Discover more about the history behind Western Australia's first university and explore some of the highlights of our collections.
Artwork and features
- Emergence Mural
'Emergence' is the title of the mural located on the southern wall of the courtyard in the Social Sciences building.
Australian artist Leonard French designed it in 1976 for the then newly constructed building. According to French,
The overall idea is presented against a background of earth and sky, I want to indicate a duality of river – serpent, moon – turtle, ancient sun, and in the form of a montage, figures thrusting up from the earth.(1)
The University’s Senate and Department of Anthropology and Economics and the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council jointly funded the mural. The Australia Council contributed $10,000 towards the completion of this project.(2)Acknowledgements
(1) Speech by Vice Chancellor 13th February 1976. Old General File 4259 Social Sciences Building.
(2) Minutes of Social Sciences Building Art Project Group. (1975). Old General File 4259(3).
Leonard French supervises erection of his mural "Emergence" in courtyard of new Social Sciences Building (1975)
- Five Lamps of Learning
Napier Waller is responsible for both the conceptual design and production of the mosaic known as the ‘Five Lamps of Learning’.
[The phrase Five Lamps of Learning] is in fact original, the result of a combination of ideas in the mind of Mr Napier Waller, the artist who was responsible for its creation. (1)
He was commissioned in 1931 by the University to produce a mosaic that would have some relation to both the opus sectile design of the clock in the University Tower and the University’s motto ‘Seek Wisdom’. (2)
Concepts behind the design
The mosaic presents the viewer with five figures. They represent five of the seven virtues of wisdom taken from Isaiah (XI.2). They are: Sapientia (wisdom), Intellectus (understanding), Consilium (counsel), Fortitudo (courage) and Scientia (knowledge).
Napier Waller wrote the following in a letter, dated 12 January 1959, to Vice-Chancellor Prescott:
As you see there are seven gifts of the Spirit; but in my design I have excluded Piety and Fear (of God.) The five windows below also suggested to me that the five gifts of the Spirit could become the five lamps of the wise virgins of Jesus’ parable, with each lighted lamp being one of the expressions of complete wisdom, as read on the soffits of the window below. (3)
This stunning Mosaic is located above the Great Gate that joins Winthrop Hall and the old Arts and Administration Building.Acknowledgements
(1) Jones, J. Lecturer Classics and Ancient History. (1959). University Gazette 9(3):49.
(2) Jones, J. Lecturer Classics and Ancient History. (1959). University Gazette 9(3):49.
(3) University Archives. The Five Lamps of Learning Pamphlet File. Letter to J.R. Jones Department of Classics and Ancient History from Napier Waller.
Mervyn Napier Waller mosaic artist - construction of Five Lamps of Learning decoration on the Great Gate (1931)
View of Great Gate showing Napier Waller mosiac (1930)
- Henry Holiday Cartoons
The Holiday Cartoon was created by English artist Henry Holiday as a proof for a stain glass window in the parish church of Yeovil, Somerset, England.
Its allegorical design illustrates the text "and there was warfare in heaven".(1) It comprises five canvas panels that stand up to 10 feet high.
It was a principle feature of the interior decorations undertaken for the opening of Winthrop Hall in 1932. It was placed on the dais beneath the Rose Window in a jarrah wood frame designed by Rodney Alsop, one of the architects who designed the Hackett Memorial Buildings.
The cartoon remained on the dais until the installation of the organ in 1963. Today the Holiday Cartoon is on display at University’s Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.
Purchase of the Holiday Cartoon
The Holiday Cartoon was purchased for £100 in 1927 by Professor (later Sir) Walter Murdoch who was in Europe at the time looking for works of art and books on behalf of the University of Western Australia. He bought it from the late Holiday’s daughter Winifred, who was selling some of his works to public institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States.(2)
Artist profile: Henry Holiday
Henry Holiday (1839 – 1927), with Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, led a revival of arts and crafts in Britain in the late 19th and early 20th century. His most famous painting is "The Meeting of Dante and Beatrice" which was reproduced extensively in the earlier part of this century due to its popularity.
Holiday worked chiefly in the stain glass medium. However, it was normal practice to produce full-size proofs in watercolour.(3)Acknowledgements
(1) UWAA 3431(5). Original notes and letters from First Series Files. June 1932.
(2) UWAA 3431(5). Original notes and letters from First Series Files. June 1932.
(3) UWAA 3429. Original notes and letters from First Series File. 1927 – 1930. Alexander, F. (1963). Campus at Crawley. Melbourne: Cheshire. pp 815 and 643.
- Socrates and Diotima Statues
Western Australian sculptor Victor Hawley Wager carved the statues of Socrates and Diotima for the sum of £75 each.
His other accomplishments include the publishing of a book "Plaster Casting for the Student Sculptor" and the design of the oval Ford insignia that is still in use today.
He was also responsible for much of the carving at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne where a ray of light falls on an inscription, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Wager also did the carving on many of the 12 frieze panels around the Sanctuary at the heart of the memorial.
He was born on 17 September 1900 in Weston-super-Mare in the United Kingdom.
The statue of Socrates was commissioned in 1931. It was a gift to The University of Western Australia from its Vice-Chancellor, Professor H.E. Whitfeld.
It was the Vice-Chancellor who proposed to the Senate that the Undercroft area of Winthrop Hall be dedicated to Socrates, the ancient Greek thinker of the fifth century BC. It was thought that he would be the ideal symbol of the spirit of free discussion and scientific inquiry from which universities arose.
The statue of Socrates is located on the west side of Winthrop Hall at the north end of the building.
In 1936 Professor Whitfeld and his wife commissioned the Diotima statue as a companion piece to the statue of Socrates. While Socrates was a real person, Diotima was not – even though it is said that she was one of Socrates’ instructors.
She is an invented character, a wise woman of the city of Mantinea, who is mentioned in Plato’s Dialogue, The Symposium.
The statue of Diotima is located on the south end of Winthrop Hall.
Uni News 26 July 1993: 12(13).
Senate Minutes, 15 December 1930:8
Statue of Socrates (1994)
Statue of Diotima when erected 29 October 1937
- University Coat of Arms
The design of the University Coat of Arms evolved over a six-decade period with six known contributors.
Its development can be divided into six stages.
The University Archives holds an outline drawing of a crest that is believed to be an early design for the Coat of Arms. The creator and date created have not yet been identified.
Rodney Alsop and Wilson Dobbs design 1928
The motto "Seek Wisdom" originated from the design by Rodney Alsop and Wilson Dobbs. It is interesting to note that at this stage of design the colours red, silver, black and gold feature, and that the books do not hold legible words, only wavy lines.
George Kruger Gray design 1929
In 1929, Professor Whitfeld wrote to the Agent General for Western Australia in London, to solicit George Kruger Gray in designing a better version of the Coat of Arms. Whitfeld wanted to retain the motto "Seek Wisdom", but sought to improve the design of the swan and shape of the shield.
Gray used the Centenary Swan design, and wrote the following description of the Arms:
'Arms: Party chevronwise sable and gold, in the chief two open books having buckles, straps and edges of gold and in the foot a swan all sable.'
Gordon Stephenson design 1963
Gordon Stephenson was asked to redesign the crest for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations in 1963. The banner was re-drawn to balance the "Seek Wisdom" motto.
The major change was to replace the previously meaningless writing on the books with Latin phrases. The book on the right represents the sciences, while the other represents the humanities. The translations are:
- 'literae humaniores' – the literature that makes man more civilised and humane.
- 'non nisi parendo vincitur' – nature is only mastered by obedience to her laws
Walker design for registered Coat of Arms 1966-1972
In 1966 the Senate initiated the registration of the Coat of Arms with the College of Arms in London. Lieutenant Colonel R.J.B. Walker, Landcaster Herald and the Register of the College of Arms all contributed to the final design. The registration process was completed in 1972.
The major addition to the design was the inclusion of two hake fish on top of the lamp of learning. The "Seek Wisdom" motto and Stephenson crest were retained.
Blue, green and gold were added to the Coat of Arms to represent the University’s original faculties. Red was also included at the Vice-Chancellor’s request.
Gardner (1972) and Leeves (1981) Variants on the official design
William Gardner was commissioned to design a letterhead version of the shield in 1972.
As this version did not reproduce well in smaller sizes, Ray Leeves was asked to produce a variant logo. However, the Gardner version is the design that is in common use today.
Edgecombe, J. (1991). The long search for a perfect Black Swan. Uninews, 10(30):1-2.
Alexander, F. (1963). Campus at Crawley. Melbourne: Cheshire.
University Archives Coat of Arms and University Crest Pamphlet.
Rodney Alsop and Wilson Dobbs design 1928 - Coat of Arms
George Kruger Gray design 1929
Gordon Stephenson design 1963
Walker design for registered Coat of Arms 1966 - 1972
Landscaping and grounds
- The Design of a University Campus
The layout of the University’s grounds and gardens find their beginnings in H. Desbrowe-Annear’s winning design submitted as part of the Hackett Competition of 1914.
This, the first of two competitions funded through Hackett monies, aimed to find the best design and layout for the University’s buildings and grounds at the Crawley site.
Particular mention was made of the University’s desire for a central grouping of buildings.
The layout of the University grounds is based on Professor Leslie Wilkinson's 1927 revision of Desbrowe-Annear's plan. Components of the 1914 plan were used, notably the location of James Oval and the locating of Agriculture and the residential colleges, but dissatisfaction with the overall design led to its replacement.
In 1926 The University of Western Australia commissioned the foundation Professor of Architecture at Sydney University, Leslie Wilkinson, to provide a campus planning review and advise on the conduct of the architectural competition for the University's memorial buildings.
The winners of this, the second of the Hackett Competitions, were Melbourne-based architects Messrs Rodney Alsop and Conrad Sayce. Their designs resulted in what we now know as the Hackett Memorial Buildings (including Hackett Hall, the Arts Administration Building and Winthrop Hall).
Wilkinson’s revision was expanded upon again in 1959 and in 1962 by Professor Gordon Stephenson to ensure consideration of an increasing student population. This was followed by the most recent major revision to the design of the campus completed by Arthur Bunbury in 1975.
View of Great Court and gardens over to engineering buildings (c 1930s)
Campus views - Physiology and Gardens (1986)
Landscaping and gardens
For assistance with laying out the landscape design of the campus, the University approached the Perth Parks and Gardens Board. On their recommendation, the Board's superintendent of gardens, Henry Campbell, was appointed on a part-time basis as the first head gardener in 1927.
Campbell was responsible for much of the initial landscaping and planting of the University grounds for the construction of the Hackett Memorial Buildings. This included preparation work, such as the levelling of the Court of Honour (Whitfeld Court), the completion of the Great Court, and the laying out of Saw and Battye Avenues and Riley Oval.
Oliver Dowell succeeded Henry Campbell as head gardener in 1930. Dowell continued planting many Western Australian native species on campus. This resulted in a pleasing mixture of Australian bushland and the more formalised landscaping.
Since the 1930s the University’s grounds have continued to develop and evolve under the influence of academics, curators and a succession of head gardeners and landscape architects. Stunning features such as the Sunken Garden, the Great Court, a Tropical Grove and the Somerville Auditorium are the visible results of their dedication.
National Estate Register
A fitting tribute to all the work undertaken on the University's grounds was announced in 1980. The ‘Gardens of the University of Western Australia’ were included on the Register of the National Estate by the Australian Heritage Commission.
Ferguson, R. (1993). Crawley Campus: The Planning and Architecture of the University of Western Australia. Nedlands, University of Western Australia.
Harrold, L. (1994). Caption History of the University of Western Australia. Unpublished.
Seddon, G and Lilleyman, G (2005). A Landscape for Learning: A History of the Grounds of the University of Western Australia. to be published by UWA press.
- Somerville Auditorium
William Somerville’s idea, to create an open-air auditorium resembling a ‘Cathedral of Trees’, was first noted by the Senate in 1927.
Somerville’s wish was to create an open-air venue that displayed the beauty he had witnessed during his travels through untouched primaeval forests.
If the idea could be realised, there would be a thing of beauty in the University grounds which, in addition to being ornamental, could be used as an open-air auditorium …(1)
William Somerville was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (LLD) by the University in 1941.
The design used was a floor plan of a ‘Gothic Cathedral’ that could seat up to 2500 people. Its overall measurements were to be 83 yards x 74 yards with an approximate area of 1¼ acres.
It features a nave (the body, pillars and aisles) and transept (north south arms) with a semi-circular platform. Norfolk pines were selected to represent the pillars of the nave. It is estimated that the pines are between 70 and 80 years of age and have an approximate life span of up to 120 years.
Where the walls of the cathedral would have been, hedges of Western Australian Peppermint trees (agonis flexuosa) were planted.
A temporary stage was used until the construction of an acoustic shell in 1951. In the 1953-1954 season, an orchestral pit was constructed thereby increasing the facilities again for the production of opera and ballet.
In 1945 the Senate approved that the official name for this venue would be the "Somerville Auditorium" in honour of the man who inspired its creation, William Somerville.
The same year also saw the first performance at this venue; "Everyman’s Music" presented by the Adult Education Board Scheme. It became the main venue for their post-war Adult Education Board Summer School performances.
It is now used as a venue for the Perth International Arts Festival (formerly the Festival of Perth) Film Festival.
(1) Somerville, W. (1954). Somerville Auditorium and its stage and the sunken garden. Perth: Pilpel & Co.
Harrold, L. (1994). Caption History of the University of Western Australia. Unpublished.
Somerville Auditorium during construction (1940s)
Seating arrangement, Somerville Auditorium (1947)
- The Sunken Garden
The Sunken Garden is an intimate amphitheatre with gardens, ponds and terraced lawns and is a beloved feature of the University's beautiful campus.
For most of the year the Sunken Garden is an idyllic retreat for staff, students and wedding functions.
The setting is one of the most beautiful in Perth. By the Swan River in Matilda Bay and nearby Kings Park, the Sunken Garden offers a stunning setting for all manner of events including wedding ceremonies, photographic sessions and filming. Because of its popularity as a wedding venue, the Sunken Garden is not normally available for hire at weekends in the summer months at less than nine to 12 months' notice.
The gardens and buildings of UWA are listed on the Register of the National Estate.
Digging of the hole
It is hard to imagine that the location of the Sunken Garden was initially used as a small sand quarry.
The construction of the Hackett Memorial Buildings in 1932 resulted in contractors being given permission to excavate sand from this area. At the close of construction, the hole was three times as large as it is today.
Sandpit to Sunken Garden
Official documents and gardeners time sheets indicate that this area has been referred to as the ‘Sunken Garden’ since about 1936.
Construction started in 1946 on the new University Library saw the sandpit undergo another facelift, but for an entirely different reason. Whereas in the 1930s, construction needed sand, now they needed to get rid of it!
No policy on the use of the sandpit had been developed, so it was decided that the sand would be moved to this site – so much so that it was thought that they might have to remove the Shann Memorial.
Luckily this was not necessary. Instead a steep bank was created on the north side of the pit. Dowell again stepped in and established a retaining wall to hold a grassed slope.
The town planner of the time, Mr D. Davidson, was the first to put forward the idea that this area would be put to far better use as an amphitheatre.
Instead, in 1936 a University committee elected to erect a memorial to the first Professor of Economics, E.O.G. Shann, halfway up the slope of the pit. The Head Gardener of the time, Oliver Dowell, was given the task of providing a flat area for this memorial and subsequently established the beginnings of the garden as it is today.
Ultimately, the Sunken Garden was used for dramatic purposes. The first performance held in the Sunken Garden took place in 1948, the Greek drama 'Oedipus' produced by Miss Tweedie of the English Department.
Its continued popularity as a venue saw that it was redesigned again with the terracing replacing the grassed slope to allow seating for up to 500 people.
The Sunken Garden has been the location of many performances, including participants of the Festival of Perth, and is now also a favourite location for weddings and photographers.
University of Western Australia. (1991). There’s another hole in the ground. UniNews, 10(22): 1.
Somerville, W. (1954). Somerville auditorium and its stage and the Sunken Garden. Perth: Pilpel and Co.
Sunken Garden (April 1969)
Sunken Garden (April 1969)
- Whitfeld Court
Until 1941, all campus designs referred to Whitfeld Court as the Court of Honour, but in 1941 the University changed this to honour Professor Hubert Edwin Whitfeld’s dedication to and work at the University until his death in 1939.
It was Dr W. Somerville who put forward in a letter dated 3 September 1940 that, "the area of land which is bounded on the north by Stirling Highway on the south by Winthrop Hall on the east by Hackett Hall and on the west by the Administration Building be named Whitfeld Court".
The Senate commissioned the engraving of a granite stone with the phrase Whitfeld Court and on 21 July 1941 a small ceremony was held with Mrs Whitfeld present to officially mark the occasion.(1)
H.E. Whitfeld was the University’s first Vice-Chancellor in 1913 – 1915 (on a part-time basis) and again from 1925 – 1927. He was also the first permanent Vice-Chancellor (1927 – 1939) and the inaugural Professor of Mining and Engineering (1913 – 1927).(2)
Wilkinson’s design for the University campus used the Court of Honour (later Whitfeld Court) to emphasise the main entrance of the University. As the prime approach to the University, Wilkinson used elements of symmetry and grand landscaping in the design to lend greater formality to this area.
These elements have been largely preserved since the original laying out of the Court. Today, it continues to offer all visitors, old and new, an impressive approach to the University.(3)
Whitfeld Court, with other University features such as Winthrop Hall, is permanently entered on the Register of Heritage Places.(4)
H.E. Whitfeld Memorial Seat
The engineering section first proposed that some form of memorial be erected in honour of the late Professor Whitfeld.
On 18 May 1940, Convocation distributed a flyer to all members launching their appeal for funds to erect a memorial shelter. "It will, we believe, be a dignified and impressive memorial, in complete harmony with the architectural design of the Hackett Buildings; it will also service the practical purpose of providing shelter for students and others while awaiting transport to Perth or to the western suburbs."(5)
A total of £193.18.0 was raised, but the war delayed the project. This sum was invested in Trust in War savings certificates so by 1947, monies totalled £221.8.2.
These funds were used to erect a memorial seat with the inscriptions ‘Hubert Edwin Whitfeld Scholar Engineer’ and ‘Beauty is the splendour of truth’. Subiaco Council had already erected a shelter in the area previously set out by University. The Memorial Seat Dedication took place on 23 September 1949 at 7:45pm.(6)
Professor H.E. Whitfield (1937)
Aerial views of the University campus - Hackett Memorial buildings and Irwin Street buildings (1954)
Bronze bust of H.E. Whitfeld
A bronze bust of Professor Whitfeld was commissioned in 1964 in honour of his contributions to the welfare and well being of the University.
"Convocation … realising the great significance of his work as our first Permanent Vice-Chancellor decided to add to the many perpetuations of his memory by having a bust prepared in his likeness …"(7) South Australian artist Mr John Dowie sculpted the bust that was later placed looking out over the Court towards Winthrop Hall.
Whose shadow, as Sir Walter Murdoch said, "more than any other shadow, falls across these buildings and across these grounds. (8)
The Bronze Bust cost $1634.55 and was presented to the Chancellor on behalf of the Senate and Vice Chancellor by Convocation on 11 April 1965.(9)
(1) Old General File 1740 (1).
(2) University of Western Australia. (1994). Year Book 1994. Perth: Frank Daniels. pp. 160, 168.
(3) Ferguson, R.J. (1993) Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press.
(4) Office of Facilities Management. (1999).
(5) Old General Files 1741 (old part).
(6) Old General Files 1741 (old part and 1) folio 17,18, 32, 55, 66.
(7) Old General Files 1741 (old part) folio 83.
(8) Murdoch in Rogerson, Gazette 15(2):25.
(9) Old General Files 1741 (1) folio 83, 84, 142.
- Winthrop Hall
Winthrop Hall was opened on the 13th April 1932 and is located at the southern end of Whitfeld Court, contributing a great deal to the impressive nature of the University’s entrance.
The Hall is one of the Hackett Memorial Buildings funded by the "munificent bequest received from the first Chancellor of the University, Sir John Winthrop Hackett".(1)
Winthrop Hall measures 135 feet long by 60 feet wide with a height from floor to ceiling of 50 feet. The Hall features a Clock Tower, a glazed terracotta gryphon’s frieze that circles the building just under the roof eaves, an undercroft and a reflection pool at its front.
It seats 1069 people in the body of the Hall and 150 or more on the dais.(2) The Hall, as well as other Hackett Memorial Buildings, is permanently entered into the Register of Heritage Places.(3)
At its highest point Winthrop Hall’s clock tower measures 150 feet. As well as the clock, it has six rooms that originally accommodated staff and research students.
A Melbourne company, Messrs Ingran Bros, installed the first clock in 1929. The dial was made of 'opus sectile', an enamel finish on tile. After 1945 Ennis and Sons rebuilt the master clock. The dial was replaced in 1953 with one made of terracotta. In 1964 Mr Ron Ennis installed a new electric master clock.
The Hall was designed to ensure optimum acoustics for events such as public speaking and concerts.
Architectural design features including layered walls and the use of sound absorbing materials, particularly Australian Coogee stone, were used to ensure the best sound quality. It included a specially designed ceiling that allowed sound waves to escape and not reflect back into the building. This was achieved through the use of strips of matting placed between the ceiling beams to allow the sound waves to escape.
Other features used to enhance acoustics, particularly a speaker’s voice, were a reinforced jarrah screen and the use of pine-wood as the construction material for the dais floor. The jarrah screen, within which the Henry Holiday’s Cartoons were framed, sat on the dais but was later replaced by the Winthrop Hall Organ in 1965.
The most impressive entrance into the Hall is through the doorway located under the Great Gateway.
A set of wrought-iron gates lie at the foyer entrance. The foyer features a marble floor, a stained glass memorial window and a gilded mosaic panel to the right. To the left is a bust of General John Winthrop Hackett, son of one of the University’s most noted benefactors.
- Marble floor
The marble floor is made from European marble as Australian marble found to that date was too soft for this purpose.
The gilded mosaic by Walter Napier was commissioned in memory of Sir Alfred Langler, administrator of the Hackett estate.
Placed alongside the mosaic is a stained glass window in memory of William Hancock, pioneer radiologist and former member of the University Senate.
Winthrop Hall Tower (1966)
View of foyer, Winthrop Hall (1950)
Students digging the reflection pond in front of Winthrop Hall (1932)
The Hall itself is reached by ascending marble steps into the upper foyer and passing through one of the triple doors.
On entering, there is the impressive sight of the Organ and the Rose window located above the dais at the opposite end of the Hall. Jarrah panelling lines the lower half of all other walls, which bear the Coat of Arms of other Australian and some overseas universities.
The beams of the Great Hall have been decorated in true Renaissance tradition. However, the theme for the decoration is uniquely Australian.
Artist George Benson based his motifs on symbolic and totemic Aboriginal designs representing them in earth tones such as red, yellow ochre, black from charcoal and pipe clay.
The soffits of the main beams are alternately a series of diamonds and squares copied from a shield of a south-western tribesman, while on the others is a running pattern of lines derived from the shield" of a local [Aboriginal] West Australian. "On the longitudinal beams there is an alternating pattern of circles from a chilara, and an unfinished drawing by a south-eastern [Aboriginal].
Refer to the Holiday Cartoons and the Winthrop Organ for information on these.
The term undercroft is usually used to describe an underground space or vault, particularly that of a church. In this case, the term Undercroft is applied to the lowest floor of Winthrop Hall (it is above ground level).
This area was originally an open-air area that was intended to serve as a forum and meeting place for students. It was dedicated "to Socrates and the spirit of fine discussion and inquiry from which universities first arose."
The Undercroft was closed in during 1960 and was first used to house a library, followed by the University Art Collection. Since 1990, it has been used for examinations, graduations and by the Festival of Perth Club during the summer months.
This pool goes by many names, ‘the reflection pond’, ‘the moat’, ‘the reflection pool’ or just the University ‘Pond’. It was designed by Rodney Alsop to enhance the beauty of Winthrop Hall by giving the impression of greater height.
It was completed only just in time for the official opening of Winthrop Hall in 1932. This was largely owing to the efforts of the student body who volunteered to provide the labour force if the University provided the material. The pond was completed just hours before the ceremony took place and filled with water even though the cement was still wet (it was later drained to allow the concrete to set properly).
(1) Women’s University College Fund Committee. (1935). The Hackett Memorial Buildings. Perth: SH Lamb Printing House. p. 1.
(2) Women’s University College Fund Committee. (1935). The Hackett Memorial Buildings. Perth: SH Lamb Printing House. p. 8.
(3) Office of Facilities Management. (1999).
Women’s University College Fund Committee. (1935). The Hackett Memorial Buildings. Perth: SH Lamb Printing House. p. 8-9.
Alexander, F. (1963). Campus at Crawley. Melbourne: FW Cheshire. p. 186.
Office of Facilities Management. (1999). A walk through the University of Western Australia. p 8.
Office of Facilities Management. (1999). A walk through the University of Western Australia. p 3.
Shervington, C. (1987). University voices traces from the past. pp 32-33.
- Winthrop Hall Organ
In 1927, Professor A.D. Ross, Chairman of the Music Advisory Board, first proposed that a pipe organ should form an integral part of Winthrop Hall.
It was originally intended that the organ would be installed on the completion of the building. However due to the financial strain placed on the University during the Depression and World War II, they were forced to delay its installation until 1965, years after the completion of Winthrop Hall.
During this period, the Henry Holiday Cartoon stood on stage in its intended location.
In 1959, the McGillivray Bequest provided funding to be used at the discretion of the University. It was decided that half of it would be used for the purchase of Winthrop Hall’s organ.
The organ is situated behind the orchestra staging on a specially constructed, shallow curved platform running across the whole width of Winthrop Hall. It took J.W. Walker and Sons Ltd of Ruislip, England one year to build at a cost of £30,000 using eight miles of wire, and more than 60 craftsmen in its construction.
The organ has a three-panel console made of Honduras mahogany, maple interior fittings, ivory keys and a fully castored platform that can be moved freely about the stage. The four manual model organ with 47 speaking stops features 2712 pipes and is played using three keyboards and a pedalboard.
Its pipes range in size from the Tierce (high note) at 3/8th of an inch to the Double Open Diapason (lowest note) which is 32 feet long.
To create a complete repertoire of sound, the pipes are also made in different shapes. They are rectangular, cylindrical or conical in shape. The majority of the pipes are made of an alloy devised by Walker and Sons. However, they have used softwood for some pedal basses, hard oak and mahogany for the flute and hard rolled zinc for the front pipes and some of the basses.
A ceremony to mark its installation and the fulfilment of the original Winthrop Hall design was held on 18 January 1965.
The University of Western Australia. (1965). The Organ. Perth: Alpha Print.
UniNews. (1993). A hall of note. UniNews, 12(12): 1-2.
Winthrop Hall - showing Rose window organ and dais
Installation of Winthrop Hall organ (June 1964)
- The Catalina Base
The flying boats of the Swan, the US Navy Catalinas, flew into Matilda Bay in 1943.(1)
The Japanese invasion of the Philippines had resulted in their evacuation from in and around Manila. They went first to Java but due to other threats of invasion, were again relocated, this time to Australia.
Matilda Bay site
The US Navy relocated the Catalina Patrol Wing No. 10 to Matilda Bay. They brought with them approximately 60 – 70 Catalinas, or flying boats, and 1200 Americans, including both members of the Navy and their support personal.
The Swan River became their base and training ground between missions that took them as far north as Colombo and Ceylon.
Effect on the University
The face of the University changed dramatically during the residence of the Catalinas.
They’d established this Catalina base in a kind of huddled village of prefabs next door to St George’s, and of course the whole University precincts were behind barbed wire and shut off to the general public, and you had to have permits to move around in it.(2)
They acquired the boat shed for their headquarters, and the Catalinas rested in the Bay when not out on missions. The officers’ quarters were built on the site where University Hall is now situated. The photo lab (responsible for all photo-work from aerial reconnaissance) took up a large portion of the Engineering Building (now the Guild Tavern) and Riley Oval was often used as a parade ground.
The pilots put even the roofs of Winthrop and Hackett Halls to good use. Made of red terracotta tiles they apparently acted as very good markers to guide the Catalina pilots back to their base.
The International Catalina Reunion was held at Matilda Bay in 1994. During this occasion, the Hon Sir Charles Court unveiled a memorial dedicated to the Catalina Flying Boat pilots.(3)
(1) Old General File 746.
(2) Member of staff in Shervington, C. (1987). University voices traces from the past. pp 49.
(3) Campus News, 1994: 13(20): 3.Ferguson, R.J. (1993) Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press.
United States Navy personnel outside Engineering building (1943)
United States Navy personnel outside Engineering building (1943)
- Irwin Street Buildings
The University of Western Australia was originally located in the centre of Perth.
Tin Pan Alley
A group of buildings situated between St Georges Terrace and Hay Street, bordered on the eastern side by Irwin Street, made up the original University campus.
It was commonly referred to as ‘Irwin Street’ or ‘Tin Pan Alley’ as many of the original buildings were made of corrugated iron.(1)
Construction of first building
A T-shaped jarrah building constructed in 1913 provided the University’s original accommodation on this site. It was not quite complete when teaching started on 31 March 1913.
Professor AD Ross, Foundation Professor of Mathematics and Physics commented that:
...the first building we got was certainly original in more senses than one. It was a jarrah shed, 110 feet long by 20 feet wide … We estimated that the building would be ready for a start on the 16 March, then 21 March, then 23 March, and finally it must be 31 March. Members of staff, at the risk of their lives, would go in and pin up notes on doors: ‘Department of Geology’ or the like. Since one of the little rooms had already been commandeered for the janitor, the telephone, electric switchboard, brooms, mops and buckets, it was evident that eleven departments must share six rooms.(2)
Buildings were slowly added to this site to accommodate the growing University. They were primarily lightweight in structure and came from as far afield as the Workers’ Hall from Coolgardie, 360 miles from Perth.
Interestingly, this building accommodated "the first colonial congress in 1899 to draw up the platform and constitution of the Labour Party of Western Australia".(3)
Buildings were also relocated from the Pensioners’ Barracks, and Oddfellows Hall was moved to the Irwin Street site from Oxford Street, Leederville.(4)
These buildings remained at the Irwin Street site until the Hackett Memorial Buildings were completed in 1932. They were then transported to the new University site at Crawley.
Irwin Street Buildings - St Georges Terrace Frontage 1920
Irwin Street Buildings - Administration Office Frontage 1920
The original Irwin Street Building was put to various uses during the ensuing years, its occupants including the Faculty of Law, Departments of Botany and Psychology, Extension Services, Festival of Perth and the University Radio.
Hew Roberts’, (1906 – 1979) family were instrumental in beginning the initiative to restore the Irwin Street Building. Mr Roberts had been Director of Adult Education at the University from 1957 – 1981 and at the time of his death was Warden of Convocation.
Convocation submitted a plan to the University Senate in 1981 which resulted in the University Architect Arthur Bunbury preparing a report (1982) that recommended the Irwin Street Building be reconstructed and placed on James Oval where it 'could be used as a meeting place and a cricket pavilion.'
The Irwin Street Building was fully restored and officially re-opened on 15 February 1987 by then Governor His Excellency Professor Gordon Reid who concluded his opening speech by saying:
I am delighted this most evocative example of the times and circumstances in which the University of Western Australia had its origins has now been restored to the style that the original architect originally planned, and I hope that it will recapture the spirit of W. Hackett and others, and that on this University site at Crawley, the building will continue to contribute to the broad education of the many people who will enjoy the privilege of using it.
The Irwin Street Building currently provides accommodation for the Convocation Council Room, the University Archives and the Cricket Club. Both the National Trust and the Australian Heritage Commission have it listed as a Heritage Building.(6)
(1) Shervington, C. (1987). University voices traces from the past. p 3 - 9.
(2) Shervington, C. (1987). University voices traces from the past. p 8 - 9.
(3) Crowley in Alexander, F. (1963). Campus at Crawley. Melbourne: FW Cheshire. p. 62.
(4) Ferguson, R.J. (1993) Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. p. 2.
(5) Plaques of dedication located on the walls of the Irwin Street Building.
(6) Facilities Management. (1999).
- Natural Science Building at Park Avenue
Premier James Mitchell officiated at the laying of the foundation stone of the first permanent building at the University of Western Australia’s Crawley Campus in 1923.
Today the building is known as the Park Avenue Building but in years past has also been referred to as the Old Zoology Building.
The then Government architect William Hardwick provided the design. It was based on the Neo-Georgian style and included a stone belfry [fleche], columned porches on its east, west and south sides, the use of red brick for the walls, Donnybrook stone for dressings and a roof of terracotta tile.
It was completed and ready for use in the academic year of 1925.(1)
The building was originally intended to accommodate the Departments of Biology and Geology and was consequently known as the Natural Sciences, Biology or simply the Geology Building.
The two Professors who first occupied the building were not overly supportive of its design. The stone belfry was thought to be an expensive and unnecessary addition that resulted in the inconvenience of several stone support pillars dotted through their main laboratories.(2) Despite these early comments, the Department of Geology occupied the building until 1962, and the Department of Biology (later Zoology) remained in this location until 1993.
The building is situated away from the main campus, on the corner of Park and Crawley Avenues. It stands next to St George’s College, is set further up the slope than Tuart House (Festival of Perth Office) with a grove of trees all but obscuring the building from the view of motorists passing on Mounts Bay Road at its front.
The Park Avenue Building is entered permanently into the Register of Heritage Places and is listed as a Heritage Building by the National Trust.(3)
(1) Ferguson, R.J. (1993). Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. p. 12.
(2) Somerville in Ferguson, R.J. (1993). Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. p. 12.
(3) Facilities Management. (1999).
Laying of foundation stone - Natural Sciences Building (1923)
Biology block - Natural Sciences building - Zoology building Park Avenue (1930)
- Saint George's College
St George’s College opened in 1931 and was the first permanent residential college built on the Crawley site.
In 1926 the enactment of the University Colleges Act stipulated that Senate would provide land of up to five acres to applicants who desired to establish residential colleges at the University.
St George’s College was the first to be built under the provisions of this Act. It was made possible by a bequest from the Hackett Estate to the Church of England for the specific purpose of establishing a Church College in connection with the University.
The Council of St George’s College was established by the Church to administer this project.
Following the Tudor style of architecture used by institutions such as Cambridge and Oxford, the college stands in contrast to the Mediterranean feel of the Hackett Memorial Buildings and the Neo-Georgian style of the Park Avenue Building.
Hobbs, Smith and Forbes were commissioned to design the College. Further additions to the original buildings resulted in new south and north wings. These were completed in 1962 and 1968 by Hobbs Winning Leighton.(1)
The original buildings and gardens of St George's College are heritage listed by both the National Trust and the Australian Heritage Commission. St George’s College Chapel is also listed but only by the Australian Heritage Commission.(2)
St George’s College initially provided accommodation for male students only, but accepted students from all church denominations. Residential female students were first accepted into the college in 1981.
(1) Ferguson, R.J. (1993) Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. p. 56.
(2) Facilities Management. (1999).
St George's College (1931)
Laying of the foundation stone - St George's College (1929)
- Shenton Park
The area on which Shenton House is located had a succession of owners prior to that of the University.
The land was first released by the Surveyor General to Captain Mark Currie in 1829. He was granted Location 87, a 32-acre (12.6 hectare) area of land fronting Eliza Bay (it would later become known as Matilda Bay).
Ownership of this property changed in 1832 when he sold it for £100 to Henry Sutherland, Colonial Treasurer.
Sutherland named his new property ‘Crawley Park’ in memory of his mother, Maria Crawley. He was responsible for the construction of the original two-story homestead in 1846.
After Sutherland’s death the property was occupied by various family members, and was then leased to the Colonial Secretary, Frederick Barlee. It was eventually sold to George Shenton (later Sir) who purchased Crawley Park and several adjoining properties in 1876 for £1800.
He developed this area until his death in 1909 after which the property was purchased by the Government from Shenton's estate.(1)
The University was granted permission to use the Crawley Park Homestead in 1914 to accommodate the Department of Mining and Engineering. This resulted in alterations to the premises to meet teaching requirements.
The University formally acquired the property in 1921. It was later renamed ‘Shenton House’ in honour of Sir George Shenton.
Shenton House currently accommodates the School of Indigenous Studies. It has also been entered permanently onto the Register of Heritage Places, and is a heritage-listed building of both the National Trust and the Australian Heritage Commission.(2)
(1) Ferguson, R.J. (1993). Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. p. 5-6.
(2) Facilities Management. (1999).
Draught horses at work on Crawley site (1930)
Shenton (Crawley) House (1913)
- Old Engineering Building
The Old Engineering Building situated next to Shenton House, was the second permanent University building constructed on the Crawley site.
It was designed by the Public Works Department and completed in 1927 at a cost of £8,825.
During the early years, "students… had to walk two miles through mud from Point Lewis, or half a mile through sand from Broadway to attend lectures" in what is now known as the Old Engineering Building.(1)
Until 1961, it continued to provide the main accommodation for Engineering and for a period during World War II, it also housed the US Navy. In 1961, Engineering moved into their new building and the Department of Education used the Old Engineering Building accommodation until the 1970s when it was converted into a social club for the Guild of Undergraduates.
Today the Old Engineering Building continues to house the Guild’s Social Club. It is very accessible and is one of a group of buildings that form the Guild Village. Quite a marked difference from its early years of occupancy when it was considered to be very remote from the rest of the University and from Perth.
(1) Fraenkel, PH in Ferguson, R.J. (1993) Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press. p. 42.
Ferguson, R.J. (1993) Crawley Campus. The planning and architecture of the University of Western Australia. Perth: University of Western Australia Press.
Engineering Hall (1930)
- New Fortune Theatre
Based on the layout of the original Fortune Playhouse (London, c. 1600), this theatre is an ideal venue for reproducing Shakespearean-era plays in their unique performance space.
Located within the Arts buildings, the theatre also makes a unique setting for dance, drama and music.
The theatre can seat up to 340 patrons on four levels around the stage.
The New Fortune Theatre was the brain-child of Professor Allan Edwards. Appointed to the Chair of English at UWA in 1941, Professor Edwards encouraged staff members Jean Tweedie (Jeana Bradley), Neville Teede and Phillip Parsons to undertake studies in Elizabethan, Jacobean and Restoration theatre in the United Kingdom during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
All were associated with the New Fortune project. Having noted that the dimensions of the Arts Building’s western courtyard coincided with the stage and pit of London’s 1599 Fortune Theatre, Professor Edwards conceived the idea of transforming the courtyard into the New Fortune Theatre, as a version of its 1599 London namesake.
Perth architect Marshall Clifton incorporated the specifications of the New Fortune into his design for the Arts Building, in consultation with Sir Tyrone Guthrie and Peter Parkinson.
The New Fortune Theatre opened on 29 January 1964 with Jeana Bradley’s production of Hamlet for Bankside Theatre Productions, the Graduate Dramatic Society, and the University Dramatic Society, as part of the Festival of Perth.
Sir Laurence Olivier and other celebrities sent congratulatory telegrams on the occasion. A recorded reading by Sir John Gielgud from Ben Jonson’s ‘To The Memory of ... Master William Shakespeare’ was played during the Opening Ceremony that preceded the inaugural performance. The fledgling New Fortune soon proved to be popular with audiences as an open-air venue for local, national and international Festival of Perth productions, under Festival Directors John Birman [1953-1975] and David Blenkinsop [1976-1999].
The sweep and intimacy of the New Fortune stage have challenged and inspired local performers, directors and playwrights: Dorothy Hewett’s Chapel Perilous premiered there in 1971; the pit was filled with water for the premiere of David Williams’ Beautiful Mutants in 1993. Continuing a tradition of University summer productions that began with Hamlet in 1964, the Graduate Dramatic Society has presented nineteen Shakespeare productions on the New Fortune stage since 1995.
Sketch of the New Fortune Theatre by architect (Mr. Marshall Clifton)
New Fortune Theatre
In 2014, the New Fortune Theatre celebrates the 50th anniversary of its opening.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE) has worked hard since its inception in 2011 with the support of the Dean of Arts, to draw local and international attention to the extraordinary potential of the New Fortune as a rare theatre reconstruction which would be coveted by major cities around the world.
In comparison, Shakespeare’s Globe cost many millions to build and has proved extraordinarily successful in every way. CHE organized a symposium in September 2011 with some of the world’s most important theatre historians who had been involved themselves in theatre replicas elsewhere.
As a result CHE appointed a Research Fellow (2012-16) whose job is to research the New Fortune and enhance its international profile in conjunction with the New Fortune’s 50th anniversary in 2014, Shakespeare’s 450th birthday in 2014, and his 400th death-date in 2016.
In addition UWA’s Cultural Precinct has set up a working party to prepare a major application for funding to refurbish the stage and bring the theatre to life once again.
Original Architect's note [PDF 283KB]
New Fortune Theatre First program 1964 [PDF 2.5MB]
New Fortune and Shakespeare Studies - P. Parsons [PDF 3MB]
Fortune Theatre Contract [PDF 502KB]
Dr Penelope Woods, Research Associate, ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions
- Gledden Travelling Fellowships
In 1927 the University received approximately £55,000 from a public benefactor, Mr Robert John Gledden (1855 – 1927).(1)
As far as it is known, he had no previous contact with the University prior to his death.
Gledden had moved to Australia in about 1890 and was licensed as a surveyor in Queensland.
"He came to Perth in about the beginning of 1892, and after practising for a few months as a surveyor was asked by W. Marmion, then the Minister of Lands, to take charge of mining surveys at Coolgardie. He made a preliminary survey there and about a year later laid out the site of Kalgoorlie.
"He retired in 1900 and spent much time travelling with his wife before settling at Caulfield, near Melbourne. After his wife died in about 1921, he continued to travel but kept his interest in Western Australia and spent a good deal of his time here. He was a good businessman and made money largely out of investing in land in Western Australia. He died in Perth on 5 November 1927."
With no heirs, Mr Gledden’s will provided that the whole of his residue estate should go to the University of Western Australia in trust to provide scholarships beginning 10 years after his death.(2) He stipulated that this income should be used ‘for the promotion and encouragement of education at such University to provide for scholarships in applied science, more particularly relating to surveying or mining or cognate subjects’. He also expressed the hope that ‘one at least of such scholarships will be a travelling scholarship.’(3)
Robert Gledden and Maude Gledden Travelling Fellowships
The bequest initially provided for two annual travelling science fellowships of £750. They were named the Robert Gledden and Maude Gledden Travellling Fellowships in honour of himself and his wife. The first Gledden Fellowship was awarded in 1939. It would not be awarded again until 1945 due to the advent of World War II.
In keeping with Gledden’s wishes as stated in his will, today the Gledden Trust is administered under Statute No 22: Gledden Trust and is able to offer:
- Overseas Fellowships
- Visiting Senior Fellowships
- Gledden Tours
- Travel Awards
- Postgraduate Studentships
Information on how to apply can be found at University Scholarships.
(1) Old General File 1632(1) folio 69.
(2) Old General File 1632(1) folio 69.
(3) Publications Unit. (1999). University of Western Australia Calendar 1999. Perth: The University of Western Australia. pp C50.
John Gledden - passport photo (1915)
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