Courthouse Architect


James Barnet was New South Wales’ longest serving Colonial Architect (1862–1865 Acting Colonial Architect, 1865–1890 Colonial Architect), first joining the Colonial Architect’s office as Clerk of Works in 1860. During his term of office the number on his staff increased from nine to 64, and the number of buildings under his supervision from 324 to 1351. He was responsible for 12,000 projects which cost more than six million pounds.

Major projects

  • Defence works at Botany Bay, Port Jackson and Newcastle
  • Courthouses, lock-ups, police stations and post offices throughout New South Wales
  • Lighthouses

Major public buildings in Sydney

  • Mortuary Stations in Rookwood Cemetery and at Central Railway
  • New wing of the Australian Museum
  • General Post Office
  • Colonial Secretary’s Building (now called the Chief Secretary’s Building)
  • Public Works Building and Lands Building
  • Customs House
  • Public Library
  • Medical School Anderson Stuart building at the University of Sydney
  • Callan Park Lunatic Asylum
  • East Sydney Technical College
  • Darlinghurst Court House
  • Victoria Lodge, Botanical Gardens
  • Department of Lands building
  • Parramatta Post Office
  • Traffic Court No.2, Sydney
  • North Sydney Post Office (opened in 1889 as St Leonards PO, renamed 1890)

Other interesting roles were assigned to Barnet during his time as Colonial Architect. He was in charge of the arrangements for the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1868 and of the design and erection of the Sydney International Exhibition building built in the Botanical Gardens.

Barnet was subjected to criticism throughout his career, both from within government ranks and from private architects, and was retired at a fortnight’s notice in 1890. He continued in active public life until his death in 1904.



James Barnett