What is believed to be a rare Australian example of the use (or surviving example) of Marseilles terracotta tiles manufactured by the French company of Martin Frères (Martin Brothers) have been discovered whilst carrying out conservation works at Footscray Railway Station (as part of the upgrade for the Regional Rail Link).

The tiles, which are to the roof of the brick signal box constructed in 1901, feature a butterfly motif on their underside. The tiles have been gently steam cleaned, avoiding damage to the fire skin, and several of the ridge tiles have been replaced with a close match.

The Martin Brothers are credited with the development of the canonical Marseilles pattern, based on the earlier Gilardoni tile:

The ultimate Marseilles form was reportedly developed by the Martin brothers of Marseille…it became important when it was adopted as the standard by a number of Marseille manufacturers…(Miles Lewis, Australian Building a Cultural Investigation)

Martin Frères tiles seem to have appeared in Australia as early as 1860, when a sample shipment of 3,000 patent roof tiles were advertised for sale in Melbourne. The next known reference to them in Australia was in 1888.

Above: Underside of one of the tiles
Above: Signal box roof
Above: Signal box


20 August 2014

Related Posts

21 June 2023

2023 AIA Victorian Architecture Awards

The 2023 Awards ceremony for the Victorian Australian Institute of Architects was held on Friday the 16th June.

Several representatives from RBA Architects and Conservation Consultants attended the event, where we were proud to receive an Award for Heritage Conservation for the Prahran Arcade Façade Conservation and a Commendation for Heritage – Conservation for the restoration of Doherty House in Tarneit.

Additionally, we were pleased to see Searle x Waldron receive an Award for Architecture for the Joyce Chapel Bridge and Wardle receive The William Wardell Award for Public Architecture for the Bendigo Law Courts – both projects that RBA have been involved in.

Learn more about the Prahran Arcade Facade Conservation here

Learn more about the Doherty House Restoration here

Doherty House, Tarneit (Image: Thurston Empson)

Bendigo Law Courts, Wardle (Image: Tim Griffith)

Prahran Arcade (Image: Thurston Empson)

Joyce Chapel Bridge, Searle x Waldron (Image: Peter Bennetts)


05 May 2023

RBA Projects Shortlisted for the 2023 AIA Victorian Architecture Awards.

At the recent AIA awards event, it was announced that two of RBA’s recent projects, the Prahran Arcade Façade Restoration and Doherty House, have been…

05 September 2022

Frozen in time, we’ve become blind to ways to build sustainability into our urban heritage

  The Walsh Bay Arts Precinct development won the Greenway Award for Heritage. MDRX/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA James Lesh, Deakin University It was hard to keep…

02 October 2020

Staff news: celebrating 20 years with Anthony Hemingway

This year marks two decades of distinguished service for an integral member of RBA: Senior Associate and Architectural Historian, Anthony Hemingway. Anthony started at RBA…