Fremantle Stuff > People > Arthur Elvin Davies

Arthur Elvin Davies

daviesAEArthur Elvin Davies (1867-1918) was a cabinet-maker and undertaker. His father was Alfred Alexander (1811-1875), whose father was Alfred George (1776-1853). The premises of Arthur E. Davies & Company, funeral directors, founded 1888, were at 9-13 Collie St, and then at 81 and 83 Market St (so advertised, tho the building now seems to have the address 85), from some time after 1904.

Alfred George Davies arrived 19 April 1834 on the Quebec Trader, with his sons Alfred Alexander and Thomas. Alfred Alexander's children included George Alfred (1846-1897), Edward William (1855-1904) - both Mayors of Fremantle - and Arthur Elvin, JP.

He (Arthur Elvin) was educated at Mr Trotter's Grammar School (?) He married Margaret Kilpatrick, with whom he had two sons and one daughter. He was MLA for South Fremantle 1906-11, a member of the Oddfellows Lodge, and a JP.

davies

Fremantle Library photo no. 4524, c. 1980s. The premises of Arthur E Davies Funeral Directors at 85 Market Street was subsequently taken over by Bowra and O'Dea Funeral Directors.

After apprenticeship, he began business as 'Cabinet and Undertaker' in Collie St in 1888, aged 21. At the beginning, he also imported furniture, but then concentrated solely on funeral direction. He sold the business in 1904 to William Jonas Green, and was elected to Parliament in 1906, continuing in that role until November 1911. The Green family continued in the business under the Davies name, and it was they who bought the premises in Market St. By 1991 the firm was owned by Bowra & O'Dea. (Liveris 1991: 77-78, 228)

The building is at nos. 85-87 Market Street, opposite the Newport. This site was owned by Amalia Dixon in 1880, when there were a residence and two cottages on the site. She owned the property until 1900; her trustees owned it until 1920 and they owned it in partnership with J.J. Holmes until 1931. In 1883 the rate books listed a new shop, almost certainly the existing building, and Amalia Dixon was recorded as the shopkeeper. The properties had various lessees over following years. By c. 1894 the lessees were butchers, Reen and Headley, to be Followed, in 1896, by another firm of butchers, Baker and Stevens. In 1898 a third firm of butchers, Holmes Brothers, were occupants; they remained until 1910-11. In the 1920s there was an auction room, possibly in part of the building. The Funeral directors, A.E. Davies and Co., were in the building from 1921, and in 1958 commissioned substantial alterations, which concealed some of the original facade. Another firm of funeral directors, Bowra and O’Dea was there from 1982 to 2004. When they left, the building was restored - to what appears, from a photograph, to be its original condition - revealing the elaborate brick and stucco facade. The awning is unusual for Fremantle, being markedly curved and supported on decorative iron brackets. The restoration was under the direction of John Kirkness.

davies building

The A.E. Davies building, cnr Market and Bannister Sts, in today's Google Maps snap.

When the Carrington St Cemetery (the current Fremantle Cemetery) opened in 1899, Arthur E. Davies (the funeral director) had his grandfather, father and mother exhumed and reinterred in the Anglican section in the new graveyard. The exhumation order (1899) is reproduced in Liveris (16). Alfred George Davies (died 1853) is called George Davies on the gravestone. His son (Alfred Alexander, died 1875) is there called Alfred Davies. That Alfred's wife was Hannah (died 1896). Their daughter Elizabeth is also buried there.

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Arthur E. Davies' own tombstone, 1918, in Fremantle Cemetery Anglican A. He had left the undertaking business in 1904.

References and Links

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Liveris, Leonie B. 1991, Dismal Trader, The: The Undertaker Business in Perth 1860-1939, privately published.

Liveris, Leonie B. 2009, Monuments and Masons: Cemeteries at Karrakatta Fremantle Guildford Midland, MCB.

Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia

Wikipedia page for George Alfred Davies.

Wikipedia page for Edward William Davies (the insane mayor).


Garry Gillard | New: 29 September, 2015 | Now: 16 November, 2019