20 Wood Street

20 Wood Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
photo: Jennifer Wood June 2020

Also known as
Previous Address
Constructed 1937
Style Inter-War Period : 1915 – 1940
Architect Unknown
Builder Unknown

Timelapse Building Images

Detail from circa 1965 photo

Circa 1965 photo


Photo taken at street party

Rob Oke

Rob Oke

Rob Oke

Land Details

The Compiled Town Record Plan shows the allotments which were auctioned on 28 December 1865. These allotments were then promptly subdivided by the new owners. No 20 is shown on MMBW 1897 Melbourne Map. There are two titles for No 20: one a 13ft (4.0m) strip from Mr C Hills allotment No 4 and the other the  adjoining 10ft (3.05m)from Mr P Walker`s No 4 allotment.  Both have a depth of 110 ft (33.5m) to the now named Donovans Lane.

Building Details

Subsequent Building Alterations

No Entries Found

Architectural Features

    No Entries Found

Heritage Significance and Listings

Heritage Listings and Explanatory Notes

As This building was built in 1937 it does not have any heritage listings


From To Owner More Info Data Source
circa 1873 20 February 1879 James amd Margaret Thomson Title
20 February 1879 10 July 1910 James Thomson and estate of Margaret Thomson Title
10 july 1910 1 July 1915 Estates of Martha and Margaret Thomson Title, Will Martha Thomson
1 July 1915 17 February 1936 Alice Wilson Title
17 February 1936 3 October 1960 William Norman Title
3 October 1960 Probate September 1961 18 October 1961 Mary Fraser and Norman Kavanagh Title
18 October 1961 21 October 1980 ???? Title


From To Resident More Info Data Source
About 1872 James and Margaret Thomson Sands and McDougall directory,wills
1871 1910 James and Martha Thomson and children Sands and McDougall directory and wills
1910 about 1912 Martha Thompson wills
1915 James Cooper Sands and McDougall directory
1920 Henry Ferguson Sands and McDougall directory
1925 George Binks Sands and McDougall directory
1930 Mary Walsh Sands and McDougall directory
1942 1964 Kenneth and Vera Patchett – Flat 20A Sands and McDougall directory, wills
1943 1961 Reg and Margaret Preston – Flat 20 Sands and McDougall directory
1964 1968 Vera Patchett plus John and Vera Humphries (relatives) – Flat 20A Sands and McDougall directory, Sands and McDougall illsliils
1968 1977 Vera Patchett and Ted Humphries neighbors

Social History



As noted in the Land section 20 Wood Street consists of two titles  with frontages of 13 ft and 10 ft. These titles were purchased around 1871 by James and Margaret Thomson. The Thomson’s  backgrounds have not been discovered but it is thought Margaret may have had some money because she became the owner of the 13 ft piece. James became the owner of the other piece.

They built a two or three room simple Victorian weatherboard cottage next to the house on No 18. The house had a 14 ft frontage which covered the width of the 13ft title plus about a foot of the 10ft title. At least the second room would have had a window onto the 9 ft strip of land up the side of the house.

The Thomson’s house was the third built in Wood Street after the Murphy’s at about No 2 and the Donovan’s next door at No 18.

James Thompson was born in 1836 and Margaret in 1845. Margaret died in 1879 aged 34.

James remarried in 1880.  His new wife Martha Hynam was born in England in 1853.  James and Martha had four children: Celia (1881), Frank (1883), William (1885) and Lucy (1886). Sadly William and Lucy died at young ages. It was not a healthy time. Next door Susan Donovan’s four children died between 1876 and 1880 and Susan died in 1884.

In the 1890’s two rooms were added to No 20 and it became a large five room house as can be seen on the 1897 MMBW plans.

James died in 1910 and around 1912 Martha moved to live with her brother in Western Australia. The house was let out at 11 shillings per week.

Martha died in 1913. In March 1915 both 20 Wood Street titles were sold at auction to  Alice Wilson. The 13 ft title was still in Margaret’s estate and the 10 ft was in Martha’s. Martha and her two surviving children via Jame`s estate were the beneficiaries of Margaret’s estate.

There were various tenants for the next twenty years until in 1935 or 1936 it is thought the house burnt down, but it may have just been demolished. A friend of current neighbor Rob Oke has  said that his father, when clearing the site,  collected the small oval metal fence number 20 for his own home in Moonee Ponds. It is thought he mentioned a fire.

William Norman bought the block in February 1936 and built a two story double fronted building comprising two apartments: No 20 downstairs and No 20A upstairs. The footprint can be seen on the 1937 MMBW drainage approval.

There were long term tenants for both apartments from the early 1940s.  Reginald Preston was living in No 20 when he married Margaret Siggins in 1943. Preston was born in Whittlesea and was a blacksmith before he enlisted in the A.I.F. during WW1. He served with the 13th Light Horse and was promoted to Lieutenant. In civilian life he was an attendant at the Mount Royal Psychiatric  Hospital in Parkville. In about 1961 the Prestons move to Dandenong. Margaret died in 1961 and Reginald in 1969.

In 1941 Kenneth Patchett married and Vera McGuiness and they moved into apartment 20A. Kenneth, born 1887, had been previously married Lottie Wisdom in 1916 and they had one son.  Lottie died in 1940 and the son in 1965

Vera  McGuiness was also known as Veronica and the wedding certificate says she was born about 1902 but her death certificate says about 1892. Both the wedding certificate and death certificate says Vera’s  mother and father were unknown so there is a mystery about how she was named McGuiness but there must be a connection to Bridget McGuiness who in 1904 married Christopher Humphries. The Humphries lived in 86 Lothian Street North Melbourne and had three children: Vera (1906), Ted (1908) and John (1912). Next door lived Bridget’s siblings James and Kate McGuiness plus Vera McGuiness who was about 40 years younger.

From at least 1937 onwards the siblings Ted, Vera and John Humphries were living at 22 Wood Street. Vera Patchett`s wedding certificate says she was also living at 22 Wood Street. She then moved next door with Kenneth. He was an electric welder, Vera Patchett was a saleswoman.  Vera Humphries was a bookbinder and Ted and John labourers.

Kenneth died in 1964. Vera and John Humphries moved in with Vera Patchett and Ted moved to nearby Chapman Street. Sadly both Vera and John Humphries died in 1968. Ted then moved into 20A with Vera Patchett and he brought with him a small cabin boat which he parked next door on the now vacant 18 Wood Street block. Neighbors report him often sitting by the boat having a few drinks with a mate. He had been a bit of a roustabout and in 1975 his expertise and labour helped build the current fence between No 18 and the rear block and around the No 16 backyard (see photo).

Neighbors who new Vera Patchett in the 1970s commented that she was very quiet and kept to her self. She died in 1977. Ted Humphries died in 1978 – there were no next of kin.
While Vera Patchett did not know whom her parents were, she had the McGuiness name of Ted`s uncle and aunt. Ted always referred to Vera as his sister.

After the Prestons and the Patchetts there were various  short term tenants in the flats until the current residents  bought the property in 1992 and moved in.


Photo taken at December 1976 street party

Rob Oke

Ted Patchett in 1975 building the fence around the 16 Wood Street backyard. Previously covered by two story stables.

Rob Oke

Ted Patchett under Wood Street eucalyptus 1977

Rob Oke

Context and Streetscape




Other Information


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