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Lloyd Tayler (1830–1900)

by Donald James Dunbar and George Tibbits

This article was published:

Lloyd Tayler (1830-1900), by Freeman Studio

Lloyd Tayler (1830-1900), by Freeman Studio

State Library of New South Wales, ON 6/25x30/Box 7

Lloyd Tayler (1830-1900), architect, was born on 26 October 1830 in London, youngest son of William Tayler, tailor, and his wife Priscilla, née Lloyd. Educated at Mill Hill Grammar School, Hendon, and King's College, London, he is said to have been a student at the Sorbonne. In June 1851 he left England to join his brother on the land near Albury, New South Wales, but the run had been burned out and instead he tried his luck at the Mount Alexander goldfields. In 1854 he set up an architectural practice with Lewis Vieusseux, civil engineer, but by 1856 was working on his own in Melbourne and had designed premises for the Colonial Bank of Australasia. In the 1860s and 1870s he won repute by his designs for the National Bank of Australasia and rivalled Leonard Terry in this field: examples are at Richmond, North Fitzroy, Warrnambool and Coleraine; distinguished by a refined strength, they follow simple Renaissance revival formulae. His major design for the bank was the Melbourne head office (1867) which he described as Palladian. The whole of the framing and iron construction of the ambitious dome were made in London.

With Edmund Wright in 1874 Tayler won the competition for the South Australian Houses of Parliament (begun in 1881). They are also credited with the design of the Bank of Australia, Adelaide (1875). His impressive Australian Club, Melbourne (1878), is a fine interpretation of the Palazzo Farnese model, while the Melbourne Exchange is a modest example of his dignified urban manner. His commercial designs include works of great novelty such as the powerful warehouse and offices of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Co., Melbourne (1880) and the delicate set of shops which included the Café Gunsler (1879). In all his public and commercial designs he seems to have been committed to a restrained classicism spiced with reserved mannerist details.

Tayler's domestic architecture featured similar characteristics; the finest example is the colonnaded mansion Kamesburgh, Brighton, commissioned by W. K. Thomson in 1872. Other houses include Thyra, Brighton (1883); Leighswood, Toorak, for C. E. Bright; Roxcraddock, Caulfield; Cherry Chase, Brighton; Blair Athol, Brighton; and a house for his son-in-law J. C. Anderson in Kew. Tayler is credited with the design of Kilwinning, East St Kilda, for James Service. His church work was also carried out in restrained manner but in the Gothic style. His known designs are St Mary's Church of England, Hotham (1860); St Philip's, Collingwood, and the Presbyterian Church, Punt Road, South Yarra (both 1865); Trinity Church, Bacchus Marsh (1869); and the extension to the C. Webb portion of St Andrew's, Brighton (1866).

In 1881 Tayler went into partnership with his pupil and assistant, Frederick A. Fitts (d.1903). Of Tayler's other articled pupils only George Jobbins (1842-1924) and J. D. Scott are known. Tayler and Fitts seem to have resisted the architectural extravagance of the boom years and were complimented for the design of a building for Lambert and Son, Melbourne (1890), for 'avoidance of the overcrowding of ornamentation … which forms a far too prominent feature on [many contemporary] façades'. In 1899 Tayler opposed decorative stucco work and warned against extremes in which the picturesque became the grotesque. The stylistic impetus which Fitts brought to the practice has not been established but perhaps he was responsible for the bias towards plain and decorative brick designs with stucco details which came from the office in the later 1880s.

Tayler crowned his career with an elaborate design, won in a difficult competition (1890), for the Melbourne head office of the Commercial Bank of Australia; he and Alfred Dunn (1865-1894) became joint architects. All evidence points to the finished building being based on Tayler's plan. The vast, domed banking chamber created a sensation at the time and is carefully preserved. His last important design was the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Headquarters Station, Eastern Hill (1892).

Tayler was active in architectural affairs. He had been an inaugural member of the Victorian Institute of Architects in 1856 and helped to obtain its Royal Charter in 1890: he was president in 1886-87, 1889-90 and 1899-1900. In May 1900 he read a paper on 'Early and later Melbourne Architects' before the institute. While on a two-year visit to Europe and Britain, he was admitted a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1874, and in 1899 contributed a paper on 'The Architecture of the Colony of Victoria' to its Journal. He was a 'staunch and valued supporter' of the Architectural and Engineering Association.

A justice of the peace, Tayler was a founder of the St John Ambulance Association in Victoria in June 1883 and a councillor of the Australian Health Society. A commissioner to the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880-81, he often acted as professional adviser to the government and was a judge in 1900 of the competition plans for the new Flinders Street railway station.

Tayler had married Sarah Toller, daughter of a Congregational minister, at St Andrew's Church of England, Brighton, on 9 September 1858. They established a comfortable residence, Pen-y-Bryn, at Brighton, built from three prefabricated oak cottages originally imported from Wales. He was active in the formation of the Brighton library and was also a leading member of the Bowling Club. Tayler died of cancer of the liver at Pen-y-Bryn on 17 August 1900 survived by his wife, four daughters and a son. He was buried in the Brighton cemetery and the pallbearers included Frederick Sargood and Frederick Grimwade. His obituarists referred to him as 'probably the best known figure in the architectural profession in Melbourne'. He left an estate valued for probate at £24,328.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Sutherland et al, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melb, 1888)
  • J. M. Freeland, The Making of a Profession (Syd, 1971)
  • Royal Victorian Institute of Architects, Journal, Mar 1905
  • Building Times, 12 Nov 1869
  • Building, Engineering and Mining Journal, 22 Mar 1890, 10 Jan 1891, 28 May 1892, 23 Aug 1900
  • Table Talk, 26 Mar 1891
  • Argus (Melbourne), 18 Aug 1900
  • Australasian, 25 Aug 1900
  • Leader (Melbourne), 25 Aug 1900
  • R. Tonkin, George Jobbins (B. Arch. research report, University of Melbourne, 1971)
  • D. J. Dunbar, Lloyd Tayler (B. Arch. research report, University of Melbourne, 1969).

Citation details

Donald James Dunbar and George Tibbits, 'Tayler, Lloyd (1830–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Lloyd Tayler (1830-1900), by Freeman Studio

Lloyd Tayler (1830-1900), by Freeman Studio

State Library of New South Wales, ON 6/25x30/Box 7

Life Summary [details]


26 October, 1830
London, Middlesex, England


17 August, 1900 (aged 69)
Brighton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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