James McWhirter JuniorPrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by John Huth

The plaque was erected by employees to commemorate James McWhirter Junior who died suddenly while on a business trip in Sydney in 1919. 

In 1898, James McWhirter established the drapery firm of McWhirter and Son in a small Brunswick St premises in Brisbane, employing thirty people. A strong work ethic and undoubted commercial acumen enabled the business to expand fairly rapidly. A mail order department was established to enable the store to serve country customers, and McWhirter & Son then had to expand physically by buying adjoining premises in Brunswick St. This was still insufficient, and a new five-storey building was constructed for the company in 1912, on the corner of Brunswick and Wickham Streets.

James McWhirter Junior died suddenly whilst on business in Sydney in 1917, and the firm's founder James Senior died in 1925. However, the store had floated as a public company, McWhirters Ltd, in 1920, and the strong relationship that the company had developed with its 800-strong staff enabled further success. Expansion into clothing manufacture followed, and the development of "The Valley" into Brisbane's department store precinct ensured a competitive but profitable business environment. The next step was the construction in 1930-31 of the Art Deco store designed by Hall & Phillips, who were the architects of Brisbane's City Hall.

"Far may we search before we find a heart, so manly and so kind," are the words in which the employees of Messrs. McWhirters have summed up the virtues of their late associate chief, Mr. James McWhirter, jun., in a memorial tablet which was unveiled at the Ann Street Presbyterian Church yesterday morning. The morning service itself was an in memoriam of the deceased gentleman. Employees of the company and other outside friends of the departed merchant, in addition to the ordinary worshippers, taxed the seating accommodation to capacity limit. The large congregation joined the choir heartily in singing the favourite hymns of the late Mr. McWhirter, jun.  Mr. A. W. Denniss had charge of the musical portion of the service.

The tablet was to have been unveiled by the Rev. J. Cosh, B.D., but that gentle man lifted up the five-years-old son of the inscribee, and he, prompted by the pastor, pulled the restraining cord, pathetically lisping, "I declare this tablet unveiled to my dear father." Mr. Cosh referred to the many fine qualities of the late Mr. McWhirter, jun., who, he said, had set an example of dealings with employees which would bear universal imitation. The deceased gentleman had assisted in providing homes for many of his employees. Thus the verdict inscribed on the tablet was well merited, But the late Mr, McWhirter's domestic virtues were only equalled by those of his commercial life. He was a true and loyal son, a tender-hearted brother, and a most devoted husband and father. His life as a whole was an inspiring example to the young manhood of Queensland generally.
Telegraph (Brisbane), 29 March 1920.



Address:141 Ann Street, Ann Street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, 4000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -27.467899
Long: 153.024344
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 28th March, 1920
Front Inscription

In loving memory of James McWhirter, Jun. who departed this life 17th Sep. 1919,

Aged 45 years.

Erected by the Employees of McWhirters, Ltd.

"Far may we search before we find, a heart so manly, and so kind."

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au