31-01-1888: The fire at the Ferguson & Urie Yarra Bank workshops.

In the early hours of the 31st of January 1888 a fire broke out at the rear of Glover & Co’s foundry in Normanby-road, Yarra Bank (now South Melbourne) which in turn destroyed the adjoining Ferguson & Urie glass store. Reports of the fire were published in the Brisbane Courier, Sydney Morning Herald and Hobart Mercury tabloids. Despite the building being insured the company decided not to re-build the workshop and no longer had any presence in South Melbourne.

The Argus, Melbourne, Tuesday 31st January 1888, page 7.


“A destructive fire broke out early this morning in the factory of Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, glass stainers and importers of plate and sheet window-glass, Normanby-road, Yarra-bank south, which resulted in the destruction of the greater part of the premises. The flames also extended to the premises of Messrs. Wm. Glover and Co, iron-founders, where a considerable amount of damage was caused. The boats were removed from the yard of Mr. James Cowan, shipwright, but no damage was done to the buildings. At two o’clock the fire had got a firm hold of Ferguson and Urie’s, and the rear portion of the premises was completely gutted. Several fire brigades had arrived on the scene, and were playing freely on the burning buildings. It is not at present known how the fire began. Shortly after half-past 2 o’clock a second fire engine was brought to the scene, and the fire, although still burning, was thought to be in no danger of spreading further”.

The image of the Yarra Bank workshop below is a subset taken from the June 1887 company dinner photos.

Ferguson & Urie Yarra Bank Store 1887

Ferguson & Urie Yarra Bank Store, June 1887

The Argus, Melbourne, 1st February 1888, page 8 & The Mercury, Hobart, Friday 3rd February 1888.


“No explanation has yet been found for the origin of the fire which occurred early on Tuesday morning at the store of Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, Normanby-road, on Yarra bank, and a report of which appeared in a late edition of The Argus yesterday. It is believed by some persons, including members of the fire brigade, that it originated in the rear corner of Messrs. Glover and Co.’s foundry adjoining the glass store. But, on the other hand, Messrs. Glover and Co. state that a watchman was on their premises who declares that the fire was burning in Messrs. Ferguson and Urie’s store.”

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