Alfred Burr

ALFRED BURR (1855-1952) architect, CHARLES WILLIAM ENGLISH (1862-1931) architectural draughtsman

Government of Victoria House, London (later Victoria House, and then Australia House) 1907

ink, wash, and gouache on paper

26¼ x 39½ ins (66.7 x 100.3 cm)


Sold to National Library of Australia, Canberra

A perspective drawing of Victoria House, aka Government of Victoria Offices, as seen from the south, Strand front. The elevation shows the building as built 1907-1908

Alfred Burr was an Edwardian architect noted for office blocks, private houses and police stations. The commission for Victoria House was one of the biggest projects of his career. From 1912 to 1918 (with the war halting construction work), the building was converted into Australia House: the main transformation was at the south-eastern aspect, where Scottish architect Alexander Marshall Mackenzie created a dramatic corner entrance enhanced by important sculptural work by Australians Harold Parker and Bertram Mackennal.

In the process of rebuilding, three bays of the south front were lost, and there were substantial alterations to the roofline, including the loss of the rather Arts & Crafts chimneys and Dutch gables: and also in the treatment of the columns. The fenestration and the protruding south-west corner bay remain virtually unaltered: and the rusticated ground floor of Burr’s building remained in place.

The work is initialled C.W.E. and dated 1907 lower left. This is the work of Charles William English (1862-1931), architect and architectural draughtsman, noted for his perspective drawings for some of the leading architects of the day. (The Royal Academy owns two of his drawings, depicting major works by Norman Shaw.)