Sir John and Sir William Vicars were the eldest sons of successful woollen manufacturer John Vicars who emigrated to Australia in 1863.

The brothers succeeded their father upon his retirement in 1887 both moving the business to a larger site at Marrickville and later the acquisition of Sydney Woollen Mills Ltd.

Sir John Vicars was born in Tillicoultry on September 29, 1857. After 20 years at John Vicars and Sons, he left the family business to form a partnership with James Johnson, creating Messers Johnson and Vicars, wool brokers, wool-scourers and fell mongers with offices at Circular Quay and Botany.

During The Great War (1914-1918), John became involved with such causes as the French-Australian League of Help and did voluntary work as chairman of the State Wool Committee from 1917 and chairman of the British Australian Wool Realisation Association Ltd, which ran from 1920 to 1924.

He was an executive, and at some point chairman, of the Wool Buyers Association and treasurer of its soldiers’ convalescent hospital.

He was knighted in 1924 for services to the Commonwealth.

The following year he visited Europe. Whilst visiting Bradford, England it was suggested to him Australia should send her wool abroad in woolpacks; however, he felt this would not show the product at its best.

His great-grandfather was a pioneer in coal gas lighting and in 1928, John became a board member of the Australian Gas Light Company and later became a board member of other organisations such as the Caledonian Collieries Ltd and National Mutual Life Association of Australia Ltd.

In March 1929, the now retired John, his wife, and a party of friends, embarked on a tour of South America.

They travelled across the Andes visiting Paraguay and Argentina.

During the trip Vicars studied the wool industry as Australia had exported many stud sheep to the region and reported that Australia need not worry about any competition.

Five years later, John visited North America and noted how much more the United States had been affected by the Depression.

He was also unimpressed by the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco and concluded it would not compare with Sydney’s Harbour Bridge.

Much of his leisure time was spent on the golf course and became a president and captain of the Australian Golf Club.

He died suddenly on the Harbour Bridge in Sydney while being driven home on February 28, 1936, aged 78.