Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

Henry Edmeades Tolhurst


Architect, engineer, surveyor

Henry E Tolhurst was an architect who was appointed Collingwood city surveyor and engineer in 1883.  Tolhurst continued his practice as an architect while working for the council and was responsible for some notable Collingwood buildings. These included the east aisle of St Joseph’s Church in Otter Street, and the Shamrock Brewery in Victoria Street, a bi-chrome brick building, since demolished, whose striking appearance probably once rivalled the Yorkshire Brewery. A somewhat plainer building, but typical of Collingwood industry, was Whybrow’s shoe factory in Stafford Street.

Tolhurst had previously been town clerk of the Borough of Eaglehawk, near Bendigo, where all his children were born. He also designed and supervised the construction of Eaglehawk Town Hall. Moving his large family to Abbotsford when he took up his new job, he rented a house in Abbotsford Street before buying Frankfurt House, a two-storey bluestone house in Clarke Street, with its veranda oriented towards Johnston Street and the river. With ten rooms, set in large grounds incorporating a tennis court and stables (two ponies and a phaeton were kept), the house was a suitable setting for the family who quickly became well-connected in local society.

Tolhurst became well-known both through his architectural practice and his council work, and was occasionally appointed acting Town Clerk. The family attended St Philip’s Anglican Church in Hoddle Street, giving them entrée to its extensive social circle. Tolhurst was also a Freemason and a founding member of the Earl of Carnarvon Lodge. His sporting interests further expanded his networks: he was an active member of the Collingwood Rifle Club and a committee member of the Collingwood Bowling Club. In the latter activity, as well as the Freemasons lodge, he was joined by his son Charles, who as a solicitor was making the acquaintance of a wide range of local people for whom he acted in legal matters. The girls’ frocks worn to local balls and weddings were described in newspaper articles.

In 1895 Tolhurst resigned, after 12 years as City Surveyor and Engineer. Among his achievements, mentioned in The Mercury (29 August 1895, p. 2) were the construction of many streets and rights of way, and the swimming pool in Marine Parade. His son William (usually referred to as Alf) was the successful replacement candidate, selected from a field of 18 men. William was also involved in Collingwood sporting life and was a founding member of the Abbotsford Bicycle Club.

Tolhurst died of dropsy in 1902, leaving a substantial estate including cottages in Trenerry Crescent, and, rather less salubrious, a large worked-out clay pit in Flockhart Street used as a refuse tip. His widow, Susana Tolhurst, continued to live in Clarke Street with her six remaining adult children. The name of the house was changed to Greenhithe to commemorate Mr Tolhurst’s birthplace. Charles married in 1903 and moved to Clifton Hill. While three of the girls occupied themselves with home and social duties, Ella commenced a teaching career as well as university study and was eventually appointed to prestigious senior positions. In the meantime, Alf resigned from Council in 1912 to take up private practice as a surveyor. After the successive deaths of Harriet, Alf and Charles during the 1920s, Catherine, Ella, Emily and their mother moved to Elsternwick, where Mrs Tolhurst died. 

By 1941 Greenhithe had been replaced by the current red brick building on the corner of Clarke Street and St Helier’s Street. This was originally constructed as commercial classrooms for St Euphrasia’s School, run by the nuns of the Convent of the Good Shepherd.

Work Photo 1

Shamrock Brewery from Studley Park

House Photo 1

View from Johnston St bridge, house rear right

House Photo 2

42 Abbotsford Street

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
1837 Greenhithe, Kent, England
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
Susana Hunt, died 1925 1860 Harriet 1861-1921, Catherine 1862-1937, Charles Henry 1864-1924, William Alfred 1867-1922, Emily Gillson 1869-? Harry 1872-1892, Emily Edmeades 1875-1949, Ella 1877-1967.
Home Addresses
Home Street Home City Status of Building
42 Abbotsford Street Abbotsford Extant
Clarke Street Abbotsford Demolished
Work Addresses
Work Street Work City Status of Building
Collingwood Town Hall, Hoddle Street Abbotsford Extant
Church Lodge
St Philip's Anglican, Abbotsford Earl of Carnarvon Lodge (Collingwood Lodge No 727)
Death Date Death Place Cemetery
4 January 1902 Abbotsford Heidelberg

Mercury and Weekly Courier; The Argus; Fitzroy City Press; MMBW Detail Plan No. 1285; The Telegraph (Brisbane).

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