Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 14, 2019
Webpage updated: September 14, 2019




The Plymouth business house of Messrs J H Furguson and Sons Limited, mineral water manufacturers, were located at King Gardens, Plymouth, before the Second World War and in Cambridge Lane West thereafter.

Mr James Henry Furguson, the founder, was the eldest son of Mr James Furguson, master mariner, and his wife, Miss Mary Yeoman, whom he married at Charles Church, Plymouth, on April 23rd 1849.  He was baptised at Charles Church on August 8th 1855, almost 21 months after his older sister, Elizabeth Ann Furguson.

In 1878 he married Miss Michaeline Welman Symons and by the time of the 1881 census, they were living at 8 Beaumont Place, Plymouth, and James had become a printing compositor.  They already had three daughters.

What sparked his change of occupation is not known but in 1882 he founded the mineral water business at number 7 North Street.  It must have found instant success because in 1889 he and the business moved to number 38 King Gardens.  At the time of the 1891 census there was not only a fourth daughter but there were now two sons, Charles Henry Furguson, born 1882, and Archibald James Furguson, born January 27th 1885.  Another son, Roy Symons Furguson, was born on August 14th 1892.

These two lads were helping their father in the factory by 1901.  Both went to live close by, Charles at 1 Sydney Terrace, Oxford Street, and Archibald at 14 Kingsley Road, Mutley.

Tragedy struck the family in 1934.  James was a widower by now, having lost his wife on April 26th 1932, but he was used to having the company of an evening of his daughter, Mrs Irene Symons, and his 6-years-old grand-daughter, Miss Esme Thelma Symons, who lived next door.  On the evening of Wednesday April 25th 1934 they, along with his other daughter, Miss Eva M W Furguson, and his son-in-law, Mr Albert S Symons, and grandson, Master Ivor Symons, had a small party, after which they all retired to their beds at number 85 King Gardens.  This turned out to be an ill-fated decision.

Neighbours were awakened by cries of "Fire!" at around 1.30am the next morning.  Several of them, including Mr J W Oats, and engine driver just returning home after his duty, and Mr Charles Henry Furguson, the son, who lived around the corner, tried to get into the house but were forced back by the heat and extent of the flames.  The fire brigade were called at 2.10am and turned out promptly, as did the Police and the Plymouth Ambulance Brigade, but the house was well alight.  Mr Symons managed to get his on out with him but Mrs Symons went through to the front bedroom to try to wake her father and sister, who were sleeping in the two front bedrooms.  Sadly, Miss Eva M W Furguson was overcome by fumes in her sleep, and Mrs Irene Symons and her daughter, Miss Esme Thelma Symons, were found slumped up against her bed, also overcome.

Police Inspector Ned Lee made an attempt to rescue Mr Furguson from outside the building but he, too, was overcome by the fumes and had to be rescued by Police Constable N Croft.  Mr James Henry Furguson thus died on the morning of Thursday April 26th 1934, exactly two years after his wife had died.

It was thought that the blaze was caused by a discarded cigarette.

When the business had started Mr Furguson had one horse for doing his deliveries.  BY 1939 this had increased to seven horses but after the Second World War he purchased some motor lorries to do the work.

Mr Charles Henry Furguson died on Sunday July 17th 1960 at the age of 77.

Mr Archibald James Furguson died at 33 Outland Road, Milehouse, Plymouth, on February 1st 1971.  He was 86 years of age.

It is understood that Furgusons was acquired by Allied Breweries Limited in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

The last of the three sons of Mr James Henry Furguson, Mr Roy Symons Furguson, died in Plymouth in May 1986.