gun alley stories

49 to 51 John St Stories


Unlike most of the homes in John Street which were often rented out, sometimes to different people annually, 49 -51 or Lots 9 and 10 – remained in the Briers family for two generations and saw three generations live and prosper in another home in the street.

While 49 was the Briers family home, the block next door at 51 was also important to the family as it was here they had their veggie gardens to support their large family of 10 children.

For David it was a short walk down the Main Street to his wheelwright and coach building factory where his son Henry continued the family tradition and became his father’s apprentice.

Along the street David and Julia’s other son Albert and family moved back into John Street – No 58 where they remained until the 1986 101 years after David Briers bought 49 John Street.

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 9 & 10

John Hutchinson

William Hutchinson & Louis Deschamps (17/11/1880 – 17/3/1883)

Lot 9

Patrick Woulfe (17/3/1883 – 17/10/1883)

Samuel Jacobson (17/10/1883 – 18/3/1884)

Robert Crease (10/3/1884 – 11/10/1884)

Charles Andrew Perrin (11/10/1884 – 20/9/1886)

David Briers (20/9/1886 – 17/06/1936)

Lot 10

John Hutchinson

William Hutchinson & Louis Deschamps (17/11/1880 – 11/11/1880)

Robert Black (11/11/1880 – 6/9/1890)

David Briers (6/9/1890– 17/06/1936)

Lots 9 and 10

Henry Wilfred & Julia Briers (17/06/1936 – 20/12/1947)

Henry Wilfred Briers (20/12/1947 – 2/01/1970)

EPTA Pty Ltd & Ralph Crosby (2/01/1970 – 30/5/1973)

Kerona Pty Ltd (30/05/1973 – 22/1/1982)

E.G. & S.B. Dalgleish (22/1/1982)

Lot 9

Lot 9 was just one of several lots (also Lots 14 & 15 block 3; 16 and 17 Block 4 and Lot 3 of block 6) sold to Patrick Wolfe by John Hutchinson’s executors on March 17, 1883.

Patrick Woulfe

The lot was a prime example of the excessive prices paid during the land boom of the 1880s.

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 were all born at Emerald Hill:

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

Thomas b 1866;

Mary Ann b 1867. In 1886 she married William Magill at Emerald Hill and died 1931;

Hannah b 1868; and

William b 1870.

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

It was not long before Woulfe sold Lot 9 to Samuel Jacobson who used an equitable deposit of £140 to purchase all the lots on October 17, 1883.

Samuel Jacobson a pawn broker and money lender with his business located at 117A Swanston Street, Melbourne.

However, Jacobson died at his home in Clifton Hill on November 1, 1885 and his 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 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 Robert Crease on March 18, 1884 for £35 sterling which was to be paid to Patrick Woulfe.

Crease held the land a mere 7 months before selling it to Charles Andrew Perrin, the eldest son of Henry Perrin the Lilydale post master.

Charles Andrew Perrin

(From a Family History of Perrin & Atkinson)

Charles Andrew Perrin, the third child of Henry and Cecilia Perrin, was born in Calcutta, India, on 16 November 1851. At the age of two he was taken to live in London. On 30 June 1857, aged five, he arrived at Port Phillip, Victoria, aboard the Algiers. In 1861 Charles moved from Carlton to Lilydale with his parents, sister Harriet Amelia and brother Frederick Walter.

In 1872, at the age of twenty-one, Charles, whose preferred name was Andrew, married Maryanna Bailey, an immigrant from Somerset, England. Andrew and Maryanna had four children; James Henry born 1873 in North Melbourne, Frederick Charles Spence 1876 in Prahran, Anna Cecilia 1877 and John Henry Bailey 1879 both born in St. Kilda.

Before he moved to Lilydale, Andrew started purchasing up blocks on land in the town, two of which were in John Street. He made profits on both, which he sold to David Briers on September 20, 1886. This was the same year he and his family moved to Lilydale. Perhaps the sales were to finance his business interests and purchase a home for his family.

In 1886 when the family moved to Lilydale, Andrew became a newsagent and acted as an agent for Fitzgerald Brothers’ timber yard. Maryanna conducted a fancy goods shop near the Colonial bank between Clarke and Castella Streets.

However, his time was short as he died on May 14, 1887 of typhoid fever. He was 36 years old.

Briers Family

Unlike the other families of Gun Alley, the Briers family saw three generations grow and prosper in John Street. Lot 9 was the family home.

Wheelwright David Briers first purchased land in John St in September 1886. The family remained in Gun Alley until 1986 when Edie Briers sold her home at 58 John Street to the Whelan family.

Throughout the subsequent years, David’s wife Julia, son Henry and also purchased various blocks and his brother Albert also lived in the street where he and his wife Edith raised their three children.

David Briers was born was born in Cookstown, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1854. He immigrated to Australia with his parents Thomas 36, and Jane 35, on the ship Red Jacket in 1866 at the age of 10. Also with them were David’s brothers and sisters: Mary Jane 11, Martha 9, James 7, Margaret 2 and Eliza 1.

The Red Jacket was an immigrant ship of 2200 tons which left Liverpool, England for Melbourne, Australia on the September 1, 1866 under Ships Master A.R. Pope. The ship arrived at Melbourne on the November 27, 1866 – a voyage of 88 days and the Ship’s Passenger List recorded as warrant Passengers (FARE £20.00)

The family made the journey to Australia because of the extremely poor living conditions on his small farm in the County of Tyrone, Northern Ireland which had shown little improvement subsequent to the disastrous potato famine throughout the whole of Ireland in the late 1840s and early 1850s.

The family firstly settled at Geelong.

David is first recorded in Lilydale by December 23, 1886 as the 1887 Shire of Lillydale Rate Books show him as the freehold owner of Lot 9 block 1 of John Hutchinson’s Olinda estate subdivision. This property became his family’s home.

By the end of 1887 David had built premises on the lot and the rates increased from £1/10/- to £18. The following year he was listed in the Shire of Lillydale ratebooks as having a factory and premises.

The factory was located on the south-east corner of Main Street and William Street East and built by implement maker and blacksmith George White in August 1887.

According to his son Henry Briers, his father carried out a coach-making business in the rear portion of the 75-year-old factory which faced William Street East. It was here that Henry was apprenticed to his father.

“The two enterprises, although conducted separately by their owners worked together for many years.”

The property had several owners until it was purchased by A.H.Hansen and son in 1931.

(Lilydale Express January 22, 1960 pg 1)

In 1889 David married Julianna (Julia) Susanna Duvoisin, the daughter David and Sussanah Duvoisin who was born at Yering in 1864. By the end of 1890, the property was listed as being a house in John Street.

Not content, on September 6, 1890 David paid Robert Black £45 to acquire the adjoin lot 10. This sale was registered on November 10, 1891 and reflected in the ratebooks the following years as a house and ¾ acre and then a house and 2 lots for the rates ending January 23, 1892.

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

David became renowned throughout the burgeoning colony as a wheelwright and coachbuilder. His coaches and buggies had highly sought-after scroll-work painted on them and this side of his work was subject of a feature display during the Lilydale Centenary Celebrations.

David and Julia had 10 children.

  1. David Briers, born 1890, married Ethel May Lysaght of Lilydale in 1916. David enlisted in the 38th Battalion Australian Infantry on October 2, 1916 and died in France November 24, 1918. He had a son Stanley who he never saw.
  2. Henry Wilfred Briers, born 1891, remained a bachelor and lived in the family home until his death in 1978. He worked as a wheelwright with his father.
  3. Albert Oscar Briers, born 1893, (butcher) enlisted in 4th Light Horse 2nd re-enforcement on October 24, 1916 returning from the war August 9, 1919. Following the war he met Edith Jane Gilson and they were married in 1928. They returned to live in Lilydale at 58 John Street sometime around 1934/35 settling near the family home. Albert died in 1952, Edith in 1992.
  4. Cora Jane Briers, born 1894 and died aged 4 in 1898.
  5. Vida Olive Briers, born 1896, married Albert (Vic) Rooks in 1924. Vida died in 1965.
  6. Hilda Eva Briers, born 1898, married Valentine Walter Graham in 1922.
  7. Matilda Florence Briers, born 1900, married Michael.
  8. Clara Jane Briers, born 1901, married Arthur George Parlby in 1924. Clara died in 1969, Arthur in 1988.
  9. Elsie May Briers, born 1906, married Michael Vincent Davis in 1938. Elsie died in 1980.
  10. Maisie Kathleen Briers, born 1911, married Victor Vendy Hodges in 1936.

Henry worked as a wheelwright with his father, remained a bachelor and lived in the family home all his life. His father David died on September 22, 1935. David died intestate so at Julia’s request, Henry applied to administer the estate and the property was listed in both their names. After Julia’s death on September 1, 1948 Henry’s siblings transferred the property to Henry.

He remained in the home which had earthen floors, until he sold the property to EPTA Pty Ltd and Ralph Crosby on January 2, 1970. That company subsequently sold the property to Kerona Pty Ltd on May 30, 1973 but it appears the owners allowed Henry to remain as a tenant in the home.

In About 1975 Henry moved into Hazelmere aged care at Montrose where he spent the last three years of his life. He died in 1978.
The property is still Under General Law and the final owner was E.G. & S.B. Dalgleish who acquired the property on January 22, 1982.

It is not known if they still own the land.

Lot 10

Initially Robert Black purchased several blocks of land stretching from Main Street through to John Street with the view to establishing the Presbyterian Church there. Instead it became a hall, believed to be the Red House and marked on township maps as the Oddfellows Hall and Chinese fruiter – Poon Kee’s shop, the two-storey building still standing in lower Main Street.

Robert Black

Robert Black was born in Ballysally, Coleraine, County Derry, Ireland in 1934, the fifth son of John Black and Sarah Sheriff. After an education at Coleraine and Temple Moyle Agricultural College, Robert set sail for Australia, arriving in March, 1857. He joined John Kerr on an exploring expedition travelling through New South Wales and Queensland before arriving in Victoria. After renting, they later purchased a 500 acre farm near Lilydale from Paul de Castella.

The partnership lasted until 1870 when Robert Black visited Ireland where he married Mary Jane Moore on September 14, 1870. The couple returned to the district via San Francisco and Chicago. On his return, Robert purchased the Cooring Estate at Coldstream where he lived until his death at the age of 92 years in 1926.

Robert Black named his property Coldstream the name taken for the railway station. Later, the township, then named The Lodge, became known as Coldstream.

In 1900, he purchased the late Colonel Hutton’s property adjoining Coldstream and turned his attention to grazing. This property known as Cooring Yering, Bald Hill (the quarry) and Rowes Mount comprised about 1260 acres. The homestead was built by David Mitchell on the Cooring Yering portion of the property.

The quarry was originally opened by the railways for metal for ballasting the Lilydale to Healesville line. After the line opened, the quarry lay idle until 1911 when his son, William Moore Black, decided to re-open it and install a stone crushing plant.

While concentrating on sheep and cattle, Robert also bred a few horses. His son William inherited this interest, breeding Clydesdales which became famous throughout Australia.

Robert was a Lillydale Councillor from 1873 to 1875 and a Justice of the Peace from 1880. He was also instrumental in the erection of the Lilydale Presbyterian Church and the manse.

Robert and Mary had five sons and two daughters – John Moore (1871 – 1882); Robert (1872 – 1935) married Jane Ellen Macintyre; Mary Jane Moore ( 1872 – 1918) married David Kay (1859 – 1909), manager of the Colonial Bank, Lilydale; James Moore (1875 – 1885); William Moore (1874 – 1941) married Catherine Theodora Engel; Paul (1876 – 1944) and Sarah Elizabeth (1881). Robert’s wife, Mary died on June 21, 1925 aged 85 years and Robert died six months later on January 8, 1926.

Robert Black acquired Lot 10 and several other lots on November 11, 1880 for £80 and on September 6, 1890 he sold it to David Briers for £45 meaning Briers now owned adjoining properties in John Street. Lot 10 was never built on but remained a garden for the family.

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