RESIDENCES OF RICHARD RENNIE
IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

When the rest of his family arrived in W.A. they apparently lived for a time in a tent near the Subiaco Post Office.  However they soon moved back to Fremantle, first to a wooden house opposite the North Fremantle School and then to Lilly St. Beaconsfield (now South Fremantle) where their next child Eleanor was born in 1898.

They lived for a time in Guildford Rd. South Guildford around 1905/6 and 1912. By 1918 they were at 312 Railway Pde (cr. St Leonards Ave.) Leederville, and then at 18 Manning St (Cr. Carnac St. now No. 4) Fremantle round 1906/8. ????CHECK

In 1909/10 they were again in Guildford (probably whilst he was building railway lines in the Geraldton area) before finally moving back to Fremantle.

They moved to Stirling St. (c1926/8) where Richard built No's 2 and 4, and finally to 3 Ord St.; one of the two houses Richard built in that street.  3 Ord St. was a substantial house with a fine view over Fremantle.

(It has been suggested that he also built the (Mrs O'Hara's) house on the north/west corner of High and Ord Street.)
 
 

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ADDITIONAL PERSONAL INFORMATION

He usually wore a hat with the rim turned up all round, and with a brown trim.

An contemporary article in a newspaper described him in the following way:
 

Mr. Dick Rennie, Fremantle's  hustling contractor, is one who knows his "ekker".  Nothing escapes his eagle eye, and whenever he sees a workman suffering from the tired feeling he wakens him suddenly.  One day, so it is said, Mr. Rennnie accidentally happened upon a "brickie" who was "swinging the lead".  "What do you think you get paid for?" asked Dick.  "Get on with your job if you don't want to be fired out."  "All right, boss." replied the tired one.  "Rome wasn't built in a day, you know."  "That may be," rejoined Dick, "but I wasn't the contractor on that job."


Another clipping concerning his purchase of a car reflects his style.
 

Mr. Rennie, the well-known contractor of Perth and Fremantle, has bought the remaining Bean car, after one drive in it.  Its silence, smoothness, and splendid finish in every part satisfied him on the spot.


HORSES

Richard Rennie owned a number of horses over the years.  Some of the names of these horses were Rathsel and Beggarman (winners at Helena Vale), Isle of White, Loredano (who ran second in the 1908 Perth Cup), Miss Beck and Idolist.

He owned farming properties, which were run by his sons Richard and Valentine, in the Moora and Gingin districts, and he bred horses on these properties.  Postcards being sent by Richard's children to each other in the period 1906 - 1910 contain many comments about looking after horses.

Albert Mansell (a nephew of Richard) recalled how he was offered a horse together with expenses to ship it back east.  However Albert "never came to get it".

TRIPS

In about 1906 the whole family went on a trip back to the Eastern States visiting Richard and Sarah's families.  A family portrait taken in Ballarat at this time exists.

Albert Mansell also recalled that Richard visited the Mansells in Melbourne just after the war (c1919).

In December 1929 Richard made a trip to Singapore on the S.S. Gascoyne with his wife Sarah and youngest daughter Mona (Pat).

Doris Mansell recalled that Richard and Sarah, together with two of their children Lucy and Valentine (and his wife Olive), went on a trip c1933 to the Eastern States visiting relatives, including the Mansells, in Melbourne.  They went on as far as Cairns.
 

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CONSTRUCTIONS OF RICHARD RENNIE

It is hard to avoid printing merely a list of his known constructions since it is thought that members of the family should have access to every scrap of information found during the research undertaken.

Richard Rennie built a substantial number of buildings in Fremantle.  However he also built in other parts of the metropolitan area as well as in the country.  Information on a number of these constructions was supplied by either his son Richard Edward Rennie, his daughter Eleanor Valentine Rees, by his grand son Richard Edward Rennie, or was taken from newspaper clippings.

In partnership with a Mr.Hill he built the Narrogin to Wickepin Railway in 1908/9, and the Upper Chapman line to Naraling in 1909/10.)

He built a hotel at Beedon Point, and the first Raffles Hotel - an iron building - near Canning Bridge. 

He also built the Moora Post office.

He was particularly proud of the successful construction of the water tower at the Claremont asylum and the fact that it did not leak at the first filling.

However it was in Fremantle where he left his mark.  In partnership with a Mr. Abbott he built five of the huge goods sheds along Victoria Quay in Fremantle.  

Abbott and Rennie also built Manning's Chambers opposite the Fremantle town hall.  Both Richard and his son Richard Edward can be seen in a photograph of this building taken during its construction.  From the latter's age the construction must date from about 1906.

A post card dated January 1 1907, on which is a photograph of High Street, indicates that by this date Richard had built seven buildings in that street; three of them were marked with crosses on the photograph.  These were Fremantle Munciplal Tramways building 1 High St.,Owstones Building (1903) 9-19 High St., and the National Hotel Cr High St. and Market St. which was his first big job.

He is said to have also built the National Bank in High Street, and Robert Harper's warehouse.

He built the Majestic Theatre in Hannan St. (now High St.) Fremantle.  This building was later remodelled by his son Frank Rennie as a retail store for G.J. Coles but the iron grille on the first floor balconies still bears the letters M.T. for Majestic Theatre.

According to his son, Richard built a brick section (3 or 4 rooms on the west side) of the Beaconsfield Primary School.

In Hamilton Hill he built the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall at a cost of 2000 pounds.  The foundation stone was laid on March 21, 1925 by the then governor Sir William Campion.

At a cost of £30 000 he built the three story Bushells Ltd factory and warehouse in Queen Victoria St. Fremantle, now demolished.

He built a pavillion at the Kings Park Tennis Club, with his son Frank Rennie later building a second pavillion.

It is said he built a number of the houses he lived in, including four on the block between Stirling and Ord Streets Fremantle.

Although he only finished the project, which was started by another builder, he is most often identified with the building of the Fremantle War Memorial in 1928.  His son Frank Rennie later added the four matching lights around the memorial.

He rebuilt the Swan Hotel in North fremantle in 1922.

Because records of his building activities are difficult to locate, it is almost certain that this list is very incomplete.

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Richard Rennie(centre) - Building Contractor c1910


 

CIVIC ROLE OF RICHARD RENNIE

Richard Rennie was a Fremantle Town Councillor representing the City Ward from 1925 until his death in 1936. Frederick Samson, who was later to become mayor of Fremantle, took over Richard's seat.

He served on the Fremantle Municipal Tramways Board as owners representative from 1928 until his death

He was a director of the Union Stores (hardware shop) in High Street, and of the Metropolitan Omnibus Company.

He stood for the Legislative Assembly on March 26 1927 in the Fremantle electorate as a candidate for the United Party of W.A.  He was not elected.

His pre-emminence in Fremantle meant that he attended many important civic functions.  He was invited on June 3 1929 to a special luncheon in the Fremantle Town Hall to celebrate the 'Declaration of Fremantle as a City and the Centenary of W.A.'.  Following this, on the same day, he was invited to plant a tree on the eastern end of Fremantle park (the plaque of which has since been removed).  On June 28, 1929 he attended the Centenary Costume Ball in Fremantle.

He was invited by the Premier to meet H.R.H. Duke of Gloucester on behalf of the Government at Fremantle Wharf on Thursday October 4 1934 at 9.45 a.m.

In 1935 he planted another tree in Knutsford St. near the Fremantle War Memorial to commorate 'fallen soldiers'.

Richard was an enthusiastic member of the Fremantle Rotary Club and held rank in the Masonic order and was a foundation member of the Frementle Commercial Traveller's Club.

As a final tribute to his civic contributions to Fremantle, Rennie Crescent in Hilton was name after him.
 
 

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