the architect

Richard Apperly

Eric Apperly – Father of Richard Apperly

Son of the AMP Society’s Secretary, Eric Apperly grew up in what could only be considered affluent circumstances in Sydney society. Educated at the University of Sydney, obtaining an Architecture degree, he not only designed buildings, but also golf courses. As such, he was likely the first trained design professional in Australia to engage in golf course design. He was also a keen golfer and one of the best local golfers of his era.

A qualified architect, Eric Apperly was a partner in the architectural practice of Wright and Apperly, Bond Street, Sydney. They were responsible for designing many golf courses and club houses including Manly Golf Club’s clubhouse in 1924, Avondale Golf Club’s layout in 1926, Newcastle Golf Club and The New South Wales Golf Club’s course at La Perouse. Their most significant work is Feltex House, 261 George Street, Sydney build in 1939. It is an excellent example of the Inter-War Art Deco style.

More importantly for our local heritage, his practice was responsible for the AMP Building in Taree on the corner of Pultney and Victoria Streets, now Stacks Law Firm building.

Eric married Marjorie Audet in 1923 and they had one child, a son Richard Eric Apperly, who was born in Sydney in 1925. He too became an architect. Richard married Myrna Hirsch in 1957 and they had three sons – all born in Sydney.

Eric Apperly sadly passed away on 26 May 1951, aged 61, after collapsing in the Clubhouse of the Manly Golf Club, having just completed his final round. An apt end for a man who gave his heart to the game he loved.

As approval for the building was granted in 1955 we know that Eric Apperly was not the architect, even though we was a founding member of the firm that designed the building.

Visiting Professor Richard Apperly  1925-1992

The following is an edited version of the oration given by Professor Peter Johnson at the funeral service. Professor Johnson is the Chancellor of the University of Technology, Sydney, and former Head of the School of Architecture, University of Sydney.

It is difficult for any of us to really accept that Dick Apperly is no longer with us. There was always the quality of dependability of absolute integrity and sincerity, the knowledge that when there was a task to be done Dick was there to do it.

He was a person who quietly got on with the job without great fuss, nor demanding recognition. His contribution was immense – to architecture, which was his life –
through his teaching and scholarship at the University of NSW, through his work for the National Trust and the NSW Chapter of the RAIA and more recently through his appointment to the Board of Architects of NSW.

For 15 years before joining UNSW in 1966, he worked as an architect in practices which produced consistent and thoughtful buildings, not large in scale but with careful attention to detail, typical of his general approach. It was a thoroughly sound base for his future architectural academic career.

While at the University he was at various times Executive Assistant to the Dean, Director of the architectural environment stream of subjects, Associate Professor from 1979, Head of the School of Architecture (1984-1987), Chairman of the Faculty (1987-1990) and Honorary Visiting Professor and Director of the Professional Development Program since his retirement in 1990.

The list of design studios and subjects he taught, the vast number of dissertations supervised, the committees on which he worked and the administrative tasks he undertook are impressive by any standards, all undertaken with thoroughness, compassion and care.

During this time he built up his major scholarly interest, the Australian house since 1900, resulting in a profound knowledge of federation architecture and in a number of valuable publications. Most recently the book, Identifying Australian Architecture written with Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds received the Australian Heritage Award in 1991. The three authors had started on a guide book of 800 buildings for the Sydney region to replace the earlier book 444 Sydney Buildings Richard Apperly wrote with Peter Lind. Students know him as a compassionate, constructive and dedicated teacher to whom scheduled hours meant nothing. He was also available weather after hours or at weekends and always tolerant and thoughtful.

Richard Apperly was not a teacher who imposed a particular predetermined point of view – he had an open mind and an unprejudiced attitude which encouraged a wide range of ideas to germinate and blossom.

Nevertheless, his own deep sincerity and breadth of knowledge meant that those who wanted to, couldn’t get much past him He was a stalwart member of the National Trust. As Chairman of one of the committees of which he was a member – the Architectural Advisory Committee – I always knew that he was readily available to take on tasks, especially those demanding knowledge, balanced judgments and dependability.

Richard Apperly was a man of great sensitivity, of compassion and with a true sense of history.

UNIKEN, 3 April 1992

We know that Richard Apperly was the architect of 13A Bent Street Wingham as Adam Wright and Apperly are on the plans of the building as the Architects and in The Wingham Chronicle – Tuesday, September 10 1957 there is a photo of Mr Apperly at the opening of the building. This is the same person in the Obituary.


a unique example

in our region

While there are many buildings of the mid 20th Century in our region, there are few that are of this quality, design, craftsmanship and left with their original features intact. In the Manning Valley the only other significant example of the new international style is the former Milk Board building on Macquarie Street, Taree. Unfortunately this has been recently been gutted of all its original features by New South Wales Food Authority.

The former ES&A Bank in Wingham is the only intact commercial example of this period left in the Manning Valley In addition to this it is the first example of this style in Wingham.

It gives us an amazing insight into our history, the optimism of the post war era and it is essential that it is preserved.

The ES&A Bank were at the forefront of modernest design. Stuart McIntosh – The banks chief architect – was responsible for either designing these buildings or employing others that would realise this design style. Richard Apperly was the buildings architect, an architect that produced consistent and thoughtful buildings, not large in scale but with careful attention to detail. This is evident at 13A Bent Street. His further contribution to Australian Architecture and Architecture History is also very significant and valuable.

Thanks Richard!

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