Block Arcade Extensions (advice).

Correspondence on this proposal provides an insight into RCMPC's modus operandi. Monash's memorandum dated 23 October 1913 records that he saw "Howden" and "Cameron" at the former's office in the Block Arcade. Howden wanted to build more storeys - over the arcade, and perhaps over the whole block - and thought it was possible to simply insert reinforced concrete floors within existing walls.

I therefore explained exhaustively the real function of Reinforced Concrete in such an enterprise, and made a strong point that it was most necessary to work it on the lines that would be permitted by the City Building Authorities. Mr Howden was greatly impressed, especially with a recital of similar propositions which we had handled. We then consulted a large book of the plans of the Building and Mr Howden indicated in a general way the scope of the project, but I found that their ideas were still immature. We then discussed a suitable Architect to undertake such a work and I gave the names of Twentyman & Askew, Davies, Peck, Watt, Barnet and others. They immediately seized upon Twentyman & Askew, whom I named first, because it was Askew who had built the original building. I put it to them, however, that it was premature to employ an Architect, and that they would be well advised to take the following preliminary step, namely, to mature their own ideas as to the extent of the building operation to be at once undertaken, to pass same over to us so that we might study the case, advise on its possibilities and give them an approximate estimate of the probable cost. If this proved attractive to them, they could then appoint an Architect and bring us into touch with him. I explained that Mr Fairway was on leave and would be back in about a week, and that I personally preferred that the matter should stand over till his return.

On Tuesday 28th JM wrote to Fairway: "Enclosed copy of office memo is my excuse for intruding upon your holiday". He merely wanted Fairway to get in touch with Cameron first thing on his return on Friday morning. However, he brought PTF up to date on a few other matters at the same time. He ended: "Trusting you are having a thoroughly enjoyable holiday and that your health is satisfactory". On Wednesday 5 November, Fairway recorded that he had seen Cameron and submitted the estimates. The clients were now thinking of building only two storeys. On 31 January 1913 an advertisement appeared in The Age: "Notice to Architects. Competitive Designs are invited for remodelling a large block of city buildings …"

These documents remained in the Quotation Files. If the project went ahead, it appears that RCMPC were not involved.

Union Bank Foundations at Colac and Yarram-Yarram.

These were simple strip footings for brick walls for the two banks. Both jobs were priced at £172. The architects were Butler & Bradshaw. The quote for Yarram was made in October 1913. Foreman H Bloom sent his first report from the site on 28 November and his last on 9 December. Foreman G Christman sent his first report from Colac on 22 January 1914, and on 30th reported he was almost finished. RCMPC's account was sent to the architects on 6 February.

Facade of Verco's Building facing North Terrace. Verco's Building, Adelaide, Stage 2.

Photo at right: North Terrace facade, by Geoff Taplin, c2004. Historic photographs from the State Library of South Australia include B 1826 and B 1790 showing the complete project. For Stage 1 see: B 1811 and B 9490. Thanks to Richard Venus for drawing my attention to the SLSA images, and for explaining the sequencing of the Verco project. A.H.

This was the second part of Dr Verco's project, SARC's work on Stage 1 having been completed by September 1912. In September 1913, H G Jenkinson informed Monash that architect McMichael was putting the finishing touches to the plans. On 22 October, JM wrote a rather heated letter to HGJ, based on a report from Gibson, who seems to have been heavily involved in keeping SARC moving.

"Mr Gibson says it is intended to call tenders for Verco's Bldg No.2. We do not know exactly whether this means that the Architect has stolen our ideas as to detail and design and is going to propound a complete design of his own for anyone to tender on, or whether he merely intends to call tenders for a building of a given size and arrangements, tenderers to propound their own detailed design and guarantee the work.

If the former be the idea, it will, of course, be a scandalous abuse of confidence, and Mr Bakewell should be asked to step in vigorously and protest strongly to Dr Verco against any such injustice.

If the latter, however, be the intention there is still plenty of room for voicing a strong protest against the disadvantageous position in which we would be placed. We took the first part of the contract on bed rock lines, and distinctly on the basis that it was only the first stage of the completed scheme, and if we had not rested on the moral understanding that we would get the rest of the work at a similar price, our price for the first portion of the work would have been higher. We cannot surmise the reasons why there should be such a vital change of policy in regard to the method of handling the business, and I should be glad if you will gather together all the available information from every source you can, and convey to us here an indication of the general position which has arisen, in all its bearings."

On 27th HGJ replied that he had not been able to do anything in this matter. "Mr McMichael told me a week or two ago that he would not like our competitors to secure the work as he did not have any great confidence in them. Tenders for the concrete work have not yet been called." The next day HGJ reported that he had told SARC Managing Director Bakewell that Monash wished him to see Verco, but did not know when this would happen.

"The position is indeed alarming. McMichael tells me that Hargrave [SARC's former employee, now rival] asked Dr Verco some time ago to let him put in a price for the completion of the building. Dr Verco was evidently quite agreeable and it is definitely announced that Hargrave is quoting for the work and now has a set of the Architect's plans.

The Architect also informed me that Hargrave in speaking to him had mentioned that the capital at the disposal of his concern might prove too small for the work under consideration. Hargrave approached us yesterday with a proposal that if we would immediately buy certain plant and materials at Loxton and Adelaide, amounting in value to about £350, he would guarantee not to tender for the Renmark Tank.

So anxious was he to get rid of the stuff that he said that if we wished we need only buy the stuff on condition that if we did not obtain the Renmark Tank there was no sale; and that he would be prepared to put in a tender which we could see higher than our own.

Of course, we could not touch any proposition of this kind and the solution of the offer is to my mind an endeavour to get in a bit of ready money to help run the initial stages of Verco's Building, which Hargrave evidently thinks he is going to get.

I am afraid that McMichael, who is a relative of Dr Verco has very little to say in the matter and Verco himself is after the cheapest building he can get. The Architect promised me this morning (after I had pointed out to him a little of the unfairness under which we were working) that he would endeavour to obtain Dr Verco's assurance that if our price was reasonable, we would get the job.

This is about as much as I can do. If this Company can call to its aid any powerful influence in this matter, I think it should do so. It would be nothing short of a calamity to lose Verco's and it would be very little better to get the job at an unsatisfactory cut price.

I now have a set of the Architect's plans which are merely in outline and do not attempt to give any details of reinforced concrete design. I hope to be able to send my estimate along tomorrow.

Differences of opinion on the spelling of names are common in the records. SARC wrote "Verco" and "Hargrave". RCMPC replied with "Vercoe" and "Hargreaves".

On 29 RCMPC [Gibson and Monash] wrote to Bakewell: "In view of the alarming position created by the fact that Hargreaves is to be allowed to tender for this work, I think it most desirable that you should see Dr Verco and point out to him the manifest unfairness of considering a tender from a former employee of ours, who is unquestionably incompetent to design, and has merely obtained his information by tracing our drawing of the original building, when in our employ, and who, by such means, may possibly succeed in slightly undercutting us in price."

The same day Jenkinson sent his proposed price to Monash for approval: a basic cost of £7836, to which was added a gross margin of £1400, giving a total for quotation of £9236. He noted that the estimate was "on the bare side". It did not include the balustrade or railing due to their high cost to SARC and it omitted underpinning and temporary works. Verco required the portion near the existing building to be done as soon as possible, and the rest leisurely. Jenkinson assured Monash that he would phrase the covering letter to permit the maximum amount of extras.

On 30th Monash sent Jenkinson a copy of the letter to Bakewell, whom he hoped would act on it. "In the meantime, acting upon the inference which is to be gathered from yours of the 28th, that Hargreave's Company may be financially embarrassed, and acting further upon the assumption that McMichael is sympathetic and friendly, I now put forward the suggestion that McMichael should be asked to make the financial conditions of the contract particularly stiff. It could be suggested to him that, working as he might be with a Firm whose competency is, to say the least, doubtful, he ought to require a very substantial deposit, and also give a very illiberal progress payments. If, for example, he required a deposit of 10% and arranged to give progress payments of only 50% or 60% instead of the usual 75% . This is a situation which we can quite readily manage, but which ought to seriously embarrass Hargreaves Co. Will you take this matter up? Discuss it with Mr Bakewell if you like, but, in any case, make the most you can of the suggestion, putting it forward that you do so out of regard for McMichael's best interests and as a reasonable protection to himself against unknown and unproved Contractors, and being terms which ought to suit Dr Verco very well, and which we would be quite prepared to abide by."

On the same day, HGJ wrote to JM. "My estimate which was posted to you yesterday may be considered a trifle on the low side, but I think with the new methods which I propose to employ, we can keep well within the rates mentioned therein. I propose that we timber walls and columns together and distribute the concrete by a chute from an elevated stage. This scheme would, I think, turn out more efficiently than our present piecemeal system."

On 31 JM wrote to HGJ:

"If McMichael is really sympathetic with us, it ought not to be difficult to arrange for the exclusion from our formal quotation of certain items which can be conveniently passed over to the finishing contractor without our competitors being in the know as to this.

However, as you say, a great deal depends on the skill with which our quotation is rendered, as we will have a certain amount of liberty in excluding troublesome and costly items.

I have considered the estimates very carefully and, assuming that the mensuration is correct, find that the rates employed closely follow our Melbourne experiences and that we cannot safely depart from the resulting cost estimate, provided, of course, you have included everything for which you intend to quote. The margin allowed, being a little less than 20%, is as low as I would care to go in the direction of cutting, so that you may work on the proposed tender total of £9236 corrected by any further items or modifications which it may be necessary to make from fresh facts which come to your knowledge."

JM then goes on to consideration of details and finally agrees with HGJ's approach to the problem of competition. On 13 November, Jenkinson submitted a quote of £9336, having added an extra £100 of "sundries". McMichael accepted it the same day.

After this, there are few further reports on the project in the RCMPC "South Australia" file. In mid-February 1914 the excavator had completed three-quarters of his work and SARC planned to start work on the wall columns and basement retaining walls. In May, Jenkinson reported that 23 columns (out of 30) were in position on the Ground Storey and 60% of its walling erected. The record in the file ends there.

Birregurra Factory Floors.

RCMPC's Quotation Files record an enquiry dated 19 December 1913 from Holdenson & Nielson Fresh Food Pty Ltd, "Butter and Cheese Manufacturers and Dairy Produce Merchants" regarding a slab-on-ground floor for their factory. Their architect was P G Fick. After some negotiation, Fick accepted a quote of £235-10-6 for 350 square yards of slab 3 inches thick. The contract was signed on 29 January.

Job reports from foreman C LaRoche [also spelled La Roche] commence on 11 February 1914. Problems were caused by slow delivery on the railways, and the client's desire for a joint-free floor. Towards the end of the month, the gravel being used for concrete was condemned. Monash wrote to ask Fick whether he had appointed someone who might have given a "stop work" order. The gravel had been selected by Lynch, who should know best. The idle labour had been on full pay. "We have already been considerably humbugged by the Railway Department for carriage of [blot] one truck of stuff ["toppings"] consigned on the 13th not reaching Birregurra until 22nd and this second delay and loss of time is really a serious matter". As RCMPC guaranteed their work and Fick himself had not stopped it, they had wired their foreman to continue. On 2 March, RCMPC admitted that the sand was "a little fine", but claimed that precautions taken in damping the sand foundation and increasing the cement content would counteract this. RCMPC was prepared to provide a guarantee. Due to the lack of joints, cracks would be inevitable, but would be limited by the reinforcement.

Unfortunately, these problems resulted in a lengthy dispute over payment, with Fick stating that the job had not been done in accordance with the specification and Mr Holdenson complaining of poor quality: holes in the floor and vegetable matter showing on the surface. He demanded a five-year guarantee. Alex Lynch went to inspect the floor and reported that it was generally of very good quality, but in one spot some bark must have got into the aggregate used for the granolithic topping. Monash suggested that Lynch provide the clients with a kit of patent "Fama" flooring compound so they could patch cracks themselves, to save RCMPC the cost of constant travelling. The last letter in the file is from RCMPC, dated 11 August 1914, giving a guarantee to repair any defects which may make their appearance as result of materials or workmanship, provided the account was immediately settled.

Joints are normally provided at regular intervals to allow for shrinkage of concrete after pouring, and subsequent movement due to temperature changes. Properly done, this avoids the development of visible cracks.
When Monash & Anderson started building Monier arch bridges, the concrete used could be described as a very coarse mortar, the largest aggregate being about the size of a pea. It was not until November 1901 that they proposed the use of larger stones, in the core of the vaults of the Second King's Bridge at Bendigo. (This was on the basis of information gained by F M Gummow on a visit to Europe.) However, in locations where large aggregate was scarce, and fine aggregate more economical, their experience would have given them no reason to avoid the latter.

Wardrop's Building.

Line drawing of facade. This building is only two windows wide. There is a single shop front. Above, the horizontal aspect is emphasised by the spandrels at floor level, which break the lines of the vertical panels at edges and centre. There is little ornamentation.This building was erected at 197 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, for Mr Geo. Wardrop, Tailor, of Smith St, Collingwood. It was an all-concrete building with basement and five storeys. It had a frontage of 22'-10" and was 60 feet deep. There is no evidence that Monash was directly involved with its engineering design.

Fairway's first notes on the project date from December 1913. On 15 February 1914 he sent a quote to T Cockram, New St, Brighton, of £2,521-12-0 for all structural work, namely: "footings, and columns, external walls and parapets, internal walls round stairs only, and passage wall ground floor, ground, first, second, third, fourth floors and roof". Reinforced concrete stairs were included. Demolition of the existing building was to be done by others. Reinforced concrete was still not covered by the Building Regulations, and PTF wrote to the Town Clerk, "It is proposed to erect a Reinforced Concrete Building at 197 Elizabeth Street for Mr G Wardrop, Tailor. We would be pleased if you would kindly arrange for this matter to be placed before the Official Referees at their next meeting, and we enclose herewith cheque for £2-2-0".

After much bargaining, a quote of £2234 was accepted by builder W J Fowles on 14 February. Working drawings of the footings and sketch drawings of the complete building were sent to Building Surveyor Morton the same day. They were drawn by C W N Sexton and authorised by PTF on behalf of Monash. It was necessary to send a Morton a cheque for £6-6-0 for computation fees. The first requisition for materials was issued on 16th. A further computation fee of £4-4-0 was sent to Morton on 17th. Engineering drawings were produced by 21st, covering the full height of the building, and forwarded to Morton on 23rd.

Work seems to have gone smoothly. At the end of May, RCMPC's claim for progress payment mentioned that only some portions of stair remained to be completed. The final account was submitted on 23 June 1914 for £2234 as quoted, plus extras and fees of £24-17-0.

Monash and the South Australian Building Regulations 1913.

In November 1911, Monash had intervened in the drafting of the South Australian Building Regulations [link]. In December 1913, H G Jenkinson wrote to remind him that "it was arranged that you should write a letter to the Secretary to the Attorney General re Building Act". The Secretary of SARC, Mr Nicholls, wanted the Act to specify South Australian Government Testing - for the benefit of SARC. Monash's letter, dated 8 December 1913, reads:

"Sir, Re Bill for Building Act. My justification for addressing you on above subject lies in the fact that I have had extensive experience of Steel Frame and Reinforced Concrete Construction in South Australia, Victoria and the United States, and am now commercially interested in the operation of such an Act in South Australia. I may also state that, as President of the Victorian Institute of Engineers, I have been officially and professionally consulted with reference to the building Laws of Melbourne and its suburbs, and have had a considerable share in the framing of the new Building Regulations now in force in Melbourne.

I venture, therefore, to offer, in a spirit of helpfulness a few brief comments on the proposed Bill. I propose to call attention to only a few of the many points in which the Bill is in my opinion defective, with a view to justifying the strong recommendation that, before being further proceeded with, the Bill should be carefully revised by a Committee acting upon competent engineering advice.

Take Clause 64. The policy of this clause is evidently to subject all proposed reinforced concrete building construction to the scrutiny of the Surveyor, and to give him control over the sufficiency of the design as to strength and stability. But a close scrutiny of the Clause as drafted shows that it gives the surveyor no such power. His power is limited to the "sufficiency of detail" in which the information is supplied, and he has no power to reject the proposals however defective as to strength and design, so long as they are submitted in ample detail.

In point of fact this appears to me to be the great defect of the Bill, namely that it prescribes no factors of safety, no limiting stresses and no methods of calculation for either steel frame or reinforced concrete construction, and leaves the public at large to do just what they please in these regards without official control. Being acquainted with most of the Building Codes of the largest cities in the world, I am quite sure that in no case do they omit to prescribe a full and definite code of procedure in regard to all these matters. If application be made to the Building Surveyor of the City of Melbourne, I am sure that he will be glad to supply an official copy of the Regulations in force in Melbourne, and a perusal of these will show to what a considerable extent it is necessary, in the public interest, to regulate the procedure of design of these modern structures. In my opinion a schedule should be added to the Bill embodying a complete document[?] prescribing limiting stresses and methods of calculation; otherwise the object of the Bill will be largely defeated.

As an example of one of the numerous verbal inaccuracies in the measure I point to clause 15 last line, in which the words 'one fourth' should obviously read 'four'. Professor Chapman will confirm this."

Monash noted that the Mail of 22 November 1913 reported that a P W E Cully considered the quality of concrete required by the draft regulations to be too high, claiming concrete used satisfactorily by SARC in Bowman's Building had been weaker. JM declared this was quite incorrect, as the concrete used there was stronger than proposed.

His letter continued: "I submit these opinions with a full sense of responsibility, my desire being to uphold the very best standard in the matter of modern building construction, a field in which I am one of the pioneers in Australia. Yours obediently, John Monash, Consulting Engineer." The Attorney General's Office replied on 13th with a simple acknowledgement.

Moore's Building, Adelaide.

This building was designed by Garlick & Jackman for Charles Moore's retail company. There are only scraps of information in RCMPC's records to indicate SARC's part in this project, but it seems that they were responsible only for the structural members of the external walls. Newspaper reports show that the building was constructed in two stages from 1913 to 1916. A letter from Gibson to Monash dated 13 February 1913, on letterhead of The South Australian Portland Cement Co Ltd, includes a comment that the quality at Moore's Building was good; but it was a pity that Moore wanted the floors built in timber, due to the influence of a South African confidant called Carty. (Like other early promoters of reinforced concrete, Monash cited its "fireproof floors" as a principal selling point.) In 1948 the building was gutted by fire, and only SARC's work and an internal marble staircase survived. The store was rebuilt and following extensive refurbishment it now houses law courts.

Photograph showing exterior walls under construction.

Photograph marked "Victoria Square and Page St Fronts, Middle of May 1913" University of Melbourne Archives, Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co Collection, BWP/23894.

Photograph of Balcony Girder. This reinforced concrete unit is shown apparently elevated on narrow columns at an early stage of construction. It incorporates four short pillars or pediments within its depth, grouped in two pairs. In the centre is a girder with horizontally bulging face, penetrated by three circular holes. The pairs of pillars are joined near their tops by a beam with an arched soffit.

Photograph marked "Page St Balcony Girder - First Floor Level. Middle of May 1913". University of Melbourne Archives, Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co Collection, BWP/23893.

Larger versions of these photographs may be seen in the University of Melbourne Archives Image Collection UMAIC by searching under Record ID for UMA/I/6373 and UMA/I/6372. Any enquiries to UMA should quote Location Nos. BWP/23894 and BWP/23893 respectively.

It is interesting to compare BWP/23894 with a photograph of the completed building, from the same angle, available on the website of the State Library of South Australia, with Image No. B 69526

A letter of 10 August 1915 from Gibson to Monash (at that date at Gallipoli) stated there was trouble over the contract, which was in the hands of lawyers. Moore was claiming compensation of £2950 for inferior workmanship and inaccuracies greater than allowed by the specification in the alignment and position of the work. Gibson added, "In the first instance of course Mr Moore's proceedings are against the architect". Another letter of 19 October states that the dispute was still unsettled, but that Gibson had "hopes".

The Register reported on progress at Moore's Building on 2 Sept 1913. The 1948 fire was reported in The Advertiser of 3 Mar 1948, 4 Mar 1948, and 8 March 1948.

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