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Notes on Building Projects
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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.

BATC Factory, Sydney (referral)

This incident is included because it inspired Monash to state concisely his respect for, and indebtedness to, Gummow Forrest & Co., and to affirm his policy of working with architects. In January 1912, the British Australasian Tobacco Company was looking at constructional options for a new factory for its Sydney operation. William Cameron of BATC in Melbourne had been a long-standing customer of RCMPC and was keen to see reinforced concrete adopted for the Sydney project. Of course, that was Gummow Forrest & Co's territory, and after initial discussions with Cameron and his colleagues, JM informed him that GF&Co were keen to tender.

"I may repeat, for your information, that this is a firm in which you can repose the fullest confidence in regard to this form of construction, as they have an experience, and have established a record both for extensive construction, and thorough reliability, which entirely overshadows our work in Victoria. In point of fact, it is from this Company, and the personnel of its directorate, that we, in Victoria, acquired our knowledge of design and construction in reinforced concrete, and their methods and principles of design and execution are identical to our own; while a very brief enquiry in professional or departmental circles in Sydney will speedily assure you of their very high standing.

"Like ourselves, the policy of Messrs Gummow, Forrest & Co. is to work under the direction of an Architect; so it seems to me that the most desirable course is for you, upon the selection of a Sydney Architect to carry out your scheme, to instruct him to place himself in communication with this Company with a view to their submitting a tender, on lines similar to the procedure adopted by you in connection with the several works in Victoria which I have had the pleasure of carrying out for you."

The phrase "personnel of its directorate" is presumably a glancing reference to W J Baltzer as well as F M Gummow. Monash's first professional contact with Cameron (known to us) was in 1895 [link].

Cameron later reported that his Sydney colleagues had chosen a Mr Halligan as their architect. They intended to use reinforced concrete for the floors, but favoured load-bearing brickwork for the walls. Cameron himself would have preferred a wholly reinforced concrete structure "from a fire stand-point and the stand-point of making the building very much nicer in every respect".

Policy on tenders

During the labourers' strike in Adelaide, H G Jenkinson asked Monash whether he should tender for work at the Government Ice Works in Light Square. He noted that SARC Managing Director Bakewell was "inclined to fight shy of new contracts during the currency of the present Industrial Trouble". HGJ understood this, but wanted to maintain SARC's presence in City building construction. He added: "I am on friendly terms with Mr Roger of the Engineer-in-Chief's Dept who has this job in hand". Monash advised him to submit a tender in order to keep the firm's name before the Government, but to stipulate that no time clause should operate until the strike was over. (He also commented that the floor as designed would not withstand the specified test.)

House in Ray St, Beaumaris

A reinforced concrete house stood in Ray St, Beaumaris from 1912 until the 1990s. Although we have not come across any record of it in our researches, it is mentioned briefly here because authorities such as J M Freeland (1968, p221), Geoffrey Serle (1982, p.179) and Miles Lewis (1988, p.26 and personal communication) associate it with Monash. The house was built for and/or in association with George Higgins.

My priority in building this web site is to summarise material gleaned from UMA, NLA and JTC [more]. It is possible that a RCMPC project file existed and went astray before the archives were acquired by UMA. There may well be correspondence in NLA, seen by Serle, that has not been picked up in our incomplete survey of the Monash Papers. We have not made any attempt to research this building outside UMA, NLA and JTC.

Watson's Building/Chambers/Warehouse

Longitudinal and lateral cross-sections. The hollow block floor is esentially a ribbed floor plate. Hollow concrete blocks are laid end-to-end on the formwork in parallel lines. Concrete is poured between the lines to form the ribs of the floor, and on top of the blocks to form the floor plate. The plate in this instance is only 2 inches thick. Large steel I-sections run at right-angles to the ribs to provide the major support for the floor.

Extract from Bates, Peebles & Smart drawing.

This building seems to have been built on the site of the former Watson's Chambers at 234-6 Flinders Lane, at its intersection with Manchester Lane. According to our hasty notes, the client was G A Jury, and the architects Bates, Peebles & Smart. In January 1912, RCMPC's draughtsman, F H Foster, traced extracts from the architects' drawing, showing hollow-block floors supported by encased steel beams. Floor and roof reinforcement is shown, presumably to the architects' design.

One long side of the building is defined by a load-bearing brick wall, and the other by a reinforced concrete wall with window openings. Between these runs a row of r.c. columns.

The building seems to be a strange mixture. The extracts suggest three lines of support running in the longitudinal direction: a load-bearing brick wall; a row of r.c. columns; and a concrete wall, probably on Manchester Lane. The last consists of concrete piers and spandrels between large window openings, but the concrete work reaches only to third-floor level, above which it changes to brick. (The sketches are broken off just above the third floor.)

This provides another instance of increasing competition for RCMPC in the design of r.c. structures. It was normal for them to re-design to their own specifications in such cases. A quote was sent to builder C C Duff of £5898 for Floors, strong rooms, roof, and stairs; and £2230 for casing of rolled steel joists. A final quote of £8088 was delivered to builder R McDonald on 7 February 1912, and RCMPC's work was planned to start on 25 March. (Our research notes do not include the name of the successful builder.) A final account for £8070 was issued on 11 February 1913, and a reduced account of £8060 on 27 August. The State Library of Victoria News, No.26, July-Oct 2004, p.9 shows a photograph of workers c1920 about to demolish the shell of Watson's Chambers after it was gutted by fire.

Springhurst Butter Factory Floor

This was a small job, but it generated a fair amount of heat. The factory was for the Ovens & Murray Dairy Co Ltd, and the Architect was A C MacKnight. In January 1912, MacKnight sent RCMPC a drawing showing a suspended floor 20 × 21 feet in plan and 15 inches thick, supported on brick walls and on beams running in one direction only. He had already detailed the reinforcement and requested a quote for construction. P T Fairway offered to build the floor for £107, provided he was allowed to "rearrange" the reinforcement and "slightly reduce" the thickness of the floor slab. He confirmed that he would work to a Factor of Safety of 4.

Refer to text.MacKnight then gave the go-ahead for the re-design, asked for a signed guarantee, and informed PTF that the contractor was Mr McKnockiter of Wangaratta. In March, PTF produced a drawing showing reinforced concrete beams 7" wide by 15" deep supporting a slab 3" thick. The ends of the beams were to sit in sockets cut in the longer walls, and the edges of the slab parallel to the beams were to sit in chases cut in the shorter walls. Requisitions for materials were issued on 23 April. Foreman Bendschneider travelled up for the concrete work. On 17 May, he wired that the builder had cut the sockets for the beams in the wrong walls. If the direction of the beams were changed to suit, they would have a span of 21 rather than 20 feet. He wanted to know whether he should weld extra lengths onto the reinforcing bars already transported from Melbourne.

It turned out that the builder had decided to cut the sockets in the other walls because the two outer beams as originally designed sat above window openings at one end, and an inner beam sat above the door opening at the other end. Bendschneider wrote that the blacksmith did not have any spare iron, so he would be obliged to weld. PTF advised him to either get the builder to cut new pockets, or use the existing bars and make up the extra length with short overlapping bars.

In June came a heated letter from Macknight protesting about Bendschneider's attitude concerning the pockets, the cleaning, and minor tasks. The reinforcement bars supplied were covered in scales of rust and Bendschneider had refused to dip them in acid and wash them as Macknight had instructed. In reply, Monash apologised for feeling obliged to write in strong terms, but pointed out that the RCMPC drawing had been clear, and the firm should have been informed that its scheme would not suit the positioning of windows and door. "In regard to rusty bars, we really do not know of any reason why rusty bars should not be used in Reinforced Concrete work, and they are so used all over the world. We use hundreds of tons of imported steel every year, and it is rusty long before it lands here. Experiment and experience shows that rust on the bars is no detriment, but on the contrary that it increases adhesion." If acid had been used it would have remained on the bars and affected adhesion. Bendschneider had "bagged" the bars [wiped them firmly with rough sacks] and did not ignore instructions.

Macknight countered that he did not object to a little rust. "What I did object to was iron which had been eaten into by rust and was covered with large rust scales that rubbing would have no effect on." He had told Bendschneider to wash the reinforcement thoroughly after using the acid. Monash replied that he had interrogated the foreman, who claimed he had carefully got all scaly rust off and had attended to minor matters as instructed. JM could only assume that the contractor and the Clerk of Works had thrown blame on Bendschneider for some reason of their own.

The final statement was issued on 29 July 1912. As often happened, payment was slow in coming. McKnockiter eventually told Monash to apply direct to Macknight, who replied that he had been waiting for an opportunity to test the floor. After some time he relented and sent a cheque, saying he would still hold RCMPC to their guarantee.

Curtis Building (additions)

This was a small job for J Curtis Esq, inserting a staircase rising two storeys within a building at 145 Queen St, Melbourne. As with many similar projects, the staircase is provided with a sloping reinforced concrete ceiling 3 inches thick, following the rise of the stairs. An additional area was added to the second floor, over the staircase. The quote is dated 15 February 1912. The engineering drawing was by J A Laing, and signed by P T Fairway on behalf of Monash. An account for £113 was issued on 15 April.

"Henderson's Warehouse"

This project for the roof of a warehouse in Flinders Lane gives an insight into Monash's attempts to retain a hold on reinforced concrete work. One of his memorandums recorded discussions with an architect of "the method of calling tenders for the Flat Roof he now proposes".

"(a) Subject to the concurrence of his clients, he will invite tenders only privately from certain specified Contractors who are unlikely to make trouble.
(b) He will exclude the roofing work entirely from the contract, and will, subject to our price being satisfactory to him, let us have a separate contract for the roof. He will state in his general specification that the whole of the roof work will be arranged for independently by the proprietor."

When the architect gave Monash a definite assurance that he would proceed on these lines, JM gave him details of the design.

Miller's Bond St Warehouse added 5th floor

This project involved the addition of a fifth floor and roof to a warehouse in Bond St for the Hon Edward Miller. The reinforced concrete external walls of the new storey were 4.5 inches thick. Internal walls were 3". The floor was supported on concrete-encased steel joists, and the roof by r.c. beams. The quotation was made on 23 February 1912 and the final statement issued on 29 May.

Mildura Winery project

This history would benefit from further research into the role and background of key individuals and firms.

In February 1912, the Mildura Winery Co Ltd asked RCMPC to submit a quote for reinforced concrete work for a winery to be built at Merbein, about 6 miles from Mildura. The request mentioned that Clinton reinforcement would be used. From March to July, a large bundle of computations was prepared using RCMPC's system. Only one page is by Monash himself. On 29 July, Alex Lynch reported on a meeting with directors W B Chaffey, Dobbie and Atkinson of the Winery. On 5 August, Monash sent an initial quote to Thomson Bros (consultants or builders?) offering them a 5 per cent commission. Presumably in connection with this quote, he later sent RCMPC's drawings and specification to the Winery.

Late in September, Alex D Thomson informed JM that the Winery had been in touch with the British Reinforced Concrete Company which used the "Paragon and Clinton process" of r.c. construction, and asked for his views on it. JM replied that it was "just a fancy name for a firm selling woven mesh". He warned Thomson not to use it in construction, and was scathing about BRCC's publicity. He declared that there was "no merit" in woven mesh.

Monash was particularly concerned that the Winery's Mr C L Dobbin might be intending to use RCMPC's drawings and simply substitute alternative reinforcement. He met Dobbin late in January 1913, but failed to make progress. On 6 February, he told the Winery that though their insistence on the mesh was beyond his comprehension, he would do what he could to incorporate it into RCMPC's design for a formal quotation. However, on 10th he wrote in a covering letter that he had found this impossible. The woven mesh was far too light, it cost much more than normal reinforcement, and it could only be used in the floor. The quote was £1386 for seven vats above ground, a slab-on-ground, dwarf walls under an underground storage tank, and retaining walls. There was a further £181 for a 30,000 gallon above-ground tank 22 feet high with internal diameter 17 feet.

A few days later, Lynch informed Monash that builders Taylor Bros were trying to get the job using woven mesh reinforcement. JM sent a confidential letter to Thomson, hoping that he would argue in favour of RCMPC on the grounds of their long experience. However, on 26 April 1913, Thomson informed him that BRCC had won the contract for the concrete work, with Taylors as builders.

Residential Garage Floor

This job, in February 1912, for W R Butler in Toorak Road, is another in the 'no job too small' category. It was supported on piers and beams due to the poor nature of the ground. Small drawings on quarto-size paper prepared by F H Foster have a text-book quality as regards clarity and conventions. The builder, to whom RCMPC was contracted, was A G Plowman.

New Britannia Theatre minor work

In March 1912, P T Fairway did the figuring for footings and column casings for the Britannia Theatre in Bourke Street. His sketches include an elevation of the facade and a section through its architectural masonry, above the arch. He quoted a price to architect Nahum Barnet for foundations to two steel columns at the front and for "lintels" to concentrate the load of the front walls on isolated footings. The quote was accepted by H R Lawson of the The Greater J D Williams Amusement Co Ltd. RCMPC's final statement was issued on 19 April.

Methodist Book Depot foundations

The architect for this project was G B Leith. RCMPC were appraoched by prospective builders W F Holden and Taylor Bros. In March 1912, Fairway quoted Taylors £1759 for reinforced concrete floors from Ground to third (with a possible fourth), encasement of structural steelwork, and 4.5 inch walls. A month later they quoted £160 for 16 reinforced concrete footings. Only the footing quote was accepted. The first requisiton for materials was issued on 26 April, and the final account on 15 May.

Mill in Hobart (rejected project)

The interest of this project lies in the fact that Monash decided against taking taking an opportunity for RCMPC to return to Tasmania after its completion of the Launceston Bank (July 1907 to December 1909?). In March 1912, W E L Wears sent RCMPC sketches of a proposed five-storey Mill to be located in Hobart. Subsequently, P T Fairway made a note on the drawings: "After Conference with Mr Monash it was decided that this is not by any means a favourable proposition to consider". The reasons are not stated, but the proposal was to build on land reclaimed from the sea, and Monash may have felt it too risky, especially with supervision a problem at such a distance from head office.

Central Cool Stores, West Melbourne

This project consisted of two massive slab foundations for the Cool Stores. Both were rectangular in plan and 443 feet long. One was 86 feet wide and the other 89 feet. Monash handled the project himself, perhaps because it was on bad ground, and he had had recent experience of foundations for the Metropolitan Gas Company in similar conditions. He described the site as "west of Spencer St North Melbourne railway, immediately South of Dudley St Extension and lying between Dudley St and Victoria Dock". The project was under the control of Colonel Watson, of the Public Works Department of Victoria, through C B Abbott and Inspector Anderson.

Tenders were called by the PWD on 27 March 1912. In April, Monash prepared a bundle of computations and estimates, informing Alex Lynch at one stage that the slab would probably be about 10½ inches thick. A tender for £6412 was submitted on 25 April. When JM learned that his tender was second lowest, he asked for a meeting with Watson. On 9 May, he submitted a specification and amended tender for £5863. On 10th, an article in The Age told readers of the "flotation" principle necessary for foundations on bad ground, as explained by Monash. Further calculations were made on the basis of the agreed tender and the first requisition for materials was issued on 13th. The only drawing in JTC is a locality plan issued by the PWD. The final account was submitted on 13 November 1912. On 27th there is mention of a test of the slab using a traction engine. It appears that RCMPC intended to conduct this test itself, a departure from JM's principle that clients should supervise and carry out their own testing.

Murtoa Abattoirs Extension

This was a routine extension to previous work at the Murtoa Freezing Works. A drawing in JTC entitled "Alterations & Additions to Slaughter House" shows the new work to have been very similar to the old. The first requisition for materials was issued on 18 April 1912, and the first report from foreman J C Stevens came soon after. The final account was submitted on 8 August.

AE&M Building (tender)

In March 1912, RCMPC prepared a preliminary design and tender for a proposed woolstore for AE&M. The architects were Purchas & Teague. P T Fairway estimated a cost of £15,227 for the basic reinforced concrete structure. When other work, fees and profit were added, the total came to £30,996. Monash checked PTF's figuring and came up with £15,399 for the structure. There is no evidence of an outcome.

Day's Walls, Adelaide

In March 1912, H G Jenkinson reported that SARC had nearly completed £200 worth of 3-inch wall for a Mr Day at his premises in Gilbert Place. They were 15 feet high and ran between circular cast iron columns. The architect for the project was Jackman.

Bank of Adelaide Roof

Also in March 1912, H G Jenkinson reported that SARC had won a contract to build a portion of roof at the Bank of Adelaide. It was a small job, but "elevated". He had quoted for non-concrete work as well, to please architect Alfred Wells, but the contractor, Martin, would deal with that in fact. In September, HGJ reported that the job should be finished within a week.

Flemington Show Grounds Stands 1 & 2

1. RCMPC scheme. Cross-section through substructure. 2. Photograph showing casting of the tribune.

1. The RCMPC scheme. Cross-section through substructure. The sloping floor for the seating is supported by three rows of columns. The major girder runs down the slope. A horizontal girder also connects the columns just below this. Floor ribs run at right-angles to the major girders. (Based on a drawing in the J Thomas Collection.)
2. Photograph. Workers casting the tribune. Part of the substructure is visible at left, and the earth bank in the foreground. University of Melbourne Archives, Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Co Collection, GPNB/1210. (A similar view, NN/775, is out of focus.)

David Mitchell had suggested the use of Monier concrete for a Grandstand at the Flemington Show Ground as long ago as May 1901. In March 1907, architects Billing Son & Peck had approached RCMPC regarding alterations to the Show Grounds and had been quoted £495, but nothing appears to have come of this.

In December 1911, RCMPC quoted the same architects £980 for a grandstand 152 × 29 feet in plan, plus £184 for a pair of retaining walls forming a passage, or "subway", through the earth bank of the arena. However, early in March 1912, the architects produced their own technical design. Their drawing shows the Stand fully detailed, complete with reinforcement. The seats were supported on an inclined reinforced concrete slab. This was carried on three rows of major beams running in the direction of the seating. Minor beams ran between them, in the direction of the slope.

RCMPC then supplied a quote to builders Gay & Pickering, presumably for the Billing Son & Peck design. They also made quotes direct to the architects: £1291 according to BSP's design, or £1031 according to RCMPC's own design. The architects accepted RCMPC's scheme, devised by Fairway, which re-arranged the framing so that major beams ran down the slope, combining with the uprights to form a series of rigid frames (as shown in the cross-section herewith). The minor beams now ran parallel to the seating.

In signing the contract on 28 March, Monash and representatives of the Royal Agicultural Society signed the BPS drawing, perhaps because this was still the 'official' version. The first requisition for materials was issued on 3 April. RCMPC's structural layout plan is dated 19th. A further revision took place, the drawing for which is dated 3 May.

In June, PTF prepared computations for Stand No.2, five more bays totalling 80 × 24 feet in plan. The first requisition for this job was issued on 8 July. On 7 August 1912, RCMPC reported that their work on both stands was nearly complete. Accounts for £1064 for No.1 and £806 for No.2 were issued on 10 September.

Miller's Flinders Lane Warehouse, added 5th floor

This was an added fifth storey on a second warehouse owned by the Hon. Edward Miller, this time in Flinders Lane. (See above for Bond St warehouse.) The architects were Thos Watts & Sons. A quote was made in April 1912, and the engineering drawing was issued on 13 May, drawn by T H Upton and signed on Monash's behalf by P T Fairway. The first requisition for materials was sent on 10 June. A note dated 11th, by PTF, reads "Called on Mr Watts and pointed out to him that the actual measurements of Building did not at all agree with his drawings. The difference had necessitated a complete redesign, a recalling of requisitions for materials and a general amendment of the whole matter". This included increased spans, and therefore increased sizes of girders. Watts promised that matters would be adjusted later on. A revised drawing was issued, and the final account was rendered on 11 October.

Commercial Travellers Club, Melbourne (tender)

From May to July 1912, P T Fairway and J A Laing prepared computations for footings and floors for the proposed Commercial Travellers Club building at 318-332 Flinders St. The architects were H W & F B Tompkins. PTF made a rough estimate of the price "likely to be fixed by other contractors" and arrived at £10,765. He estimated the cost of his own design at £8,152 and added a margin of £2,000 to give a total for quotation of £10,152. This was sent to several builders. Although the computations are very much more extensive than was usual prior to acceptance of a tender, there is no evidence in the RCMPC file that they acquired the contract.

The building is mentioned in Goad (1998) and Storey (1998) No.91.

Empire Buildings (tender)

This project was for a three-storey addition to the Empire Arcade at 264-268, Flinders St. The architect was G De Lacy Evans and the client E E Smith. In April 1911, Fairway had produced computations and an estimate of £6133. The job may have gone to a competitor. In June and July 1912, PTF prepared fresh calculations, with J A Laing assisting. On 28 November, tenders were called by De Lacy Evans and Ernest Wright for completion of the three-storey addition. With a "revised and amended design", PTF quoted £4829 in December 1912. However, that bid also appears to have been unsuccessful.

Walker's Building

This was a narrow building in Bourke Street, basically 24 feet wide by 76 ft long. At the rear a stairwell projected somewhat further. The architects were G De Lacy Evans and Ernest Wright.

Beam layout plan. The plan is basically a narrow rectangle. Reinforced concrete beams span between the long walls, which are of masonry. This pattern is broken in the centre by a light well, and in one corner by a stair well.RCMPC's first quote, in June 1912, was for a building entirely in reinforced concrete. In July they submitted a revised figure for five floors (ground to 4th) to be carried on external walls of load-bearing masonry. There was an exception around the perimeter of the light well, where support would be provided by reinforced concrete columns between the windows. The price of £1333 included the floors, light-well columns and internal partitions. When the quote was sent to builder W Hayes, RCMPC provided the following guarantee: "We beg to state that we hereby undertake to accept the full responsibility for the efficiency, both of the detailed design, workmanship, execution, construction and erection of the whole of the Reinforced Concrete Work in the above Building to be carried out by us, and that we will guarantee same for strength and stability to the several standards of loading required by the City Building Authorities and that we will agree to replace or make good any part of the works which may prove not to be carried out in a thoroughly efficient, stable and satisfactory manner." In accepting the offer, Hayes specified that work was to be to the satisfaction of the architects, who were to be the sole arbitrators between him and RCMPC. Payments were to be subject to the architects' approval and in sums of not less than £400. The retained percentage was to be paid to RCMPC twenty-one days after the architects gave final approval to the finished work. RCMPC was to give Hayes facilities for carrying on other portions of the work simultaneously.

Late in August, City Building Surveyor Morton objected that the stress in the concrete floor slabs, which had been designed for an "added" or live load of 140 pounds per square foot, would be too high. Fairway replied: "In making our designs we assumed that the fire-proofing of steel in plates meant ½" of concrete from soffit of plate to centre of steel, and working on those lines the stress in the concrete amounts to 560 lbs per sq. in. We understand, however, that you require ½" of cover below bottom of steel, and we find that it is, therefore, necessary to increase thickness of plate by 0.125", making the plate 3½" thick with a resulting stress intensity in the concrete of 584 lbs. [sic] We omitted to mention in submitting computations that the concrete to be used will be gauged 1:2:3."

RCMPC typically used 3/8" bars in slabs, so if the ½-inch "cover" was measured to the centre of the rod, the clear cover was 8 mm. Morton was asking for 12.7 mm. Australian practice later in the 20th Century was to require a clear cover of 20 mm in an indoor situation, even though the quality of concrete was much higher thanks to improved methods of mixing and placement.

The definitive engineering drawing was produced on 7 September, drawn by T H Upton and signed, as usual now, by PTF on behalf of Monash. Concrete beams span from side wall to side wall except where stairwells and the light well disrupt the pattern. RCMPC's first requisition for materials was issued on 9 September 1912.

In April 1913, Gibson complained to Hayes that progress payments received from him so far totalled less than 50 per cent of the value of RCMPC's work. As Hayes had no doubt received payments worth 80 per cent, RCMPC thought it reasonable that he should pass on 80% of what they were entitled to. Their requests for progress payments on 28 February and 27 March had gone unheeded. Hayes responded by sending £200, bringing the total of his payments to RCMPC to £750. He stated that architects paid only up to 75% and he had in fact received only a little over half his money.

In November 1913, Monash and Fairway had a final meeting with Hayes in the office of a Mr Evans. After Hayes arrived, Evans left the trio to see if they could reach agreement. JM recorded: "We had a discussion with Mr Hayes, which lasted nearly an hour. I very soon found that it was quite impossible to bring Mr Hayes to a rational frame of mind. It was evident that he was not going to be actuated by any ordinary motives of fair play. After getting the full strength of his point of view in regard to the several matters under dispute, I formed the opinion that it would be difficult for us to maintain our case in regard to the one per cent Architect's Commission, while it was certain that we would win on the item for "construction of the girder"." [This was the casing of the steel girder at first floor level supporting the ornamental facade. It was completed out of order, to fit in with Hayes's program.] JM continued: "As regards the other two items, Mr Hayes was prepared to flatly and absolutely contradict our version of the facts. Upon plainly asking Mr Hayes whether he was prepared for a compromise, rather than let the Arbitrator adjudicate, he said that he was, and, after much sparring, we finally agreed together to settle the dispute by each conceding half. Mr Evans was then called in, and in his presence, Mr Hayes undertook to pay, and we undertook to accept £9/6/- in full settlement of our claim … I am satisfied that if we had not taken the course of hauling him before the Architect, we would not have got anything at all."

At 1914 wage rates, £9/6/- represented 18 days' pay for a builder's labourer.

Hylands Building

This structure was built on the corner of Queen and Collins Streets for Mr T F Hyland. Our research notes are very brief, indicating that Monash had little or no involvement in design or administration of RCMPC's work on the project. Computations were prepared by P T Fairway in June 1912. Two alternative schemes were presented, for £3815 and £3514 respectively. A quote was sent to Thos Watts & Son on 1 July. Detailed calculations were prepared by J A Laing. The first requisition for materials was issued on 21 September. Requisition 12 was issued on 19 October. RCMPC's final account, for £4031, was rendered on 12 March 1913.

Proposed Rowton Home

This project may have been a hostel rather than a large residence. Computations show spans of about 28 feet. RCMPC submitted an approximate quote to builders of £7300 to £7500. Monash contacted the Rev A B Rowed, St Silas's Church of England, Ferrars St, South Melbourne, whom he understood to be "deeply interested" in the home. "In point of fact the Company which I represent is submitting estimates to Mr Watts in this matter, and I thought that, if you were aware of the fact that I was connected with the company in question, you would feel every confidence that any work entrusted to it would be carried out on efficient scientific lines. You are no doubt aware that Reinforced Concrete is very emphatically, a highly specialised construction which can only be entrusted to the direction of experienced Engineers." The brief documentation for this project remained in RCMPC's Quotation Files, so it is unlikely that they won the contract.

Poole's Warehouse, Adelaide

In August 1912, H G Jenkinson reported that SARC had acquired a small job worth £500 through architect Alfred Wells. It comprised two small floors about 30 × 26 feet and walls on three sides about 30 ft high. In January 1913 he reported that the job was complete, except for the parapet. The "final analysis" of unit costs was carried out in May 1913.

Angas Residence, North Adelaide

Also in August 1912, Jenkinson reported that SARC was to do some reinforced concrete work at the new residence of Mr Angas, one of the directors. The architects were English & Soward and SARC's price was £193.

BATC Additions to Stewart St Building

Cross-section through added floors and roof. Refer to text.

This was another major project at the British Australasian Tobacco Company's factory with architect F J Davies. The existing three-storey building had external walls of load-bearing brick. The objective was to remove the old roof and insert a new third floor and a flat r.c. roof above it. These would be supported internally by reinforced concrete columns. The old brick walls served as a base for reinforced concrete walls enclosing the new storey, topped by a parapet. As usual, the r.c. walls had engaged columns. A roof-top pavilion, with a reinforced concrete canopy, was to be added later.

Horizontal cross-section through concrete-encased column. Refer to text.The existing second floor was supported internally by circular cast iron columns. These had to bear the weight of the new construction, so their strength and fire-resistance were boosted by encasing them in concrete to form an octagonal cross-section 14 inches across the flats. The opportunity was taken to encase the steel beams of the old structure also in concrete. The encasement provided to the columns was a minimum of 2.5 inches thick. It was reinforced with 8 bars of half-inch diameter with horizontal ties at 19-inch pitch.

A quotation of £2225 was submitted on 3 September 1912. As usual, BATC was in a hurry, and RCMPC added an extra £250 for working a second shift (lighting to be provided by others). The first requisition, for material required to encase the columns, was issued on 2 October. On 10 January 1913, RCMPC reported their work almost complete. The final statement, for £2270, was issued on 3 March.

RCMPC's previous project for BATC involved a number of additions in 1911-12. Their next project was a Shelter Roof for one of the rooftop gardens.

Johnson's Stairs

This was another enclosed staircase inserted into an existing building, this time at 343 Queen St for Mr Johnson. The account for £63 covered foundations, two small columns to support the landing, two flights of stairs, and thin r.c. walls. The walls formed an entrance lobby, and elsewhere rose from the flights to the first floor slab. The quote was made in September 1912 and the account was rendered in November.

Verga's Stairs

This was a "fireproof stair" for Thomas E Verga, Printer, Stationer, and paper bag manufacturer, of 154 Little Collins St. RCMPC's quote of £124 was accepted on 11 September 1912. The staircase ran in a straight line against an existing brick wall, with three flights and two landings. There was an entrance lobby and the flights were equipped with walls seven feet high and a ceiling, forming a sloping tunnel. Each landing was supported on a lateral beam whose inner end was built into the brick wall, while its outer end was supported on a column. Two reinforced concrete stringers ran from ground level, over the landing beams, to a beam in the first floor. The account was rendered in October.

Titles Office Floors (tender)

This apparently unsuccessful tender in September 1912, is mentioned only because it has some bearing on Monash's relationship with Colonel Watson of the Public Works Department, who was at the time, or shortly after, its Chief Architect. The project was to fireproof the floors of the Titles Office. JM advised tearing out the existing floors and replacing them in reinforced concrete. His two letters of tender were hand written, as was the two-page covering letter explaining his ideas.

Collins Place Floors

This job involved the insertion into a building in Collins Place, Melbourne, of a small area of ribbed floor supported around its perimeter on existing brick walls and rolled steel joists. The architect was Geo Cummings. RCMPC's drawing is dated October 1912, and an account for £106-10-0 was rendered early in December.

Grant's Building: additional storeys (project)

This proposal was for the extension upwards of a single-storey warehouse built by RCMPC in 1908 in Swanston Street North for T A Grant [link]. The architect was again Colonel Tunbridge. P T Fairway prepared calculations and estimates in October 1912 for three additional storeys designed for 1.5 cwt per square foot, and a roof designed for 60 pounds per square foot. The quote of £4600 to £4700 included columns, some walls, and stairs. In November the quote was revised to £3450 to 3550 for two storeys, plus £1400 to 1500 for a possible third storey later. After more discussion, Tunbridge was supplied with estimates for no less than seven different alternatives, with additions ranging from one to four storeys. RCMPC prepared a specification and the project was allocated a separate file, but the latter contains no evidence that Grant went ahead with RCMPC.

Leviathan Building, Melbourne

This project included two reinforced concrete slab-and-beam systems forming a third floor and roof. They were supported around their edges on the brick external walls of the building. Internally, they were carried by steel columns from which L-shaped brackets protruded to carry the beams. The brackets were totally enclosed within the depth of the beams. The contract also included reinforced concrete escape stairs, walls, lintels, mullions and cornices. The documents remained in RCMPC's Quotation Files, but a full engineering drawing is dated 7 October 1912, and an account for £339 was issued on 7 March 1913.

Goad 2004 states that the building designed by Bates, Peebles & Smart in 1912 was replaced in 1937.

Craigie's Stair

This is another in the list of what seem to be fire-proof stairs inserted into existing buildings. This one was at 263 Collins St, rising from ground to first floor. Two flights run alongside a masonry wall, with the treads cut into the wall. The outer edge is supported by a reinforced concrete stringer beam, and a thin r.c. wall rises from this to first floor level. At the bottom of the stair is a lobby giving access to the outside, as well as the inside of the building. Pencil sketches are dated December 1912. A quote of £74 was issued on 13 January 1913 and immediately accepted by architects Peck & Kemter. The account was rendered on 7 February.

South Australian Co. Professional Chambers (Gawler Chambers)

In December 1912, H G Jenkinson advised Monash that SARC had won a £994 contract for work at the new Professional Chambers financed by the South Australian Company. The building is still extant at 188 North Terrace. The reinforced concrete work included 10 columns with footings, plus floors involving 1900 feet of girders 20" × 9". The architect was G K Soward of English & Soward. HGJ explained that the margin had been kept low to gain work with a new architect. "G K Soward has the South Australian Company's custom and this little job may possibly lead to further business." By May 1913, a flat roof had been added to the contract at a price of £255, bringing the total to £1249. HGJ explained that he had taken this extra job at cost price, as "English & Soward have as wealthy a clientele as any architects in this city, and are well worth cultivating even at the expense of profit on £250". In November 1913, HGJ reported that the main contractor would be ready for SARC to start on the second portion of the contract in a day or two.

According to our notes, the brief record of the project in RCMPC's "South Australia" file ends at that point. There are no drawings relevant to this project in JTC.
Thanks to heritage architects Bruce Harry & Associates for advice on the location of this building.
As mentioned previously, SARC's policy of taking jobs at little or no profit in order to form new business relationships with successful architects seems to have been ill-advised.

State Library of South Australia Images Nos. B 7788 and B 7789 show Stage 1 of this project completed. Image B 7790 shows the whole building completed.

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