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Richard Honey

Richard Honey had his Honey & Co. timber yard in Short Street, next to Manning's Folly, from about 1886.
In the second listing of the Western Australian Telephone Exchange of February 1888 "Honey, R. of Lion Timber Yard, Fremantle" is one of the 124 listed businesses.

HONEY, Richard & Co. of SA. Arr. 1886 making several voyages per South Australian, Franklin & Albany to open a branch of his business in Fremantle which James C. Port managed. Proprietor of Lion Jarrah Mill 1889 on a site abandoned by White, 3 miles from Chidlows Well. (Erickson)

Honey was b. 30 Dec 1840 Kenner's House, South Petherwin, Cornwall, son of Thomas HONEY, farmer of South Petherwin, and Mary GOODMAN, m. Mary Ann REYNOLDS, 16 Apr 1875, St Paul's, Port Adelaide, SA., d. 24 Nov 1892 Woodville, Adelaide, SA.

After the death of his father, when Richard Honey was five years old, he left England with his mother, two brothers and all five sisters as well as his eldest sister Betsy's husband John Jonas. They travelled on the barque Theresa, of 495 tons, with Thomas Bacon as master, from London and Plymouth, arriving in South Australia 3rd May 1847. The family originally settled at Alberton, and when Mrs Mary Honey died on 16th June 1851, aged 52, whilst undergoing an operation, Richard was an orphan at the age of eight.
He began work as an apprentice to David Bower, his brother-in-law, in the Lion Timber Yards in Vincent Street, Port Adelaide - opposite the present Town Hall site. These yards were moved when the land became too valuable as a timber yard to new yards on a site nearer the Port Adelaide Railway Station. Shortly after the move Richard bought out Mr Bowers share's of Lion Timber Yards and soon became the sole proprietor.
He was a genial character and as a young man he rapidly became skilled in gaining the confidence of people he worked with. He would have impressed his uncle David Bower, and with experience took over running aspects of the timber business. During his work he came into contact with Francis Reynolds who was a builder, timber merchant and later Mayor of Port Adelaide, and who came from a well established family of builders in the colony. Richard, then a bachelor of 34, was attracted to Mary Ann Reynolds, the nineteen year old daughter of Francis. Family folklore says he gained the finances to buy out David Bower through his new wife Mary Ann, whose father Francis died in England twelve months before the marriage.
At the age of 35, on the 16th of April 1875, Richard married Mary Ann Reynolds in St Paul's Church in Port Adelaide. She was born on the 3rd of May 1855, the daughter of Francis Reynolds (1824- 1874) and his wife Ann Revell (b.1828).
Richard Honey was a large importer of building materials and technology from all parts of the world. He introduced into Australia the Swiss system of timber shrinkage by steaming, patented by the Swiss expert, Reiser, and established these seasoning kilns in his Port Adelaide yards. He patented the Pavodilus, a floorboard that didn't need nailing.
As a contractor and builder in South Australia he built the first workshops in Islington, the new courthouse at Port Adelaide, Meers, D & J Fowler's premises at Port Adelaide, State Schools in different parts of the colony, and wharves, jetties and bridges around Australia. For one of his many contracts he lengthened the Moonta Railway Jetty by 96 feet in 1874 giving an additional depth of only six inches. He became the leading timber merchant and construction contractor in South Australia, and by 1889 he had established premises of: the timber yard, Butler Street, Port Adelaide, SA; the stacking and timber storage yards (D. Bower, J.P., and R. Honey), Formby Parade, Port Adelaide; the timber yards and sawmills, Honey Road / Godfrey Street, Port Adelaide; the Port Augusta site. With his South Australian operations under full control he then extended his sphere of influence interstate.
His empire in Western Australia became even more extensive than in South Australia and required his constant travelling between his interests in both states. His journeys to Western Australia include four weeks from May 1886 - arriving and departing on the South Australian, eight weeks including a trip to the North West Ports from February 1887, arriving on the Franklin and departing on the Albany, and eight weeks from October 1887, arriving on the Albany and leaving on the South Australian. So in this short 18 months he was interstate for more than a quarter of the time, and travelling First Class on the steamships constantly he would have made many contacts with other people of substance in the interstate trade.
Honey established other Lion Mill Yards at Adelaide and Port Augusta in South Australia, Bunbury, Fremantle (established May 1887), Maylands, and Perth (near the railway station) in Western Australia, and Broken Hill in New South Wales. For his source of timber, mills were established in the forests at Lion Mill (now Mount Helena) and Crooked Brook, both in WA. He also imported timber from all over the world including the Baltic and Burma. During its developing days around 1887 the firm averaged between 300 to 350 employees throughout Australia, and was beginning to expand.
Richard had eight sailing vessels of his own in the intercolonial and coastal trade including:
Ethel, his private yacht, which came third in the 1880 Glenelg Yacht Race.
Mary Blair, a barque of 327 tons under the command of Captain T. Askin, built in 1870 of wood by Duthie of Aberdeen, with dimensions of 141 x 27 x 14 feet, having a round stern, one deck and three masts. Listed from March 1887 to the Port of Adelaide and then also listed in February 1889 in the Fremantle Register of Shipping, to "R. Honey and Co." The barque was put on to the Adelaide to Fremantle run, transporting timber to Adelaide and passengers on the return trip to Fremantle.
Cappella, a ketch of 73 tons. For a time under Captain Richardson, who worked for him for 18 months and said of Richard Honey: "He was one of the finest men I have ever worked for."
Beatrice, which was also used on the Fremantle run.
Elsie, a ketch of 59 tons
Lily Hawkins, a ketch of 84 tons, owned by R. Honey & R. Glen.
Elizabeth Anne, a schooner of 61 tons.
Ousiori, a barque of 357 tons.
Honey was an enthusiastic and expert yachtsman, and his enthusiasm ensured his election as Commodore of the Port Adelaide Royal Yacht Club. He was also made a Justice of the Peace.
The family residence at Lionville, at the top of Woodville Road was built around 1876 and demolished over a hundred years later in 1978 so that the Woodville Road could be extended.
His interests into Western Australia were just beginning to expand when he died. His eldest son Lionel Richard Honey was not quite old enough to take on Richard's expansion programme, though he became quite a successful timber man in his own right. The amalgamation of the timber industry in WA started soon after Richard's death. The potential that Richard had seen there but Lionel was unable to grasp was taken up to become Millars and Bunnings.
Richard died at his Lionville home 24 November 1892, two weeks after falling ill on his yacht Ethel, at the age of only 51 years. This illness may have been aggravated, if not caused by, strain on his heart during a trip to Bunbury in late October where he extricated a coach from an accident, and returned unwell to Fremantle. His wife Mary Ann died at the age of 72, on the 22nd October 1927 at her residence - then in Railway Terrace, Franklin. They are buried together in the Cheltenham Cemetery with the high monument entwined with a ships anchor. A list of their direct descendants now number over 198 confirmed, and are spread throughout the world.

References and Links

Many thanks to Ken Stewart, who did the Honey research which is shown in the pages linked below. And thanks also to him for permission to show it above.

Honey family page, from which almost of the above is taken.

Honey genealogy by the same author as the family page above.

Lion Mill Vineyards history - including Richard Honey, James Port, and the Bunning brothers.

Heritage Council page for Lion Mill Mt Helena.

Garry Gillard | New: 1 January, 2020 | Now: 22 November, 2023