Unfortunately Simmonds's early life is obscure. He was first recorded in South Africa in 1883, co-designer with T CLARIDGE (cf CLARIDGE & SIMMONDS) of the second Dutch Reformed Church, Church Square, Pretoria (1883-1885). It is unlikely that he was a qualified architect but he seems to have been sufficiently trained to serve as a surveyor laying out parts of Johannesburg in about 1887: 'Mr Simmonds, a draughtsman, laid out various portions of Johannesburg, and Simmonds St was named after him' (SAAR Mar 1948:62). In 1887 he requested the job of overseeing the new Post and Telegraph building, Church Square, Pretoria and asked if he could make drawings of the details. He asked for an advance of money for his work on the building, implying that he obtained the job.
According to an article by Rex (1957), Simmonds won the competition for the new Government offices in Pretoria to be built on the corner of Market Street (now Paul Kruger St) and Church Square in 1887. Rex stated that on K VAN RYSSE's advice the plan was reconsidered. This done, the Government decided that a new plan should be drawn up by Van Rysse. Simmonds continued to work in Pretoria for a period, the dates of which are not known. Many who had been connected with building and architecture became agents of some sort or another in order to survive and in 1889 he placed an advertisement in the Witwatersrand Directory and Mining Guide which read: 'JW LESLIE SIMMONDS. PATENTS! PATENTS! PATENTS! All Business in connection with Patents in the South African Republic (Transvaal), makes the necessary drawings, specifications, etc., required, and carries everything through with the greatest despatch.' His career after 1889 is as obscure. According to Jansen (1990), a payment certificate for work on the Erasmus House and signed by VAN DER BENN, had JWL Simmonds printed in the margin of the certificate. It is possible that Van der Benn either worked with Simmonds in Pretoria or that Simmonds was printing payment certificates as a side-line.
(Argus Annual & SA dir 1889; Jansen 1990; Pretoriana Apr 1957; Picton-Seymour 1977; Rex 1957; Turner's WW dir & mng guide 1889; SESA 7:224; TAD ss/r262/87; TAD ss/r4983/87)
All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.
Books citing SIMMONDS
|Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pp 44, 80|
|Longland. 1979. Longland's Pretoria Directory for 1899 (Reprint No. 85). Pretoria: The State Library. pp 182|
|Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 303|
|Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pp 164|