Fawcett and Ashworth
|Fawcett and Ashworth|
|Key architects||J.W. Fawcett, H.P.C. Ashworth|
|Significant works and honors|
|Buildings||Flinders Street Station|
Fawcett and Ashworth is a design partnership that won the design competition for Flinders St Station in 1899. Flinders St Station is the only known project the pair worked together on.
James Fawcett was an English born architect who was first hired by Victoria Railways in 1889. There he acted as an architectural draftsman, and was most probably involved in the plans for Flinders Street Station that had previously been rejected by the Parliamentary Committee.
Fawcett was also a contributor to the Arts and Crafts Movement that was embraced by Australia at the time, and he was also a “foundation member of Australia’s first sculptor’s society – the Yarra Sculptor’s Society.” 
As a metal worker, Fawcett was also involved with the firm Wunderlich Ltd, who were “Victoria’s major supplier of architectural terracotta and pressed metal architectural features”. Fawcett designed the pressed metal ceilings that were heavily incorporated in the construction of Flinders Street Station, and can still be seen today throughout the building. His metal work was in the Art Nouveau style, which is also present in his jewelry and clock design.
Ashworth was born in Australia in 1871. He worked as a civil engineer and was employed by Victoria Railways for many years until his death from illness at the age of 32. Ashworth didn’t live to see the completion of his and Fawcett’s design of Flinders Street Station, which was erected in 1910.
J.W. Fawcett and H.P.C. Ashworth were the winners of a competition held for the detailed design of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station. Fawcett and Ashworth’s French Renaissance style design, entitled “the Green Light”, was one of seventeen entries, with a winning prize of £500 (which at the time was equivalent to a well-paid, two years’ wages). Fawcett and Ashworth were both employed by Victorian Railways, and much controversy arose – particularly initiated by the architect of the runner-up entry, Charles D’Ebro – as to having an unfair advantage due to this
“The entry was a successful example of stylistic eclecticism, which blossomed during-the late Victorian era and continued into the twentieth century. Stained glass work adopts the contorted patterns of the art nouveau era, resulting in the ray of weird light patterns onto the floor of the booking lobby.”
The designers were constrained by the narrow land for the project, and therefore were required to come up with a solution for the design of the façade that broke away from the usual practice of layering it, “bringing forward the more important aspects. The designers claimed they ‘broke the building design upwards’ instead and attributed more architectural significance to the entrances.” 
The announcement of the winning entries was made on 22 May 1900. Interestingly, neither the Argus nor the Age publicised this announcement, which indicates the lack of public interest and debate regarding the architectural development of Melbourne at the time. Much of Fawcett and Ashworth’s design is still prevalent today despite the modifications made after the plans had been selected. The architectural features designed by Fawcett and Ashworth that had convinced the judges were the non-angular concept for the main corner entrance and the building’s striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal (the use of symmetrical domes and archways) 
The project well exceeded the initial cost constraint of £102,000 with a total of £265 061, but the outcome proved to be well worth the expense. Flinders Street Station became an icon for Melbourne and its famous clocks a meeting point for generations of Melbournians.
- Winner of 1899 design competition for Flinders St Station
- Fiddian, Marc (2003), Flinders St Station: Melbourne’s Taj Mahal, Galaxy Print and Design, p. 11
- Victorian Heritage Database (http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/places/heritage/9715)
- buslines.com.au (http://www.buslines.com.au/hillsidetrains/history.html)
- Davies, Jenny (2008), Beyond the Façade: Flinders Street, more than just a railway station, Endless Possibilities, p. 24)
Fiddian, Marc (2003), Flinders St Station: Melbourne’s Taj Mahal, Galaxy Print and Design
Davies, Jenny (2008), Beyond the Façade: Flinders Street, more than just a railway station, Endless Possibilities
The Argus, 21 – 25 May 1900 Edition
The Age, 21 – 25 May 1900 Edition