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 8  [ next ]

Note. 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.

Mitchell's Building [No.1] in Oliver('s) Lane

This provisional account of Mitchell's Building is based on:
(1) My research notes made on a first pass through the relevant RCMPC file in UMA. [Abbreviations.]
(2) Copies of six drawings from JTC. These are numbered 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, and 14. They provide mainly floor plans and stair details. None show column reinforcement.
(3) Copies of three drawings from JTC for the adjoining Mitchell Building No.2.
(4) Glass plate negatives at UMA (GPNB/1191 to /1193).
The drawings strongly suggest that the major walls running east to west (see plan below) were of load-bearing brickwork. They leave room for doubt about the nature of the bulky piers of the west and east facades, but the photographs suggest that they were of concrete. Consultants or researchers may have found definite answers in other archives. A.H.

Facade defined by the vertical lines of the end walls and the five intervening piers. Horizontal lines are defined by the cornice and three rows of inset spandrels that mark each floor level. About head-height above the pavement is a line formed by the edge of the "bulkhead". This line is broken by the main entrance. The windows are large. Plan showing side walls and columns. One side wall steps in, so that the rear two-thirds of the building are narrower, with only three columns between the walls.

1. Oliver Lane (west) facade.
2. Plan, with Oliver Lane facade at bottom.

The building is one of a pair of warehouses built for David Mitchell, financial supporter of Monash, and a major shareholder in RCMPC. Mitchell's manager, John Gibson, was also Managing Director of RCMPC. There is no mention in my research notes of an architect or a general contractor; or of any significant correspondence. Administration of the project must have been unusually smooth.

Design of building frames was by this time becoming routine for Monash and his assistant engineers. Beam sizes and reinforcement had been standardised. Tables and pro-formas had been drawn up to aid the methodical choice of cross-sections for various loadings and spans. Cost estimation was also simpler, based on meticulous analyses of actual unit costs in previous buildings.

Preliminary quantities and an estimate were prepared in mid-May 1907, leading to a quote of £2044, presumably for the concrete work only. The first requisition for materials was issued on 15 June. This was followed by more cost estimation. On 10 July detailed engineering design started, but the memorandum of agreement between RCMPC and David Mitchell was not signed until 30 July.

Design and construction was rapid, working to a deadline of 15 November. Drawings 4 and 5, showing the ground floor plan and stairs, and typical beam and slab reinforcement, were issued on 5 August. The first floor drawing is dated 21st. By 28 August, 4180 cubic feet of concrete had been poured. The drawing for the second floor came out on 30 August and for the third floor on 20 September. Drawing 14, for the 'flat' roof, was issued on 30 September. Early in October, Monash met with a Mr Elmslie, representing David Mitchell, to apportion responsibility for various parts of the remaining work. Asphalting of the roof was underway in mid-November.

On 18th, Monash told Mitchell that all RCMPC work had been finished except for some minor details. On 21st he wrote to Gibson that £3365 worth of work had been done, and asked for a progress payment of £1000. On 13 December he raised the question of 'extras', the major claim being plastering of the back and front of the building for aesthetic reasons. Mitchell had elected to take care of this himself, but had eventually decided not to bother. Monash thought the raw appearance of the building would reflect on his own firm's prestige, and had the task carried out by RCMPC workers.

University of Melbourne Archives, Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. Collection, GPNB/1191. Of the two most distant figures (the pair in black) the one on the left, with hand on lapel, may well be Monash.

The University of Melbourne Archives holds two more images with Location Numbers GPNB/1192 and /1193, taken from the same vantage point. The first shows work on the floor below the one shown in GPNB/1191, with several columns stripped and others still encased in formwork. The second shows work on the floor above that in /1191. The absence of safety measures in the industry at that time is noticeable.


Provisional notes on perimeter walls

Mitchell's Building No.1 has been seen as a candidate for the title of "first entirely reinforced concrete" building in Australia, on the grounds that it lacked the heavy masonry load-bearing external walls demanded by out-dated building regulations still in force at the time. However, the drawings from JTC show thick side walls shaded in a manner to suggest brickwork (below), and the photographs confirm this. The thickness is not dimensioned on the drawings we have sighted; but it scales a little less than the width of the facade piers, which is shown as 2'-6" (762mm). Mitchell later had a second building erected north of the first, so that the northern wall of No.1 (on the left in the part-plan below) became a party wall. On the drawings for Building 2, it is labelled "existing brick wall". The secondary reinforced concrete beams of Building 1 are shown slotted into such walls, as indicated in the enlarged details below. There is no indication of concrete columns within the length of the walls. It therefore seems fairly certain that, if the structure was built according to these drawings (issued during the course of construction), the thick east-west walls must be load-bearing brickwork.

Plan showing the ends of the reinforced concrete floor beams slotted into the masonry side wall for support. Enlarged details.

1. Mitchell's Building No.1. Plan of north-west corner at second floor level. The pier is labelled "Q" and the end of the wall "R".
2. Detail (from plan) showing beam slotted into wall.
3. Detail (from plan) showing beam and transoms slotted into pier "P".

The front (west) wall has five pillars or piers. The JTC drawings show them each 2'-6" (762mm) wide on the face. Their thickness is 1'-9" (533mm) in the first and second floors - somewhat less in the third and somewhat more in the ground floor and basement. The piers support transoms that carry windows and side-panels to form the facade (below). The pillars have pockets to receive the ends of the main (east-west) beams and slots for the transoms (detail above). Drawings for Building 1 in the J Thomas Collection do not indicate the nature of these columns, but the photographs show formwork as for a concrete column. Requisitions for reinforcement issued during construction suggest that they contained a minimal reinforcing cage consisting of four bars 5/8" (16mm) in diameter, with 3/16" (5mm) ties.

Although the side walls are probably load-bearing masonry, the west and east walls do represent a major change from the heavy neo-classical masonry facades employed in buildings such as Bank Place. Monash referred to them as "curtain" walls, a term reserved later in the century for much lighter forms of cladding. [More on this under Building 2.]

Refer to caption. Refer to caption.

Facade Elements (not to scale).
Transom. A cross-section through a transom, possibly precast, is shown at left. (Behind it appears a portion of the pier with a vertical slot.) The face of the transom contained a recess, which can be seen in the photograph at the level of the street light.
Bulkhead. Oliver Lane slopes down to the south and the 'Ground' floor ends up well above pavement level. In places along the face of the building on Oliver Lane, this floor slab is kicked up to form a 'bulkhead'. The outer edge at these locations has a moulding that forms the horizontal line in the photo, just above the car. The windows below the bulkhead admit light to the basement.

Monash disputes a rival claim. On 21 January 1913, The Argus, under the heading : "Novelty to Melbourne", described a new office building recently constructed by a rival builder as being "entirely in reinforced concrete". Monash protested that during the past twelve [sic] years a number of similar buildings had been constructed in the city. He included the "two warehouses in Oliver's-lane" among his examples.

The two buildings are listed in the Heritage Register of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria), File No. B7005.


Central Telephone Exchange, Melbourne

This project is interesting from a management point of view. To preserve his intellectual property, Monash made a point of approaching architects directly, to persuade them to adopt reinforced concrete. General contractors then bid for the task of constructing the entire building, obliged to accept RCMPC as specialist subcontractor, but having no formal authority over them. This made it difficult for them to integrate RCMPC's work schedule with their own. The Master Builders' Association was lobbying to outlaw the procedure. The general contractors for this project were Swanson Bros, and there was considerable friction between the two firms.
From an engineering point of view, the project provides an early example of a reinforced concrete sawtooth roof.

Cross-section showing saw-tooth roof line. Cross-section through three-storey building. Masonry side walls support the edges of two suspended floors and the roof. The floors are also supported by central columns. The roof spans across the entire width.

1. Part of the saw tooth roof (from a longitudinal cross-section of the rear building). (J Thomas Collection.)
2. Small-scale lateral cross-section of the rear building showing how the reinforced concrete structure (green) sat inside, and was supported by, the masonry side walls (brown).

At the front of the exchange was a two-storey office block with a stone facade facing Lonsdale Street. Behind this was a long, narrow three-storey block housing the plant and exchange proper. The perimeter walls of the rear building were of load-bearing masonry and the internal dimensions were 150 × 38 feet. Two reinforced concrete suspended floors were supported on the brick walls around the perimeter, and on a row of r.c. columns running down the centreline.

The client was the Public Works Department of the Commonwealth of Australia, under Lieut-Col Owen, with a Mr Brittingham as District Architect. An article announcing the new exchange, to be built in Lonsdale Street, appeared in The Age on 20 May 1907. The architects' drawings were traced by S J Lindsay and H G Jenkinson late in June. Computations and a cost estimate for the reinforced concrete were prepared in July, after W E L Wears had met with Messrs Brindley and Hesketh of the PWD to define the loads applied by the equipment. The first engineering drawing of the structure appeard shortly after. RCMPC received a copy of the architects' drawings for the office block in September. Quantities and an estimate for RCMPC's final tender were prepared in December, with a schedule of rates for r.c. work. The PWD tender documents specified that contractors must allow £3800 net for RCMPC's work and add to it any profit, commissions etc that they considered appropriate.

Problems started in April 1908, over what should have been a minor matter - the provision by RCMPC of precast reinforced concrete lintels. Swanson informed Monash on 28th that he would soon be ready for them. Monash protested he had been given insufficient notice, as the concrete would need to cure before the lintels were strong enough to be transported and installed. However, RCMPC was willing to build them in situ, as a "great favour", to save Swanson delay. Swanson complained to Brittingham, and JM protested this was unfair. He reiterated that RCMPC had done Swanson a great favour - and hoped he would remember it. Swanson replied that this was "rubbish" - RCMPC was holding up progress.

RCMPC's working drawing for the first and second floors, with girders, columns and footings, was issued on 5 May. On the same day, a formal letter of tender and a schedule were submitted to the PWD at £3,763. This covered, in addition to the floor system and roof, some partitions and staircases.

For some reason not picked up in my initial research, construction was temporarily halted by the authorities. On 28th May Brittingham wrote to "Major Monash" that the work of constructing the floors might be proceeded with. Swanson also wrote to him, saying "the order for suspension of operations has been lifted - please proceed immediately". In a private letter to Brittingham, JM said he had not been expecting the go-ahead until at least 23 June, and had disbanded and re-allocated the workforce allocated to the Exchange. RCMPC had much other work on its plate, but would reschedule all supplies to give the Exchange priority. Nevertheless, it would take a week to get organised. He added, "Would you favour me by doing whatever is possible to protect us against the inevitable pressure and criticism which will be levelled at us by Mr. Swanson, if we do not get in going swing as soon as he, who is uninformed as to the difficulty I pointed out, thinks we ought to do". He did, however, negotiate a schedule with Swanson in which RCMPC's main work would commence on 15 June.

Late in June, a hitch occurred when an old sewer trench was uncovered. The columns and footings were redesigned to take them down a further 9 feet to firm ground. There is mention at this stage of a Mr Wood, architect, and a Mr Perkins, Inspector, both of the PWD. Calculations by P T Fairway appear in this month. The drawing for r.c. floors in the office block was issued on 24th. These are simple slabs with ribs in one direction resting on masonry external and internal walls.

On 21 July, Monash asked Swanson for a progress payment of £700, and for another £700 on 10 August, noting that the 2nd Floor was then complete. The final detailed drawing for the saw tooth roof was issued on 14 August, with dimensions beefed up from those in a previous version, perhaps at PWD request. On 25 September, JM told Swanson the roof would be finished within a few days and requested a further £1000 progress payment.

View down the long main room. Perspective is enhanced by high-level windows along the side walls, and the regular rhythm of the cross-girders supporting each bay of the saw-tooth roof.

Central Telephone Exchange, Melbourne. University of Melbourne Archives, Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co Collection, BWP/23719.

Two more historic images of this building are held in the University of Melbourne Archives with Location Numbers BWP/23718 and /23720. The first shows the same hall as in /23719, but looking almost straight down the centre. The other is an interior view of the staircase.

Engineering (reinforcement) drawing for one bay of the saw-tooth roof.

Above: Section through an element of the saw tooth roof. The beams were spaced at intervals of "about" 15 feet. (From a drawing in the J Thomas Collection.)

Engineering drawing showing "full-face" the cross-girder and window-panel of the saw-tooth roof. There are five apertures in the window panel.

Section a-a in the above drawing. It shows reinforcement of the beam that supported the sloping roof slab and window framing. This had a span of 38 feet and was about 2'-9" deep by 14" wide. (The dotted lines show, in cross-section, the outline of the ribbed roof panel that is on the right of the top drawing. Strictly speaking it should not be included in Section a-a which is looking to the left.)

At the end of December 1908, tension flared again. Swanson complained that work was going at "a snail's pace and you have got us blocked pretty well all over the job". Monash cross-checked with Works Manager Alex Lynch who told him there had not been enough work on the job over the past month to employ even four men and there was not not a single job left to be done in the main building. JM responded to Swanson, "I have at various times received from you complaints of slow progress, which, on enquiry have proved to be without foundation … we very strongly object to written statements which are entirely without foundation". He complained that RCMPC men were hanging round waiting for a crane to be moved so they could finish off their work. Brittingham chipped in the next day, writing that "complaint is being made of the slow progress". He listed areas requiring attention including the main staircase, several small roofs, and the levelling of the floor of the terminal room. He asked JM to kindly expedite matters. Swanson weighed in with a reasoned rebuttal of JM's charges and a reaffirmation of "blocking" caused by RCMPC's operations throughout the term of the project.

In February 1909, Monash requested another £500 progress payment to make a total of £3500. At the end of April and on into May, letters were exchanged about the finalisation of payments. Swanson withheld final payments, listing aspects of RCMPC's work that he considered unsatisfactory. JM sent him a final account for £3752-14-0d, countering Swanson's arguments and forwarding details to Brittingham. Swanson then said he was withholding £375 because the PWD was withholding that amount from him. However, according to JM's sources, it was holding only £50. He told John Gibson this was "the last straw" on Swanson's part. Brittingham bowed out of the dispute on the grounds that it was a matter solely for the parties involved.

It was RCMPC practice that once construction work was complete, responsibility for extricating payment from the client passed from Monash to John Gibson. The final letter mentioned in our research notes is a letter from Gibson to Swanson telling him that his version of the amount owed by the PWD was "incorrect".

With Swanson Bros and RCMPC trying to work around each other as they did, there must have been constant mutual interference, giving ample grounds for both parties' sense of grievance. The material available in the RCMPC files at UMA gives insufficient information to form a view on the strength of the competing claims. A.H.


Assorted projects, mid-1907

Several small projects initiated in mid-1907 are of passing interest, though there is no evidence that they were built.

Ballarat Cathedral floors

In May, Wears passed word that architect Smart, of Smart Tappin & Peebles wanted a design and quotation for floors in the Cathedral at Ballarat. Structural computations and estimates were prepared for a hollow floor system. The upper plate was to be 2.5" thick and the lower 2". Secondary joists were contained within the space, giving a total depth of about 12". The main girders were 28" deep (thus projecting below the floor) with a span of 31 feet. The quote for 40 squares of flooring with a live load of 112 pounds per square foot was £638. In August, Monash had a sample of breeze concrete made to check its density. In October the floor was redesigned for 80 psf. The quote for two floors, each side of the chancel plus an adjacent area now came to £527.

Schweppes factory

In June 1907, RCMPC prepared quotes for floors for Schweppes's ginger beer factory. The proposal, for Monier plates resting on rolled steel joists, appears to have been intended to compete with expanded metal floors.

Church domes

In the same month, RCMPC prepared proposals for small domes for a church in Malvern for the architect A A Fritsch. The final quotation was based on two half-spheres six feet in diameter for £14-10-0 each, two quarter-spheres 13 feet in diameter £27, and some porch covers. There is no evidence in the file that the domes were constructed.

Hotel at Lorne

Also in June 1907, a quote was prepared for architects Vahland & Beebe of Bendigo, for alterations and additions to the Lorne Hotel. My impression is that Monash was not keen on the project because of the awkwardness of the alterations and the transport difficulties involved. Gibson reported that shipping freight from the wharf at Melbourne to the wharf at Lorne was, for cement and steel 15/- per ton, and for timber 15/- per "ton of 480 square feet". There was only one voyage per week. RCMPC's original quote was £1622 for some foundations, portions of floor, walls, stairs, and a balcony. On 17 July, Beebe asked by phone for a revised quote, omitting the dining room, the floors and the balcony. He was hoping to halve the cost and wanted a reply the same night. JM's confirmatory letter says he cancelled engagements in order to revise the estimate during the evening, but could provide no drawings and give only a rough estimate. A week later, Beebe advised that the Board of Directors had decided to postpone the additions, as they would not now be ready for the coming season. In January 1908, RCMPC quoted for a few beams and lintels for the additions which were now mainly in brick. There is no evidence of an outcome.


Commercial Bank, Launceston

Photo of facade and one corner of the former Commercial Bank, Launceston.In July 1907, James B. Overell, "Builders & Furnishing Ironmonger" of Hobart wrote to Monash: "At last we are glad to be able to report a definite prospect of using Monier reinforced concrete in Tasmania." The architect D G Salier had won the competition for a new building in Launceston for the Commercial Bank of Tasmania and had specified reinforced concrete floors. H E Edwards, described as the Bank's consulting architect, supported the innovation. Overell continued: "We have approached a good many of our Authorities with respect to the use of Monier Concrete, but they are somewhat shy of trying it. Once a good job is erected here, however, we have no doubt that others will follow." Monash asked for 1/8 scale plans from the architect and details of support for the floors. Perhaps mindful of conflicts with general contractors in Melbourne, he suggested the walls be supported on rolled steel joists, so as to be independent of the reinforced concrete work. Photo courtesy of Lionel Morrell.

Monash must have had trouble extracting information from the architect. In October, Overell told him: "We know Mr. Salier very well, but find he is one that hurries slowly". Floor plans and a vertical cross-section duly arrived, but to obtain detailed information quickly, JM asked W E L Wears to visit Hobart, as he knew Salier personally. In mid-November, RCMPC quoted a price of £3264 plus £176 for possible extras. Salier's official reply was that his clients considered this too vague. Furthermore, their local engineer (probably Edwards) wanted to check both the specification and the computations for the floors. In an accompanying private letter, Salier apologised for being "such a bally nuisance".

In a report to the Bank in December, Edwards expanded his recommendations. Details of design loads on floors, working drawings, and samples of materials should be submitted at an early stage for his approval. British cement should be used. The structure should be subjected to load tests after completion and no payment should be made prior to this. RCMPC should guarantee their work and repair any faults that might show up during a specified maintenance period.

For engineers: RCMPC normally wrote its own specifications. A draft dated 30 September 1907 contains the following provisions:
Steel: Ultimate tensile stress: 26-30 tons per square inch. "Safe steel stress" not greater than 7 tsi. Modulus of Elasticity: 30,000 to 35,000 pounds per square inch. Bars up to ¾" must be capable of being bent double without fracture. Bars greater than ¾" bent round bar of own size. Elongation of 8 inch specimen to be greater than 25 per cent.
Concrete: Proportions: cement : sand : aggregate: 1 : 2 : 3 by volume. Maximum aggregate size ¾". [Still no mention of cube or cylinder strength for concrete.]
Risk: Factor of safety [based on stress] not less than 4. Design loads, uniformly distributed, 100 psf on 1st and 2nd floors, 112 psf on Ground and 3rd floors and on roof.
Plates: Floors 4" thick when finished. Partitions 2.5" thick.

It is surprising that, despite these demands, Salier informed Monash that RCMPC's tender of £3822 had been accepted, subject to the engineer's approval of the drawings. Notes made by Monash, presumably prior to composing a letter, show he was willing to accept a "rigid specification" for cement; but objected to the use of British cement, especially that of Knight Bevan & Sturges, which was "absolutely unsuitable for our work". Regarding the contract, he noted that Victorian and South Australian government departments paid up to 75 per cent prior to testing, but he was willing to accept 50 per cent in this case. He was willing to provide a guarantee and a maintenance period. As usual he wanted RCMPC to take no part in carrying out the tests.

As for submission of plans, Monash was not willing to undertake the "immense labour" of detailed computation and drawing while acceptance of the tender was still not finalised. He would, however, accept that the drawings must be approved by the Architect and Engineer before any part of the work was carried out. He noted that work at Launceston would be under the supervision of a qualified Civil Engineer who would reside there and had 4 years experience of reinforced concrete (H G Jenkinson) and a specially trained foreman (Frederick Bloom) of similar experience.

Wears must have heard of the consultant's demands while in South Australia. He sent a telegram to Monash from the Adelaide railway station, en route to Melbourne: "Advise falling in views of Edwards. Can work everything we want afterwards through Salier." After arrival he sent off his official response to Salier accompanied, as often happened, by a "private" letter of the same date:

"If I have given Mr. Edward's name undue prominence in any official reply you will quite understand my object. This you can rest assured of, old man, that we shall endeavour in every way possible to help you in the matter and when the job is finished, and it will be the first of its kind in Tasmania, that it will be a feather in your cap and give satisfaction to everybody concerned especially your clients, and they, after all, are the chief persons concerned. Now the season of good wishes abounds when peace and good-will to all men reigns."

Late in January 1908, Overell reported that Messrs J & T Gunn's tender had been accepted for the general construction of the bank, including an allowance of £4000 for Monier work. Wears assured Salier that Melbourne builders had shown no interest in the job because reinforced concrete was breaking their price ring. In February, JM dictated a letter to Gunn on the question of the Builder's commission. It said the specification he had seen displayed at the Builders' Exchange [probably Melbourne] had contained the words "contractor to allow in his estimate £3850 for reinforced concrete". If the contract Gunn had signed contained the amount £3850, then "this undoubtedly includes 10 per cent for you - our net price is £3465". JM promised to buy materials through Gunn's firm. However, subsequent correspondence suggests this letter was never sent. [Also, it is crossed in pencil with the words "not in Letter Book".]

Arrangements were made for Monash and Wears to meet the other principals in Launceston at the end of February. Minutes of the meeting record the presence of Salier, Gunn Senior, Laidlaw (Clerk of Works), and Turner (Gunn's foreman). JM signed the contract for RCMPC, this action being later confirmed by Gibson. RCMPC was contracted directly to the Bank and the official price was £3822-10-0. Once back in Melbourne, JM wrote to confirm an agreement that Gunn would receive 5 per cent in return for "affording us reasonable facilities for access, storage and such conveniences as will involve you in no special outlay".

In May, Gunn asked Monash if he could recommend any masons to work on the job. JM replied they were scarce in Melbourne also, and were all employed on Flinders Street Station. In November, Salier wrote to say he had been away from work sick, and on his return found that "things generally have gone to El and Blazes - I have written a fairly rude letter to Messrs. J & T Gunn". This initiated correspondence between Monash and Gunn about the latter's slow progress, JM emphasising that he wanted to be sure of getting a good run when he sent his team over. Gunn had first said he would be ready for RCMPC in mid-December. Wears went over in December and met Salier at the races, reporting that the architect had had a bad time, suffering from blood poisoning. Gunn's estimate later became "mid-January", and by April 1909 he was predicting "early May".

Jenkinson and Bloom moved to Launceston in March or April 1909. The RCMPC office was established in Brisbane Street. Correspondence at the end of the year indicates Jenkinson was then lodging with a Mrs Hart, at 'The Pines', George St. The first requisition for materials was issued on 20 April. Jenkinson soon showed his methodical nature by making detailed analyses of costs as work progressed. Despite the difficulties of working with and around the Builder, things went so smoothly that Monash found he had no need to write his customary letters of advice and encouragement to those in the field. In mid-June he congratulated HGJ warmly. A progress payment of £500 was requested at this time.

Problems of mutual interference did however, begin to accumulate. JM told Wears to warn Salier that if Gunn's crane was not out of the way by the end of the month, RCMPC would be seriously hampered, and if their gang had to be disbanded it would take 2 or 3 weeks to get going again. He was incensed when Gunn's quoted £340 to surface the floors, a job that JM thought worth £100. However, he told HGJ to go into the matter thoroughly, measure the exact area and find out whether Gunns were thinking of a very high standard. The quote eventually came down to £179.

In mid-July, a further £500 progress payment was requested, and JM complimented HGJ on "rapid and satisfactory progress". On 24 August, he told Salier that all floor work was complete. As RCMPC had received so far only £1100, he asked for a further £1000. This must have crossed with a letter written by Gunn the previous day complaining that the concrete work as a whole was only half finished and time was running out. (Concrete partitions, floor surfaces, and caretaker's quarters were still to be completed.) Gunn claimed that RCMPC had been blocking all other work. Monash expressed surprise. RCMPC had been supposed to start on 30 September 1908, but had been unable to do so until 15 May 1909. They had been cramped, and Gunn's crane had not been removed until 12 July 1909 - the start of winter - causing further delay due to bad weather. However, three quarters of the work was complete. RCMPC would make every effort, although "we can fairly claim that we have done everything we can to expedite the work". The firm was "rather inclined to resent what might be construed as, but we trust is not intended as, a desire to fasten responsibility and blame for delay upon us". However, he told HGJ: "If you think another £20-30 of timber will speed progress, buy it". Gunn replied with a conciliatory letter saying there was no intention to blame RCMPC. JM sent copies of this letter to HGJ and Salier "to establish our complete absolution from blame".

As the end of the job came in sight Monash, impressed by Jenkinson's efficiency, made plans to apply his talents elsewhere. In mid-September, Salier authorised payment of another £1500 to add to the £1100 already received. JM suggested that HGJ take a few days' paid holiday to "run down to Hobart and see something of Tasmania". He told him to persuade Salier to come up to Launceston. JM obviously wanted Salier to be clear about matters on site because - as he put it - as soon as RCMPC's back was turned Gunn would start "all sorts of trouble" with the architect. Subsequently Salier authorised a further payment of £750 and agreed to pay £100 of "extras". Finishing of floor and stair surfaces had been handed over to Gunn's. HGJ left Launceston on 7 October.

Gunn's administrative machine claimed the usual 10 per cent Builder's commission, but Monash was able to convince them that the agreement in this case was for 5 per cent. They admitted: "our Mr Gunn did not tell us about it". Wears complicated matters by claiming credit for the reduction and expecting an extra commission for himself as a reward. The last progress payments were received at the end of December 1909.

A final chapter occurred in March 1911 when JM wrote to Gummow Forrest & Co:

"With respect to royalties on reinforced concrete work carried out under my control, it was understood that, although not covered by the Agreements, I had your permission to carry out work in Tasmania upon the same terms as to royalty under the Agreements then in force respecting Victoria.
Re Commercial Bank, Launceston:

total concrete in building (c. ft)9300
less that used in casing of steel girders
not otherwise reinforced
 = 272.5 c yds at 4/-
= £54-10-0

Cheque enclosed."