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.

Thomas Axtell, foreman mason, became the partner of Joshua Symm in 1874 and his descendants continued to direct the firm. 34 St Giles remained the administrative headquarters until 1969 when the firm transferred to Osney Mead.  Symm & Co. continued to play a distinguished part in maintaining the fabric of Oxford until they ceased trading in 2020, a heartfelt loss to the city.

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

and his son-in-law
Designers and makers of
many Oxford buildings
Lived and worked

Oxford Civic Society

© Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board


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