Torquay history, historic houses, sea view villa
c. John Walker

Located at 4 Anderson Street, the grand lady of Torquay, Sea View Villa has been sitting waiting for someone to give her some love and a facelift for quite a while.

Charles Henry Smith, manager at Clyde Works Woolscourers at Breakwater, later owning his own business CH Smith & Sons, Woolscourers and Fellmongery built the house in 1894.

c. Chris Barr
c. Chris Barr

Sea View Villa may have been designed by the prolific Geelong architects, Laird and Barlow, who had a close friendship with the original owner. ‘Sea View Villa’ has long associations with the Smith Family, who owned the property until 1966. During that time, members of the family served the Geelong and Torquay community in various capacities. Although altered, the dwelling is a rare surviving local example of Late Victorian styled 19th century timber seaside residence with a viewing tower.   Source: Farmland, Forest & Surf: Environmental History, Surf Coast Shire Heritage Study Stage 2B (2009)  

aerial shot of Sea View Villa
aerial shot of Sea View Villa

Descendants of Charles Henry Smith share with us their stories of the house.

Robin Seymour great granddaughter of Charles Henry Smith tells us that the house was built in 1894 and how she would love to go up to the tower and look around on her visits. There was a wide bench that was able to accommodate a mattress. Her father would sleep on the bench when they visited. Robin describes on entering the house there was a sitting room which led you through to the kitchen. On the left hand side were the bedrooms. The walls were lined with stained wood. Out the back was an old blue stone stable which was used for dining – an old pool table top would be turned over to become a dining table making the room look very smart. [Hear in Robin’s description]

Ross Illingworth, the great‐great grandson of Charles Henry & Mary Smith describes his family recollections.

c. Chris Barr
c. Chris Barr

During the devastating Torquay Fire of 13 March 1940, Cr William Smith sent over 100 workers and contractors from the Clyde Works on trucks with buckets and sacks to fight the fire at Torquay. Chains of men stretched from the sea at the front beach passing buckets of sea water to wet the sacks to protect fight threatening the township. The fire front got within a street of Sea View Villa, many of the original homes were lost that day. This makes Sea View Villa even more important.

My great great grandmother, Mary Smith (Born 1846 Died 1940). was one of Geelong’s earliest pioneers (arrived in Geelong at Point Henry on sailing ship “The Sir Robert Sale” in 1852 age six). She took a great interest in the district and the City and was a generous philanthropist. She was stranded off Point Henry for days because the crew deserted to join the gold rush. She eventually waded ashore on the shoulders of a sailor at low tide.

sea view villa
Mary Smith in the center of the photograph with the Smith family outside her home “Edgecumbe” on her 90th Birthday. (Robin Seymour (nee Ward) front 4th from left). Photo contributed by R. Seymour

Charles and Mary bought “Edgecumbe” from Silas Harding a pastoralist and businessman, his brother was an early Torquay squatter. The Smith family owned it from 1890 – 1940.

Her spouse, Charles Henry Smith (1847‐1908) “was one of the oldest wool scourers in the district”, according to the Geelong Advertiser. He was a practical engineer and inventor of agricultural machinery. “…”by constantly adding to the establishment he eventually had one of the largest and best equipped works in the colony.”

One of their sons, Cr William Herbert Smith, (born 30 June 1885) my great grandfather, and owner of “Sea View Villa” after the death of Charles Henry in 1908 until his death in 1940. W H Smith, was a elected to the committee of the Geelong Hospital 1930, Chairman of The house and finance committee, he was educated at Geelong College, President of The Geelong and Western District Protestant Orphanage 1934‐35, member of the Geelong City Council, special magistrate of the Children’s court, Chairman of the Torquay Public Reserves Committee, a member of the Torquay Progress Association and appointed to the advisory board of The Ballarat Trustees Executors & Agency Company limited. He died suddenly in 1940 with a heart attack at “Clyde” in Skene Street Newtown.

He and his wife Mrs Edith Mary Smith built “Clyde” as their family home in Skene Street just a few doors down from “Edgecumbe” grandmother Smith’s family home.  Cr W H Smith was representative of the Villamanta Ward on the Geelong City Council. His name appears on the foundation stone of City Hall. “Clyde” appeared in ‘Vogue Living’ as a feature home. They had three daughters Marjory, Leslie and Jean. On the death of William Herbert Smith, there was a “lottery” amongst family members to who would get the main house or a block of land next door. My grandmother, Marjory Illingworth [nee Smith] “won” the lottery and was given Sea View Villa. This was sold in 1966 ending a long association with the property.

Sea view Villa, Torquay History, historic houses

Lance & Maj 25th Wedding Anniversary c. R. Illingworth
Lance & Maj 25th Wedding Anniversary c. R. Illingworth

For many years now Sea View Villa has sat idle and neglected. Everyone is hoping the recent sale will bring back life into the grand old lady.

In the past…..

Sea View Villa, Torquay history, Protest
Surf Coast Times
Sea View Villa, Torquay history
c. Louise Leighton


Read all about it here:    View of the tower _ Surf Coast Times · Bellarine Times · Armstrong Creek Times

July 2015  We are happy  to see some progress on the Sea View Villa site  we will watch  with interest.

c. Chris Barr

During glory days of 1926

c. Cheryl Baulch

Condition of Sea View Villa just prior a recent sale

2016 01 TMWW mag MarchOur own History Matters Magazine feature article in our first publication was on Sea View Villa.

Click the image to read the article.

“History Matters” magazine is distributed free to all members quarterly. Membership is free, apply here.