Organisation

Clerk of Works for the Port Phillip District

State Records Authority of New South Wales
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Public works in the Port Phillip District were initially undertaken by convict labourers overseen by military detachments. Plans for the Districts’ early buildings such as the Customs House, and Survey Office were drawn up the Colonial Architect in Sydney, while public works were overseen by locally appointed officers, such as the Clerk of Works, under the direction of the Police Magistrate of the Port Phillip District, Captain William Lonsdale. (1) According to the Returns of the Colony of New South Wales, Robert Russell appears to have been appointed as the first Clerk of Works on 14 March 1838. (2)

Upon the appointment of Charles La Trobe as the Superintendent of the Port Phillip District in 1839, public works continued to be overseen by locally appointed officers such as the Clerk of Works. (3) On 1 July 1839, Robert Russell was succeeded as Clerk of Works by James Rattenbury. Henry Ginn was subsequently appointed to the position on 7 May 1846. (4)

By 1850, the civil establishment for public works included a Superintendent of Bridges (first appointed in 1844), a Clerk of Works, six overseers and clerks, a clerk and a messenger (5)

On 13 January 1851, the Crown Colony of Victoria formally came into existence under provisions of the Australian Colonies’ Government Act [13 and 14 Vic. c.59). As a result, the responsibility for administering public works was transferred to officials such as Henry Ginn, who was appointed as the Colonial Architect for the Crown Colony of Victoria in 1851. (6)


Endnotes
(1) Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) registration for Victorian Record Group (VRG) 7: Police Magistrate, Port Phillip District; Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) registration for Victorian Function (VF)14: Buildings, government (design and construction).
(2) Colonial Secretary; Returns of the Colony (Blue Books), 1839 [4/271 p.262] Fiche 481.
(3) Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) registration for Victorian Record Group (VRG) 11: Superintendent, Port Phillip District; Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) registration for Victorian Agency (VA) 473: Superintendent, Port Phillip District.
(4) Colonial Secretary; Returns of the Colony (Blue Books), 1839 [4/271 p.262] Fiche 481; Colonial Secretary; Returns of the Colony (Blue Books), 1846 [4/279 p.340] Fiche 520.
(5) Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) registration for Victorian Function (VF)14; Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) registration for Victorian Agency (VA) 473; Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) registration for Victorian Agency (VA) 856: Colonial Secretary’s Office.
(6) Loc.cit.
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