SIR William Vicars, co-owner of John Vicars & Co with Sir John and his younger brother Robert, was born in Tillicoultry on 24th May 1859.

The 'Vicars, Marrickville' mill was synonymous with quality woollen products such as serges, blankets and tweeds.

He began as an assistant working 12 hour shifts for 5/ a week. Like the other family members, he worked hard to make the business a success.

In 1906 William and Robert took over their brother John’s interests in the mill and were joined by their younger brother Fred.

Conditions within the mill were of a higher standard than required by laws and employee-employer relations were good.

Workers were provided with hot showers, locker rooms and a canteen and Robert stated it was ‘owing to our employees that the mill has been successful’.

In 1909, universal military training began and the government military clothing contracts were put out to tender. Vicars negotiated and were successful, producing 200,000 yards of material for uniforms.

During World War I the business boomed thanks to these government contracts leading to the acquisition of the Sydney Woollen Mills in 1915.

In 1927, the then Duke of York, later King George VI, visited the Marrickville factory and was presented with a tartan rug.

The Depression of the 1930s resulted in a re-organisation of the business, yet it still succeeded while others failed.

In a speech given in September 1935 to the members of the Guild of Empire, William stated that twelve million sheep were required to satisfy the Australian woollen industry.

With 80 woollen mills employing 16,000 workers, he said that the tweeds, worsteds and dress materials were equal to any manufactured elsewhere in the world.

Twice president of the Chamber of Manufacturers in New South Wales and a director of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd, Home Recreations (Australia) Ltd, and the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney between 1924 and 1928 then again 1933 to 1939.

He was knighted in 1922. His longest association, however, was with the Australian Red Cross Society and in 1920 became chairman of its convalescent homes committee.

Noted for his philanthropy, and especially his work with returning soldiers, Sir William died on October 20, 1940, aged 82 and is buried at South Head cemetery, Sydney.

In the 1960s, John Vicars & Sons merged with the Australian Woollen Mills and continued to manufacture woollen goods until 1976.