This site is dedicated to the life and work of Edwin Hubert Henderson, architect (1885-1939). Henderson was Chief Architect of the Commonwealth of Australia from 1929-1939.
The Albion Commonwealth Bank, built in 1926 on Sandgate Road, illustrates some of the constraints that Henderson operated on as an architect, and how he addressed these.
The Bank was in leased premises at Albion and in October 1925 approached the Department of Works and Railways for a design of a new branch on a site opposite the then Police Station and near the Post Office. This site was perhaps near Anstey Street. Albion was not a large branch, with only three staff employed. The Bank planned for this to eventually grow to six. Sketch plans were requested for a branch and manager’s residence, costing “say, £3,000”.
In February 1926 Henderson, then Supervising Architect for NSW, prepared a sketch plan for a stately two story branch. The first floor would contain the banking premises with a spacious manager’s residence on the second floor. The residence would feature three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, sitting room and bathroom, and a back balcony.
The façade of the branch in his sketch featured a pediment atop four pilasters creating three bays for the main entrance to the public space and two square windows (each surmounted by a decorative panel), a further pedimented window, and a second door with pediment as the entrance to the stairs to the manager’s residence. The lower façade was decorated with a shield plus arabesque effects, with concrete panels above both the door to the manager’s residence and the other window. Quioned stone was used on the ground floor, with indented brick to be used on the second story to create the effect of carrying on the quoining – an interesting approach. The second floor included a loggia, supported by two pillars, also with the idented brick effect.
Alas when cost estimates were undertaken, this design came back at £5,580 – almost double the Bank’s budget. Was the Bank’s budget was unreasonable or did Henderson’s design not fit the budget? Henderson submitted a new design in April 1926 which cost £3,500 – but this was for a single story branch without the manager’s residence. The Bank accepted the new design and it is unclear how the manager was to be accommodated. Perhaps this suggests their initial request was not able to be accomplished within budget. Henderson must have undertaken some careful client management here.
The new design was approved in July 1926 by the Chief Architect, John Smith Murdoch, in lieu of George Oakeshott, the Works Director for NSW (Henderson’s superior). This design provided for a simpler though still elegant façade. Henderson opted for a different treatment of his windows. The façade featured four arched casement metal framed windows, each with a keystone, with fan lights in the arch. The double door entry had an arched window above it. The quoining was gone, though the façade featured a string course below which was the name of the bank. Decorative cement roundels were placed on either side of the entrance door. The pitched roof concealed behind facade of building.
The bank contained a 10ft x 27ft public space and a larger banking chamber with two teller boxes, a manager’s office, strong room and lavatories for staff. Henderson carefully designed the woodwork for the interiors including around the front door and the counters.
The Bank was anxious to get moving with the construction. Their lease on existing premises expired on 31 December 1926, and they had no hope of obtaining an extension. They needed new premises built by the end of the year. The Department moved quickly. Tenders closed 23 August and a tender of £3,410 from Mr John Hutchison of Montague St South Brisbane was accepted on 27 August 1926.
This building appears to be have been demolished at some point. It certainly would have been an appropriate inclusion to the high street area of Albion, which featured the colonial era post office and a range of two story commercial buildings also from that era.
National Archives J618 1926/797