Skip to content

Well Built – Melbourne

Well Built: Simmie & Co Master Builders 1924 – 1978 was created by historian and curator, Dr Andrew Kilsby.

The exhibition was launched on 2 February 2023 by the sponsor, Richard Simmie.

Simmie & Co was a prominent building company in Melbourne (1924-1978) and in Canberra (1926-1969). In Melbourne the company was highly successful and built many iconic buildings, churches, monasteries, schools, housing, factories, defence works, the Shrine forecourt (1939-45), offices, theatres and so on, including some heritage listed constructions (one designed by Arthur Boyd).

In Canberra, Simmie & Co was responsible for building a wide range of iconic constructions, including the first Northbourne Avenue shops on London Circuit, to Albert Hall, the Australian War Memorial, St Andrews Cathedral, Institute of Anatomy (now the Film and Sound Archives), US Embassy and several other embassies, R G Menzies Library and so on along with a range of housing from heritage listed homes in Forrest to worker’s cottages in Narrabundah, schools, halls, theatres and commercial sites etc.

The founders were three Victorian brothers, all born in the last decade of the nineteenth century and all worked at the Sunshine Harvester factory before World War One – William, Jock & George. All were World War One veterans (two were Gallipoli veterans). All were wounded and survived. Two were closely involved with the Master Builders Association in Melbourne.

See their story of a pioneering building company of the early to mid-twentieth century, of World War One veterans, of courage and a willingness to take a risk, of the beginning of the capital city of Australia and the workers, the unsung heroes, who made it all happen.