|St Martins Anglican Church Killara|
He was born in 1854 in Moseley, a suburb of Birmingham, England, the third son of Sarah and Roger Harley. His father, a builder, in 1861 had fifty men in his employ. By 1871 Harley senior had died and Oliver was employed as an architects’ clerk. He migrated to Australia c.1877 and found work as a building contractor. When he married Alice Shinner in 1887 he was living in Surry Hills. From 1888 onwards the couple purchased properties in Marrickville, North Annandale, Redfern, Rookwood, Waverley, Petersham, Leura, Faulconbridge and Ku-ring-gai.
By 1889 Harley’s occupation was listed as architect and the couple had settled in Bon Accord Avenue, Waverley. Drawings for “Competitive Design for Masonic Hall, Shops, &c., Broken Hill” by “Oliver Harley, Esq. Architect, Sydney” in The Builders & Contractors’ News of April 1890 show a large, ornate two-storeyed building with attic rooms and ground floor loggia shaded by full-length verandahs. I have not yet discovered whether his design was selected. Harley’s first project in Ku-ring-gai was a cottage at Gordon in 1902, and his first purchase was 3 Stanhope Road in 1903. Later purchases were 11 Locksley St (1912) their home from 1909 to 1913, 69 Arnold St (1911), 3 Karranga Ave (1914), 15 Blenheim Rd (1914) and 20 Marian St (1918).
I believe he designed all of these houses. The present owner of 15 Arnold St confirms that it was designed by Harley in 1915. When he died in March 1921, 2 Stanhope Rd (for Mrs Harriet Scarr) was under construction. This was completed under the architects Carlyle Greenwell and Henry Budden, who in 1924 designed the lychgate for St Martin’s, given in Harley’s memory by his widow Alice. Between 1902 and 1921 Harley designed houses in Turramurra, Gordon, Wahroonga, Roseville and Lindfield, as well as our first Council chambers at Gordon, shops in Killara, additions to the Killara Hall, renovations to St John’s Gordon and additions to the Anglican Church at Lindfield. Harley also had projects outside Ku-ring-gai: the new Presbyterian Church at Drummoyne, a hide store in Melbourne, a woolshed in the Kanimbla Valley, the Chatswood School of Arts, a school in Paddington for the Kilburn Sisters and numerous projects in the eastern suburbs - Waverley, Bondi, Bellevue Hill and Woollahra – a body of work that was extensive and diverse.