St Mary and Joseph Cathedral Armidale. Built by George Nott 1911-12, architect John Hennessy, the Cathedral required 1.1 million bricks with up to 30 men working on site This, the sixteenth in my series on New England's built landscape and architecture, is the forth and final columns on the remarkable life of builder George Nott.
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Armidale, Friday 19 October 2012. Eight hundred people have gathered for a service to celebrate the 100th birthday of Armidale’s Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mary and Joseph.
Among those in the congregation is 91 year old Peggy Becke, the only surviving daughter of George Nott, the Cathedral’s builder. She wore a gold chain, part of a gold chain and watch set presented to her father by the grateful parishioners.
George F Nott was a devout Anglican, but his relationships with all of Armidale’s groups were good at a time when sometimes bitter sectarian divides were still a fact of Australian life. He had built with care and even donated to the building fund.
The Cathedral was designed by John Hennessy from the
firm of architects Sherrin and Hennessy. Hennessy was a prominent Roman
Catholic architect and a good friend of Cardinal Moran. His buildings include
St Patrick’s College Manly and Sydney ’s College Hunter’s Hill. St
Cardinal Moran laid the foundation stone for the new Cathedral on 5 February 1911. This had been a major build involving 1.1 million bricks with up to thirty men on site at any one time. Its completion in barely 20 months was a major achievement involving close liaison between builder and architect.
Tower, St Peter's Cathedral Armidale. George Nott's last project. In addition to donating 150,000 bricks, he worked as honorary supervisor training builders and tradesmen in the now forgotten skills required to complete the project.
Twenty seven years later and just before his death, George Nott was involved in another church build that also left a major impression on the Armidale streetscape.
On 3 May 1939, the bell-tower of St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral was dedicated. The tower had been in the original plans by architect John Horbury Hunt, but had not been completed. It was now time to rectify that omission.
This time George Nott’s role was honorary supervisor. He also donated the 150,000 bricks used in the construction.
This is where George Nott with his long experience came into his own. He knew how to do things that had been forgotten, how to explain to the builders and craftsmen involved.
George Nott died on 16 June 1940. Over his long career, he had built many of the iconic buildings in Armidale and Inverell. He had built a considerable business empire. His donations of material and money had played a critical role in bringing community projects to success.
His legacy surrounds us today.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 20 December 2017. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017.