Fremantle Stuff > people >

Bunning Brothers

BUNNING, Robert. b. 13.12.1859 (England) d. 12.8.1936, son of Joseph & Jane (nee Bain). Arr. Elderslie 29.6.1886 from London, (& subsequently visited UK at least twice). m. 1st 28.8.1889 (Scotland) Georgina TAYLOR, m. 2nd 1902 (Scotland) Helen Marion MACRAE. Chd. 1st wife: Joseph, 2nd wife: Gavin Charles. Building contractor - Frem. & Roebourne with brother Arthur. At Perth established brickworks & developed timber mills, Bunning Bros., throughout the SW; 1st at Nth Dandalup in 1897. Pres. 1904-1925 of Timber Merchants & Millowners Assoc. & was associated with other similar organisations. Introduced several innovations in sawmilling methods. Presb.

BUNNING. Arthur, b. 1863 (England) d. 1929 (England), son of Joseph & Jane (nee Bain). Arr. Elderslie 29.6.1886 from London. Building contractor in partnership with brother Robert, constructing in Frem., Perth, Roebourne, Coolgardie etc. & established sawmilling company.

Robert Bunning was born in Hackney, London, on 13 December 1859 to carpenter Joseph Bunning and his wife Jane, née Bain. Bunning became a carpenter's apprentice, travelling across London for work. The Bunning family moved to the U.S. city of Boston in 1872, where Joseph Bunning found work with church buildings. The Bunnings moved back to London, though Robert and his younger brother Arthur initially stayed in Chicago for work; by the 1880s they had returned to London to help their father erect a church spire.
In 1886 the two Bunning brothers travelled to Fremantle, Western Australia on SS Elderslie, to visit their sister and brother-in-law. They departed Gravesend on 9 May, and arrived in Fremantle on 29 June. The brothers had intended to travel on to California, but decided to stay in Australia.
Robert and Arthur Bunning formed a partnership business, Bunning Brothers, in 1886, and soon won construction contracts from the Western Australian government for expansions to Fremantle Lunatic Asylum and Roebourne's hospital. They built the Weld Club and Trinity Church in the early 1890s, as well as developing a large property portfolio, including four brickworks.
In 1896, Bunning Brothers was struggling to acquire jarrah timber due to a boom in exports. This led them to buy a timber mill in North Dandalup in 1897, and later set up sawmills across the state's South West region. Bunnings also became one of the largest exporters of railway sleepers in Western Australia.

In the 1950-60s Flora Bunning headed the Chamber Music Society, which held concerts in Rose Skinner's gallery in Mount Street.

References and Links

Mills, Jenny 1979, ADB article.

Mills, Jenny 1986, The Timber People: A History of Bunnings Limited, Bunnings Limited.

Sardi, Jessica 2007, An investigation of musical life and music societies in Perth (Western Australia), 1900-1950, Hons dissertation, ECU, 2007.


Lion Mill Vineyards history (Chidlow/Mt Helena) - including Richard Honey, James Port, Bunnings.

The top photo is from Mills's book (p. 44) where it is captioned: Bunnings' Bunbury yard. The photo of Robert Bunning is also from Mills.

Heritage Council page for Lion Mill Mt Helena.

Garry Gillard | New: 1 January, 2020 | Now: 3 August, 2021