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George Thomas Temple Poole (1856–1934)

by Ray Oldham

This article was published:

George Thomas Temple Poole (1856-1934), architect, was born on 29 May 1856 in Rome, only child of Lieutenant-Colonel John George Temple, engineer, and his wife Louisa Mary, née Poole. His father was invalided home to England from the Crimean War and died soon after; his mother married a Poole cousin and altered her son's name to Temple-Poole. Educated at Winchester College, in 1876 he was commissioned in the militia, Hampshire Regiment. After leaving school he was articled in architecture and civil and mechanical engineering. He worked in England, briefly in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and in 1885 was appointed superintendent of public works in Western Australia. In 1889 Temple-Poole became director of his department; when the civil service was reorganized after responsible self-government next year, he was appointed assistant-engineer-in-chief and architect in charge of all public buildings. He resigned in 1897. In Perth he was known as Poole for he believed that Australians were uncomfortable with hyphenated names.

His years as government architect saw phenomenal expansion following the discovery of gold. Thirty-four of the approximately two hundred buildings for which he was responsible had been classified by the National Trust of Australia by 1980 as 'essential to the heritage of Australia and must be preserved'; the most important of these are the Treasury Buildings and the Lands Department in Perth, both in the classic tradition.

After two years in England Poole returned to Perth in 1899. He then executed private engineering and development projects, floated a company for the Perth Tramways which began operating in 1899, and owned a tin-mine at Mundijong and a copper-mine at Roebourne. He also lectured extensively at the Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery, the Perth Technical School, the University of Western Australia, and at professional conferences.

Poole had been a founder of the Western Australian Institute of Architects in 1896, had four terms as president and was the first honorary life fellow in 1913. He was an active member of the Architects' Board from its inception in 1922. He also sat on the board of management of the Perth Park (later King's Park); the first chairman, he designed its original lay-out and always fostered its development. Poole Avenue is named for him.

He was a talented painter, exhibiting his watercolours and oils locally. In 1889 he had been a founder and was sometime president of the Wilgie Sketching Club (later the Western Australian Society of Arts). Poole was an immaculately and elegantly dressed man; in later years he wore a monocle. He was renowned for his impeccable manners and his wit.

A member of the Town Planning Association, from 1911 he developed a plan for Perth which had obvious merits and was widely publicized. When plans for Canberra were being made, Poole was appointed in 1914 to chair an international board of eminent adjudicators to judge a world-wide competition for the new houses of parliament. He visited the Canberra site and commented: 'It is the nearest thing to grandeur-appointed scale that I have seen in Australia'. However, World War I brought postponement of the competition which was eventually abandoned.

In 1885 Poole had married Beatrice Hamilton Banger, who accompanied him to Perth; she died in 1914 having borne no children. On 23 December 1918 he married Daisy Mary Rossi (1879-1974), a skilled artist and portrait painter; they had one daughter.

In the 1920s Poole resumed architectural practice with Christian Mouritzen. They built Levinson's modern shop and offices (now Caris Bros) in Central Hay Street and, at the foot of William Street, the Capitol Theatre and Temple Court, also some elegant private houses. Poole was a Freemason, a justice of the peace, and a member of the Weld and Civil Service clubs. He had been a member of the Claremont Municipal Council and helped to found the Liberal League of Western Australia. His last years were spent at Darlington, a village in the Darling Ranges. Survived by his wife and daughter, he died there on 27 February 1934 and was buried in the Anglican section of Karrakatta cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • R. and J. Oldham, Western Heritage. Part 2. George Temple-Poole, Architect of the Golden Years, 1885-1897 (Perth, 1980), and for bibliography.

Citation details

Ray Oldham, 'Poole, George Thomas Temple (1856–1934)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Temple-Poole, George Thomas

29 May, 1856
Rome, Italy


27 February, 1934 (aged 77)
Darlington, Western Australia, Australia

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