John Smith (1855-1926) was a controversial figure and somewhat unorthodox as a developer and builder. He was reported to have used his umbrella to measure out the plots. Described as leading a quiet life and being connected with the Congregational Church on the Avenue, he was absorbed in his construction business. ‘By enterprise and keen business acumen’ he expanded his firm into probably the ‘largest of its kind in Southampton’.
At his death, it was estimated that in over thirty years of activity, he was responsible for erecting more than 1000 houses in the suburbs of Southampton, notably in Shirley. He built many of the houses in Oakmount Triangle but it is probably fair to say he was a developer and builder rather than a trained architect. What we call the “John Smith” style of building seems to be based on very typical suburban design we can find across the whole country.