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Early years – Surveyor General's Office (1845-1862)

From 1845 it was the offices of the Surveyor General and his staff who bore the responsibility for civil structures in the Natal Colony, although their main concern was land settlement and disputes.

By 1848 STANGER was working in Natal and undertook a survey of Durban in the year 1848 and was appointed the first Surveyor-General of Natal. Though of limited architectural ability, he made the designs for the Courthouse at Ladysmith in about 1848.

In 1855, on the death of William STANGER, PC SUTHERLAND, who had come to Natal in 1853 to participate in a geological survey, then marking time as a medical practitioner before being appointed government geologist in 1854, took over the position of Surveyor-General of Natal, a position he held until he retired in 1887.

Middle period - Colonial Engineers’ Office 1864-1894

In 1864 the Colonial Engineers' Office took over the design of Government buildings.

Peter PATERSON, was transferred to Natal as Colonial Engineer in 1853, a post he retained until it was abolished in 1872. He undertook a large programme of road-building and of key buildings for the burgeoning colonial government, among them the Supreme Court building in Pietermaritzburg (1864-1875) and the Court House in Durban (1865-66). He developed the Durban Harbour where he built the first lighthouse on the Bluff in 1867, and later assisted with the design and construction of the North Pier. As Colonial Engineer he accompanied Colonel JJ Bisset and PC SUTHERLAND to the area known as No Man's Land (later Alfred County) participating in an ongoing survey of the area with SUTHERLAND during and after the annexation of the territory in 1866. His extensive and costly building programme led to the post of Colonial Engineer being abolished in 1872.

AW DURNFORD was appointed Acting Colonial Engineer in command of the Royal Engineers, commandant of Police and commandant of Volunteers in Natal in November 1873. He was Acting Colonial Engineer between the retirement of Peter PATERSON and the appointment, in 1875, of Captain AH HIME. RE DURNFORD's concern about the fair treatment of the native populace in Natal was a prime point in his dismissal as Colonial Engineer by Sir Garnet Wolseley. DURNFORD was chiefly concerned with road-making in Natal. He reputedly designed several forts and block-houses, also designing fortifications for Pietermaritzburg. He returned to England after his dismissal but came back within a few months to fight in the Zulu War. He was killed in battle of Isandlwana in 1879.

HIME was appointed to the post of Colonial Engineer of Natal in 1875, thus replacing Lt-Colonel AW DURNFORD. However, the post of Colonial Engineer having been discarded in 1872, DURNFORD had been Acting Colonial Engineer only and the post which HIME was the recipient of was as Civil Engineer, Natal. He requested the title to be reverted to that of Colonial Engineer which was agreed. As Colonial Engineer of Natal he carried out ongoing road-building all over Natal as well as supervising the growing Railway system (under the Natal Government Railways) from the coast into the interior of Natal, and was also responsible for the overall harbour planning for the Colony. In spite of opposition from H Escombe he saw to the completion of the North Pier at Durban Harbour and extensive dredging of the Bay. With JE Fannin he surveyed the Orange Free State-Natal Border between 1884 and 1885. He was responsible for military buildings in Natal and several major bridges were built while he was Colonial Engineer and Minister of Lands and Works, and Defence. Among the bridges is the bridge over the Umkomaas River on the Richmond Road. In 1887 BARNES resigned his post as Borough Engineer of Durban (from 1882) and was appointed to the post of Assistant Colonial Engineer and Assistant Surveyor General. On several occasions between 1889 and 1890 he was Acting Colonial Engineer (HIME, the Colonial Engineer, being unavailable).

Chief Engineer, Public Works Department (1894-1902)

In 1894 the post of Colonial Engineer was abolished and the post of Chief Engineer, Public Works Department was created.

BARNES became the first Chief Engineer in the Department of Public Works in 1894. DAINTON was appointed clerk and assistant draughtsman in the office of the chief engineer, PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, on 1 December 1897, which probably means he was there slightly earlier than this date. COTTRILL joined the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Pietermaritzburg in 1898 where, amongst other work, he was responsible for drawing up the plans for the Native High Court in Pietermaritzburg, designed by the chief architect AE DAINTON. He resigned from the Department in 1901.

In about 1898 JH RIDGWAY was working for the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, Natal taking over DAINTON's position as assistant draughtsman on his appointed as Clerk of Works on the new Legislative Council Buildings in Pietermaritzburg. According to Hillebrand (1975:167) he obtained leave to go on active service on the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War, returning 'from the front' four days later then leaving for England.

DE LA GARRIGUE worked as a draughtsman in the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Pietermaritzburg on July 1 1898. He was transferred to Eshowe on October 1 1898. Along with other projects he also drew up the plans for the post office and the post master quarters there. He was in Eshowe for three years and then moved to Pietermaritzburg.

BARNES' services and those of the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in connection with the Anglo-Boer War were publicly and favourably referred to by General Buller and in August 1901 BARNES received the CMG medal. In 1901 DAINTON returned to the Public Works Department in Pietermaritzburg where he was promoted to the post of architect (1 August 1901), a post he held until 1908 when he and others were retrenched owing to the depression.

Post South African War period (1902-1910)

BEALL by January 1902 was working as an assistant architect in Natal Public Works Department under the architect AE DAINTON, who appears to have left the Department during recession/retrenchment some time in 1907/1908. With the re-organisation that followed the South African War BEALL was promoted to permanent employment in the Natal Civil Service in 1903, with offices in the Midlands office in Pietermaritzburg. By 1904 DE LA GARRIGUE was still employed by the Department but as an architect. He left South Africa in 1906.

BEALL retained his job in spite of the 1908 retrenchment and was appointed to the post of architectural draughtsman in April 1908, receiving a salary increase. In 1908 BEALL was appointed Architect of the Natal PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT.

BARNES held the position as Secretary of Public Works for Natal until his retirement in 1910.

Natal Provincial Public Works Department after Union (1910-1912)

By 1910 BEALL was assisted by two draughtsmen: HW SPICER and GF EDMONSTONE and in the same year acted as an assessor for the Council of the Technical Institute for the competition drawings for the Natal Technical Institute. Following further reorganisation of the Natal Public Works Department on Union (1910), BEALL was appointed to the then most responsible architectural post in the Public Works Department, Natal Province in 1912, that of Assistant Architect. In 1917 he left for Cape Town after his appointment as Assistant District Engineer, District of Cape Town.

Practitioners working for the Public Works Department of the Natal Colony before 1912.

BARNES, John Frederick Evelyn
BEALL, Walter John
BEVAN, George Arthur
COTTRILL, Gilbert St John
CROSS, Arthur George
DAINTON, Arthur Edgar
DE LA GARRIGUE, Camille Therese Jean Leopold
DURNFORD, Anthony William
EDMONSTONE, George Frederick Hugh
EVANS, William George
HIME, Albert Henry
JACKSON, Reginald Neville
KENT, Frank Manoah
PRICE, Matthew Burn
RIDGWAY, James Henry
RIDGWAY, Rowland Alfred
SPICER, Harold Wolseley
STANGER, William
SUTHERLAND, Peter Cormac

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Mounted Police Barracks: 1878-1890. Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
Post Office: 1900?. eShowe, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect
Supreme Court building: n.d.. Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal - Architect