Harold Robert Hardwick (A.I.A.) was born 6 November 1866 at Rylstone, sixth child and fifth son of John William Hardwick and Rebecca, nee White. John William Hardwick, born circa 1826, was a son of William Hardwick, a merchant of Leeds in Yorkshire, and his wife, Mary Ann, nee Farrar. William had died in 1840, and Mary Ann had subsequently remarried to Henry Oxley. John William’s health and his relationship with his step-father prompted him to emigrate to Australia and in August 1852, at the age of 26, he set sail on the maiden voyage of the Great Britain to Melbourne. The Great Britain was the first vessel to be jointly powered by steam and sail.
John William brought substantial capital with him to Australia – £1,000 – and travelled around Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. Whilst in Sydney, he painted many delightful sketches of the eastern suburbs.
He settled in Rylstone, east of Mudgee, establishing a general store, and in 1856 in the Wesleyan Chapel at Rylstone, John married Rebecca White, born in 1836, daughter of George White and Alice, nee Burden, of Rockville, Rylstone. John and Rebecca had ten children, all of whom were born in Rylstone; three did not live to adulthood: George (1857), Edward (1859), William (1860), Arthur (1862-1878), Lilian (1864), Harold (1866), Charles (1868-1882), John (1871-1880), Alice (1874) and Reginald (1876). In 1859 John began the construction of a sandstone house in Rylstone known as Hedingley, which still stands, and the adjoining store. John served on the local school board for many years, was a lay preacher, a Justice of the Peace and a magistrate. He died at Ryde in 1891 and Mary Ann died at Ashfield in 1910.
Little is known of Harold Hardwick’s early life. After qualifying as an architect, Harold practised in Sydney until 1898, when he moved to Mudgee and established his architectural practice in Davidson’s chambers in Market Street East. In 1898 he married Adele Florence Wells, born in Mudgee in 1878, daughter of Henry Edward Alexander Wells and Laura, nee Richards.
Harold and Adele had five children, all born in Mudgee: Effie (1899), George (1901), William (1903), Adele (1906) and Charles (born and died in 1908). According to his grandson, the Reverend Alfred Robert Hardwick, Harold was a strict Methodist who went to church every Sunday and he was one of the first to have a car in Mudgee. Harold died in Mudgee in 1935 and Adele died in Mudgee in 1943.
Many of Harold Hardwick’s architectural briefs in the district are well-known, but there are also many houses and commercial premises in the town which may be attributed to him. Notable items, with approximate dates of design or construction, include:
• Pharmacy, Market Street: for Ebenezer Sheppard, later Elton’s (1896)
• Forgandenny, 19 Short Street, for Dr Charles Lester (1898)
• Mt Pleasant, Cassilis Road: for Adam Roth jnr (1898)
• Additions to Heaton Lodge, Mudgee: for James Loneragan (1900)
• Lauralla, cnr Mortimer and Lewis streets: for H. E. A. Wells (1902)
• Chapel and extensions to stables at Havilah, Mudgee: for Hunter White (1906)
• 5 Lovejoy Street: for the Mudgee Club (circa 1906)
• Fairview, Bombira: for John Frederick Roth (1906)
• Kojinup, cnr Market and Lewis Streets: for William Hattersley (1906)
• Yatala, cnr Court and Gladstone Streets: for John Kellett (1907)
• Rexton, Douro Street: for William Richards Lester (1908)
• Warrungunyah, Ilford: for Walter Sydney Suttor (1910)
• Buildings at Mudgee Hospital (1910)
• Wollar Anglican Church (1914)
• Wollar Catholic Church (1914)
• Shenstone, Lawson Street: for Richard Loneragan (1918)
• 13 Lovejoy Street: for Thomas Lovejoy, Town Clerk (1915)
• Kandos Anglican Church (1921)
• Masonic Lodge renovations, Perry Street (1923)
• Broughton Private Hospital, Short Street: for Matron Campey (1925)
• Additions to Heaton Lodge, Mudgee: for J. E. Loneragan (1926)
• Sunday School, Mortimer Street: for Methodist Church (1927)
Spenfield, at 73 Lewis Street, was for many years Harold Hardwick’s own residence. This original house (date of construction not known) survives and was extended in 2000.
The above list is far from definitive and will be expanded in the future.
Harold Hardwick also undertook numerous briefs in the Central West and beyond, where resident architects were no doubt rare. He designed a substantial Catholic Church for Moree, the plans for which survive but which does not appear to have been built. He also appears to have designed numerous buildings in his home town of Rylstone.