Early women students

Nell McCredie

Nell McCredie graduated Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Sydney in 1923.

Her early years

Nellie (Nell) McCredie was born in Concord, Sydney on 27 May 1901. Her siblings were Robert, Allan, Ina and George.

Nell was the niece of George McCredie, an early politician in NSW who built the property “Linnwood” in Guildford, an innovative property for its time. Maybe this is where Nell got her love of architecture, because George’s brother Arthur was also an architect.

At the University of Sydney

Nell was one of the earliest women Architecture graduates from the University of Sydney. She studied under Leslie Wilkinson, first Professor then Dean of Architecture at the University, and she graduated Bachelor of Architecture in 1923. Her thesis for her degree advocated simple, chaste buildings in appropriate settings.

Her career

Nell was a draughtsperson for the Sydney Harbour Bridge project before moving to Queensland. After a brief stay in Cairns, she moved to Brisbane where she worked for the Workers Dwellings Branch of the state government - which was to become their Housing Commission - from 1925 to 1929.

The house called 'Uanda' was designed by Nell as a private commission in the 1920s, and is included in the Queensland State Government's heritage listings, which say that it is the only known remnant of her work in Brisbane. It says "The career of Nellie McCredie is typical of the careers of women who entered the architectural profession prior to World War Two. These early women architects were rarely able to sustain their careers and as a result, examples of their work are extremely rare." Nellie McCredie was concerned with improving the quality of life of the average Australian, notes the heritage listings.

While in Queensland she also studied pottery under Lewis Jarvis Harvey, who was a a noted teacher, sculptor, woodcarver and potter, and a significant figure in the development of the arts in Queensland.

She left architecture around 1932 when she returned to Sydney. She operated a pottery studio over a shop (now demolished) in George Street, opposite Wynyard Railway Station, in Sydney. She also taught pottery at the YWCA, opening a city depot in George Street in 1933, but firing her work and the work of students at her home at 17 Stanley Road, Epping.

In 1933 or 1934 her brother Bob (Robert) McCredie joined her. Together they made domestic ware for supply to gift shops and restaurants. Nell also made one-off pieces, winning the Arts & Crafts Society's Elizabeth Soderberg Memorial Award for pottery in 1947 and 1951.

Nellie (Nell) McCredie

Nell McCredie in a corner of her studio in 1936, photo from The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 1936, National Library of Australia.

After Nell died in 1968, her brother continued to operate the pottery until he retired in 1974.

Nell's work is in museums, e.g. the Powerhouse Musueum collection, and in private collections.

Information sources