Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day/G. E. Street, R.A.


Mr. George Edmund Street, R.A., is, as all the world knows, the architect intrusted by Government with the work of erecting the new Law Courts.

Mr. Street was born in 1824. He was educated at the Collegiate School, Camberwell, and learnt his profession under Mr. Owen Carter, at Winchester, and also under Mr. G. G. Scott.

He has always advocated the employment of Gothic architecture, and has written a good deal in support of his views. 'The Brick and Marble Architecture of North Italy in the Middle Ages,' and 'Some Account of Gothic Architecture in Spain,' are his most considerable works. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in May 1866.

Mr. Street has not had any opportunity of showing his power of dealing with a work of national importance up to the present time. Now, he has the opportunity of erecting one of the grandest buildings of the century.

We are proud of our lawyers, if we feel that there is room for improvement in the system they form part of. They are essentially an English production, and a better article than can be found elsewhere, beyond the limits of these realms.

A long-suffering race, their greatest dignitaries have consented to sit for many generations past in buildings called courts. These courts partake most of the nature of the cucumber-frame and the packing-case. They are hot-houses in summer and ice-houses in winter. They have draughts without ventilation, and windows without light. They are mean, dirty, confined, and comfortless. And they are scattered about in a curious manner, calculated to give as much trouble as possible to the persons who transact business in them.

It having been decided that new Courts of Justice should be erected on a scale commensurate with the importance of the uses for which they were


intended, there was a competition of the best architects, and their designs were submitted to a committee, composed of more or less competent judges, in the month of January 1867.

The result of the investigation into the merits of the various designs was, that Mr. Street was intrusted with the work.

For a time, what was aptly called the battle of the sites drowned all else; but when the ground on which the buildings were to be erected was once fixed upon, there arose a fresh debate about the merits of Mr. Street's designs, which has been kept up ever since with great zeal and warmth.

This opposition to his designs proceeds, not from the public, but from two or three interested and self-satisfied little cliques, who cannot lose, if they do not gain, by—in vulgar speech—kicking up a row.

Mr. Street has not made an accurate imitation of mediæval detail, but has designed an edifice in a style perfectly free and elastic, and one which lends itself easily to every useful requirement of the present age. He has succeeded in grouping together eighteen law courts and their appendant offices in a design which promises a very fine and altogether suitable building.

Mr. Street's difficult task has been to consult the convenience of both branches of the legal profession, and to produce a building pleasing to the public who will pay for it. The dissatisfaction of professional critics is quite accounted for by the fact that they are dealing with the proposals of the selected architect.