154 Johnston Street, Fitzroy (Undertakers)

On the corner of Hertford and Johnston Street is the site of the old Henry J R Lewis, Furnishing Undertaker and Certificated Embalmer. His business was established in 1843 by his father Richard Lewis who arrived in Melbourne in 1840 and three years later started the business.

Henry J R Lewis was born in Fitzroy in 1854 and on completion of his education went through a course of practical experience in all the branches of the business with his father; his name having become thoroughly identified with it before he took over the management” when his father passed away in 1875. The original location for the business was in Young Street, which suited them as there was no building on Brunswick Street, ensuring a prominent view of the signboard ‘R. Lewis, Undertaker’. Henry moved to the larger premises in 1882, but retained ownership of the land in Young Street which he erected a workshop, coach houses, and stables. Henry was the secretary to the Melbourne Undertakers Association (1892-? (at least 1903)), a Past Master of the Britannia Lodge of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows, and treasurer of the Council Masters’ Chapter from 1881 (to at least 1903). In 1881 Henry married a daughter of MR Wm. Torode, of Kew ‘an old and esteemed Victorian colonist’. (The Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903-1905, Vol 2, p. 227-228).

R Lewis Funeral Parlour account books are held by the State Library of Victoria for the periods 1851-1856 and 1859-1888 for those wanting to search more into him.

This image is from Pinterest – I would love a better copy if anyone has one! The comment on it is that it is the Premises of Henry J Lewis. Undertaker, on the corner of Johnston and Hertford Streets, Fitzroy, in 1890.

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