In these days of GPS navigation, it’s interesting to go back to the beginning of street directories in Australia.
By all accounts, Florence Taylor (1879-1969) was an achiever. These articles provide a glimpse of the pioneer female architect and civil engineer, “an inveterate founder and joiner” and a bit of a workaholic it seems. The Canberra suburb of Taylor was named in her honour.
AUSTRALIAN WOMEN ARCHITECTS.
SAYS a writer in a NSW paper:- In increasing numbers women are taking up work which by custom and consent has long been regarded as the prerogative of the other sex. Among the newcomers are architects; not so numerous so far as to cause any consternation in the camp of their rivals, but quite able to hold their own when it comes to the drawing board. “Men make houses but women make homes,” quoted Mrs Florence Taylor, the first woman architect of Sydney. “That is an old sentiment isn’t it but we beg now to alter or amend it slightly by adding and houses too if they have the mind to. I’ve had the mind to plan and to build houses since I was a mere girl, and I achieved my ambition eventually, as you see. But it was hard, close work and has taken me 23 years to learn what I know now, and I am still a student and must always remain that right to the end. Before my marriage I was chief draftsman to Burcham Clamp and afterwards I continued and my tally so far as residences are concerned amounts to 50, mostly in Mosman, Neutral Bay and Darling Point.”
Mrs Taylor analysing her profession says that 80 per cent is domestic architecture, and there is a good deal of confusion over the term. It is more than merely planning one room behind or beside another. The planning is a small factor in comparison. One has to be a worker of parts. Essentials are a working knowledge of the relative value of materials and their resistance to stress and strain; a study of history embodying Grecian methods used with beams and posts and how Romans blended the arch with Grecian construction. Gothic architecture an other school, employed small materials which gave increased elasticity and their craft was more nearly engineering than architecture, but we have to know it.
“One of the sorest trials of my profession is to see capable men discounted on their work. My argument is that a client always gets what he pays for and invariably he begins by tying the hands of the person to whom he entrusts the construction of a building. A £2,000 house for £1,000 is something the cleverest architect can not manage, but we are often expected to achieve that, for never yet was there a client who was content to leave it to the expert. It has always been the same. A free hand seems to be the unattainable dream of the average architect”.
Mrs Taylor discounts the theory so often advanced that women, given the qualifications, are better able to plan livable houses of ideal construction. We can do no better than men. We have no better qualifications than they – all things being equal, we turn out the same kind of jobs. The accredited sex sense does not exist. I pay great attention to the social side and its aid in this profession for women. The academic, by itself is not enough! I go further, and say that it is indispensable that a woman who takes up this work should be in the throng as far as possible. She should keep in touch with the march of people and events, and from both take every thing that will help her to keep her mind and ideals progressive “
The door was opened slightly for Taylor when the Institute of Architects granted an ‘associate membership’ to her. Northern Star – 14 October 1920
It wasn’t to take her long to crash through. In the meantime, she continued to demonstrate her consummate networking skills. In 1922, Taylor was elected Vice-President of the Town Planning Association. Sydney Morning Herald
On the 18 August 1923 the Adelaide Mail reported that Florence Taylor was to become a full and equal member of the Institute of Architects.
Another visionary, Florence Mary Taylor (1880-1969), Australia’s first female architect, epitomised female foresight and insight. Florence was 19 when her father’s death forced her to become a breadwinner. With no training — and a hatred of domestic work — she got herself a clerical job in a Parramatta architect’s office.
That architect, Edward Skelton Garton, did not share the male prejudice against women entering his field. He gave her a chance to be articled. Within eight years Florence had finished articles — notching up certificates for 19 subjects. Later, she qualified as Australia’s first civic and structural engineer.
In 1907, Florence married fellow architect George Augustine Taylor, a personality in his own right. George, a pioneer aviator, engineer, surveyor, geologist, astronomer, poet, and artist, and Florence made a formidable team.
They married in St Stephen’s Church, Macquarie Street, Sydney, with two witnesses — who were also their wedding guests. The reception was a cup of tea for bride and groom at a now defunct ABC chain cafe. Thanks to George’s help, Florence made the first Australian glider flight ever attempted by a woman in 1909, taking off from Narrabeen sandhills.
A strong woman who welcomed change, she caused a stir as a young apprentice by introducing a typewriter into her office. Generous to a fault, lover of music (possessing a beautiful soprano voice herself), she often paid tutorship fees for people she considered talented. Founder of the Sydney Arts Club, she in fact studied singing for many years, was famous for her music soirees where anybody who was somebody dropped by, Nellie Melba, for one.
An inveterate founder and joiner, Florence resigned from 38 committees, leagues, associations, and the like when she found she had to take life easy in the 1960s. That left a “handful ” of 24 bodies (mostly charity and cultural) she doggedly still attended. Always a revolutionary thinker-doer, Florence foresaw: tunnels under Kings Cross: a second Harbor Bridge. She also wanted a Civic Square, 50 years ago. If that had been done Sydney would have had a large parkland square between Wynyard Street and Martin Place. When Florence put up the idea, the area did not have one large building. As for her other plans, they were intended for a city worried about the alarming congestion of horse and buggy!
George died in 1928, and Florence kept up his work of publishing journals for master builders and engineers from a tiny office in Loftus Street, Sydney, until she was 80. Interviewed for that birthday, appearing under one of her eye-blinking frivolous hats, soft feminine dress, and lashings of perfume, she announced: “I can’t cook and I can’t sew. I can do eggs two ways —hard and soft. And I’ve got more safety-pins holding my clothes together than Woolworths would sell in a week.”
She died quietly aged 89, at her Potts Point home in 1969, leaving a sister sole beneficiary to her $226,281 will. Florence Taylor and her fellow famous female Australians in all their strivings, never heeded another’s advice. Mused the early English novelist Jane Austen (tongue firmly in cheek): “A woman, especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”
More details of this amazing mover and shaker can be found at the Australian Women’s History forum and in this article by Bronwyn Hanna in the Dictionary of Sydney. Bronwyn Hanna also co-authored Florence Taylor’s Hats with Robert Freestone. (Image via Booktopia).
Following a recent post about Pat Hanna, here’s one more image from the Hanna Collection in the State Library of Victoria. Another lantern slide that has survived over time.
View of Pompeii, House of Holonicus – glass lantern slide c 1924 Woodbury Lantern Slide Co (out of copyright).
There’s not a lot to be found online about a photographer called George Rose and his impressive body of work within Australia and elsewhere.
I have selected a sample of the thousands of the Rose postcard series accessible online at the State Library of Victoria. These are out of copyright due to the uncertainty of the date they were taken. Most are tagged c 1920-1954. Here’s a link to photographs taken in Melbourne in the Olympic year of 1956 which are still in copyright and as such cannot be reproduced here.
Another source of these rich images is the work of Ron Blum who has collated George Rose’s work into two books and a CD.
At the foot of Deany’s Steps – Port Campbell I think the emulsion damage adds to the charm of this one.
The Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell The inset colour photo via Wikipedia shows the collapse of one of the stacks in 2005.
The State Library of Victoria holds over 7000 images (here) from the Rose Series. Other libraries have their own collections relevant to their state. Many of the photographs were taken by others after the deaths of George (in 1942) and Walter (George’s son and proprietor until he pre-deceased his father) in 1940.
This article was published 100 years ago on the occasion of the foundation ceremony for the city of Canberra, Australia’s capital city. It was to be another 14 years before the Parliament of Australia moved from Melbourne (where it had sat since 1901) to Canberra.
It was so from the beginning of Federation. States against states. States against the Commonwealth. The writer seems resigned to the fact that the Constitution allowed for such a place and urges the powers that be to get on with it.
The States are making big sacrifices anyhow to equip the Commonwealth with its new toy.
The place should not be allowed to “eat its head off ” as it will do if the expenditure heats up without there being any return.
The commentary about the prospective names for the capital comes out in favour of Canberra.
It has at least a wholesome, manly burr about its enunciation.
From The Illustrated Sydney News – 16 September 1876
On 23 May 1912, the winner of the prize for designing Australia’s new national capital was announced by newspapers across the country. The story of the competition can be found on the website An Ideal City.
Chicago’s Walter Burley Griffin (in collaboration with his wife Marian Mahony Griffin) worked from 1914 to 1920 on the realisation of the plans, before moving on to other projects in Australia and elsewhere. The Griffin Society is a great starting place for more information.
After Yellowstone National Park in the United States of America was created in 1872, Sydney’s first National Park became the second national park in the world. The National Park was not named Royal National Park until 1954.
……The credit of the idea of dedicating a large tract of land for such a purpose is principally due to Sir John Robertson, who has thought of the project for years, and no land seemed more suitable than that near Port Hacking, which presents all the attractiveness of varied and beautiful scenery, and abounds with game….. it was decided to dedicate 18,000 acres having more than five miles frontage to the Pacific Ocean (including Wattamolla Boat Harbour and other well known fishing grounds), over ten miles frontage to the main and southern arms of Port Hacking River (including the wide part of the river), and more than four miles frontage to Woronora Creek, a fine navigable arm of George’s River. The scenery in these localities is exceedingly attractive, and Port Hacking, the lower part of George’s River, and many spots on the coast line of the land which will form part of the park, abound with fine fish. …….. The park, [..] is to be called ” The National Park,” a better name than which could not be given ……..
The website of Friends of the Royal tells more of the park’s story.
The plan included explanations and references, for instance:
Macquarie Street [named after the Governor just 10 months after he took office]
– The easternmost street in the town, and extending in a southerly direction from the Government Domain to Hyde Park.
York Street (previously Barrack Street)
– Extends from the Barracks, in a southerly direction to the Burying-ground, parallel with George Street.
Prince Street (previously Windmill Row)
– Extending from Charlotte Square and the Government Stone Windmill in a northerly direction towards Dawes Point.
Explanations and references to all City of Sydney street names are available through the City of Sydney’s historian, Shirley Fitzgerald who has compiled a spreadsheet which is freely available here for download. The spreadsheet includes information on streets (such as Prince Street) which no longer exist.
“Variously Prince/Princes, renamed by Macquarie in 1810. As the most important street in the area, it was named for the Prince of Wales. Previously Windmill Row ‘between Charlotte Sq and government stone windmill northerly to Dawes Point’. Removed for construction of the Harbour Bridge. Now beneath the Bradfield Hwy.”
Courtesy of Google maps, here’s what some of those 1810 streets look like in 2011.