Edmund Thomas Blacket was born on 25 August 1817 at St Margaret, Southwark, Surrey, son of draper James Blacket and Margaret nee Ralph. On 21 May 1842 he married Sarah Mease at Wakefield, Yorkshire and arrived in Sydney on 4 November 1842. There were four daughters and four sons of the marriage.Five of the children were born at Glebe and the older boys went to John Pendrill’s Glebe Academy He died at Petersham on 9 February 1883, aged 65 years. Sarah died at Glebe on 15 Sepember 1869, aged 51 years
Occupation & interests
Ater four years as Colonial Architect,Blacket resigned in 1854 to design the first buildings and Great Hall for the University of Sydney and two of its colleges, and retaining the right of private practice continued ecclesiastical work.Blacket moved to Glebe in 1852, near the university, and continued to live there until the end of 1870 His practice and reputation grew, accepting commissions that included numerous Anglican churches, schools, colleges, banks, commercial building and domestic work. Arthur, Owen and Cyril went into their father’s office which became a large and successful practice. Self-effacing, Blacket shunned controversy and social acclaim. He left an estate sworn at 3,100 pounds.
Blacket’s first Glebe building was a school-church, completed in 1857 to accommodate about 100 boys and 80 girls. It was of brick and stone dressings in Blacket’s Early English style. The new St John’s Bishopthorpe (1868-70), Glebe was something of a departure for Blacket being said to resmble ‘the Lombardic, or Continental Gothic’, before the introduction of the pointed arch. The ‘Lombardic’ influence is generally considered to have come from Horbury Hunt, then working in Blacket’s office and who supervised the construction.But Cyril Blacket had no reservations about attributing Glebe’s design to his father. Glebe Council expressed deep regret at Blacket resignation on 5 September 1870, after eleven years service, recording “their high sense of the valuable services he has rendered to the Borough”.Blacket expressed his “pleasure in the memory of their many meetings…..and a wish for the future prosperity of the municipality”.
Local government service
Blacket displayed skill as a negoitator for Glebe Council as it endeavoured to lay down the suburb’s basic infrastructure; with Thornley and Tipple Smith he met City Corporation representatives in 1860 regarding a piped water supply. After a debate about water charges it was agreed water mains be extended to Glebe in 1862. Blacket also met with the Pyrmont Bridge Co directors regarding tolls on its road, urged Glebe Road be repaired with ironstone, and acted as mediator when Outer ward residents sought to leave Glebe municipality in 1863 and create their own municipality of St Phillips. In 1868 he introduced a rate of a shilling in the pound of all Glebe property.
Kerr, Joan 1983, Our great Victorian architect: Edmund Thomas Blacket (1817-1883), National Trust of Australia NSW, Sydney
Empire 22 November 1860 p. 2; 14 August 1862 p. 5
Sydney Morning Herald 15 August 1862; 31 March 1863 p. 4
Sydney Morning Herald 11 March 1868 p. 3
Glebe Municipal Council minutes 5 July 1870 p. 547