Collingwood Notables Database
Coach builder, blacksmith, wheelwright
John Ferguson, a Scotsman, arrived in Melbourne around 1840 and worked in what was then the essential occupation of blacksmith and coachbuilder. In partnership with George Roberts, he had a city business in Bourke Street and Collingwood premises near the corner of Hoddle Street and Victoria Parade. He and his wife lived in Campbelltown Cottage in Islington Street, next door to the extensive blacksmith’s works shown on surveyor Hodgkinson’s January 1858 map. Although called a cottage, the double-fronted brick house set in garden surrounds was substantial for this area.
Ferguson involved himself in local affairs. In 1853 he attended a meeting of local residents, called to discuss the parlous state of Simpsons Road (now Victoria Street), along with local notables Robert Fennell, Jesse Fairchild, and Peter Nettleton. Ferguson was one of three men appointed trustees to receive subscriptions towards road repairs. The money raised was eventually matched with funds from the Central Road Board in 1855. This group of men would form the nucleus of a group instigating the building of a bridge across the Yarra from Church Street Abbotsford to Studley Park, led by John Hodgson who stood to gain access to his property in Studley Park. Roberts and Ferguson were employed to do the ironwork on the bridge, and were paid not in cash but in company shares. Ferguson was appointed one of the directors of the Studley Park Bridge Company at its inception in 1856, and maintained the position, and his shareholding, until his death.
Meanwhile, legislation had been passed allowing for local government in Victoria, and East Collingwood was one of the earliest districts to take advantage of this. The first election was held in October 1855 and Ferguson stood; while unsuccessful, he scored a creditable number of votes.
He and his second wife produced several of their children in Collingwood, but by 1865 they were living at Torresdale, a cattle property in Oakleigh, and had let their house to one of the firm’s employees, William Harding. It seems unlikely that Ferguson could have continued an active role in the day-to-day running of the business after this date, given the distance and his new focus on cattle-raising.
In September 1877 Ferguson withdrew from the partnership and Roberts continued on his own, but soon handed over the business to William Harding who renamed it the Victoria Parade Lorry Factory, his testimonial being 20 years working with Roberts and Ferguson.
Ferguson continued to live on his cattle station until his death in 1883.
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Martha Kelly c. 1805-23 November 1854||Martha c. 1841, Jane c. 1844|
|Margaret Ann Leechman||19 April 1855||John Alexander 1856-1892, Samuel Cornelius 1859, Archibald 1865, Margaret Jessie 1867, Mary Isabella Ramsay 1871|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|Campbelltown Cottage Islington Street||Collingwood||Demolished|
|Work Street||Work City||Status of Building|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|20 October 1883||Mulgrave||Oakleigh|
The Age; The Argus; Leader; Mercury and Weekly Courier.