The mid to late 1880’s were a boom time for land speculators in Northcote, with large blocks being sold off to ambitious entrepreneurs for subdivision. Even those who purchased the smaller blocks were finding re-selling them a lucrative option. This re-selling opened the door to an increased presence of land agents, with a major early player being F.L. Flint, whose Northcote office was opened in 1886 and run by Walter Stott. Not long after opening Stott bought out his employer and began a long association with the Northcote real estate industry.
As the land boom collapsed in the early part of the 1890’s many of the land agents were forced to close their business, with Stott and Edwin Bastings being the chief survivors. On their own the two leading agents in the area could only survive so long, and in 1894 Stott’s business, which had traded as W.S. Stott & Co. merged with Bastings to form Stott & Bastings. The firm were to play an instrumental role in Northcote’s population growth, managing the subdivisions of a number of significant estates in the Northcote and Thornbury areas, as well as some in Preston.
The Stott name continues in real estate today, having become Haughton Stotts, with 4 offices in Melbourne. The Northcote office remains at 203 High St, where Stott’s name has been on the door for nearly 100 years.
Despite his success as a business man, Stott was more well known to the general public of Northcote for his role in the fledgling city’s sporting life. Stott was never a participant on the field, rather his calling was as an administrator. On the committee of the Northcote Star Cricket Club from as early as 1887, Stott became the club’s president in 1889, a position he held with virtually no interruption until his death. He was a key figure in the club’s move to Northcote Park and the construction of the grandstand there in 1914. He also assisted in finding new talent, providing trophies and was prepared to offer financial aid when club resources were low. Stott served as Northcote’s VCA delegate for thirteen years, and was chairman for one. He was also the VCA’s honorary treasurer for ten years. In this role Stott excelled due to his meticulous nature. For the first time the financial details of the VCA were open and available to all members.
In addition to his close ties with the Cricket Club, Stott served the Northcote Football Club for around 30 years, including ten terms as the club’s president.
Stott also served a term as president of the amateur Northcote Cycling Club, was foundation president of the Northcote Bowling Club and was vice-president of the Northcote Life-Saving and Swimming Club. He also had an interest in theatre, assisting the formation of the Northcote Theatre Company as well as the erection of its building in 1912. In 52 years of service to the area, Walter Stott played a great role in the establishment of Northcote as a city and a community.
A century of excellence in Real Estate (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2005, from http://www.haus.com.au/haughtonstotts/history.html
Coleman, Robert (1993). Seasons in the sun: the story of the Victorian Cricket Association. North Melbourne, Vic: Hargreen.
Death of Mr. W.S. Stott, one of Northcote’s pioneers. (1938, August 25). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic. : 1882 - ).
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.