The Farmers' Foundry

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Also known as John Gibb and Co.




The premises occupied by Messrs John Gibb and Co, as agricultural machine makers, engineers, and wheelwrights, are situated on the north side of Mair street, to the westward of Doveton street, and were erected some six months ago by the present proprietors on an acre and a rood of land with 146 ½ feet frontage to the main street, and a depth of 5 chains from front to back. Entering the wide gate from Mair street we find ourselves in a spacious yard, devoted to the reception of thrashing and reaping machines, be various makers, English and American, under repair, for which the firm offer every facility. The workshops, which are large, commodious, airy, and of two storeys if height, occupy the ground at mid distance from front to back, and in their rear is another yard of about equal size to that just mentioned. Here are situate the blacksmiths’ shop, a shed used as a temporary work-shop, a two-stalled stable, a portable 8 horse power engine, which, by means of shafting and belting, works all the machinery on the establishment, including a saw for cutting firewood likewise in the yard at the rear. It is the intention of the firm within four months to erect a cupola on this part of the premises for the purpose of preparing all the castings required, so that the title of “The Farmers’ Foundry” may then legitimately be assumed. We have before stated that the firm have been in full work at Ballarat for only six months but Mr Gibb, the principal of the firm, is an experienced engineer, and was formerly a partner in the firm of Moodie and Gibb, machinists, Melbourne. He wisely resolved to bring his enterprise and skill to the service of the great agricultural district of Ballarat, and a mutual benefit has been the result. The firm have invested capital to the extent of £3,000, and now employ no fewer than twenty-five men, who are continually engaged in the manufacture of reaping machines, Adelaide stripping machines, thrashing machines, harrows, swingletrees, and, indeed, every kind of agricultural appliance and machine. So great has been the support accorded to the firm by the farming interest in the neighborhood, that they have, since their residence in Ballarat, turned out no less that 70 reaping machines, besides other machinery in proportion. In fact the demand has literally been created, for it has not only become unnecessary to bring up machinery at immense cost from Melbourne, but repairs can now be effected without delay, and at greatly diminished rates.
The building, as we have said, consists of a ground and upper floor, built entirely of wood, and communicating with each other by means of a wide staircase at one side. Each apartment measures 60 ft. by 30 ft., with walls 21 ft. in height. The upper floor is fitted with a circular saw of 2 ft. in diameter, and a lathe of 9 in. bed for drilling and boring woodwork – all the heavy ironwork being turned below. Close to these, we noticed portions of machinery in various stages of forwardness, including the knives for reaping machines. Towards the eastern extremity of the apartment are placed five joiners’ benches, two vyces, for working iron, racks for holding the timber (that mostly used being American, except for poles and frames), and in the middle of the floor, immediately over the main entrance to the lower apartments, a large hatch, 12 feet by 6 feet, with a crab, for lowering a completed work at once down on to the drays and waggons. This room is well lighted by a series of sashes at each side. Below stairs are five machines, all by the best makers, and securely placed on bluestone beds. Three stout pillars of wood, 10 inches square, support a central beam and the whole floor above, and upon which revolves the shaft and gearing, setting all into action. The machines consist of one large lathe of 24ft. bed, capable of boring a wheel 8 feet in diameter; a self-acting screw-cutting lathe, with 9 in. heads and 12 feet bed; a vertical boring machine, calculated to bore a wheel 9 in. in the centre and 4 ft diameter; a grindstone of 4 ½ ft. diameter; a fan blast for the blacksmith’s forges, and bellows for emergencies. Of the forges there are three, all fitted with brick and iron chimneys, and closely adjoined by two benches, with eight vyces for the use of the fitters. In conclusion, we must state that Messrs Gibb and Co. avail themselves of every new invention calculated to reduce the cost of their machinery, an object which will also be materially furthered when they surround themselves with the necessary appliances for casting.[1]

John Gibb and Co.'s Farmer's Foundry employed twenty-five men in 1870 to produce reapers, strippers, ploughs and other agricultural equipment. By 1868 the number of employees had increased to 35 and the variety of agricultural implements being produced had increased.[2]



Community Involvement

Works Produced

Workplace Relations

The People


See also

Further Notes


  1. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864) Wednesday 15 January 1862, page 1.
  2. Bate, Weston. (1978). Lucky City: The First Generation at Ballarat 1851-1901. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Further Reading

External Links

--Beth Kicinski 11:38, 30 December 2012 (EST)

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