High Commission of Australia, London

The High Commission of Australia in London is the diplomatic mission of Australia in the United Kingdom.[1] It is located in Australia House, a Grade II listed building.[2] It is both Australia's first diplomatic mission and the longest continuously occupied diplomatic mission in the United Kingdom.

High Commission of Australia in London
Australia House, London
LocationAldwych, London
AddressStrand, London
Coordinates51°30′46.4″N 0°6′56.6″W / 51.512889°N 0.115722°WCoordinates: 51°30′46.4″N 0°6′56.6″W / 51.512889°N 0.115722°W
High CommissionerGeorge Brandis
Australia House Sign
Detail of Australia House, London, UK

History

A major landmark on Strand, London, construction on the building by the Dove Brothers commenced in 1913, but shipping problems caused by World War I delayed completion. It was officially opened by King George V in a ceremony on 3 August 1918 attended by the Australian Prime Minister William Morris Hughes. The cost of the triangular shaped land was £379,756 when purchased by the Commonwealth of Australia in 1912 and building and other associated costs brought total expenditure to about £1 million. The building was designed by Scottish architects, Alexander Marshall Mackenzie and his son, Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie following an architectural competition, the judges of which included Bertram Mackennal, John Longstaff, George Washington Lambert, Fred Leist and Arthur Streeton. The Commonwealth of Australia's chief architect, John Smith Murdoch, travelled to London to work with the Mackenzie firm on the building.

Although an Official Secretary had been appointed to London as early as 1906, the High Commission to London was the first Australian diplomatic mission and one of the most prominent in London.

The building itself was built over a 900-year-old sacred well drawing from the River Fleet, a subterranean London river. The water in the well is clear and has been tested as safe to drink.[3]

Construction

Much of the building materials used in its construction were imported from Australia. The building is of Portland stone on a base of Australian trachyte. The marbles used include dove-coloured Buchan marble from Victoria, the light and dark Caleula from New South Wales, and white Angaston marble from South Australia. The joinery and flooring timbers include timber varieties from all Australian States but the most prominent of these is black bean, a very hard and dense wood similar to English oak, used principally for panels of the first floor Downer Room where the carvings represent arts and sciences. This work is credited to Messrs Wylie & Lockhead of London and Glasgow.

Modern use

Government agencies within the High Commission include Austrade, Defence, Materiel (CONDMAT), National Library of Australia and Public Affairs/Media/Cultural. The building's grand interior was used as the setting of Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as well as scenes in 2017's Wonder Woman.

Elections

2007 Australian Election - Voters at Australia House, London
Voters at Australia House for the 2007 Australian election

Australia House is usually the single largest polling station in Australian federal elections, with more votes being cast at the London polling station than at any polling station in any of the Australian states or territories.

Gallery

High Commission of Australia in London 1

The entrance to the High Commission

澳洲大使館 (27335900807)

Close-up of the entrance

High Commission of Australia in London 3

View from Aldwych

High Commission of Australia in London 4

View from Strand

High Commission of Australia in London 5

Plaque

Australia House

The High Commission

See also

References

  1. ^ "The London Diplomatic List" (PDF). 8 December 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 December 2013.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Australia House and the Government of Victoria offices  (Grade II) (1357166)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  3. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-10/holy-well-lies-underneath-australia-house-in-london/7061722

External links

Australian High Commission

Australian High Commission may refer to:

High Commission of Australia, London

List of Australian High Commissioners to Canada

List of Australian High Commissioners to the United Kingdom

RAAF Overseas Headquarters

RAAF Overseas Headquarters was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) administrative unit established in London during World War II.

Under Article XV of the Ottawa Agreement, signed in 1939, the Australian government agreed to form RAAF squadrons for service within British Royal Air Force (RAF) operational commands.

RAAF Overseas Headquarters was formed on 1 December 1941 to oversee the welfare of RAAF personnel posted to:

the so-called "Article XV squadrons";

other RAAF units serving in Europe and the Mediterranean and;

RAAF personnel attached to units of the RAF and other British Commonwealth air forces.The headquarters replaced the Air Liaison Office, which had been run out of the High Commission of Australia, London. The new agency was not assigned any subordinate units.RAAF Overseas Headquarters was disbanded on 19 July 1959.

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