Collection RS139 - Architectural Plans

Index to RS139 Photographs of plans

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Architectural Plans


  • 1837-1840 (Creation)

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1 file

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Biographical history

James Blackburn (1803-1854), civil engineer, surveyor and architect, was born in Upton, West Ham, Essex, England, the son of John Blackburn, a liveryman of the Haberdashers' Company and partner in a firm of scalemakers at Shoreditch, and Anne, née Hems. One brother, Isaac, succeeded his father in the profession, while another, John, ordained in the Independent Church, became its pioneer statistician. Blackburn married Rachel Hems in 1826. In 1833, when employed as an inspector for the commissioners of sewers for the London districts of Holborn and Finsbury, extreme financial distress caused by the failure of a private building speculation, and the threatened resumption of his possessions, led to the forgery of a cheque for £600 on the Bank of England in the names of his employers. Despite highly commendatory testimonials to character, including those of the commissioners, Blackburn was sentenced at the Old Bailey on 20 May 1833 to transportation for life. He arrived at Hobart Town in the Isabella on 14 November, and his wife and daughter arrived in the Augustus Caesar on 31 October 1835. He was immediately employed in the Department of Roads and Bridges, under Roderic O'Connor in 1833-36 and Alexander Cheyne in 1836-39. For more information see :

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Alexander Cheyne (1785-1858), son of John Cheyne of Leith, Scotland, was a captain in the Royal Engineers. In 1834, after retiring from the army he emigrated to Australia and settled first in Western Australia put arrived in Hobart in December 1835 and became Director General of Roads and Bridges and in 1838 Director of Public Works. He was dismissed in 1848 partly owing to the personal animosity of the colonial secretary John Montague. He contracted to supply water to Launceston but suffered from' long delays in payment of bills by the Government. He then became supervisor of Launceston's. swamp draining but was injured and permanently lamed in a coach accident. In 1847 he was appointed director of Hobart Water Works but was dismissed in 1848. In 1852 he became assistant superintendent of road works.' . He was a Presbyterian, superintendent of the Sunday School and a friend of Rev. John Lillie and Dr. Adam Turnbull. for more information see :

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State Archives

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Small photographs of plans and proposed designs held In the Tasmanian State Archives. Includes, Government House: Watch House, New Town: Gaol and Court House, Longford: Public School, Hobart, (i.e. 'Hutchins'): Watch House, Kensington, Antill Ponds: Court House, Bagdad : Watch House, Kangaroo Point.

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This material is made available for personal research and study purposes under the University of Tasmania Standard Copyright Licence. For any further use permission should be obtained from the copyright owners. For assistance please contact

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