Walter Renny

Born
1829
Died
1878
Profession
Painter, Oil And Colour Man

Terms served on Council

Title Council From To
Alderman City of Sydney 1863 1865
Alderman City of Sydney 1866 1870
Mayor City of Sydney 1869 1870
  • Walter Renny, painted Richard Read (Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW)
  • Mary Ann Renny, wife of Walter Renny, painted by Richard Read (Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW)
  • Strathfieldsaye the home built for Walter Renny and his family at Burwood (Courtesy Strathfield District Historical Society)
  • Walter Renny (City of Sydney Archives)

Family background

Walter Renny was born in England in c1828. He emigrated to Australia in 1853 on the Strathfieldsaye. He married Mary Ann White at Balmain in 1857; no children of the marriage have been identified. Renny spent his later years living with his sister in William Street, and also lived in Melbourne. He went on a world tour in 1878, but died at his mother’s house in London on 24 June 1878 aged 49 years old.

Occupation & interests

In 1858, Walter Renny, painter, had premises at 380 Brougham Street. From 1863 he was a painter and paperhanger at 170 Pitt Street. In 1867 he offered samples of imitation stained glass to Henry Parkes. In 1873 his business was described as an oil, colour, glass, and paper-hanging warehouse. The flamboyant painter advertised his decorative skills by painting blocks of blue and white on his premises near the corner of Pitt and King Streets. This establishment became famous as the Blue House and earned him the nickname of Royal Blue Renny.

In 1868, Strathfieldsaye was built for him at Burwood, the name inspired by the Duke of Wellington’s English home. It was later known as Strathfield House and the name was adopted for the new Municipality of Strathfield on 2 June 1885. He is also remembered by a pair of sandstone gateposts at the Bridge Street entrance to Macquarie Place Park and two drinking fountains in Moore Park and Argyle Place. He was also the namesake for Mount Rennie (sic) in Moore Park.

Community activity

Renny was a Justice of the Peace (JP). He was a member of the Sydney Lodge of Mark Master Masons No 25, and was also a champion marksman.

Local government service

Walter Renny was Alderman for Bourke Ward, 1 December 1863 to 30 November 1865 and 1 December 1866 to 30 November 1870. Renny was Mayor in 1869-70. During his mayoralty, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was entertained by Sydney Council at a specially erected pavilion in Hyde Park.

References

City of Sydney Archives: Aldermen’s Files; Photo: THC 90/011

Walter Renny, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, ML 1062, https://collection.sl.nsw.gov.au/record/n7o7Qp3n

Mary Ann Renny, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, ML 1063, https://collection.sl.nsw.gov.au/record/nV2pd5qn

Walter Renny letter-diary to his parents relating to voyage to Australia on Strathfieldsaye, 1853, with related material, 1857-1896, State Library of NSW, MLMSS 5627, https://collection.sl.nsw.gov.au/record/1LjR46D9 

Terri McCormack, ‘Renny, Walter’, Dictionary of Sydney, 2012, http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/entry/renny_walter, viewed 05 December 2012

‘Walter Renny’, Design and Art Australia Online, http://www.daao.org.au/bio/walter-renny, viewed 5 July 2021

Hughes, Joy (ed) 1999, Demolished Houses of Sydney, Historic Houses Trust of NSW, Glebe

Leichhardt Historical Journal Volume 12

Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter Vol 10 No 10 June 1988

‘A HO(A)RSE LAUGH AT A MAYOR’S FEAST’, Sydney Punch,  4 September 1869, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article253224202

‘Moore Park’, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 June 1870, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28420248

‘Family Notices’, The Argus, 13 August 1878, p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5944051

‘Death of Mr. Walter Renny’, Evening News, 17 August 1878, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107949632

Citation

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