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Born 7 April 181, Browne was a qualified architect and civil engineer but had been transported to the colony in 1863 for forgery. He became an expiree in 1869 and set up consultancy offices in Perth. A watercolourist and architect who produced paintings of buildings in Fremantle, WA, he built the Alta Gardens at the 'Old Mill', South Perth.
Fremantle Prison page:
Although [Tom Browne was] described as ‘steady, sober and industrious’, James Thomas, the Director of Public Works, ensured that this ex-convict should receive no work. In 1878 Browne wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London complaining about Thomas’ campaign of defamation against him. The matter was passed to the Governor to resolve, and although it was clear to him that Browne had been wronged, Thomas was merely warned against any further defamation. Thomas Browne was an architect and civil engineer, transported for forgery in 1863. In 1869 he set himself up in business as an architect and land agent in Fremantle. Because of his black hair, sallow complexion and thin face, he became known as ‘Satan’. He married and he and his wife had a daughter, who died aged 6 months.
Browne then concentrated on establishing a hotel in South Perth. In 1879 he opened ‘Alta Gardens’ which combined ‘the attractions of rural pleasure and out-of-door amusements with hotel entertainment and home comforts’. Perth’s elite flocked to play there.
But by 1881 he was deep in debt. When it was apparent that he would go to gaol, he took strychnine. His dying words were ‘I wish to lay against my child’.
Thomas 'Satan' Browne, entry on the Fremantle Prison page.
Thomas Henry Johnson Browne, entry on the Design & Art Australia Online page.
'A Brief History of the Old Mill', page on the City of South Perth page.
'The Alta Tea Gardens', Victorian Express, Wednesday 31 March 1880: 3.
City of South Perth Local Heritage Inventory page for 'Old Mill and Cottage (former)'.
Thanks to Eleanor Chaos for gathering all the data about Browne.
Garry Gillard | New: 10 April, 2020 | Now: 9 October, 2023