Coop­ers build quite a legacy

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - REG. A. WAT­SON

BUILD­ING ON FIRM FOUN­DA­TIONS By Lor­raine Doo­ley ( Self- pub­lished) $ 59.95

BUILD­ING on Firm Foun­da­tions is the story of five gen­er­a­tions of the Cooper fam­ily, from Robert Cooper in 1855 through to Rod­er­ick Cooper.

The fam­ily has cer­tainly left its mark on the built her­itage of Ho­bart and Tas­ma­nia.

It is more than an in­ter­est­ing story – it is also quite re­veal­ing. It amazed me how many well- known land­marks in Ho­bart were built by the Cooper fam­ily.

Sadly, a num­ber of the build­ings are no longer with us, hav­ing been re­placed by mod­ern, but may I add in­fe­rior, struc­tures.

The book be­gins with the ar­rival of Robert Cooper, the first line of the Cooper ma­sons, builders and ar­chi­tects, when he mi­grated to Tas­ma­nia from Scot­land.

Six sons were to be born to Robert and wife Euphemia. It was not long be­fore Robert’s tal­ents were put to work – he was em­ployed as a stone­cut­ter on Ho­bart’s Govern­ment House ( well known for its ex­cep­tional stonework) and later the Camp­bell Free Church in Oat­lands.

Sons Wil­liam and Fran­cis fol­lowed in their fa­ther’s foot­steps and be­gan ten­der­ing for build­ing works in 1890.

They were then con­tracted to build the foun­da­tions for the chan­cel of St David’s Cathe­dral, Ho­bart.

They then went on to con­struct the Wes­ley Sun­day School at New Town, the Trea­sury Cham­bers in Davey St, the stone and brick­work for Mag­dalen Home at Mt St Can­ice and the west- end tower of St Mary’s Cathe­dral, in Har­ring­ton St, Ho­bart.

The book de­votes a page or two to the his­tory of the in­di­vid­ual build­ings and a chap­ter to Wil­liam Cooper, who was in­volved with the Tas­ma­nian Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion.

Other well- known build­ings Wil­liam Cooper was in­volved in build­ing were the Tas­ma­nian Pub­lic Li­brary ( 1906) and the first G P Fitzger­ald’s Depart­ment Store, which opened in Collins St, Ho­bart, in March 1884.

In 1899, the firm be­came Wil­liam Cooper and Sons – those sons be­ing Harry and Claude.

In 1914, the sons built the Blind and Deaf In­sti­tute in North Ho­bart ( now Ry­dges Ho­tel), while among their many other build­ings was the Bank of New South Wales, in El­iz­a­beth St, Ho­bart.

Later came the Strand Pic­ture Theatre, in Liver­pool St, which was well known as the “bug- house”.

Wil­liam Cooper and Sons were the con­trac­tors for the Tramway sheds and of­fices.

Schools also were built by the firm, in­clud­ing the Princess Street School in Sandy Bay, St Joseph’s School on Mac­quarie Street ( now part of St Michael’s Col­le­giate school) and the Camp­bell Street School, which was con­structed on an old burial ground for con­victs, soldiers and of­fi­cers.

The additional three storeys of the Cas­cade Brew­ery were built by Claude Cooper and Sons in 1926.

Who re­mem­bers the old Brownell’s Depart­ment Store in Mur­ray St? The con­struc­tion was one of Wil­liam Cooper and Sons’ ma­jor projects. It in­volved ad­di­tions and al­ter­na­tions to the orig­i­nal Brownell’s build­ing, which was erected in 1895.

The au­thor de­tails the story of Claude Cooper, a busi­ness­man and sports­man who died in 1960.

Claude was in­volved with foot­ball, row­ing, yachting and cricket. He was a very suc­cess­ful builder and a con­trac­tor for more than 50 years. One of his many tri­umphs was the build­ing of the Royal Ho­bart Hospi­tal and the Launce­s­ton Gen­eral Hospi­tal in the 1930s.

There is also a chap­ter on Rod­er­ick Wil­liam Cooper, son of Claude and wife Gertrude, an ar­chi­tect who car­ries the Cooper name into mod­ern times.

Even though it is a book about a par­tic­u­lar fam­ily, the ap­peal is much wider, as read­ers will recog­nise the var­i­ous build­ings which the fam­ily was in­volved in and will learn much of their his­tory.

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