Aug19

The Iron Duke's West Indian Barracks

Wellington's Uniform Barrack System crystallized a complex vision, imprinting an 1820s type on generations of military builders for over a century.

Vernacular forms of Caribbean building with deep verandahs had influenced the design of 18th century barracks and hospitals. Lord Combermere used his authority as Commander-in-Chief, Leeward Islands to highlight certain features of this tradition, giving them official blessing. He also mused upon the economies of using iron and called upon medical opinion for scientific backing.The use of galleries was mandated for all Caribbean military buildings by a circular from the Secretary for War and the Colonies, Lord Bathurst, narrowing the options for fine judgments indesign further still.

Wellington as Master General of the Ordnance saw the use of iron for colonial military buildings as a method of imposing absolute uniformity and central control. Under the influence of Combermere and Bathurst, Colonel Sir Charles Smith provided the dimensional templates. Edward Holl's ideas embodied in naval buildings were plagiarized for ideas and solutions. These were translated into building components by Lieut. Brandreth's collaboration with iron founder William Bailey, under the watchful eye of General Gother Mann, Inspector General of Fortifications.

Buildings could henceforth be issued instead of designed, implemented rather than built. Iron castings, multiplying identical assemblies, would remove the uncertainties and waste of thinking through similar problems again and again. The norm replaced the specific or ideal response with the assurance that not all solutions to a problem could be equally satisfactory.

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Author: Pedro Guedes

Article and Image Source: espace.library.uq.edu.au

Keywords: Wellington,Barracks,Iron Castings,Architecture,Engineering

 

Author:
Pedro Guedes
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