Fellows of Senate

Barbara Constance Wyburn Munro

(1907 - 1984)
BArch Sydney
Fellow of Senate 1975 - 1979

Her early years

Barbara Constance Wyburn Peden was born on 2 August 1907 at Chatswood, Sydney, younger daughter of Sir John Peden KCMG KC, former Challis Professor of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, and Margaret Ethel Peden who died in March 1929, aged 56.

Her student days at the University of Sydney

Barbara graduated Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Sydney in 1931.

Faculty of Architecture staff and students in 1926

Faculty of Architecture staff and students in 1926, with Barbara Peden in the second row (second from the right), photo G3_224_1269, University of Sydney Archives.

The first SRC (1930)

Barbara Peden (centre back row) was a member of the first SRC in 1930, photo G3_224_0160, University of Sydney Archives.

Her career

Barbara Peden went to England in 1935, becoming associated with an architectural firm responsible for a portion of the Land Settlement Scheme which was launched in 1934. Under this scheme unemployed miners from the North of England were settled on the land in various villages, where special houses and land were set aside. The settlers were specially selected and the estates built around a central farm, the houses being designed not according to a standard plan, but to suit local conditions.

As well as carrying on with her profession, Barbara also represented Australia in the Australian women's cricket team which toured England in 1937, and she played with Comp Club in Kent until war broke out.

She married Lieutenant Colin Patrick Munro in London in 1938. He served with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) from the outbreak of the war, but was wounded at Dunkirk on 27 May 1940 and captured on 30 May 1940, becoming a prisoner of war in Germany.

While in London during the war, Mrs Munro was attached to a firm which worked under the supervision of the Air Ministry building factories for certain features of aircraft production. She had noted that women architects had equal opportunities in England, and the demand for them was even greater during the war. Most of her wartime architectural experience was in the building of factories for specific purposes, but in London in each new building air-raid shelters for the employees had to be incorporated.

In 1941 she moved to Montreal, Canada for a short time, where she also worked as an architect. "In Montreal I was regarded somewhat as an oddity," she said, "because the firm for which I was working in Montreal had never before had a woman architect attached to its staff. It was a large firm, one of the oldest established in Canada, which is now solely engaged in war production. It is responsible for building huge factories, and within a week of beginning work there I was made responsible for one factory. It was most interesting, and I was reluctant to leave, but when the opportunity came for me to come to see my people out here I felt that I should come." Mrs Munro said that women were training as architects in Canada at the present time but that it appeared to be one of the professions in which they had not penetrated far in that country to date.

Munro returned to Sydney in 1941 and continued as a practising architect. Her husband Lieutenant Colin Munro was released from Germany in 1945.

She died on 31 July 1984 in Sydney, aged 76.

Her membership of Senate

Barbara Munro became a member of the University's Standing Committee of Convocation in 1949 and was elected as a Fellow of Senate from 1975 to 1979.

Information sources
  • 'The Sydney Morning Herald''