Faces of Tamworth: builder of Tamworth, William Dowel

TIMELESS: Many of William S Dowel's buildings are still standing today.

TIMELESS: Many of William S Dowel's buildings are still standing today.

WILLIAM Dowel was only in his early 20s when he helped build Tamworth’s first two-storey building in 1854.

He went on to become on of the city’s most significant builders, with many of his buildings still standing.

Mr Dowel was born in London in 1833. He was the son of a building contractor and seems to have inherited his father’s skills.

He was the mastermind behind some of Tamworth’s most grand buildings, such as the St John’s Church on Cathage Street, the St Nicholas Church on Marius Street and it's neighbouring Conservatorium of Music (which was originally the Dominican Convent).

Mr Dowel also constructed Tamworth Public School and West Tamworth Public School, along with a suspension bridge of the Peel River, the first of its kind in NSW.

In may come as no surprise that Dowell Avenue is named in his honour (despite the indulgence of an additional ‘L’). 

His efforts weren’t just restricted to the city – he did work out at Goonoo Goonoo Station and Keera Station east of Bingara.

He later turned his attentions to state politics, and was the Tamworth MP from 1887 to mid-1894. 

Mr Dowell, a member of the Protectionist Party, was less successful in the federal politics arena, losing the contest for the since abolished seat of Bingara.

Mr Dowell was not only involved in building and farming, but was also an orchardist, an auctioneer and a director of the Tamworth Permanent Mutual Benefit and Building Society.

He later moved to Parramatta with his wife Eliza. Family tradition has it that after persuading his wife to sign their home over to him, he then sold it and skipped off to Queensland, leaving her with no means of support and forcing her to live with her daughter, also named Eliza.

Whether this is true or not, it has been established that by 1898, W. S. Dowel was living in far northern Queensland, having arrived there from Stanthorpe.

He was, by then, a Queensland Justice of the Peace and was heavily involved in a number of significant mining speculations in the Herberton area, near Cairns. He is known to have died at the Herberton General Hospital on 25 November 1905.