REYNOLDS, William (1854-1928)

William Reynolds is a Bricklayer, Mason, Builder and Contractor. Over his life he built many of the homes in Fitzroy, Carlton and Fitzroy North. He also worked on other sizeable buildings and with some of the best Melbourne Architects of the time. This history is designed to be read alongside the history of the houses in the area, which will eventually be cross linked throughout my posts.

William is the oldest child of William (1822-1892) and Susan (nee Wilson) Reynolds (1828-1896). While William was from the Isle of Wight, England and Susan from Monikie, Scotland, they married in Australia.

The first record I have located of William is a Transfer of Land Statute Notice which sought a special certificate of title for Crown allotment 5 of Section 76, parish of Jika Jika, at Carlton, county of Bourke, entered in the register-book, vol 364, fol 72,707. I have not yet been able to work out what address this is – Happy for any assistance!

On 22 September 1883 (age 29), William marries Emily Oliver youngest daughter of the late James Oliver of Falmouth, England in Charlmers Manse, Eastern-hill.

In 1884, there is record of Reynolds owning land in Rose Street and living at 183 George Street, Fitzroy. During this time it is my understanding that he was building the properties situation at 427-431 Napier Street. William Reynolds was the first registered owner in 1885 of both 427 and 429 according to Sand & MacDougall. While William owns both, he is recorded as living in 429 Napier Street. In 431 Napier at this time is owned and occupied by James Oliver. I believe that James Oliver is actually Joseph James Oliver, brother of Emily Oliver and potentially how William came to meet Emily, though this is speculation, what is fact is that they remain close throughout the rest of their lives.

In 1886, Reynolds is recorded as living in Rose st (no number, however it seems likely this was 118-120 Rose St, Fitzroy as by 1889 he owns both properties with his father and mother living in 120 Rose St).

The Mercury and Courier, 9 June 1888 reported that “Reynolds and Oliver, 429 Napier-Street notified that they were desirous of building three two storied houses and asked that the Council would proceed with the making of the right of way at the rear of their property in Napier-street”. It is unclear where this was, whether it was the Right of way running behind 429 Napier St (between Westgarth and Cecil) or it was referring to their next project which was the five two storey properties they built north of Alexandra Parade, Elizabeth Terrace (476-484 Napier Street). This project also was not straight forward, and required the Mayor and Town Clerk to realign Alexandra Parade on the North side as the streets did not coincide with the original survey and every frontage of the block being largely in excess of the land for which the titles had been issued.

However success was had and by late 1889 William Reynolds owned and resided in 484 Napier St (the most northern of the five). 482 and 480 Napier Street was owned by Joseph James Oliver, and he lived in 480. 476 and 478 Napier Street were owned by both Joseph and William.

Over the next 10 years, the pair continue to live next to each other and work together, using 484 Napier Street as their business address, with many adverts posted for building assistance to report to this address.

In 1896 the company name Reynolds, Oliver & Peters, Contractors was commonly seen working on many projects across the city including Foy & Gibson’s new warehouse on Oxford Street, Collingwood (1896), a set of houses in Spring Street, Melbourne (1896), Extra seating in the Grand Stand in Flemington show-grounds (1898) and Robert Harper’s Tea Company’s new offices in the city (Harpers Lane) (1898-1899). The architects for this building were Messrs. Hyndman and Bates.

1899 Photo from the Age Melbourne of the completed Harper’s Tea Company

There is also record of work which occurred in Brunton’s Mills (North Melbourne) Heidelberg and on St Kilda Road. However, by 9 June 1899 the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent (Victorian Govt. Gazette 1899).

In 1900 Reynolds and Oliver were working on their project, two large villas with substantial land, stables and coach houses. These two houses built next to each other were to be the final residences of Reynolds (50 Queen’s Parade) and Oliver (54 Queen’s Parade). Each block was greater than half an acre, sitting at the time opposite the Wood Market (which is now the triangle of grass between Napier St, Alexandra Pde and Queen’s Pde.

There are records that suggest they were still working together in 1906.

1912 was a busy year for Reynolds, appearing in Court in January as a result of estate agent David Corbett of 793 Rathdowne St, alleging assault by William Reynolds, estate agent of 789 Rathdowne Street, Carlton. Reynolds was fined 20 shillings with 21 shillings costs. The cross charge against Corbett was dismissed with costs of 21 shillings. Then in August 1912 Joseph Oliver passed away at his home in 54 Queens Parade after a short illness.

In 1914 it looks like William and his younger brothers commence a partnership called Reynold Bros. operating out of William’s property at 118 Rose St (next door to the house his parents used to live in). Reynolds Bros. were recorded as Master Builders and in 1914 built the Sands and MacDougall Precint at 355-371 Spencer Street, West Melbourne.

Reynolds Bros. went on to build some impressive churches such as the Catholic Church at Preston and Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Middle Park.

Emily Reynolds passed away on 2 April 1926 and William passes away on 5 January 1928 both at their home at ‘Braiding’ 50 Queen’s Parade, North Fitzroy. In May 1928 the properties 482-484 Napier Street and 427-429 Napier Street were sold for 1320 pounds and 1270 pounds respectively.

William was a brother of Fitzroy Lodge No. 79.

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