Collingwood Notables Database
James was the fourth son of John Wood who was the owner of the Yorkshire Hotel, and the founder and senior partner of the Yorkshire Brewery Company. Despite his relative youth, James was the architect of Collingwood’s crowning industrial glory, the Yorkshire Brewery with its magnificent Brew Tower, completed in 1878 and still standing.
James trained as an architect under George Wharton (architect of the Grace Darling Hotel in Smith Street). He completed his articles in 1875 and established his own practice the following year, working from an office in the family house which he shared with his brothers Charles and Albert after his parents moved to Hawthorn in 1869. The large bluestone shop and dwelling was next door to the brewery and Yorkshire Hotel. The new buildings at the Yorkshire Brewery were among his first works, but the gratification which all must have felt in their completion was marred by the premature death of John Wood in the same year.
James went on to design other notable buildings in Collingwood. Isaac Swan who had a butcher’s shop on the corner of Langridge Street and Wellington Street, a stone’s throw from the brewery, was expanding his already extensive business and engaged James to design and oversee his new shop and stables in 1879. The local newspaper the Mercury and Weekly Courier heaped high praise on its handsome two-storey frontage, its plate-glass windows, the slabs of costly Sicilian marble, and ornamented cast iron pillars, as well as the special attention paid to illumination, ventilation, and sun protection to the west-facing windows.
In the 1880s James was responsible for Thomas Baker’s Austral Laboratory in Southampton Crescent, Abbotsford, and the Friendly Societies Hotel, now the Carringbush Hotel, in Langridge Street Abbotsford. The former was a decorative three-storeyed factory, while the hotel, in the Italianate style, is two storeyed, with decorated stucco walls, corner splay and rusticated lower floor.
By this time he had moved to Hawthorn to live with his mother, and undertook a number of commissions in that suburb. He oversaw the construction of the Augustine Congregational Church (which like the brew tower made use of extensive polychromatic brickwork), as well as a number of houses, hotels and shops. He also designed hotels in numerous other Melbourne suburbs. His style was mainly in the prevailing Italianate mode common in Victoria in the 1870s and 1880s.
James did not marry until 1891 but both his married life and his career were cut short. In 1896 his wife died; in February 1897 his solicitor was hurriedly called to prepare his will when James was lying seriously ill at Queenscliff. He died even younger than his father, leaving a young orphaned daughter, and his shares in the Yorkshire Brewing Company.
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|23 May 1854||Collingwood|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Isabella K Vickery, 1869-1896||1891||Eileen Hilton, 1892|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|88 Wellington Street, between Waterloo and Robert Street||Collingwood||Demolished|
|Work Street||Work City||Status of Building|
|88 Wellington Street||Collingwood||Demolished|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|26 March 1897||45 Auburn Road Auburn||MGC|
Barrett, The inner suburbs; Allom Lovell, City of Yarra Heritage review: thematic history; Cannon, Melbourne after the gold rush; Allom Lovell, Former Yorkshire Brewery; Australian Builders Journal, 20 July 1890; Victoria and its metropolis; Mercury; The Argus.
Mercury article on Swan's shop
Wikipedia: tallest buildings in Melbourne
CHS: Yorkshire Brewery
Miles Lewis Australian Architectural Index
CHS: Carringbush Hotel