Joseph Allen Francis
Born: 6 August 1869, Perranzabuloe, Cornwall
Died: 23 May 1933, Fremantle, Western Australia
Occupation: Architect, Civil Engineer, Politician (local government)
Hometown: Perth, Western Australia
Joseph Allen came to Australia with his parents in 1879, aged nine. After a brief stay in Melbourne they moved to Parramatta, New South Wales, where Joseph completed his education.
He first studied architecture with young Sydney architect Gordon McKinnon, then civil engineering under Rhodes & Co.
In 1896 Joseph came to Fremantle, Western Australia where, for two years, he worked as an assistant engineer for the State Government on the development of Fremantle Harbour under C Y O’Connor. In 1898 he went into private architectural practice with Claude Nicholas but designed most of the buildings he’s best known for, alone. Among them are East Fremantle’s Town Hall, the Fremantle Trades Hall, and the Strelitz Brothers’ buildings in Mouat Street, Fremantle (1897), and on Murray Street through to Hay, Perth (1908).
On 26 September 1900 Joseph (31) married Jean Buntine (39) and their only child, Janet, was born in 1902.
The next year Joseph ran for local council of East Fremantle and, bar one year, remained on council for the rest of his life. He served twice as mayor, from 1909 and 1931.
In 1912, the same year he was widowed, Joseph attempted to enter State politics. He succeeded in 1914, by a narrow margin, and was briefly the Liberal member for the West Province until 1920. Though not in office he remained vocal and politically influential. He was a founding member of the Fremantle Municipal Tramways and Rottnest Control Boards, a member of the Electric Lighting Board, and president of the Royal Institute of Architects (1928-1933) and Fremantle Chamber of Commerce (1921-1925 and 1933).
At 1am on 23 May 1933 Joseph (64), then mayor of East Fremantle, was found floating in the Swan River. His death was mysterious, timed precisely at midnight by the stopping of his wristwatch, but at inquest the coroner found no suspicious circumstances.