Freotopia > people > Sir Joseph John Talbot Hobbs, 1864-1938

J. J. Talbot Hobbs

Hobbs was a WW1 general and an architect. In Fremantle he designed Samson House, 1889, the Samson building in Cliff Street, 1892, the Scots Presbyterian church, 1897, Victoria Hall, 1897, the Dalgety (Elder/Wilhemsen) building, 1902, the Dalgety (aka Samson) Bond Store, 1901, and the Elder Shenton & Co Building, 37-45 Cliff Street, now the home of local paper, The Fremantle Herald, on the corner of Croke Lane (formerly Dalgety Street).

The firm he established, Hobbs, Smith & Forbes, having become Hobbs, Winning & Leighton, designed the Passenger Terminal (1962) and the Port Authority Building (1963) (at 1 Cliff Street) on Victoria Quay.

He also designed many significant buildings in Perth (such as the Weld Club), Peppermint Grove (including his own house, The Bungalow, 38 Keane Street), and elsewhere.

The Bungalow, destroyed by some arsehole who got rich in supermarkets. Photo from Pascoe.

Hobbs in so many ways was the archetypal Peppermint Grove man. Born at Chelsea, England, in 1864, he worked as an architectural draughtsman before accompanying his employer, Hurst, out to Western Australia in 1887. Three years later he married Hurst’s daughter, Edith Anne. His first work was as a carpenter and, like former publicans and pearlers, the move to Peppermint Grove gave Hobbs a new respectability. One of his local claims to fame was that he had no fewer than four windmills on his property, more than anyone else in the district. He was also a deeply religious man, concerned with minute detail, and a strong disciplinarian. Edith was the natural foil, relaxed and casual, who sketched for recreation. Upon arriving in Perth, Hobbs joined the volunteer field artillery and rose steadily through the officer ranks until by the onset of war he was a colonel commanding the 22nd Infantry Brigade. In the mean time he was learning architecture: by 1905 he established his own firm, Hobbs, Smith and Forbes, and was designing many of the new buildings of the gold-rush period. For Barker’s company he designed the W.A. Trustees Building, for Walter James Minnawarra, for the Keanes their home, for the Weld Club their new abode in Perth. And in the test of battle Hobbs passed with flying colours, winning additional promotion, military honours and a knighthood. He was commemorated after his death in 1938 precisely as he would have wanted: standing stiffly at attention in full military uniform, his statue faces Perth from Riverside Drive. In Peppermint Grove his was one of the more extensive properties, occupying fifteen lots, and his house, The Bungalow, was so commodious that the annual military ball was celebrated there.

References and Links

Coombes, David 2007, The Lionheart: A Life of Lieutenant-General Sir Talbot Hobbs, Australian Military History Publications, Loftus, NSW.

Pascoe, Robert 1983, Peppermint Grove: Western Australia's Capital Suburb, OUP (© Robert Pascoe).

Taylor, John J. 2009, Joseph John Talbot Hobbs (1864-1938) and his Australian-English Architecture, PhD dissertation, UWA; available online.

Taylor, John J. 2014, Between Duty and Design, UWAP; bio of Hobbs, based on Dr Taylor's PhD dissertation.

Fred Leist, portrait, 1917 (above)

Wikipedia article/list

ADB entry

National Anzac Centre page

Museum of Perth page, by Shannon Lovelady.

This statue used to stand on the Esplanade; it has been relocated to the Supreme Court Gardens. Photo from 1959. Edward Kohler sculpted the figure, Alex Winning designed the monument. As a child, I thought it was a bit creepy, with the man growing out of a stone column. I still find it odd.
Another personal note. All my life I've wondered how it is that certain people are often or even usually called by two last names instead of one, even though the two are not hyphenated, and the last name is the patronym, the family name. Arthur Conan Doyle is an example. He even signed his name as 'A. Conan Doyle', tho his father's name was Doyle, and that is his legal surname on his birth certificate. A man called Conan was his stepfather. Calling the present subject 'Talbot Hobbs' is OK except when it comes to bibliographies. One hesitates whether to put him in the Ts or the Hs. As with Pamela Statham-Drew, who is sometimes referred to without the hyphen.

Garry Gillard | New: 15 June, 2016 | Now: 16 December, 2023