Thomas Benjamin Jackson
Born: 12 April 1840, Yorkshire, England
Died: 28 December 1929*, Fremantle, Western Australia
Hometown: London, England
Thomas Jackson was the son of Alfred, a London bricklayer and builder, and Mary Jackson. He was educated at Harrow, University of Westminster in London, and completed his articles with renowned London architect Edward Barry, who designed the reconstruction of the theatre in the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden.
His trade recorded as ‘bricklayer’, Jackson (21) married Fanny Pitt (18) in Hammersmith, London, on 4 November 1861. Within the next decade they had several children and he acted as a builder’s foreman, moving his family to wherever he obtained work.
Fanny (33) died in 1875, and in 1877 Jackson married Harriet Wainwright (25), with whom he had several more children.
In 1893 he came to Western Australia from Victoria, after lengthy stints in Trinidad, London and New Zealand. After several years in the South West, where he designed several hotels and significant buildings, Jackson returned to Perth where he was widowed a second time when Harriet died in October 1897 aged 42.
He went on to design the Helena Vale racecourse track and grandstand, the Victoria Hotel in Subiaco which opened in 1898, and the Continental Hotel in Claremont which opened in 1899. In 1902, for retail landowner Mrs Harriet Eliza Mitchell, he designed a building on the corner of Murray and William Streets, Perth. Initially known as Mitchell Chambers, the first tenants to take up the ground floor, with frontages to Murray and William Streets, was J Masel and Son selling clothing, jewellery and “fancy merchandise”, and the building soon became known as Masel’s.
Noted for his genial disposition and often referred to as ‘General’ Jackson, he continued designing into his seventies. He took up bowls in retirement and was such an enthusiast it then became a significant part of his life. He was the founding president of the Perth Bowling Club and the Western Australia Bowling Association. He died at the venerable age of 89, leaving nine grown children and their families in Perth and all over the world.
*Cemetery records indicate 29 December but newspaper articles and family notices clarify it was 28 December.