Thomas Stoddart Lambert
The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District]
Architect and Building Surveyor, 6 Featherston Street, Wellington.
Mr. Lambert was born in Selkirk, Scotland, where he served his articles. Soon afterwards he went to Edinburgh—the Athens of the North—and diligently pursued the study of architecture in that city of many beautiful structures, to enable him to practise the art which was to be his profession. After much touring he went to London, and after a comparatively brief residence there, embarked for New Zealand.
Arriving in Wellington early in 1866, when the Titokowaru rebellion was at its height, he settled with his brother—one of the original farmers—in the Rangitikei district. Very little building was done for some years, on account of the unsettled state of native affairs, and Mr. Lambert gave much of his time to drill and volunteer matters. When confidence was again restored, he designed and had carried out, many buildings in various towns and districts in the north of the Wellington Province, but there being very little scope, he returned to Wellington early in 1874, and finding business still dull in the Empire City, he removed to Christchurch.
Shortly after his arrival in that city, Mr. Lambert entered the office of Mr. F. Strouts, M.R.I.B.A., in which office he remained about three years. During the last year Mr. Lambert personally surveyed the entire city of Christchurch, and measured every building. He afterwards compiled and lithographed a map of the city, showing buildings, etc., and with Mr. Strouts, published it, a copy of which is now the standard official map of the Corporation.
Early in 1877, Mr. Lambert recommenced business on his own account, and since that time many of the principal permanent buildings in Christchurch were designed by him and erected under his supervision. Of these, some of the most well-known stone buildings in the City of Christchurch and the adjacent towns may be mentioned as follows:—
Morten's buildings, costing about £30,000; the Synagogue, £4000; Sydenham Wesleyan Church, £3200; Y.M.C.A. buildings, £3150; Inglis' business premises, £4600; Messrs. Black, Beattie and Co., and G. Bonnington's premises, £5200; Downes' buildings, £2100; Thompson, Shannon and Co.'s warehouse, £2200; Suckling Bros.' premises, £5300; Duncan's buildings, £8500; the Opera House, £10,100; and for the Bank of N. Z. banking premises at Oxford,
also brick and stone bank and residence at Kaiapoi, £3400; the Junction Hotel, Rangiora, £4500; Christchurch 1882 International Exhibition buildings, £11,000.
Mr. Lambert has also designed and supervised a very large number of residences, schools, churches, halls, warehouses, factories, business premises, shops, etc., and having been in practice for thirty years in this Colony, must now be held fully conversant with colonial wants and requirements for nearly every kind of buildings. Mr. Lambert has made the accoustical requirements for halls, churches, etc., his special study, as also of sanitation and ventilation. Some of the largest halls, churches, schools, and workrooms in the Colony have been efficiently ventilated by him, his experience and success in this direction serving him well. (See various Press reports in his possession). His methods of doing so are claimed to be new, simple, inexpensive, and natural, and to result in completely withdrawing the impure air, and supplying ample fresh air equally distributed throughout the building, without causing draught or discomfort.
The following facts might also be stated in connection with the usual conduct of Mr. Lambert's business. With regard to Christchurch contracts alone, his consecutive contract number in 1890 was 339; and these contracts represent the expenditure of about £226,500. This large quantity of work was carried out without litigation or the single bankruptcy of a contractor. His designs have proved so perfect and complete, that almost invariably his contracts are finished without extras, and their total cost is usually somewhat under his written estimate previously given. As bearing out these statements, Mr. Lambert holds upwards of sixty most satisfactory testimonials which were submitted for the writer's perusal, from clients and firms for whom he has carried out contracts. Two of these, which he has received from the Education Board of the District of North Canterbury, state that the buildings carried out during a period of four-and-a-half years under his supervision were completed for over £800 less than the estimates given when his designs were submitted for their approval, and that they were finished in a manner that was highly approved of by the Board. In Christchurch Mr. Lambert took a prominent part in public matters.
He was three times returned as a member of the City Council, where he acted as chairman of the Public Works Committee, as also of the Sanitary and Bye-laws Committee. He also took a prominent part in framing the Building Bye-law, “His professional knowledge and sound sense enabling him to tender good practical service to the ratepayers.” He was also four times returned as a member of the Waimakariri Board for the City. During his residence in Christchurch, Mr. Lambert took an active part in the conduct of various societies and institutions, being for some years a member of the board of the Philosophical Institute, and also of the Canterbury Society of Arts, etc., etc.
The promoters of the Christchurch International Exhibition retained his services in connection with the designing of the necessary buildings, which were also supervised by him. The various contracts for the Exhibition buildings were completed within contract time, and the promoters were well satisfied with the economical and expeditious manner in which their interests were forwarded. In connection with the Exhibition, Mr. Lambert received a personal fee of £500, also a gold and silver medal, and so thoroughly gratified were the promoters with the design of the building and its erection, that Mr. Lambert was commissioned by Mr. Joubert to prepare plans on a similar principle for the Calcutta Exhibition, which he had made arrangements to hold in that city. Mr. Lambert was awarded a medal and certificate from the Colonial and Indian Exhibition at London in 1886 for his architectural designs. In 1887, in association with his position as an old city councillor, Mr. Lambert designed and illuminated in an original style characteristic of the various interests of the Colony, an address to Her Majesty the Queen. Her Majesty, through Lord Knutsford, was pleased to send a despatch to the Mayor, through His Excellency the Governor, giving her opinion as follows:—“Her Majesty has commanded me to desire you to convey to the Mayor and Council, her thanks for their loyal congratulations and good wishes. Her Majesty has specially admired the taste displayed in the very graceful illuminations of this handsomely-framed address.—I have the honour, etc., Knutsford.”
In response to advertisements for designs for the certificate of award in connection with the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, Dunedin, fifty were sent in from architects and artists in the Australian colonies, and the design by Mr. Lambert, under the motto “Tena Koutou,” was unanimously awarded first place by the Commissioners, and by the Fine Arts Committee. While it was being lithographed, a considerable number of the best details were omitted from the reproduction, yet it was very favourably commented on by the entire colonial press on account of its originality, ornate New Zealand characteristics, industries depicted, and its artistic merit. (For description see “Official Record of the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition,” p. 373). Mr. Lambert was awarded the only first award in the colonies for “Architectural drawings, being for “Designs of buildings for business and other purposes,” at the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition (see Official Record, p. 292). He also took a prominent part at the above Exhibition, acting as a juror of the building stones of the colonies, and testing them in various ways, including analysis, his geological and practical knowledge standing him in good stead (for results see Official Record, p.p. 367–373.)
From 1890 to 1893, in his branch business at Dunedin, Mr. Lambert carried out extensive alterations and repairs to the First Church, as also the ventilation, the works entailing an expenditure of about £2000. The various contracts were also all completed under his estimates. Mr. Lambert was also architect in the re-building of Queen's Buildings for Sir Francis and James Smith, as well as for many brick buildings and wooden residences in Dunedin, Timaru, and elsewhere.
In 1893 Mr. Lambert returned once more to Wellington, having great faith in the future of the Empire City. He holds that it is to be built, and many existing edifices re-built. Among other buildings he has had erected, may be mentioned that at the corner of Manners and Cornhill Streets. This structure is a three-storied business premises in brick, with vaulted cellarage throughout its entire area, the design, construction, and general details throughout being original. He has also designed and had carried out under his direction several residences, etc., in this City, and also in the provincial district. He is now the vice-president of the Wellington Association of Architects. A recent press report says:—“Mr. Lambert is widely known as an honourable, careful, faithful man, holding no second place for ability in his profession, and it is to be hoped he may long be spared to add to the adornment of our cities by the talented exercise of his art.”
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