Pretoria Post Office competition


Competition for the Pretoria Post Office

The Public Works Department of the Transvaal Colony consulted REID and LECK about the organisation of the competition for the new post office in Pretoria in 1906.

Charles MURRAY directed the setting up of competitions for various government buildings, such as that for the Pretoria Post Office in 1908.

LECK, in 1908, was consulted, as president of the Society of Architects (South African branch) and as vice-president of the Transvaal Institute of Architects, for his opinion on holding an architectural competition for the Pretoria Post Office. His advice is contained in the correspondence survives in the PWD archives (Transvaal). In it some of DICKSON's attitudes towards architecture are revealed. DICKSON (then President of the Transvaal Institute of Architects) wrote to Charles MURRAY 'you asked me to give you my views ... I should like four selected designs to be sent Home to Sir Aston Webb or Collcutt for the final selection. Local men may be somewhat out of date in their ideas of what constitutes the best in Architecture - according to the Modern School which advocates a reticence in design which is out of fashion here but which is particularly desirable in a public building' (Public Works Department 122/3253, letter dated 17 Sep 1907). It is of interest that Dickson suggested Collcutt since, like Dickson, Collcutt had been in Street's office and was President of the RIBA at the time Dickson wrote; Taylor (Service 1975:447) describes TE Collcutt as 'a picturesque Classicist', descriptive of Dickson's work. By December 1907 DICKSON had intimated to MURRAY that he, DICKSON, should be happy to act as an adjudicator but the suggestion was not taken up.

In September 1908 the competition, hitherto restricted to Transvaal architects only, was opened up to the whole country by popular demand.

BAKER, STUCKE (proposed by H BAKER as a co-assessor for the competition) and Walter REID were the adjudicators of the competition.

Some entries and placements as follows:

JC COOK's first recorded work was a submission for the Pretoria Post Office competition in December 1908 for which he gained honourable mention (1909). He was at the time still resident in Bloemfontein.

In 1908 the partners LECK, EMLEY & DICKSON entered, unsuccessfully, for both the Pretoria railway station competition and the Pretoria post office competition.

GOODALL seems to have entered into an association or partnership with GG HENDERSON and together as GOODALL & HENDERSON they submitted a design for the Pretoria Post Office competition in September 1908.

PJ HANSON, working in Boksburg in 1908, submitted a design for the Pretoria Post Office competition in 1908.

J NEVILLE applied for forms for the competition for the Pretoria Post Office in 1908 which he entered, his address at the time being in Germiston.

TILL, JH & AE entered the competition for the Pretoria Post Office in 1908.

AJ STEWART gained first premium in the open competition for the Pretoria Post Office, Church Square (1909). The competition was, however, reassessed by a committee appointed by the Pretoria councilors and the building built to another's plans.

The first record of collaboration between the partnership TULLY, WATERS, and CLELAND was in the competition for the new Post Office in Pretoria, when forms for the competition were applied for in the name of TULLY & WATERS and were to be sent to them in Cape Town c/o a hardware store. The partners won an honourable mention in this competition.

The Cape Times (March 1911) noted that the Pretoria Post Office was executed according to the elevations of COOK & MACKENZIE and to the ground plans of TULLY, WATERS & CLELAND. However it has also been recorded site that the designs for the building plans of COOK & MACKENZIE and to the elevations of TULLY, WATERS & CLELAND. However Wendland, biographer of HAWKE, has HAWKE & McKINLAY as the winners and designers of the building, also recorded by MEIRING. The veracity of the contradicting pieces of information needs further research.

It would appear that when the project was not awarded to the winning architects it was taken over by the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS of the Transvaal Colony where CLELAND was then employed as a temporary draughtsman in the Public Works Department in Pretoria in March 1909 to work on the drawings for the Post Office assisted by DA CROMBIE who was in their employ.