Harry Winbush

Harry Winbush (1903 – 1990) architect
Harry Winbush was a distinguished Melbourne architect. Over and above that, it was his dedication to his Christian faith which provided his primary direction and purpose in life.

This image is a sketch of Harry Winbush drawn by one of his students – Paul Kuek in 1965.   For the full size sketch, click for the image.

Harry Winbush’s professional achievements are detailed – with citations – in Wikipedia at:

Some of those achievements are very briefly summarised below:

He designed:
* many residential and commercial buildings
* fire stations in Port Melbourne, Box Hill and East Kew
* public libraries in Glenroy and Essendon
* a theatre for the Essendon Society of Arts
* hospitals in Essendon and Greensborough-Diamond Valley
* the main grandstand at the Essendon football ground
* a ten-pin bowling centre
* a Trugo club-house
– and
* an art deco house.

He was:
* the Head of the Department of Art and Architecture RMIT
* a Member of the first Board of Architectural Education
* the President of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects
* a Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects
* a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects
* the Chairman of the Architects’ Registration Board of Victoria
* a Councillor of the National Trust of Victoria
* jointly responsible for the development of the Design Institute of Australia
– and was
* active in Rotary International for nearly 50 years to become a Paul Harris Fellow.


However all of that was secondary to Harry’s greatest motivation which was his Christian faith. Beyond his busy schedule he always had time, right throughout his adult life, to lead a church, to teach Sunday School, to run a weekly Bible Study in his home (and at times, after hours, in his office) as well as publishing Christian literature. He was a church organist. He maintained a diverse collection of both architectural and Christian books and publications.

Harry Winbush was a distinguished architect whose Christian faith provided his primary direction and purpose in life.

Harry Stephen Winbush died in 1990 – an influential Australian Christian.

The Obituary (click the .PFD file) outlines more of Harry Winbush’s life and provides further insights into his deep Christian commitment. It is also reproduced below:

We record with sorrow the death of our dearly loved Brother in the Lord
Jesus Christ, Harry Winbush, on 30th May, 1990 at the age of 86 years.
Harry was brought up in a sincere, loving Christian home where the
principles of the Bible were paramount and he was a devout follower of the
Lord over his whole life.
He loved to study the Bible and to discuss it with anyone who wished to
share his love of the word of God. Indeed, on the night that he was stricken
with the stroke that was to end his life, the Tuesday evening class in his home
had just finished a study of the Book of Revelation and he was eager to
discuss his desire to write a treatise on this wonderful book of the Bible.
Although Harry was born in Melbourne, he lived his early years in Toora,
Gippsland. It was there his parents, William Winbush and Bessie Shallcross,
had met and were married in 1902. His mother’s parents, William and
Elizabeth Shallcross, were a major influence on Harry’s life, as they were
devout Christians and they assisted in instilling a love of the Bible in all their
With his Sunday School training by earnest Christian teachers, coupled with
Harry’s home influence and the learning of Scripture texts under the special
guidance of his loving grandmother, Harry showed his desire to serve and
please God right from a very early age.
That early training was always paramount throughout his life, perhaps not
more so than at the time of his dearly loved mother’s death in 1918, when
Harry was 14 and the eldest child in a family of five children. Together with
the unwavering leadership of and dedication to his family by his father,
Harry responded with total loyalty during extremely difficult times.
He pursued his studies diligently and was awarded a scholarship from
Brunswick Technical School for architectural studies at the Working Men’s
College (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology – RMIT). He was then able
to complete his qualifications in Melbourne and later in England. When
Harry returned to Melbourne, the depression had overtaken everyone and
while he gained a position with the railways for a while, he was retrenched as
he was the last one to be employed there. Although he was highly qualified,
no work was available in Melbourne so Harry went with his bicycle to
Hamilton, a small country town in Victoria, to ride around the area selling
Rawleigh products to earn just sufficient to cover bare necessities.
Later he obtained work in Melbourne and also commenced his own
architectural practice. He also lectured at the Prahran Technical School and
then at RMIT, going on to become Head of the Department of Architecture
and Building.
Harry married Jessie McKenzie in 1935; she was the daughter of Christians
whom Harry had known all his life, and Jessie was a loving helpmeet until
her death in 1973. They suffered a great tragedy in the loss of their baby
daughter, Florence, who only lived for two days, but their very happy
marriage lasted for nearly 40 years. They had built their home in Essendon
near Jessie’s parents very soon after their marriage.
There are so many aspects to his life that were notable but the most important
were his life of dedication to God, his willingness to serve others, his
humility, his love of a joke and his teaching ability.
His dedication to serving others was also shown in his membership of Rotary
international for nearly fifty years and the high regard he was held in by his
fellow members.
Harry was a long serving member of the Bible Class in Melbourne and
showed a special interest in the younger members of the congregation. For
many years he taught in the Sunday School and with the support of his wife
Jessie, started a young people’s class at his office in Melbourne and later on
Friday evenings in his home and at the homes of various members. His caring
attitude to the younger members and assistance in understanding the Bible
has been appreciated by all those who were privileged to attend those classes.
Over the years he carried out many duties, including that of chairman of
classes, taking of services and giving sermons, organising conferences and
public witness work and his contribution will be greatly missed by the
In 1974 Harry married Dorothy Hoppen whom he had known since Sunday
School days. Dorothy also had suffered the sad loss of her husband, Keith,
shortly before Jessie’s death. Their marriage gave them both many more years
of happiness in sharing their lives together and in their Christian work. As
well as the dedicated work that he did for all the meetings and Bible
conferences for the congregation. Harry and Dorothy were fortunate to be
able to visit brethren whom they loved in America and England. Harry’s
active and resourceful mind together with his remarkable memory, proved
invaluable. In all his endeavours and he greatly appreciated Dorothy’s everloving
help and her hospitality, so that friends always received a very warm
welcome in their home.
Our loving sympathy goes out to Dorothy and her family and to Harry’s
sisters in their loss, as well as to all who have lost a wonderful counsellor,
guide and friend, but we know that his great Christian influence will always
continue, and we rejoice that Harry has finished his course on earth.
At this time we feel that it is appropriate that we recall the words of the well
loved hymn Happy Day which was also one of Harry’s favourites.
O happy day, that fixed my choice
On thee, my Saviour and my God!
Well may this glowing heart rejoice
And tell its raptures all abroad.
Now rest, my long divided heart
Fixed on this blissful centre, rest
Nor ever from thy Lord depart
With him of ev’ry good possessed.
Yes, happy ev’ry day has been
Since I am his and he is mine
He leads me and I follow on
Directed through the Word divine.
Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away
He taught me how to watch and pray
And live rejoicing ev’ry day
Happy day, happy day
When Jesus washed my sins away.
A comment at a recent discussion possibly sums up Harry’s nature best.
When the topic of favourite verses arose, he said that his favorite verses were
in Genesis and Revelation 22:20 and 21
and ALL the verses in between.
We all look to that great promise in Revelation:
“He which testifieth these things saith,
Surely I come quickly. Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

As a footnote to the history of Harry Winbush:

Harry Winbush’s grandfather was Edward John Winbush, Licensed Victualler of the London pub, Magpie & Punch Bowl. Harry Winbush’s father was William Winbush. An uncle of Harry Winbush was the painter John L. Winbush (aka Wimbush, Jan 1854 – Mar 1914).http://www.artnet.com/artists/john-l-wimbush/past-auction-results Wimbush provided a studio (and possibly the chair and rug) for James McNeill Whistler – the painter of Whistler’s Mother. http://www.archive.org/stream/lifeofjamesmcnei001679mbp/lifeofjamesmcnei001679mbp_djvu.txt

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One thought on “Harry Winbush”

  1. Thank you for this profile of Harry Winbush.
    I am now the proud owner of the property his father [William Winbush] selected in 1898 in Toora North, South Gippsland. I was also lucky enough to meet his last surviving daughter to enhance my research. My interest came about when I set about a genealogy study of the property to current day [and still working on it!]

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