Introduction

Welcome to my research about colonial Victoria’s famous stained glass company “Ferguson & Urie” who operated out of Curzon Street in North Melbourne from 1853 to 1899.

Here you will find hundreds of articles and historic newspaper transcriptions, thousands of photographs and a goldmine of historical information, not only about the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company, but also about our Colonial pioneers who were memorialised in the stained glass windows they made.

“Ferguson & Urie stained glass windows not only tell stories of the Bible but encompass medicine, explorers, humanitarians, sea tragedies, war, love and respect, royalty, bravery, Shakespeare, education, human suffering and even a famous race horse!”  – Janice Ball, 2013

In late April 1853 three Scots from Ayrshire arrived in Victoria and laid the foundations for Australia’s first commercial stained glass company.

Initially starting out as Plumbers, Slaters and Glaziers, they seized upon the revival of Gothic architecture and the immense wealth generated by the Victorian gold rush. By 1861 they began to concentrate the business solely on the medieval art of stained glass craftsmanship and after a 46 year period the company would be firmly cemented in history as “Ferguson & Urie”, Australia’s Historic Colonial Stained Glass Craftsmen.

James Ferguson & James Urie

James Ferguson & James Urie 1887

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“I have just received per mail, a photograph of a splendid piece of work – in the shape of a magnificent stained glass window, it is equal to anything of the kind produced in the old country, and is a credit to the colony. This splendid piece of work has just been completed for the new theatre now about opening in Melbourne, and has been manufactured at the works of Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, of Curzon-street, Melbourne, its designers and the artists to whom it will testify for years to come; they have successfully carried out a specimen of the fine arts, such as could not be excelled in any part of the Queen’s dominions…”

The Portland Guardian, Victoria, July 1862

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My aim to discover and document as much as possible about the business exploits of  James Ferguson and his business partner James Urie, Australia’s pioneers in the medieval art of stained glass craftsmanship in Colonial Victoria.

There have been isolated individual references about stained glass windows created by the firm in a handful of publications and historical records, but to date there has never been any single focused research of the company or their stained glass windows. My aim is to change that and create the first dedicated repository of the Ferguson & Urie Company history and their stained glass windows.

Research to date indicates that Ferguson & Urie were the first company to have started manufacturing stained glass windows on a commercial scale anywhere in Australia. The very first evidence of their foray into stained glass production occurred in early 1855 (although not on a commercial scale), less than two years after they started business as Plumbers, Slaters, and Glaziers at North Melbourne in August 1853.

The aim of my research is to locate, photograph and document the firm’s stained glass windows and to transcribe historic newspaper articles mentioning the firm, or the employees and their histories. Where possible, I’ll delve into the mysteries and stories surrounding the windows, where they were erected, and the history behind the colonial pioneers who donated the windows or who had windows made in their memory. It’s impossible for me to do all this on my own and I thankfully have great support from some family members overseas, in particular New Zealand, as well as the academics and modern day artisans involved in the field of historic stained glass

As at October 2014 there are over 217 buildings located with one or more extant stained glass windows created by the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company. Although this seems like a lot, it is a mere drop in the ocean in comparison to the number of stained glass windows that have been erected in churches and public or private buildings on the eastern side of Australia since colonial times. Ferguson & Urie had a 46 year history with 38 of those years solely dedicated to the production of stained glass. I suspect that what I have discovered to-date is a fraction of what could still be out there somewhere!

The oldest ‘known’ figurative stained glass window to have been erected anywhere in Australia was created by the English stained glass artist William Wailes and was erected at Christ Church, Longford, Tasmania in 1844. In comparison, the oldest known locally made extant window by the Ferguson & Urie company is dated only seventeen years later, in November 1861, and is located at St Margaret’s Church at Eltham in Victoria.

Most of the historic stained glass windows in our Australian churches have been reasonably well preserved and have survived more than 150 years. Secular windows crafted for private homes and mansions have been been the most elusive of all to find. Only a handful of privately owned windows have been located and photographed to date and most of these have been found in historical buildings now owned by the National Trust or protected by Heritage legislation.

Some family historians may even find some interesting windows on this site that have been dedicated to their pioneering ancestors! – If you do, drop me an email and tell me the history as you know it.

If you believe that you have some information to contribute, no matter how small, which may assist in the research of the Ferguson & Urie company and their stained glass windows, then feel free to contact me via the contact page. Each of the individual articles also have the option to leave a comment which is automatically sent to me for moderation.

If I’ve managed to gain your interest to this point then you should take the next step and view a brief outline of the Ferguson & Urie company history.

There’s probably something of interest in this web site for everyone, encompassing Australian history, family history, religion, architecture, art, heraldry and much more.

Regards,

Ray

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29 comments on “Introduction

  1. I would appreciate any clarification you may be able to give me on the magnificent stained glass windows in St John’s Anglican church at Raymond Terrace, which were installed in 1872. They were reportedly the work of local glazier HB Cotton, but the firm of Ferguson, Urie and Lyon reportedly commented on the skill of the glazier saying the work compared to that in Britain. I wondered if Cotton possibly worked for the firm, or what the connection might be. The windows are known as the Keene windows and were gifted to the church on the death of William Keene. They are being rededicated on 29th Oct after the Keene family generously had them restored.

    • Coincidentally I am in the process of putting together an article about the Ferguson & Urie windows at St John’s at Raymond Terrace and I have also been in contact with the parish secretary and members of Keen family. The person named Cotton you mention was Henry Bays Cotton. He was the manager of the National Bank in Newcastle and was the lead instigator to have the window erected in St John’s.
      I hope to have my article online very soon.

      Ray

  2. I am interested to find out whether Ferguson & Urie were commissioned to provide the stained glass for Dr. T.N.Fitzgerald’s house ‘Rostella’ now demolished (1972) Lonsdale Street?

    • Hi Peter,
      From what I have read in the past, Rostella was demolished after 1979 but the original gates and stone pillars still stand next to 460 Lonsdale st. I have no idea whether it had any stained glass windows and if it did, whether they were by Ferguson & Urie. But based on the date of the building c.1869-69 it firmly places it within Ferguson & Uries period. Unless there are any photos of the windows in existence it would be impossible to know. The other thing is whether the windows, if there were any, were salvaged and found a new home!

      Ray

  3. Thank you Ray for your site. I am research a matter related to the Ferguson and Urie stained glass windows at the Melbourne Museum which originated from Zeerust which was previously known as Glenferrie House. My parents have the black marble fireplace from the ballroom at Zeerust which they purchased from the wreckers prior to the mansion’s demolition in 1954. It is magnificent and I wish to know of its origins. Through your web site I have filled a few blanks. Do you have anything which might help?

    • Hi Yvonne, I’m glad the two articles on my site about the ‘Glenferrie’ window were of some help. http://fergusonandurie.wordpress.com/tag/zeerust/
      I know absolutely nothing about marble fireplaces other than my perception from reading many articles over the years is that most were probably imported with the most likely suppliers being from Belgium. I don’t know much about any local manufacturers but there was a company by the name of William Train & Co who operated out of South Melbourne from mid 1880’s and manufactured their own marble items which included mantlepieces etc.

      This article below from TROVE might be of interest.

      PROGRESSIVE MELBOURNE. (1887, July 29). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING, Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE PORTLAND GUARDIAN. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65409521

      Ray

  4. Your welcome Thea.
    I enjoy the windows and their history. I’ll send a detailed photo of the stained glass window for you shortly. If you want to include any additional detail about Dugald Macpherson from your historical perspective, feel free to do so. It’s great to have a bit of history about the donors or subjects of the memorial names mentioned in the windows.

    Ray

  5. Hello Ray
    Thank you for your comprehensive work posted here, and also for posting your comment on the Museum Victoria site, in particular the Dugald Macpherson page. if you had not done that I would not have become aware of the beautiful Ferguson & Urie stained glass window donated to St Paul’s in Ballan, by my great-great-great-great-grandmother in 1866. What a family gem! My father, Dugald Macpherson, would have been thrilled to have seen such a lovely work of art associated with his ancestors. Your work gives our family story another dimension, and I’m very grateful.
    Thea Macpherson.

  6. Hi Dorothy,
    Thanks for picking me up on this post regards the “Linlay” & “Linay” spelling. I seemed to have used the same in many places so I have hunted down as many occurrences of that and corrected “Linlay” to “Linay”.

    It’s also been a while since a revisited this post and I have not transcribed my latest notes to this particular article but you have twisted my arm and so I have done so tonight. See update at: http://wp.me/p28nLD-Bm

    From my notes I have actually found no reference to John Linay involved in any “Timber” business so to speak, but have many references and notes to his ‘meagre’ life as a clerk with the Victorian Life Assurance Company up until 1875. By all accounts it would seem that he probably had the very first penny he ever earnt and despite a significant wealth at his death, he left the vast majority of his estate between the Melbourne and Alfred hospitals and meagre sums to individuals and relatives . I think if I had been the poor old ‘cousin’ he had lived with for 23 years in Fitzroy, I would have been absolutely livid at being left a mere 200 pounds!

    I hope the other info about Ferguson & Urie has been of interest.

    Regards,

    Ray

  7. Dear Ray,
    I am pleased to see the information about the stained glass windows at the Alfred Hospital and the men that created them. It is most helpful to us that work in the Nursing Archives at the Alfred. Just to advise that the name of the pavilion is Linay, after John Linay ,a Prahran timber merchant who bequeathed the money for the building. The Staircase and the original wards,called Ward 7 & 9 have recently been Heritage listed.

    Regards, Dorothy

  8. Hi Don,

    Many thanks for your comment and kind offer of photos of the window from “Trawalla”. This particular window has been a bit elusive to me for some time so I was truly surprised to receive your comment. As you can see, this site has been a huge undertaking but the whole subject of the stained glass windows has had me mesmerised for for some years now. I shall drop you an email shortly to discuss further. This is very exciting so thank you for posting your comment.

    Ray.

  9. Ray, congratulations on an excellent site dedicated to some very beautiful work. I am the current owner of ‘Trawalla’ in Lascelles Ave Toorak and the stained glass window is still in place and looks magnificent. Happy to supply a new photo if of interest to you.
    Regards,
    Don Carroll

  10. Hi Geoff,
     
    My initial source for the reference to the “Last Supper” window at St John’s Clifton Hill was from Jenny Zimmer’s book where she mentions it as being a Ferguson & Urie.
    Ref: Stained Glass in Australia, Page 91, Jenny Zimmer, Oxford University Press, 1984.
     
    I think I have a photo of the Last Supper window you mentioned at St Paul’s so I’ll have a closer look to compare it with the Clifton Hill one tonight.
    One of the give-aways that led me to not disagree with Jenny Zimmer was the tell-tale sign of the degrading brown medium that F&U used in their early period that often resulted in the pin pricks of light showing through and which in some cases led the occasional eye that seemed to pop off the glass, another good example being the Last Supper window in the north transept of Scots Church in Collins Street which John Wilson (brother of Sir Samuel Wilson) donated in 1879. 
    To-date I haven’t found any specific historic newspaper articles mentioning the Clifton Hill window hence the reason I haven’t included it on the site yet.
    It’s certainly something I have to have a close look at!
     
    Ray

  11. G’day Ray,
    It is interesting that you say the last Supper Window is by F&U as it is a direct copy of a Mayer window in St. Patrick’s Cathedral which led me to assume it also was by Mayer.

  12. Hi Ray
    I believe that there are Ferguson and Urie windows at St John’s in Clifton Hill and I wondered if you knew anything aboutthem. they are apparently in the “right hand chapel” whatever that may mean. I have never managed to get into the church and wondered if you knw anything about the glass there?

    • Hi there,
      The only Ferguson & Urie window in St John The Baptist at Clifton Hill is the three light window in the north transept depicting the Last Supper. Unfortunately the lower third of the centre light of that window is obscured by a statue of christ directly in front of it (14-11-2010). I think the Last Supper window may also be the only Australian made window in the church. The east five light window behind the chancel is by Hardman & Co of Birmingham and I believe there are also other Hardman windows in the side chapels. I don’t know who the makers were of the other windows but I’d say they are most likely of English origin.

      Ray

  13. Congratulations on getting this site up and running Ray. I know what a labour of love, all your research has been. I believe I can speak for the fellow descendants of James Ferguson, in expressing our appreciation for your determination and the huge amount of work you are so graciously sharing with all.

    • Hi Lynda,
      Thanks for the kind comments. It has certainly been a huge effort but there is much more to do. There is certainly a lot of interesting stuff coming up soon along with some great photos.

      You might also be interested in this advert I saw the other day. I don’t know who the speaker is or location of the venue yet but it should be on the Hotham History web site closer the the date.

      ****Event date: 21st July, 2012, Melbourne******************************************
      Talk – Stained Glass in North & West Melbourne
      Ferguson & Urie were well-known 19th century stained glass makers based in North Melbourne. There are some magnificent examples of stained glass in our local churches so we thought we would acknowledge this work and the work of some of the stained glass artists who have contributed their artistry to our suburbs with an illustrated talk. Commencing 2pm. Venue to be advised.

      http://www.hothamhistory.org.au/events.php

      ***************************************************************************************

      Regards,

      Ray

      • The secretary of the society emailed me the venue location:
        “Saturday 21 July. The venue is the Elm Street hall, at present being used by Mark the Evangelist community while the church is waiting to be restored”.
        (the Elm street hall is just to the rear of the Curzon Street Church on the corner of Elm & Curzon street North Melbourne).

        See Google street view: http://g.co/maps/897xm

  14. The templestow house is the one you mention. I have some good images from years ago when the original decendant still owned the house. There are many things to tell. I’ll keep in touch and thanks for taking up the F&U cause.

  15. Hi Ray,
    Bruce Hutton from Almond Glassworks. The RVIB building on St. KIlda Rd. as well as the sister building used by the VCD have good examples. Not completeley secular but close.
    Labassa is another good secular example and there is a house in Templestow off Bulleen Rd. that has a great stairwell.

    Just a taste Ray, there are a lot of windows out there.
    Regards,
    Bruce

    • Hi Bruce,
      Welcome to my F&U stained glass site and for posting some great tips.. I know of the Deaf Children window and Mrs Nathan, whom you know, has been there and photographed it last year. I haven’t personally seen it myself yet.The other building for the blind is now a Belgian Beer & Restaurant establishment I believe but I didn’t know there were any F&U windows there so thanks for the tip! Labassa I know of and have been there but at the time wasn’t allowed to photograph the window. The only place at Bullen that I know of is ‘Clarendon Eyre’ that depicts livestock but have only seen this in a book. I believe the building it is owned by “DD” Dunleavy (formerly of Gold FM radio). I still have hundreds more items to upload.and I am starting with all the old newspaper articles I have collected over the years and matching photos to them if I can. After that I’ll work on the remainder that I have photos of but no old newspaper article found to match.

      Thanks for your great tips. Any information is very most welcome.

      Ray

  16. Thank you for this web site Ray as well as the List on TROVE.The Essendon Historical Society is preparing another volume of “Fine Homes“ of the district and I have taken on Glencairn ,the Urie family home.Would you know if any of the firms products were used in this house or the Ferguson home?

    • Hi Marilyn,

      James Urie’s house, “Glencairn”, is now the St Brendans’ Presbytery in Wellington Street Flemington. The house certainly did have some original stained glass windows created by the firm but not anymore. A poor quality sepia photo, thought to be circa 1900, clearly shows that the lower half of each window at the front of the house (bottom floor only) had stained glass windows. A friend, from the Urie family line, has visited the house in the last 24 months and seen inside and there are no longer any stained glass windows but there are some frosted/etched windows that I’m sure are French Art Deco era along with some simple Art Deco lead lights off same era. Ferguson & Urie did do a lot of Frosted/etched windows, such as those at Mandeville Hall in Toorak and ‘Watersdale’ in Nth Melb, but the ones currently at ‘Glencairn’ don’t fit the bill and are very likely to be a good 30 years later than the Ferguson & Urie companies demise.

      I have only recently started the Ferguson & Urie web site and its main theme, at present, is uploading 4-5 years of my research starting with the old transcribed newspaper articles and then attaching photos of the extant stained glass windows created by the firm to complement the articles. I’m only just up to the year 1875 so I’m only a third of the way into the information I have collected so far that will eventually be on the site. After that will come my other photos and information that no specific corresponding newspaper article has been found for (sadly I can’t expect every single window to have made it into the newspapers!)

      James Ferguson’s home “Ayr Cottage” (now known as Hilda Stevenson house of International House, University Victoria) is a different matter altogether. All, (bar one) of the original stained glass windows are all extant with the stairwell window of the (other) bard “Robbie Burns” being the centre piece attraction. Apart from my own research there was a sizeable unpublished manuscript written about the history of the house done circa 1967. From 1901 to 1966 the building was owned by the Victorian Neglected Children’s Aid Society before passing into the hands of the University in 1967 so there is a lot of history. My own family history photos include a magnificent Ferguson Clan photo taken on the east side of the house on new years day 1888 with James Ferguson in the centre of the family group of over 35 family members.

      There may be some incorrect details written on Trove along the way so be careful with the Trove articles. In most cases you have no choice but to accept what is written in the absence of any other evidence . I transcribed his obituary article from The North Melbourne Advertiser, Friday 25th July 1890, page 2 and uploaded it to Obituaries Australia at: http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/urie-james-14449.
      The article is obviously transcribed verbatim but the bit about the house being built for his mother is not entirely correct as it was actually his mother in law (Isabella Young nee Cumming 1796-1880) that it should have referred to.

      Good luck with the project. I would certainly like to see the finished article when you have completed it. I am absolutely certain that there must be many other fabulous old homes around North Melbourne, Flemington, Essendon, Moonee Ponds etc that may have Secular stained glass windows created by Ferguson & Urie but the private homes are the most elusive to find. If you ever come across any fabulous stained glass windows in private homes in any of your travels I would certainly like to see them and may possibly be able identify the artist/studio who created them (in an amateur capacity) or be able to refer them to a notable stained glass historian I know for a professional opinion.

      If I can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Regards,

      Ray

  17. I am not sure if it is among the windows identified already, but I believe the main eastern window behind the alter at Robe’s St Peter’s Anglican Chuch may have been made by this firm, although the name is misrecorded in a local history book as Ferguson Will and Nyon. It was commissioned as a memorial to George Ormerod, the shipping merchant who made the town in the 1850s/60s. He died in 1872 but I am not sure when the window was installed.

    • Hi Liz,

      Thanks for your comment on my Ferguson & Urie site. The window in St Peter’s at Robe is indeed by Ferguson & Urie. I have not personally seen or photographed this particular window yet but it is a two light window that depicts four scenes being the Nativity, Baptism, Resurrection and Ascension. There is also a minor mention of this window (with no detail) as being made by Ferguson & Urie in the book ‘150 years of stained and painted glass’ by Peter & June Donovan 1986, page 50. I am not aware of the exact text on the window, but George Ormerod died on the 10th or 11th of April 1872, so the window would have been made by ‘Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon’ sometime between then and August 1873. The Ferguson & Urie partnership with stained glass artist John Lamb Lyon ended officially on the 29th August 1873. I was also not aware of the ‘Local history book’ you mentioned that refers to the company name as being recorded as ‘Ferguson Will and Nyon’ but this misspelling maybe a great clue to help me find a newspaper article about the window as I have not found anything on TROVE for this window yet.

      Ray

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