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James Manning was Clerk of Works to the Convict Establishment, and the 20th Company of Engineers, who provided instruction and technical expertise to the convict labourers.
James Manning (1814-1893), architect and builder, was born on 17 August 1814, at Burdrop, near Banbury, England. After qualifying as a civil engineer, he worked in London with charge of the houses of many peers. In the Ordnance Department he served in the remodelling of Tilbury fort in 1847-49. Appointed clerk of works in Western Australia he sailed with Captain E. Y. Henderson in the Scindian and arrived on 1 June 1850. He played an active part in the building programme initiated in the colony by the convict establishment. The precise contribution of Manning and others is difficult to assess because some designs were by officers of the Royal Engineers and such important public buildings as Government House, Pensioners Barracks and Perth Town Hall were constructed jointly by the imperial and colonial Public Works Departments. Most records of the imperial department left the colony after transportation ended but the remainder indicate that Manning had special ability in the use of timber. The fine jarrah hammerbeam ceiling of Perth Town Hall was probably his design although the main structure was designed by R. R. Jewell.
Griffiths Architects, Fremantle Arts Centre Conservation Management Plan, August 2020.
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