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‘Hail Australia’: Joseph H. Carruthers and education 1889-1891

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 18:17 authored by Orr, K
Joseph Hector McNeil Carruthers (1856-1932) was the New South Wales Minister of Public Instruction from 8 March 1889 to 22 October 1891. He was a man who “got things done” and thus, in a relatively short period of just 2 years, 11 months and 15 days he made an enormous impact on the physical environment of public education in New South Wales, influencing the architectural style, layouts and siting of public elementary school buildings, high schools, the Sydney Technical College and regional colleges, the Sydney Technological Museum and a new building for teacher education at the University of Sydney. All of these buildings were designed by William Edmund Kemp, the Architect for Public Schools from 1880-1896. I have already published a number of papers on Kemp’s educational buildings, and next week at SAHANZ my paper will draw upon newspaper reports of 72 school openings and will, among other things, illustrate the influence of the various Ministers of Public Instruction on Kemp’s work. Today’s paper considers a sample of the elementary schools designed by Kemp while Carruthers was Minister. They are distinctly different to those he designed under other ministers, either before or after. This paper pursues a new line of inquiry, analysing the style of some of the buildings and arguing that they played a strategic role in Carruthers’s broader social and cultural agenda at a critical moment in the emerging movement towards Australian Federation.


Publication title

Proceedings of Architecture at the Ragged Edge of Empire: Race, Place, Taste and the Colonial Context




School of Architecture and Design


State Library of Queensland

Place of publication


Event title

Architecture at the Ragged Edge of Empire: Race, Place, Taste and the Colonial Context

Event Venue

Brisbane, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding Australia’s past

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