The 1888 Ferguson & Urie Company Dinner

The principals of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company were known to have held company dinners for their employees in the years 1886, 1887 and 1888. At each of the dinners a reporter from the “North Melbourne Advertiser” was invited to each occasion to document the proceedings. Each occasion was published in extraordinary detail in the North Melbourne Advertiser and represents a fantastic insight into the company history and the employees.

The North Melbourne Advertiser, Saturday 17th March 1888, Page 4


The annual dinner given by Messrs Ferguson & Urie to their employės was held in the Mechanics’ Hall, Errol Street, on Thursday evening[1]. The gathering had additional significance imparted to it from the fact that it formed a farewell to Mr. William Urie[2], who left for England on Friday, in company with his uncle, Mr. J. Yeaman, for a trip. An excellent repast was provided to which from 60 to 70 sat down. Cr. Urie[3], J.P., occupied the chair, while the vice chairs were filled by Messrs. Ferguson[4], junr, and Young. Crs. Barrett and Millar and Mr. Catanach[5] were also present. After the loyal toasts had been dispensed of, Mr. Auld proposed that of “Parliament” in a few appropriate words.

Cr. Millar, who responded, said that he had not a very high opinion of Parliament, but after all it was a reflex of public opinion and the electors were responsible for its character. Their legislators should work more and talk less. The last session was confessed to be a complete failure and the people should elect better men. He would urge all young men to take an interest in the affairs of the country.

The event of the evening then took place in the shape of the presentation of a very handsome dressing case containing all the requisites for a gentleman’s toilet to Mr. W. Urie. Mr. Loughrey in handing this present to Mr. Urie said that he was proud to have the honour of making the presentation and proposing the health of the recipient. Mr. Urie was going to the home of his fathers, and he was sure they all wished him a pleasant trip. From his quiet and unassuming manner he had won the hearty good wishes of all with whom he came in contact, and it had been decided that he should not be allowed to leave Australia without some souvenir.

Mr. Loughrey then handed Mr. Urie the dressing case, and the latter gentleman’s health was enthusiastically drank with musical honours. Mr. Urie said he must thank them very much for their kindness, and he would certainly not fail to use the valuable present tendered to him, especially the razors (laughter). He was going to a land that was unknown to him and he would endeavour to keep his eyes open and learn as much as possible of the old country. He hoped to be back among them again soon, and thanked them heartily for their kindness.

Cr. Barrett in proposing the health of Mr. Yeaman spoke very highly of that gentleman and said no doubt is was a good thing for Mr. W. Urie to go home as he would learn a great deal. He hoped to see both gentlemen back in good health shortly.

Mr. Yeaman responded and said that 35 years ago he came out with Cr. Urie, and their friendship had always been warm – in fact there were no two stauncher friends, and now he was going home with Mr. Urie’s eldest son. They would take care of each other and he hoped would meet the friends present again in the same hall twelve months hence.

Mr. Young then proposed the toast of the ‘Municipalities,’ and said he did not think councillors were much appreciated as they should be. By their labours they enhanced the value of property, and he had much pleasure in proposing the toast of the municipalities, coupled with the names of Crs. Barrett and Millar.

Cr. Barrett in responding said that councillors were about the best abused body of men in the country, (laughter), as they certainly got more kicks than coppers. If a councillor did his duty it took up a great deal of his time and municipal representatives were as important in their way as M.L.A’s. He was pleased to see that at Flemington and Kensington they got such an excellent mayor as Cr. Urie. He was the right man in the right place.

Cr. Millar also responded.

Mr. Yeaman then proposed the health of Mr. Ferguson senr[6]. And Mr. James Ferguson suitably responded and a few more toasts brought the proceedings which were most enjoyable throughout to a close. It should be mentioned that songs were contributed during the evening by different gentlemen who earned the applause of those present for thus materially adding to the pleasure of the proceedings.

Foot notes:

[1] The dinner took place on Thursday evening the 15th March 1888 in the Mechanics Hall adjoining the Town hall in Errol Street North Melbourne.

[2] William Urie 1864-1907, son of James Urie, (see foot note 3), a principal partner in the firm Ferguson & Urie.

[3] James Urie 1828-1890, one of the principal partners in the firm ‘Ferguson & Urie’ as well as a local Justice of the Peace and councillor in the Borough Council of Flemington and Kensington. He served as a councillor from August 1886 to August 1888, and was Mayor from August 1887 to August 1888.

[4] James Ferguson Junior 1861-1945, the son of James Ferguson Snr who was a principal partner of the firm.

[5] Town Clerk of Flemington and Kensington Borough.

[6] James Ferguson Snr 1818-1894, a principal partner in the firm Ferguson & Urie, he was a Master Slater and Glazier from Wallacetown, Ayr, Scotland and arrived in Australia with his brother David aboard the Tamerlane on the 29th April 1853 and then joined James Urie in starting the Ferguson & Urie company.

Related pages:

The 1886 Employee Dinner
The 1887 Employee Dinner

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