Benjamin Backhouse was born in England in 1829. He was a Bachelor of Arts and was educated as an architect.
In early life Backhouse, with his young wife and two children, came out to Australia and settled down in Geelong, Victoria. He soon made a name for himself as an architect, and two months after his arrival succeeded in winning a hundred-guinea prize for the best design for a stock exchange for that city. Some eight years later he returned to England, and remained for a year, and then came out to Queensland. He carried on his profession for eight years, and designed some of the principal buildings in Brisbane. Although he won the design competition for the Queensland Parliament House, it was later decided that his design would be too expensive and was rejected. He was also an alderman of the Brisbane Municipal Council.
For the previous 35 years Backhouse resided in New South Wales. His professional skill was recognised by his election for 12 years as the chairman of the City of Sydney Improvement Board. In August, 1895, he was appointed to a seat in the New South Wales Legislative Council, which he retained until his death. Although not a union official or a Labour candidate, his sympathies were at all times with the workers. He was truly democratic, and was a follower of John Ruskin and other workers for the amelioration of society. He also identified himself with the Pitt Town Settlement, and was chairman of the board of control to look after the affairs of the settlement. Backhouse made several trips to England. On one occasion he had a long conference with William Gladstone and at another time he was honoured by being elected an honorary associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Benjamin Backhouse died of heart failure at his residence, Ardath, Queen's Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney, on 29 July 1904.
He was twice married, and left a widow and grown-up family, numbering 11. His sons were District Court Judge Alfred Paxton Backhouse, mining engineer Frank Backhouse, and Ernest, Clarence, Clive, Maurice, and Oscar Backhouse. In deference to his wishes, a private funeral was held.
- Wickham Terrace Church of England, the predecessor of All Saints Anglican Church, Brisbane (1861, no longer extant)
- house Riversleigh, North Quay, Brisbane (1863, no longer extant)
- Cathedral of St Stephen, Brisbane (1863)
- Cintra House, Brisbane (1864)
- Fernberg, Paddington, Brisbane (1864) now Government House, Brisbane
- Old Bishopsbourne, Brisbane (1865)
- Baroona, Paddington, Brisbane (1866)
- Fortitude Valley State School, Brisbane (1867)
- , Sydney (1868)
- "DEATH OF THE HON. B. BACKHOUSE, M.L.C." The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 30 July 1904. p. 10. Retrieved 4 March 2015. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Cable, K J. "Backhouse, Benjamin (1829–1904)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
- "New Parliament House". Queensland Parliament. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Mr Benjamin Backhouse". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Buxton, W (1868), Original All Saints Church, Brisbane, ca. 1868, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, retrieved 4 March 2015
- Unidentified (1931), Front view of Riversleigh, North Quay, Brisbane, ca. 1931, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, retrieved 4 March 2015
- "St Stephens Cathedral (entry 600107 )". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Cintra House (entry 600054 )". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Government House (entry 600275 )". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Old Bishopsbourne (entry 600254 )". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Baroona (entry 600289 )". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- "Fortitude Valley State School (former) (entry 602136 )". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
- Holt, H.T.E. (1976). A court rises: history of the judges of the District Court of New South Wales. Law Foundation of New South Wales. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-909136-02-4. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
Benjamin Backhouse soon had a continuity of work. One of his first architectural assignments in Sydney was Dalton's store in Pitt Street. Christ Church, Lavender Bay, was another of his achievements as an architect.