Victorian Architects Ussher and Kemp
Table of Contents
The Gables Mansion
608 Riversdale Road CAMBERWELL
Beverley Ussher and Henry Kemp were Melbourne Architects who formed a “brilliant partnership”. Both Ussher and Kemp had strong Arts and Crafts commitments, and both had been in partnerships before forming their own.
- Beverley Ussher (b Melbourne 1868; d Melbourne, 9 June 1908) and Henry (Hardie) Kemp (bBroughton, Lancashire, UK, 10 March 1859; d Melbourne, 22 April 1946) formed a partnership in Melbourne in 1899, which lasted until Ussher’s death (1908).
- The practice specialized in domestic work and their houses epitomize the Marseilles-tiled Queen Anne (or Federation style) houses characteristic of Melbourne, and considered now to be a truly distinctive Australian genre.
- At the time of their creation they were a break with the use of cement render, applied stucco ornament, cast iron, slates, and double hung windows.
- Their designs use red bricks, terracotta tiles and casement windows, avoid applied ornamentation and develop substantial timber details. The picturesque character of the houses results from a conscious attempt to express externally with gables, dormers, bays, roof axes, and chimneys, the functional variety of rooms within.
- The iconic Federation houses by Beverley Ussher and Henry Kemp did not appear until 1892-4. Then, several of those appeared in Boroondara.
- Dalswraith for William Gibson, 99 Studley Park Road, Kew (1906) and a house for A. Norman, 7 Adeney Avenue, Kew (1908) are superb examples of his designs.
- “George Tibbets has discussed this firm at great length in his article “The so-called Melbourne Domestic Queen Anne”. It was undoubtably one of the most accomplished and prolific of the Melbourne practices of the early twentieth century. It drew on a distinguished line of work by the individual partners from the nineteenth century.” “The so-called Melbourne Domestic Queen Anne” by George Tibbets
|Houses of Ussher and Kemp||Halsey House 69 Broadway Camberwell|
Kemp was associated with a number of substantial projects: Queen’s College, University of Melbourne; the Queen’s Coffee Palace, Carlton (1889, demolished); the twelve-storey Australian Property and Investment Co. Building, corner of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Lane (1887, demolished); the Workingmen’s College (1888); and Woodlands (also named North Park) for Alexander McCracken, North Essendon (1888).
- He also designed three distinctive brick buildings: a manse, Highbury Grove, Kew, where on 12 December 1888 he married Charlotte Wilhelmina Harvey;
- a pair of residences at 117 Princess Street and 1 Fellows Street, Kew; and
- a bank, now the shire office, Kerang.
Ussher’s first partner was Walter Richmond Butler (1864-1949), an architect who moved to London and to work with J. D. Sedding. He was accepted into the Arts and Crafts and Domestic Revival circles centred on William Morris and R. N. Shaw, among whom his closest friend was Ernest Gimson (1864-1919).
|BLACKWOOD HOMESTEAD – See separate article|
- See also Blackwood, Western Victoria
In June 1888 Butler and Ussher left Sedding’s office and sailed for Australia. Three of Butler’s brothers and one of his sisters also settled in Australia.
- From 1889 until 1893 Butler was in partnership with Ussher. In 1896 Butler was joined by George C. Inskip but they parted in 1905 after a dispute with the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects over the conduct of a competition.
- Butler and Ussher worked together on a series of designs between 1890 and 1893, many of which are still considered to be outstanding examples of the Picturesque Aesthetic.
- George Tibbits, in an article titled ‘The So-Called Melbourne Domestic Queen Anne’ describes Blackwood Homestead as being ‘one of the finest 19th century examples’ of this type.
|Professional Chambers building, 120 Collins Street Melbourne. (110-114) Built 1908. Queen Anne style. Architect: Beverly Ussher.|
The Professional Chambers building in Collins Street was designed for the Trustees of the Independent Church by Beverley Ussher of the firm Ussher and Kemp. The building was finished in 1908.
- The three storey red brick structure with attic is styled in a mode eclectically derived from Romanesque, Gothic, Elizabethan and Queen Anne Revival architecture.
- The construction is of tuck-pointed face red brick decorated with rendered cement dressings and a terra cotta tile roof. The picturesque roof line with steep gable ends and tall clustered chimneys, the oriel windows and central round arch Romanesque entry with foliated decoration together produces a bold facade to Collins Street.
- The design reflects Ussher’s preoccupation with the Picturesque domestic revival in Victoria and has links with the so-called Queen Anne Revival movement in England.
Architect Beverley Ussher designed the house ‘Milliara‘ (John Whiting house) in Wallace Avenue Toorak, in about 1895.
- It seemed very anglophile in that it had a drawing room ceiling which exactly reproduced of the dining hall ceiling at Bolsover Castle, which Ussher had himself measured and drawn.
- However the architraves of the arches were decorated with local flora, and the panelling used Australian timbers.
Two years later the emphasis on local timber was even greater in Ussher’s house for J C Foden in Canterbury:
- “The whole of the woodwork of the drawing room, dining room, hall, stairs and landing, including the sliding doors, was carried out in Australian and New Zealand woods, such as silky oak, blackwood, fiddleback and kauri, and then French polished.”