Tuesday, December 29, 2009

James Barnet

James Barnet is the second to last person I added to the list on July 10. He's likely to be someone from the political world.

Nope. I'm wrong. He's an architect. He did his thing in the late 19th century. Architect....that fits well with the book I recently finished reading. Pillars of the Earth. It was about church building in 12th century England. Have any of you read it?

Anyway, back to Barnet. Lord Wiki says he was not born in Australia. He was born in Scotland....sometime in 1827.

Barnet was the son of a builder. That's like Pillars of the EarthI . The dad was a builder, and so were his sons.

When Barnet was around sixteen, he moved to London. There he became a builder's apprentice. I wonder why he didn't become his father's apprentice. Was that usually not done in those days? Maybe it was better for his career to go to London.

He studied drawing under one guy, and architecture under another. Then he did work with something called the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. I have no idea how Barnet's building career led him into the world of fish. Well, Lord Wiki says he became clerk of works. Maybe that has something to do with building?

Ah. Yes! Lord Wiki says a clerk of works is someone hired by an architect to work on a building site. So, I guess Barnet did building work for the fishing people.

In 1854, Barnet got married. Then he and his wife migrated to Australia. Why? I don't know. Maybe they needed a change of scenery. Maybe the prospects were good for an architect.

Barnet would have been about twenty-seven when he came over. When he first got to my favorite city, he worked for a guy named Edmund Blacket. I kind of like that name. I like saying it aloud.

Blacket was an architect as well. He built a lot of important buildings in Sydney. Lord Wiki lists them. It's church's primarily. The one that's most familar to me is St. Andrews. I'm trying to remember where that is. Is it the one near Hyde Park? I'll look on Google Maps.

No, it's not the one I was thinking about. St. Andrews is on George Street which is west of the park. I'm thinking of a church that's east of the park. Maybe St. Mary's....

Lord Wiki says that Barnet worked for Blacket, and then became clerk of works for the University of Sydney. I'm not sure if he means that Barnet stopped working for Blacket, and went to work for the university. Or while still working for Blacket, Barnet went to work for the university. It could be the latter, because Lord Wiki says Blacket himself did work for the university.

In 1860, Barnet joined the Colonel's Architect's Office. This was the office of government that dealt with architecture. It seems they'd have one person designated as the main architect. Francis Greenway was the first to have that honor. Blacket had the job from 1849-1857. Then Barnet had his turn in 1862.

One of Barnet's jobs was rebuilding the lighthouse that Francis Greenway had built.

Lord Wiki lists the other projects of Barnet....

He did a wing of the Australia Museum. I love that place.

He did the main post office. I'm not sure if we saw that or not.

He did the Customs House near Circular Quay. I strangely don't remember seeing it, although I'm sure I probably did.

Well, I'm not going to list all that he did. I just listed the stuff I might have seen, or that sound familiar to me.

One building that Lord Wiki spends some extra time on is the Garden Palace/Royal Exhibition Building. It's gone now, for the most part. But there are some remains in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

It was built in 1879. It burned down in 1882.

The Sydney Morning Herald has a little slideshow about the Garden Palace.

Barnet had been in charge of the building. While the work was being done, he received a lot of criticism and went over budget. Then he got angry and ran back to his home in Denmark. Oops, no. That's the wrong tale. But he really did go over budget, and the project was sometimes criticized. In the end, folks liked it though. It's too bad it burned down.

Lord Wiki says Barnet's work was influenced by the Italian Renaissance. He was not interested in new architecture trends...especially ones coming from America.

As for personal stuff. Barnet and his wife had seven children....four girls and three boys. Two followed in his architecture footsteps. His wife died in 1890. Barnet died three years after Federation.

I just noticed that Lord Wiki doesn't just list the stuff that Barnet built. He has photographs as well. He didn't just build in Sydney. He did stuff in other places around New South Wales. He did a lot of stuff in Goulburn.

Now I'm going to move onto my old favorite site....The Australian Biographical Dictionary.

I'll see if there's anything exciting that I haven't yet learned from Lord Wiki.

Here we go. Barnet's wife's name was Amy Gosling. Isn't there a current actor with that last name?

Yes. Okay. It's Ryan Gosling. What has he been in?

Lord Wiki is taking a long time to talk to me about this....

Wait. Here we go. It's funny. I recognize his name, but I don't think I've seen anything he's been in.

Anyway.....


Barnet did some defense building stuff. Lord Wiki mentioned that, but I ignored him. I'm like that sometimes. If something isn't interesting to me, I'll pretend not to see it. Then I see it on another website, and feel obligated to mention it.

He built two asylums. One was Callan Park Lunatic Asylum, and the other was Tarban Creek Asylum. I wonder if either is still around.

Lord Wiki says the Callan Park one is now part of the fine arts campus of Sydney University. Is that the same as University of Sydney? Well, from what I'm seeing on Google...it is. I'm also having Deja Vu here. Did I ask all this before?

The Tarban Creek Asylum was later named Gladesville. This website has a ghost story about it. I don't fully understand it. Were the mental patients he saw current living people, or did he see ghosts?

Here's something interesting....a little exciting. When they built the Garden Palace, there were night shift workers. What's so special about that? It was one of the first uses of electrical lights in Sydney.

Barnet received much bitching about his work. People were unhappy with the Garden Palace. Other people didn't like the wing he built for the Australia Museum.

Later in life, while doing defense work, Barnet had conflicts with a military guy (Lieutenant-Colonel F. R. de Wolski). Wolski wasn't a huge fan of Barnet's work. He felt Barnet took too long to hand over his plans and documents. I guess he felt Barnet was secretive?

A royal commission was brought in to investigate the situation. Barnet didn't do to well with them. He was found guilty of being incompetent, and his career pretty much tanked. Well, maybe it was less about incompetence, and more of an attitude issue.

In his viewpoint, Barnet felt he had been treated and judged unfairly. For the most part, he blamed Wolski.

This Sydney architecture site has a page on Barnet. They say he supported new technologies, and was the first to install a telephone in a government building. That's pretty cool.

Anyway, I'm going to quit because there's something else I want to work on now.

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