Harry Winbush

Harry Winbush (1903 – 1990) architect
Harry Winbush was one of Melbourne’s most distinguished architects who made significant contributions to Australia’s physical and social achievements. Over and above that, it was his dedication to his Christian faith which provided his primary direction and purpose in life.

Harry Winbush was born in Melbourne in 1903. His father was a builder. The prominent Melbourne architect, Percy Everett (refer here and here) recommended that Harry study architecture. He did very well in his studies gaining his architecture qualifications in Melbourne and later in London.

During his professional career Harry designed many residential and commercial buildings. Other buildings he designed included fire stations in Port Melbourne, Box Hill and East Kew (built in 1941 and currently recommended for heritage listing) and public libraries in Glenroy and Essendon. Click for images of the Glenroy and Essendon libraries.

He designed a theatre for the Essendon Society of Arts, as well as hospitals situated in Essendon and Greensborough-Diamond Valley. He designed sporting infrastructure including the main grandstand at Windy Hill, – (The A.F. Showers Pavilion – also reported here and here and here, as a .pdf file ) the home of the Essendon Bombers football club. He designed one of the first of the ‘new-generation’ of indoor sporting facilities – the Essendon ten-pin bowling alley.  He also designed the Moonee Ponds Trugo club and an art-deco house in Fletcher St Essendon.

He undertook a wide range of architectural commissions including a pioneering examination of, Obsolescence in Residential Properties and the camouflaging of buildings around Melbourne, and of the gun emplacements at Point Nepean – the entrance to Port Philip Bay, during World War 2.

Harry Winbush was appointed, in 1944, head of the Department of Art and Architecture which was to become the Department of Architecture and Building at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), a position he held for 24 years. He was responsible for the management of the education of thousands of students. http://www.picturevictoria.vic.gov.au/site/coburg/chs/17329.html

In 1948, Harry developed the RMIT Interior Design course which in turn led to the establishment of the Design Institute of Australia.

In 1949 the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) established a Joint Board of Architectural Education. It was this Board which became the vehicle through which the profession directly influenced architectural education in Australia through the accreditation of both courses and educational institutions. Harry Winbush was a member of that first Board.

During this period he also established and maintained a successful architectural consulting business.

He was appointed President of the RAIA, 1955-57.

Harry Winbush was a graduate of Melbourne University and a Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (FRAIA) and also a Fellow the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA). He went on to become a member of the Melbourne University, Faculty of Architecture.

He was chairman of the Architects’ Registration Board of Victoria. As a councillor of the National Trust of Victoria he was actively engaged in the preservation of Victoria’s historic buildings.

During those years, new houses were being built across the ever-expanding suburbs of Melbourne. Harry was asked to prepare feature articles for the Melbourne Sun newspaper detailing his comprehensive ‘road–tests’ of those homes. The column was titled, No place like home and ran every week from March 1964 until June 1973.

Harry was an active member of Rotary International for nearly 50 years and was held in high regard by his fellow members. He was President of the Essendon club in 1951-52. In 1952 he designed for Rotary (and as described in the Rotary Club history), ‘a beautiful cream-brick building in the sylvan setting of Queens Park, Moonee Ponds’. The bronze plaque at the entrance reads, ‘The Rotary Club of Essendon dedicates this house of friendship to the City of Essendon in gratitude to the pioneers who, by faith and courage, have made Essendon a city of which we are justly proud. The spirit shall not grow old’. Another project which Essendon Rotary supported was ‘Gladswood Lodge’, (with Harry known as its ‘honorary architect’), which continues to provide care for the aged. He instigated the forming of the Brunswick Rotary Club in 1953.

Essendon Rotary Club, at that time had established and continued to assist in the maintenance of ‘Rowallan Recreation and Adventure Camp’ set in 74 hectares (183 acres) of natural bushland in the Catherine Valley, Gisborne for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. http://www.rowallan.org.au/

Harry Winbush was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship, an honour recognising outstanding service and represented Rotary Australia at international conferences.

He was also a competent photographer and film maker.

However all of that was secondary to Harry’s greatest motivation which was his Christian faith. Beyond his busy schedule he always had time, right throughout his adult life, to lead a church, to teach Sunday School, to run a weekly Bible Study in his home (and at times, after hours, in his office) as well as publishing Christian literature. He was a church organist. He maintained a diverse collection of both architectural and Christian books and publications.

The image above is a sketch of Harry Winbush drawn by one of his students – Paul Kuek in 1965.   For the full size sketch, click for the image.

Harry Winbush was a distinguished architect whose Christian faith provided his primary direction and purpose in life.

Harry Stephen Winbush died in 1990 – an influential Australian Christian.

The Obituary (click the .PFD file) outlines more of Harry Winbush’s life and provides further insights into his deep Christian commitment.

As a footnote to the history of Harry Winbush:

An uncle of Harry Winbush was the painter John L. Winbush (aka Wimbush, Jan 1854 – Mar 1914).
http://www.artfact.com/catalog/viewLot.cfm?lotCode=6YDHXLY0
Wimbush provided a studio for the American painter James McNeill Whistler.
http://www.archive.org/stream/lifeofjamesmcnei001679mbp/lifeofjamesmcnei001679mbp_djvu.txt
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One Response to Harry Winbush

  1. Ed Szwaja says:

    Thank you for this profile of Harry Winbush.
    I am now the proud owner of the property his father [William Winbush] selected in 1898 in Toora North, South Gippsland. I was also lucky enough to meet his last surviving daughter to enhance my research. My interest came about when I set about a genealogy study of the property to current day [and still working on it!]

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