Watson, Ferguson and Company

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Watson, Ferguson and Company
FoundersJohn Watson, James Ferguson

Watson, Ferguson and Company is the longest running printing company in Queensland, Australia. It was established by John Watson and James Ferguson in the mid nineteenth century as a firm specialising in book selling, stationery manufacturing, lithography and printing. In 1890 it was the manufacturer of one of the world's smallest dictionaries. The company's second premises in Queen Street, Brisbane, was part of a row of buildings designed by Richard Gailey which include the Queensland Heritage Register listed Palings Building. Throughout the first part of the twentieth century, the company was the oldest operating business in Queen Street. [1] [2] [3]

Queensland North-east state of Australia

Queensland is the second-largest and third-most populous state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, with Papua New Guinea located less than 200 km across it from the mainland. The state is the world's sixth-largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi).

Richard Gailey Australian architect

Richard Gailey, Sr. was an Irish-born Australian architect.

The Queensland Heritage Register is a heritage register, a statutory list of places in Queensland, Australia that are protected by Queensland legislation, the Queensland Heritage Act 1992. The register is maintained by the Queensland Heritage Council.


John Watson

John Watson was born near Glasgow, Scotland around 1830 and, at the age of sixteen, left for Indiana in the United States of America, prior to arriving in New South Wales, Australia, in pursuit of gold. He eventually settled in Brisbane around 1859 where he operated a successful photographic studio until 1873. John Watson and his wife, Elizabeth Selim, died when the RMS Quetta was wrecked on the Far North Queensland coast in 1890. [4]

Indiana State of the United States of America

Indiana is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th largest by area and the 17th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816. Indiana borders Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south and southeast, and Illinois to the west.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In September 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Brisbane capital city of Queensland, Australia

Brisbane is the capital of and the most populated city in the Australian state of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.5 million, and the South East Queensland metropolitan region, centred on Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3.6 million. The Brisbane central business district stands on the historic European settlement and is situated inside a peninsula of the Brisbane River, about 15 kilometres from its mouth at Moreton Bay. The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the floodplain of the Brisbane River Valley between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range, sprawling across several of Australia's most populous local government areas (LGAs)—most centrally the City of Brisbane, which is by far the most populous LGA in the nation. The demonym of Brisbane is "Brisbanite" or "Brisbanian".

The Watsons had no children and certain conditions were in place in James Watson's will dependent on who survived the other. As the Watsons were seen falling into the water within sixty seconds of one another, it was difficult to determine who had predeceased each other in the wreck, and the courts became involved in establishing survivorship and determining who were the beneficiaries of estate. The estate included the partnership property of Watson, Ferguson and Co. [5]

A concurrent estate or co-tenancy is a concept in property law which describes the various ways in which property is owned by more than one person at a time. If more than one person owns the same property, they are commonly referred to as co-owners. Legal terminology for co-owners of real estate is either co-tenants or joint tenants, with the latter phrase signifying a right of survivorship. Most common law jurisdictions recognize tenancies in common and joint tenancies, and some also recognize tenancies by the entirety, which is a joint tenancy between married persons. Many jurisdictions refer to a joint tenancy as a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, but they are the same, as every joint tenancy includes a right of survivorship. In contrast, a tenancy in common does not include a right of survivorship.

James Ferguson

James Ferguson was born in Ardentallan, Oban, Scotland on July 26, 1839. He arrived in Australia on board 'The Great Britain', one of the earliest steamships travelling between the United Kingdom and Australia. After spending some time in Sydney, in 1870 he arrived in Brisbane to manage the printing business started by William Gowans in 1868. After William Gowan's death, James Ferguson took over the business, and renamed it Ferguson and Company. James Ferguson died on 24 April 1926. [6]

Sydney City in New South Wales, Australia

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

History (1871–1930)

In 1871 John Watson and James Ferguson went into partnership, renamed the business Watson, Ferguson and Company and significantly expanded the business at 69 Queen Street. Watson had experience as a printer and engineer while Ferguson had experience as a bookseller and stationer.

In 1882, the company built a four-storey building designed by Richard Gailey on the site of the original Supreme Court and Parliament House buildings and opposite the site of the company's first store at 69 Queen Street. [7] [8] The basement contained the printing and store while the upper storeys contained retail space, a wholesale area, office space and an area for artists engaged in engraving and illumination to work. [9] [10] When John and Elizabeth Watson died in 1890, James Ferguson became the sole principal. [11]

In 1909, Watson and Ferguson commenced offering subscription and circulating library services from their Queen Street premises and, during the holiday season, at Southport and merged their business into a limited liability concern. [12] [13] In 1914, the business built a large printery and bookbinding factory on the corner of Glenelg and Stanley Streets with the assistance of the Municipality of South Brisbane. [14] In 1919, the company expanded their business to include a cabinet making section to manufacture office furniture. [15]

Southport, Queensland Suburb of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Southport is a suburb and the central business district near the midpoint of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia and has one of the city's largest communities. As of the 2016 Census, Southport had a population of 31,908.

Following the death of James Ferguson in 1926, his son Eric Abbott, took over as joint manager. [16] In 1930, the company was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. [17]

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  1. "Who we are". Watson Ferguson and Company.
  2. "Mr James Ferguson Dead". The Telegraph (16, 660). Queensland. 26 April 1926. p. 10. Retrieved 28 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  3. "Little lexicon a historical minipiece". The Courier Mail. 16 September 2003. p. 5.
  4. "MR. AND MRS. JOHN WATSON". The Queenslander . XXXVII (755). 22 March 1890. p. 543. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "THE QUETTA DISASTER". Morning Bulletin . XLIII (8495). Queensland. 11 November 1890. p. 6. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "MR. JAMES FERGUSON". The Week . CI (2, 627). Brisbane. 30 April 1926. p. 12. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "FAMOUS SITES". The Brisbane Courier (22, 528). 11 April 1930. p. 14. Retrieved 28 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "MESSRS. WATSON, FERGUSON, AND CO.'S ESTABLISHMENT". The Brisbane Courier . XXXIX (8, 325). 15 September 1884. p. 6. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "MR. JAMES FERGUSON". The Week . CI (2, 627). Brisbane. 30 April 1926. p. 12. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "MR. AND MRS. JOHN WATSON". The Queenslander . XXXVII (755). 22 March 1890. p. 543. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "MR. JAMES FERGUSON". The Week . CI (2, 627). Brisbane. 30 April 1926. p. 12. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "Circulating Library". Logan and Albert Bulletin (1237). Queensland. 25 December 1909. p. 7. Retrieved 28 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "Watson, Ferguson, and Co., Limited". The Telegraph (11, 246). Brisbane. 2 December 1908. p. 6 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved 28 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  14. "WATSON, FERGUSON'S LIMITED FACTORY". The Brisbane Courier (19, 814). 23 July 1921. p. 12. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  15. "WATSON, FERGUSON, AND CO., LTD". The Telegraph (14, 396). Brisbane. 15 January 1919. p. 7 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved 28 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  16. "Business man dies, aged 73". The Courier-Mail (4443). Brisbane. 22 February 1951. p. 5. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  17. "WATSON, FERGUSON, & CO., LIMITED". Sunday Mail (389). Brisbane ,. 9 November 1930. p. 6. Retrieved 27 November 2016 via National Library of Australia.