Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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BLAIR, William (1820-1907)

BLAIR, William (1820-1907)

William Blair was among the founders of Geelong College as a member of the committee convened to enquire into the feasibility of establishing a Presbyterian Grammar School in Geelong in April 1861 and, as a member of the first management committee of the College.

William Blair was responsible for the construction of the historic home, 'Claremont'. Built between 1858 and 1861, 'Claremont' at 143 Noble St, Newtown, was designed in 1857 by the engineer Andrew McWilliams. 'Claremont' is of major architectural and historical importance to Geelong and Victoria.

The Heritage Victoria listed describes it as: ' a symmetrically planned single storey Italian Renaissance revival villa, with central projecting Tuscan portico and concave roofed encircling verandah terminated on both sides by projecting wings with balustraded parapets.'

'Claremont was associated with several leading identities in the wool industry. C. J Dennys lived there from 1876 until his death in 1898. It was then purchased by A. W. Gray, at that time, owner of the Albion Woollen Mills.

William Blair married Jane, nee Lighton ( -1869) in 1850. Two of their children, John Lighton Blair (1851-1910), and William Blair (1855-1879) were educated at Geelong College.

The Geelong Advertiser newspaper noted William Blair's death:
'Mr William Blair, of 133 Myers-street, Geelong, whose death at the ripe age of 87 years, was announced in yesterday's issue, arrived in Melbourne over 60 years ago in the ship ‘Ferguson’ , in company with Mr. James Noble and Mr. William Oliver, who were former well-known residents of Geelong, who pre-deceased him. He commenced business in Geelong as a grocer and wine and spirit merchant in 1850, and resided in Geelong till his death.' William Blair was interred at the Eastern Cemetery, Geelong on 13 June 1907. His wife, Jane Blair was interred at the Eastern Cemetery Geelong on 7 September 1869 aged 45 years.

Sources: Geelong Advertiser 13 June 1907 pp 1,2.
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