PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT: Architect
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(FRIBA nom papers 1925; SAB Aug 1926:29 ill)
In the Mayor's Minute, issued by the Municipality of East London in September 1917, one of the matters which had concerned the administration of the Municipality and merited inclusion in the Mayor's Minute, was the Proposed New Main Post Office. A transcript of the item is provided below:
PROPOSED NEW MAIN POST OFFICE
"In view of the extremely inadequate and unsatisfactory accommodation at the existing Post Office Building in Terminus Street, Government were urged to immediately commence the erection of the proposed New Building for Post and Telegraph purposes on the site at the corner of Oxford Street and North Street, sold by the Council to Government for Post Office purposed. In response to our representations the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs stated that a sum of £2,000 had been placed upon the Loan Estimates for the current year to meet the preliminary expenses in connection with the proposed New Building and next year it was hoped that it would be possible to make an actual start with the erection of the building and that meanwhile plans and specifications would be prepared."
In a subsequent Mayor's Minute, some nine years later in 1926, the Proposed New Main Post Office again merited inclusion. A transcript of the item is provided below:
PROPOSED NEW MAIN POST OFFICE
"Your Representatives ascertained from the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs that tenders have been invited for the erection of the proposed new Main Post Office, at the corner of Oxford Street and North Street, and were returnable on the 19th instant, but Contractors had asked for an extension of time until the 2nd of March, which had been granted. An assurance was given that building operations would be commenced immediately after the receipt of tenders.
Plans of the proposed new building are exhibited in the Council Chamber for inspection."
Exactly ten years after its initial mention, the Post Office, Oxford Street again merited inclusion in the Mayor's Minute of 1927. A transcript of the item is provided below:
POST OFFICE, OXFORD STREET
"On the 18th September, 1926, the foundation stone of the new Main Post Office, at the corner of Oxford Street and North Street, was laid by the Hon. Walter B. Madeley (Minister of Posts and Telegraphs).
For the purpose of record I append a copy of the report of the ceremony, extracted from the columns of the "Daily Dispatch."
The Hon. Walter B. Madeley, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and Public Works, accompanied by Mrs. Madeley, arrived in East London on Saturday for the purpose of laying the foundation stone of the new Main Post Office in Oxford Street. The contract price of the building is £55,000, and the work is to be completed in two years and eight months from the time the site was taken over, which was on May 11th last.
The ceremony took place in execrable weather at 3 o'clock, and there was a large gathering. A platform had been erected especially for the occasion, and many flags were flying. Loud speakers had been installed, and these acted perfectly. The Municipal Band, under the conductorship of Mr. Hardesty, was in attendance, and rendered selections before the proceedings commenced. His Worship the Mayor (Cr. Jas. Stewart), wearing his robes of office, presided and among those present on the platform in addition to the Minister and Mrs. Madeley, were the Mayoress (Mrs. Stewart), the Deputy Mayor (Dr. Bruce-Bays), Councillors Perks, Prior, Hooper, Old, Pearce, Campbell and Neale, the Town Clerk (Mr. R.E. Dowding M.B.E), the City Electrical Engineer (Mr. J. Mordy Lambe), the M.O.H. (Dr. Ernest Hill, M.C.), Mr. Maggs, (Surveyor of Posts and Telegraphs), the Postmaster (Mr. Warman), Mr. Edwards (District Engineer, Public Works Department), the Acting Senior Magistrate (Mr. F.S. Heaton), the Receiver of Revenue (Mr. E.W. Pemberton), representatives of the various public bodies in the town. Rev. Harrison Thompson, M.P.C., Dr. Ganteaume, M.B.E., Col. Nussey (Defence Department), and Capt. Fall and Lieut. Clarke (South African Police.)
At the outset the Mayor introduced the Minister, who was given a very cordial reception. His Worship went on to say that Mr. Madeley had come here accompanied by Mrs. Madeley and his secretary, on the official duty if laying the foundation stone of the new Post Office. When the building was completed, he was sure it would do credit to any city in the Union. They had waited long for their new Post Office, but now they could see that a real start had been made, and he was certain it would be a building they could be proud of.
(Three paragraphs recording a lengthy speech by the Minister- not specifically relevant to the Post Office - have been omitted)
In conclusion, the Minister said: "I take the opportunity of laying this foundation stone to the glory of East London, and, I hope, as an indication of its future prosperity. And may I express the wish that this will be the least imposing building that East London will have in the future on account of its enormous progress."
Mr. Madeley then proceeded to perform the ceremony of laying the foundation stone. The stone (see photograph above), which came from Ladybrand, was covered with the Union Jack, and after this had been removed it was hoisted into position and was declared well and truly laid by the Minister, who had been handed by the Mayor a very handsome trowel of solid silver with ivory handle, and bearing the following inscription: "Presented by the Mayor and Councillors of East London to the Hon. Walter B. Madeley, Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, on the occasion of his laying the foundation stone of the new main Post Office, 18th September, 1926." The foundation stone bore inscriptions in both the official languages. The English version was to the following effect:
"This stone was laid by the Hon. W. B. Madeley, M.L.A., Minister of Posts and Telegraphs and Public Works, September 18th 1926. James Stewart Mayor."
Little Miss Walsh, the daughter of the contractor's foreman, presented Mrs. Madeley with a basket of beautiful flowers. The playing of the National Anthem by the band brought the proceedings to a close."
Ganteaume, P.P.J. Minute Of His Worship, The Mayor, For The Mayoral Year Ended September 1917. The Municipality of the City Of East London. Daily Dispatch, Ltd. East London, 1917: pp 25-26.
Ganteaume, P.P.J. Minute Of His Worship, The Mayor, For The Mayoral Year Ended September 1926. The Municipality of the City Of East London. Daily Dispatch, Ltd. East London, 1926: pg 20.
Stewart, J. Minute Of His Worship, The Mayor, For The Mayoral Year Ended September 1927. The Municipality of the City Of East London. Daily Dispatch, Ltd. East London, 1927: pp 18 – 20.
Submitted by William MARTINSON.
All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.
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