gun alley stories

44 John St Lilydale


For just on 60 years after the Olinda subdivision, 44 John Street remained empty and was rented by various people, particularly the Briers family.

However, when Percival Peak and his partner Reginald (Tom) Davies were looking for a new base for their trucking operation, the site was perfect. Lots 1 and 2 44 John Street were acquired in 1944 and the first new home erected in John Street since 1915, was built in 1948.
The property was already fenced so everyone assumed there were only 2 lots. However, there was another lot – Lot 3 which faced Hutchinson Street and ran behind Lots 1 and 2.

As the Davies family had kept the property fenced throughout the years Reginald claimed the land by Adverse Possession in 1990 and consolidated the three lot property into one Torrens title.

Today, the family have owned the site for almost 70 years.

Audio Introduction

Throughout the Gun Alley pages you will see references in old articles to £ (pounds). £1 = $2; 10/- (10 shillings) = $1; 5/- (5 shillings) = 50 cents. Please note: this does not reflect the value of the money but serves as an indication only.

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Lots 1 and 2

September 27, 1883 – John Henry Mullens (Mullins)

May 1, 1908 – Robert Wilson Turnbull

December 24, 1912 – Henry Wilfred Briers

December 12, 1935 – Julia Briers

November 11, 1947- Percival Albert Peak

October 17, 1956 – Reginald Thomas Davies and Beatrice Davies Snr

December 5, 1892 – Reginald Thomas Davies (the Younger)

Lot 3

March 21, 1881 – Patrick Woulfe

March 23, 1887 – Edward Poyner

1990 – Reginald Davies the Younger claimed the property by adverse possession.

Edward Poyner

The executor of Samuel, Jacobson’s Edward Rich a money broker of Fitzroy and Patrick Woulfe sold Lot 3 to Edward Poyner on March 23, 1887 for £100.

Edward Moore Poyner arrived in Melbourne from England in 1857 and came to Lilydale the following year where he worked for Paul de Castella for four years. He spent another five years with George Harker and soon purchased some 300 acres. He was engaged in carrying goods to the various diggings including Marysville and Woods Point. About 1875 he started his bakery business which he continued to operate until he retired in 1886. He married in 18 58 and had a family of five sons and two daughters. He made his home at The Oaks east of Lilydale township.

(Victoria and its Metropolis pg 413).

This was the last transaction on the lot until Reginald Davies the younger claimed it by adverse possession in 1990.

Poyner and his estate paid rates on the property until 1980 although the Davies family, owners of adjoining property believed it was part of their property and fenced it with their land. Percival Peak purchased the adjoining lots 1 and 2 Block 6 in 1947 and his brother-in-law Reginald Davies built a home in 1948.

Today Reginald Davies the younger still owns the property.

Patrick Woulfe

Patrick Woulfe purchased this Lot 3 and two other lots on the south-east corner of Jon St and Cave Hill Road, on March 21, 1881 for £62.

He sold the three lots to Samuel Jacobson a pawn broker and money lender with a business located at 117A Swanston Street, Melbourne.
It appears the property was used as security to raise £140 but Jacobson died before Woulfe had repaid the debt.

Jacobson’s Probate did not list the properties as assets but did list Patrick Woulfe as repaying £60 and £25 pounds on account but he still owed the estate £235.70.

As the transfer of the property to Jacobson was not completed but his estate still had an interest in it, Jacobson’s executor Edward Rich a money broker of Fitzroy and Patrick Woulfe sold the lot to Edward Poyner on March 23, 1887 for £100.

Patrick Woulfe was born in 1836 in County Clare Ireland where he remained till his nineteenth year. Coming then to Adelaide, S.A. in 1854, he stayed there for about two years after which he came to Melbourne, where he carried on a dairying business for about twelve years. After that he went to Lilydale and purchased the farm where he no carries on his extensive operation of grazing and dairying, milking 80 cows. Mr Woulfe in 1856 married Mary Daly, by whom he had had a family of eleven children, nine of whom are now living.

(Victoria & Its Metropolis family entry pg415.)

By 1871 Patrick was leasing 468 acres, 2 of which were under cultivation from Mrs Mcgill at Yering and by the end of the following year had purchased his own property – 640 acres, 14 of which were cultivated also at Yering (SOL Rate Books 1871 and 1872.)

Their children included:

Maurice b Emerald Hill 1864. He married Isabel Commerford at Melbourne in 1892. Isobel died in November 1893 aged 32 years one month after the death of their two-day old daughter who died in October 1893. Both are interred at Lilydale Cemetery.

Elizabeth b Emerald Hill1865. She married James Upton at Lilydale in 1882. Elizabeth died in 1931;

Thomas b Emerald Hill 1866;

Mary Ann b Emerald Hill 1867. In 1886 she married William Magill at Emerald Hill and died 1831;

Hannah b Melbourne 1868; and

William b Emerald Hill 1870.

Patrick died on January 1904 and his wife also passed away in the same year.

John Henry Mullens

Lots 1 and 2 block 6 are on the south-east corner of John and Hutchinson streets.

John Henry Mullens (Mullins) purchased the two lots from William Hutchinson and Louis Deschamps on September 27, 1883 and the Conveyance was registered on October 5, 1883. He paid £31 for the lots.

Mullens was a farmer who lived at Boundary Road, Tallyho and later Spring Vale Road Glen Waverley.

Following his death on July 15, 1907, his executors Cecil George Augusts Colles and Curtis Crowther Plante were appointed his executors.

Mullens’ Probate notes the land had 132ft along John Street and a depth of 132 feet along Hutchinson Street and was fenced with an old post and two-rail fence. There were no buildings on it. The land was let for 12/- per annum to D. Briers for grazing. The property was valued at £22/10/-

The executors sold the land to Robert Wilson Turnbull for £30 on May 1, 1908.

Turnbull died and his executors – Mowbray Stephenson Turnbull and John Marshall Finlayson sold the land to Henry Wilfred Briers on December 24, 1912 for £40. Turnbull’s Probate noted the municipal valuation of the land was £5.

Henry Briers

Following the death of Robert Wilson Turnbull on May 1, 1908, his executors – Mowbray Stephenson Turnbull and John Marshall Finlayson – sold the land to Henry Wilfred Briers on December 24, 1912 for £40. Turnbull’s Probate noted the municipal valuation of the land was £5.

On December 12, 1935 Henry transferred the lots to his mother Julia Briers in consideration of an exchange of other land.

Henry Wilfred Briers was born 1891, the son of David Briers and Julia Duvoisin.

He grew up in John Street and lived to see it transformed from a residential street to a commercial precinct.

He worked as a wheelwright with his father, remained a bachelor and lived in the family home until he moved into Hazelmere at Montrose where he spent the last three years of his life. He died in 1978.

Reginald Thomas and Beatrice Davies

The Peak’s eldest daughter Nellie met and married Reginald Thomas Davies and they had one child Lorraine. Sadly, Nellie died young of tuberculous.

Reg Davies the Younger tells the family’s story:

During the Depression Reg, known as Tom, worked for the Forest Dept in the Rubicon region. He would go to Buxton and walk the 12 miles through the forest to the logging camp at Rubicon.

During the 1930s Barton from Marysville was his mentor and playing football for Marysville was a highlight of his life. He would walk the 12 miles out of the bush on Saturday to Buxton; a Barton car would pick him up and take him to the football ground. After the game he would be driven back to Buxton and walk the 12 miles back to the camp.

He was a member of the 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1937 Marysville premiership teams.

In 1937 Reg married Nellie’s sister Beatrice Peak and they had four children:

Betty born August 7, 1937;

Merle born July 5, 1939;

Beryl born October 8, 1941; and

Reginald born December 27, 1943.

In the late 1930s the family moved from the Peak farm to a house in Healesville. Reginald purchased a tray body truck and started carting logs from Toolangi to the Healesville Railway Station. This was the start of his log trucking business.

Reginald took in brother-in-law Percy Peak (called Dinks) as a partner and Davies & Peak was established.

They operated two or three trucks in Healesville but because they were not within 25 miles of the GPO all the timber had to go to the city by rail. It was Dinks who found the property in John Street which became their new home and business so they could deliver timber direct to the city.

The building of a new home in John Street in late 1948 must have created a lot of interest because all other homes had been built to World War I.

It was built by Doug Wardell and the family happily moved in early in 1949 so Reginald could start prep year at the Lilydale Primary School.

As the home was on a double block, the large shed built to house and maintain the trucks became a feature of the street. Today that shed is inside the present modern brick showroom.

From an early age, his mother Beatrice contracted Multiple Sclerosis and was cared for by her family until around 1976 when they put her into Hazelmere at Montrose, where she lived for 14 years until her death on August 10, 1990.

Reginald senior suffered a stroke on his 90th birthday and lived with Reginald junior until his death on October 24, 2004 aged 97 years.

Julia Briers

On December 12, 1935 Henry transferred the lots to his mother Julia Briers in consideration of an exchange of other land.

Julianna (Julia) Susanna Duvoisin, the daughter David & Sussanah Duvoisin who was born at Yering in 1864. In 1889 she married wheelwright David Briers at Lilydale.

David’s younger sister Margaret married Julianna’s brother Luis David Duvoisin in 1890 and lived in Geelong.

The lived across the road at 49-51 John Street all their married lives where they raised their 10 children.

David Briers, born 1890

Henry Wilfred Briers, born 1891

Albert Oscar Briers, born 1893

Cora Jane Briers, born 1894

Vida Olive Briers, born 1896

Hilda Eva Briers, born 1898

Matilda Florence Briers, born 1900

Clara Jane Briers, born 1901

Elsie May Briers, born 1906

Maisie Kathleen Briers, born 1911

Julia Briers retained the land until she sold it to Percival Albert Peak on November 11, 1947 for £200.

Percival Albert Peak

Percival Albert Peak purchased lots 1 and 2, 44 John Street on November 11, 1947 for £200.

Percival’s nephew Reginald Davies the younger said Peak was the son of Charlie Peak and Janette Blyth Graham of Healesville.

Percival or Dinks as he was known, went into partnership with his brother-in-law Reginald Thomas Davies who had started a log trucking business. The business became Davies & Peak.

They operated two or three trucks in Healesville but because they were not within 25 miles of the GPO all the timber had to go to the city by rail.

Uncle Dinks moved to Lilydale and boarded initially at the hotel near the Post office before boarding with Millie O’Donnell in John Street.

He saw some land in John Street was for sale so purchased the blocks. Two were are the south-east corner of John and Hutchinson streets (44 John Street) and the other blocks on the south side of John St between Hutchinson & William streets (except the corner block south west corner of Hutchinson & John streets).

Dinks married Millie O’Donnell and moved into their new home near William Street.

See also the Maynard O’Donnell story – 53 John Street.

On October 17, 1956, 44 John Street was transferred to Reginald Davies and Beatrice Davies for £2,200.

Reginald Davies the Younger

The family home at 44 John Street was built in late 1948 and the family moved to Lilydale at the beginning of 1949 so Reginald could go into preps. His sisters also went to the school.

Reg spent seven years at Lilydale Primary School and was Dux in the last year. He went to Burwood Technical School which existed only a few years. The first year it was based in Kew Primary School and the next year moved to Blackburn & Middleborough roads.

This was 1959. In 1960 Reginald went to Swinburne where he studied for his Associate Diploma in Civil engineering. He graduated in 1966.

He started work as a cadet engineer with the State Electricity Commission and spent the first year in coal production at Richmond.

In 1968 he joined Dillingham Constructions a large US company and went to Belconnen in Canberra to build the John Gorton College.

Reg then joined CRA – Rio Tinto where he remained for 22 years. He reached executive level just before his 49th birthday. During his career he travelled throughout Australia and New Guinea working on its major resources projects.

He was offered a redundancy which he accepted. In 1981 he built his own home in Chirnside Park and also purchased a farm in Maddens Lane, Coldstream where he runs Poll Hereford cattle.

On October 27, 1981 he purchased the property – Lots 1 and 2 – from his parents for $104,000.

From the time they purchased the land, the family was not aware there was a small, third lot facing Hutchinson Street and running behind their lots.

The property was fenced when they bought it so assumed it was all their land.

In 1990, Reginald claimed the land by Adverse Possession and consolidated all there lots into one title.

As Reg’s father was no longer able to manage on his own he moved in with Reg who cared for him until his death on October 24, 2004 aged 97 years.

In 1985, Reg had the family home moved to a block in Healesville where he renovated and later sold it.

The truck shed on the property remained so Reg built a brick showroom and office over it and rented it out with the land.

Today, Reginald Davies still owns the property – almost 70 since his family first purchased the site.

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