Canberra Camps, Settlements & Early Housing


Permanent Canberra

Posted by ann gugler on April 16, 2011 at 12:13 AM

I have now begun to add the information about early Canberra permanent houses, hotels, and hostels.  In 1921-22 the Federal Capital Advisory Committee (FCAC) built around 70 permanent brick cottages for construction workers in Westridge (Yarralumla), Power House (Barton) and Civic Centre (Ainslie - later Braddon). In 1923 another 16 were built at Blandfordia (Forrest).  When the Federal Capital Commission, headed by the First Commissioner John Butters, took over in January 1925 no futher attempt to provide good permanent cottages for married men was made. Single construction workers were houses in temporaray dwellings with tents being replaced with cubicles from 1926.

The arrival of the public servants in 1927 meant that the permanent cottages in the newly formed suburbs had to be built in time for the arrival of the new workforce. The nucelus of the the permanent suburbs of Barton and Ainslie were already in situ.  Single white collar workers had been accommodated at the Bachelors Quarters at Acton from December 1912 and the brick hostel, Hotel Ainslie (renamed Gorman House in 1927) was ready for young ladies of the typiste class from 1925.  The Hotel Canberra was erected by Contractor John Howie's men in 1923-24 (first section) and completed 1925. This along with the Hotel Kurrajong built in 1926 prepared accommodation for the upper classes including visiting politicians. To these hotels was added in 1927 the Hotels Ainslie, Acton, Kingston and Wellington and in the 1930s Civic.  The hostels known as Houses were Gorman, Brassey and Beauchamp. The Printers Quarters and Lady Hopetoun Club provided further accommdation that was a little below the quality of the others mentioned.  A class system was in place and even if a construction worker had the money he would not be allowed to stay in one of the above mentioned permanent dwellings.  People did not have the freedom to move from one place to another. They were moved.

The new information sets out what was in an area and where known using electoral rolls - 1928, 1929 and 1935 gives further information of who lived where.

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