Walter Liberty Vernon ( 1846 - 1914)

Walter Liberty Vernon (1846-1914) was an English architect who migrated to Sydney. In his role as the New South Wales Government Architect he designed a number of important government buildings.

His first major commission was to build a department store for David Jones Ltd (George and Barrack streets) in 1885. On 1 August 1890 Vernon had been appointed government architect in the new branch of the Department of Public Works which had been created to allow private architects to compete for the design of all public buildings estimated to cost over £5000. In running the Department Vernon insisted on the highest quality of design, the use of improved materials and construction methods, and the application of business-like procedures.

From 1901 Vernon had executed many site studies for the future Federal capital and later maintained that his most important duty had been his part in contributing to the eventual choice of Canberra. He was appointed in 1909 to the Federal Capital Advisory Board which negotiated with the New South Wales government for the transfer of land and formulated the conditions for a competition to design the city. Believing that Australians possessed insufficient knowledge of town planning to be able to do justice to the great possibilities, he advocated a world-wide competition.

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