OXFORDSHIRE BLUE PLAQUES SCHEME

Daniel EVANS (1769–1846)
Joshua SYMM (1809–1887)

Oxford builders

34 St Giles’, Oxford

Daniel Evans was born c.1769 probably in Fairford, Gloucestershire. He began as a bricklayer working from London; his first Oxford venture was the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, New Inn Hall Street, in 1817. He was the first building contractor in Oxford and his first college contract came with the building of Magdalen Hall, now Hertford College, completed in 1822. Until his death in 1846 he lived at 34 St Giles’, part of a terrace of three houses (below) that he had designed and built in 1829.

34–35 St Giles'34 St Giles’ is on the right of this group

Joshua Symm was born in Allendale, Northumberland in 1808. He joined Evans as a stonemason in the 1830s and married his only daughter Elizabeth. After the death of Evans he took over the firm’s business, constructing a good proportion of all new nineteenth-century college buildings such as Exeter College Chapel to the design of Gilbert Scott, the Meadow Buildings at Christ Church, the Clarendon Laboratory (T. N. Deane) and city buildings e.g. the main Post Office (E. G. Rivers). The firm’s craftsmen in wood and stone also worked on the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian, the Cathedral, Tom Tower and many other buildings of both town and gown.

Symm & Co. continues today and still plays a major part in maintaining the fabric of Oxford. Malcolm Axtell, the Managing Director, is descended from Thomas Axtell, the foreman mason who became a partner of Joshua Symm in 1874. 34 St Giles’ remained the administrative headquarters until 1969 when they transferred to Osney Mead.

Source: Brian R. Law: Building Oxford’s Heritage, Symm & Co. from 1815

The plaque was unveiled at 34 St Giles’, Oxford on 19 October 2004 by the architectural historian Sir Howard Colvin.

Plaque to Evans and Symm

Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

DANIEL EVANS 
1769–1846
and his son-in-law
JOSHUA SYMM 
1809–1887
Designers and makers of
many Oxford buildings
Lived and worked
here

Oxford Civic Society

© Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board

 

Email: oxfordshireblueplaques@gmail.com