Victoria Foundry, Ballarat

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One of Ballarat's earliest foundries, opened by George Oakey, William Creber & Co. in March 1856, the Victoria Foundry was located in Armstrong Street (near Bath's Hotel and north of the Stork Hotel).[1] By September of that year, demand for the business was so high that they were advertising their ability to prepare and do castings in "brass or iron to any weight or pattern".[2]


A FOUNDRY is to be established on the Township in order that the Miners and others may have the facility of introducing more machinery for the working out of the inexhaustible Golden Leads of Ballarat. Of which further notice will be given.[3]

-We are glad to learn that a foundry is about to be established in Armstrong-street, on the Township. Messrs. Oakey, Creber, & Co., the proprietors, intend to confine their operations, at first, to the more ordinary brass and iron castings, but as the advantages of their establishment become known they will extend it, so as to afford every possible facility to the proprietors of steam engines, &c., to have their works and repairs effected without sending to Melbourne.[4]

Oakey, Creber & Co.
- That the Partnership hitherto existing between us, the undersigned, carrying on business in Armstrong-street, Ballarat, as founders and builders under the above style, has been this day dissolved by mutual consent.
And notice is further given that such businesses will in future be carried on by us, the undersigned, George Oakey, James Hunt, and James W. Opie, under the style or firm of Oakey, Hunt & Opie, by whom all debts due and owing to and by the said firm of Oakey, Creber & Co. will be received and paid.
Witness to the signature of George Oakey, William Creber, James Hunt, and James W. Opie.
A.C. to Thos. Randall,
Solicitor, Ballarat.[5]

This foundry supplied 14 1/2 inch pipes for pumping the great Redan and Golden Gates Mines.

Gas and Water Companies,
Proprietors of Saw and Flour Mills, and Others.
BEG to inform the above and others interested in mining and other pursuits requiring machinery, that, having greatly enlarged their premises and business capabilities, they are now enabled to supply castings of every description in brass and iron, or other metals, to any given size or pattern. They undertake to supply retorts for gas works, also pipes for pumps, gas and water mains, with flange or socket ends, from 1 inch to 20 inches diameter, and in proof of their capability of doing so, they invite the inspection of the public to a 12 ½ -in pump of their make now at work on the claim of the Golden Gate Gold Mining Company, Redan Lead; also to a lift of pumps complete now lying on their premises as above, 14 ½ -inch diameter, being the largest and most complete pump ever made in the Australian colonies.
O., H. & O. have in hand a large and varied assortment of patterns and other working implements, and are thereby enabled to execute all orders entrusted to their care with punctuality and despatch, and on reasonable terms. They have also on hand a number of steam engines, of the most approved makers, from 6 to 35 horse power.
N.B.-Smiths’ work and fitting, of every description in brass, copper, iron, or other materials, executed in the best manner and on the shortest notice.
Victoria Foundry, 13th September, 1858.[6]

By 1858 the Victoria Foundry (now under the title of Oakey, Hunt & Opie[7]) became a key part of Ballarat's industrial scene - being the first local manufacturer of an engine. The foundry then continue to innovate their methods of production and were able to achieve massive increases in the sizes of the engine parts they produced - enabling local mining ventures like the Leviathan Company to increase the rate of production from their gold mines.[8]

‘… to the Victoria belongs the honor of making the first locomotive in Ballarat. That was the Lady Barkly, so named by his Excellency Sir H. Barkly, about the year 1860’.[9]

The 360 pound bell (measuring 24 inches in diameter and 22 inches in height) for the Ballarat Fire Brigade tower was cast by the Victoria Foundry in 1860 - at that stage the largest bell of its kind in the colony of Victoria.[10]

In early May 1861, an improved version of a 24-head revolving battery patented by Messrs Hunt and Opie was installed by the Phoenix Foundry at the Perseverance Co.[11]

Preemptive Right to t a Corner Allotment in Sturt street; together with a Cottage and Carpenter’s Work Shop, &c.
JAMES ODDIES & CO. have received instructions from Mr Creber to sell by auction at their Rooms, corner of Armstrong and Dana streets, on Saturday next, 1st June, at one o’clock.
The pre-emptive right and occupation of all that corner allotment on the south side of Sturt street, facing the Hospital, having a frontage of
Eighty feet to Sturt street, with a like frontage to Drummond street.
Together with a comfortable Four-roomed Wooden Cottage, lines and papered; and a Carpenter’s Work Shop – the whole neatly fenced.
The vendor’s right to occupation and pre-emption is secured to him by registration under the by law of the Ballarat Mining Board, and for purposes of occupation and transfer is as effective as a Crown grant.
The above is one of the most valuable sites available for purchase in the western part of the town.[12]
Wednesday, 23rd July.
(Before His Honor Mr Justice Molesworth.)
This was an action to recover on a policy of insurance the amount of the damages sustained by the plaintiffs in September last, by the fire that partially destroyed their premises, and injured certain patterns and tools. Several jurymen were challenged on both sides.
Mr Dawson, with whom was Mr Walsh, appeared for the plaintiffs, and Mr Michie, with whom was Mr Fellows, for the defendant.
All the witnesses were ordered out cf court.
Mr Dawson very succintly [sic]laid the case before the court and jury. The defendants had paid £100 into court.
James Hunt deposed that he was one of the plaintiffs, and in the month of September, 1861, a fire broke out in some stables that abutted on the premises of witness, and occupied by him as a foundry. The fire broke out in the stables, the site of which witness pointed out to the jury, as shown on a plan. The fire entered the foundry at a point shown on the plan, and destroyed coal boxes and patterns. The coal boxes were patterns in fact. "The roof of the foundry was injured. The foundry roof was a double span. About 50 feet of it was injured. The walls were burned down and injured. The fire spread along the foundry to the lumber or pattern yard. After the fire spread along the foundry it took hold of the pattern shop, when witness and five or six others turned a hose on it. The value of the patterns in that room he estimated at between £5000 and and £6000. The action of the fire on the pattern shop could now be seen. Examined the patterns next day, and some persons who saw them then estimated the damage at £470. They had missed several patterns since, and only on the preceding day they missed a particular one. The fire spread to the corner of the fitting shop. In the stable where the fire broke out a horse had been burned to death. There were some tools destroyed in the fitting shop the approximate value of which lie could not estimate. He next informed the agent of the Insurance Company in Ballarat, and Mr Gibbs requested him to see what the damage was. He also said, after witness had sent in his claim, that if the whole thing was destroyed there would be no question raised about the payment of the £400 claimed. Witness said that he was not going to lose £4000 worth of property for £400. He got a survey made of the damage done, and sent word to the agent of the Company to that effect. Cross-examined by Mr Michie-The extent of the damage to the pattern shop alone was about £12. The top boards were charred through. There were no holes in the roof. The boards, from top to bottom, were burnt or charred. More than three or four of the top boards were charred. Witness was there first, and did not see Mr Gibbs there, nor Mr Orme, but saw the latter on Monday morning. There were about £4000 worth of patterns there altogether. He valued the patterns in the pattern shop at £1500. Saw persons remove them while witness was playing on them with a hose. Was insured in October, 1860, and the fire took place in September, 1861. Saw the people carrying out the patterns for safety, after the fire was extinguished. When witness, saw the pattern shop was safe, he told the people not to remove any more of the patterns. Did not see any of the patterns in flames. The tools were steel ones. The fire discolored the tools, and softened them, so that they were spoiled to the extent of about £30. In the fitting shop the side was burnt out. The fire extended to a space shown on the plan. The fire extended as far as the red line shown on the plan. The fire did not extend into the fitting shop, but the tools were injured by the action of water that was thrown upon them. The tools injured by fire were in the yard. If there was no fire they would not require any water. Saw the process of the construction under the superintendence of Mr Smith, but could not see him there. Condemned the building, and said he would not have it. Witness was not going to have work put up that was no use. The Insurance Company exposed the place as long as they liked; had men there as long as they liked; and left the place open at night, so much so that he was obliged to put a man there during the night to keep watch. Did not know Mr Roberts, the Company's surveyor. Mr McQuie wrote the letter for him to the company. Did not know the gentleman in court (Robertson) but perhaps, said the witness, you would ask him if he saw me. If he did see me he has the advantage decidedly of me. Witness did not say to Mr Gibbs, in presence of Mr Robertson, that he would not claim for patterns burnt in the pattern shop; but spoke to Mr Gibbs in the presence of some gentleman about not claiming for those that were removed. A letter dated 1st October 1861, was written to the Insurance Company by Mr McQuie. (Letter read making a claim of £547 on the company for the damage done). The day after the fire had a survey of the damage made by Messrs Shaw, Ivey and Barker. Sent notice to Mr Gibbs of the survey about to be made. Was told that he would get £130 on the building, but refused to take this amount, unless he was settled with for the patterns as well. Counsel here read several letters from plaintiffs to the agent and defendants on Ballarat, complaining of the way in which the building was being repaired and the delay that had taken place in the matter. The foundry now (continued witness) is not as high as it was before by 10 inches, and the work was not as good as it was before, and there were fire uprights that were never repaired. The roof was cut down by the Fire Brigades. There were a dozen corrugated sheets destroyed and the ridge and rafters were charred. The corrugation was destroyed in a dozen sheets on the roof and a large beam was charred to the extent of three-quarters of an inch.
By Mr Walsh – The tools that were injured were where used in the ordinary business every day. The tools that were not in use were in the drawers, and the latter were filled with water.
Mr Michie objected to this line of re-examination, as they had nothing to do with the tools that were not in the pattern store or shop, as mentioned in the policy of insurance.
His Honor here asked to see the policy of insurance, and after reading it, said he thought the plaintiff could not recover for the damage done to tools outside the building or premises insured.
Mr Dawson cited a case reported in page 415 of Smith’s Mercantile Law in support of his view of the case, but
His Honor ruled the patterns or tools in the yard were not insured according to the reading of the policy of insurance.
Cross-examination continued-The value of the patterns in the store injured by the fire was about £3000 or so. The reason witness did not take the £139 offered for the damage done to the building was because the insurance company would not settle with him for the patterns. When offered this amount he sent a boy to Mr Gibbs with the policy, he came back with a cheque for £5. Witness refused to receive it, so there was no mention made of the patterns. Mr Gibbs’ clerk got the youth sent by witness to sign a receipt in full for £130. Then witness went to Mr Gibbs and refused to take the cheque and returned it. The ridge of one end of the building was 10 inches lower than the other end. The corrugated iron was put on most ridiculously, and in the easiest possible manner. There was a glass window in the end of the foundry, and the Insurance Company nailed three pieces of hardwood timber there.
J. M. Opie one of the plaintiffs examined by Mr Dawson, detailed the injuries done to the foundry, and the patterns, tools, &c., as deposed to by his partner. The patterns were injured by the water.
Mr Fellows would take his Honor's ruling on this point. The Insurance Company insured only against damage by fire.
His Honor thought that the water having been the necessary consequence of the fire came within the policy of insurance – the same as goods thrown overboard a ship in a storm.
Cross-examined – None of the injured tools so far as he was aware, had been used since. He had not seen them. He valued the damaged tools at £30. Could not tell the number of flies or tools damaged. Could not tell the extent of the damage done to tools in the shop. Thought £30 would cover the whole of the damage to the tools in the building and in the yard. They first thought that £10 would cover the damage done to the tools.
J. H. Fouracre deposed that he remembered the night of the fire. The fire got through into the pattern shop. Some of the patterns were on fire. Saw them on fire and removed some of them. The back part of one of the shelves, on which were some of the patterns were burnt through. He could not form as estimate of the damage. There were great quantities of the patterns burnt in the house that had been removed outside. He thought the damage done to the patterns might be estimated at about £200. Cross-examined – The charred patterns were very numerous. He thought these were now on shelves. He had seen some fifty or sixty pieces of patterns on fire. Those that were too hot to be taken in the hand were kicked out with the foot. Loaded the persons who were removing the patterns.
Robert Lewis, Chairman of the Western Council, deposed that he remembered a fire on the 29th Sept. Was there, and saw the place in a blaze. The fire was burning around the pattern shop, and when witness saw that he burst in the door, and saw the flames coming in through the eaves. The flame was among the patterns. Pulled them down. At the part of the building he was in he did not see any of the patterns on fire, but the flames spread from the other end where Mr Fouracre was. Did not know the value of the patterns, but knew they were valuable. He believed the patterns were on-fire at the other end of the building.
Matthew Campbell, Captain of the Western Fire Brigade, deposed that he remembered the night of the fire, and was in the pattern room. The pattern store was in flames, and persons were removing the patterns. Saw some of them partially burned. Saw some of them charred. It was difficult to estimate the loss to the patterns unless he knew precisely what sort of patterns they were. Cross-examined-The store or shop he spoke of was one adjoining the foundry near the stable. He saw patterns, he believed, in flames in the shop. The shop inside and outside was in flames. The plan produced he thought was not a correct one. The shed was over the place called the lumberyard. He saw the patterns in there and in flames. The pattern shop, as marked on the plan, was partially destroyed. Saw men remove patterns and tool chests from that place.
Thomas Bodiker, pattern-maker, deposed that the fire in the pattern shop or store damaged the patterns to the extent of £400 or £500. Cross examined-Called the pattern store the place near the stable. Some of the patterns were in the foundry. Was in the pattern shop. Went through it. Did not see any patterns on fire there. By Mr Dawson-Assisted to remove patterns out of the pattern shop. Saw Mr Fouracre there removing patterns. Saw the fire getting into the pattern store.
- Ivey deposed that be vas one of the persons who estimated the damage, which was set down at £493 to the patterns alone. Cross-examined-The most of this injury was done by fire. A few of the patterns were broken by the removal, and were trodden upon. There was not a fifth of them broken. The patterns he saw were practically destroyed for all important purposes. The valuators did not value any but what they had seen. The valuation was made on the day after the fire.
William Shaw, engineer, deposed that he knew the plaintiffs' foundry. He was one of the party who estimated the damage, which they set down at £493.
Wm. Barker, contractor, deposed that he had with the two last witnesses estimated the damage at the amount named by them. He had examined the building, put up by the defendants and it would take from £100 to £110 to put the place in proper repair. The rafters at one end of the building were shorter than at the other end by some 9 or 10 inches, and the roof was ridiculous, extremely so.
Cross-examined by Mr Michie-Spent two days in examining the building.
Mr Michie-Was it not ridiculous to spend two days at it ?
Witness-That is your opinion. Was not informed of the amount that had been paid into Court.
Mr Michie-Give me the items?
Witness-If you understand anything about it, but I don't know if you do-I'll explain it to you.
Mr Michie-Well, go on.
Witness-I'll tell you how it came to pass. (Laughter.)
Mr Michie-Well, tell us how it came to pass.
Witness-I'll tell you what it amounts to. The witness then explained how he estimated the amount of £100 or £110 as being required to put the new building into a proper state of repair, and said the appearance of one end of the building being higher than the other was very unpleasant to the eye.
John Walsh deposed that the roof was not watertight now, and he had seen a window nailed up there.
Robert Hope deposed that he had examined the building since it had been re-instated by the company, one end of the roof was ten inches lower than the other, and it would take £110 to put it proper repair.
This was the case for the plaintiffs.
Mr Michie now suggested that the jury adjourn to view the premises.
Some of the jury said it was their wish to do so.
His Honor said he would then adjourn the Court for half an hour.
The jury retired to view the building, and on returning into Court answered to their name s.
Mr Michie rose to address the jury for the defendant, and contended that, it was impossible for the patterns to have been destroyed in the shop when the shop itself was not burnt. If they were not burnt in the shop they were not bound to pay for them; if burnt in the yard, or if trampled under foot. The £100 that had been paid into Court, and the £130 that had been expended on the building, he thought, fully compensated the plaintiffs for any loss they had sustained.
R. B. Gibbs, for the defence, deposed that he was agent for the Colonial Insurance Company. He visited the scene of the fire the day after it bad taken place, and found Mr Hunt on the ground. He showed witness the patterns that were destroyed, and said some of them had been in the yard and others in the pattern shop. About a week afterwards. Mr Hunt agreed to take, to the best of his opinion, £130. After the 29th October, Mr Hunt refused to receive the amount. Remembered a complaint made by the plaintiffs respecting the way the work was done to the building. He pointed out a beam that was charred, and a window that wanted repairs. The window was done but the beam was not replaced owing he believed to the plaintiff having made a private arrangement with the contractor about it, Mr Hunt agreed to accept £5 foe the damage done to the corrugated roof.
Edward Orme deposed that in September, 1861 he was in the employment of the agents of the Colonial Office. Was present about a quarter of an hour after the fire broke out in the stable. The fire did not get into the pattern shop so as to damage the patterns. Was not in the pattern shop. Saw the patterns carried out. Saw none of the patterns on fire. Could not say if he was there when men commenced to remove the patterns. They were removing them when he arrived there. Saw some of the patterns on fire in the lumber yard. Thought these patterns were there when the fire broke out. Did not know Mr Fouracre. Remained there until the danger was all over. Saw the boards about the eaves of the pattern room scorched-the upper one badly so. Next day he visited the scene of the fire and inside went the pattern room, and came to the conclusion that no chattels there could be injured from what he had seen. The shelves were perfectly sound. Saw some of the patterns broken, as if destroyed by removal. By Mr Dawson-Thought the patterns inside were not damaged, from what he saw. Did not see the top board charred. Thought the patterns were composed of lightwood. Was in the room eight months before. Could not tell the number of patterns he saw taken out, but thought that half of them were removed. There was much flame about the lumber side of the pattern room. Did not see any person playing on the pattern shop with a hose.
Duncan Macfarlane, examined by Mr Fellows, deposed that he was Lieutenant of the Western Fire Brigade, and was present at the fire. The boards under the eaves of the pattern room were scorched or charred. He could not see any damage done inside. Saw a great quantity of patterns removed by the crowd. Saw patterns in the yard on fire. Saw the patterns piled up outside and inside next day. To Mr Dawson – Saw Mr Boyd playing on the fire, and did not see Mr Hunt. The fire caught the pattern room.
Charles Boyd deposed that he was a fireman, and was present at the fire. He saw the fire spread to the foundry. The pattern shop was slightly charred on the outside. To the best of his opinion the fire did not enter the building. Saw Mr Hunt there, and he said to witness-“Boyd, for God’s sake save the pattern shop.” To Mr Welsh – Did not remember seeing Mr Hunt playing with a hose on the pattern shop. Saw the patterns removed. Great exertions were made to save them.
Mr D. Robertson deposed that he was paid by the Colonial Insurance Company to the amount of £130 10s or so, he was not particular as to a £1 for the repairs of the building. Saw no damage done to the pattern shop, save and except three boards that were scratched near the eaves. Repaired the building which appeared to lean on one side as if pulled over. The window closed up was done by the instructions of Mr Hunt. Witness went to Mr Smith, the clerk of the works, for his certificate, as the work was finished. Smith said he would not give it until he saw that Hunt and Opie were satisfied, as they were an "obstreperous lot," Saw Mr Hunt, and he made some objections to portions of the work.
By Mr Dawson-He did not make the erection better than it was before. The roof was to fit to half an inch. Did not contract the work in some parts and extend it in others. Was not called a contractor because he contracted tho work. Counsel had all the wit to himself. Did not know if the rain came through or not. It might-through the loose tiles placed in the roof for light. Hunt and Opie were not satisfied with the shelves. Could not say why Smith considered that Hunt and Opie were "obstreperous." Mr Gibbs informed witness that be had received a letter from the plaintiffs, requesting that he would not pay witness, as the work was not completed.
To Mr Oddie-The boards of the pattern shop were scorched, bat there was no evidence of fire inside.
Mr Claxton-Then, if the jury saw evidence of fire inside, they are to suppose it is the result of another fire?
Witness-I cannot say that.
John Roberts, surveyor to the Colonial Insurance Company, deposed that in company with Mr Gibbs he went to Mr Hunt. The latter pointed out some sheets of corrugated iron, some rafters, and a ridge-board that had been damaged by the fire but not reinstated. Asked him if he would accept an amount to reinstate them, and he said he would. Observed a charred beam, for which Mr Hunt said he had agreed with the contractor to accept either £2 or £3 for not replacing it. Visited the pattern room. Some few boards were scorched outside, but Mr Hunt said it was not worth while to make any claim for the damage done to them. Pointed out to him that the patterns inside were not injured. Mr Hunt said the mob had burst open the door and removed the patterns for safety to the yard and foundry. Witness said they were recklessly removed, and as they were not damaged by fife he could not have any claim on the company. Mr Hunt said he only claimed for those that were barned ia the yard. Witness went there with Robertson and Smith some time after, and Robertson gave him the same reply as Hunt did about the beam.
To Mr Dawson-Could see no sign of fire inside the pattern shop. There was an opening in the shop of about three-quarters of an inch near the eave. The outside was charred. He would dirty his fingers if he rubbed them against it. The calico went within half an inch of the opening near the eave. Could not say if the same calico was there now.
The examination of Charles Smith, taken in New Zealand before a prothonotary were here read over.
Mr Michie now addressed himself to the evidence adduced on behalf of the defendant, and said the question the Court had to try was simply whether the patterns in the pattern shop had been destroyed by fire. They could not recover for patterns destroyed anywhere on the premises, unless they were in the pattern shop. The plaintiffs, by the claim they had sent in, showed that they were entirely ignorant of the terms of the policy. He would not condescend to use any ad captandum arguments when addressing the jury, but put the case fully and fairly before them. He severely commented on the absence of the foreman of the plaintiff, who, above all men, should have been present, but the fact of it was, he was sure that if he was called he would prove that the patterns were stored in the lumber room, on which no policy of insurance had been effected any more than if they had been stored in a distant part of the colony. It seemed to him that there was no evidence to sustain the suit, and that no case had been made out against his client. They had paid for reconstruction, and had paid £100 into Court, to show how fairly the Company wished to treat the plaintiff, which, he contended, more than satisfied the cause of the action, and therefore he claimed a verdict at the hands of the jury.
Mr Dawson next addressed the jury for the plaintiffs, and after alluding to Mr Michie in a few humorous remarks, proceeded to say that witnesses often very were mistaken; but facts could not lie. He was amused to hear witnesses get into the witness box and state that the timber was slightly scorched, when the fact of it was the jury and himself had visited the pattern shop and bad seen the charred timber. His learned friend would have them believe that the Colonial Insurance Company was the most honorable and liberal company in existence; but if they were, why not pay the amount claimed and not take refuge from an action by saying that the patterns should be burnt before the plaintiffs could recover the amount of the policy. They had the evidence of Mr Lewis, the chairman of the Council of Ballarat, who first broke in the door and removed the burnt patterns; and they also had similar evidence from Mr Fouracre. At all events, they were entitled to the £100 paid into court, which was a commutation-as it were-of the amount that they should pav. He submitted that on the whole of the evidence his clients were entitled to a verdict.
His Honor then summed up the evidence, and said it was for the jury to say if the plaintiffs were entitled to more than £100. If they thought that they were not, their labors would be at an end, but if they thought otherwise they would have to determine the amount they would award the plaintiffs. They should however bear in mind that they would have to estimate the damage in each particular according to the headings of the bill sent in by the plaintiffs. The property outside the places not insured, that was destroyed, they would not take into consideration as it was not mentioned in the policy of insurance. His Honor then directed himself to the evidence, reading it over and commenting thereon as lie proceeded.
The jury retired at half past five o'clock to consider their verdict, and came into court at a quarter past six with a verdict for the plaintiffs for £150 above the amount paid into court. Mr Oddie, the foreman, read the items of the verdict as follows: sixty-five patterns destroyed by fire in the shop, assessed at 35s each, breakage and removal of patterns, £83 5s, defective workmanship, £40, damage to tools, £40.[13]
The Season of Fires, as we choose to call the presence of dry hot weather in this ligneously housed community, has now set in, and elicited from us a note of warning. As yet our long rows of fragile residences and business premises have scarcely had enough of the sun to air them thoroughly or dry their wood, canvas, and paper walls, after the thorough soaking they have received during the most protracted rain season we have known, so that the warning may be timely enough, but not ill timed. If, however, we have no casualty arising from this source to record, it is hardly possible for a month to pass in Ballarat without having to make note of some catastrophe of the kind, by whatsoever means brought about. During a severe thunderstorm and the fall of torrents of rain, on the night of Sunday, the 29th ult., the Western fire bell sounded an alarm, and was quickly followed by the Eastern bell, a fire having broken out in some stables at the rear of Watson’s Town Hall Hotel, in Armstrong street. The alarm of fire had no sooner pealed out than the ignited places, being composed of wood and partially filled with hay and straw, were all in a blaze, lighting up all the tall buildings in the neighboring streets. The wind was blowing from the east, but soon fell away altogether, and with the lull the rain also disappeared, but the thorough drenching the adjoining buildings had received from the previous storm helped to retard the progress of the flames. The stables were lost from the first, and the extensive buildings adjoining on the north, belonging to Messrs Hunt and Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, soon began to show alarming signs of ignition, while the fences and wooden outhouses a few yards detached on the south began to hiss and smoke. These latter were saved by the application of water and wet sheets, and the injury done to the Victoria Works was limited to the pattern shop which overlapped the stables on the west, and the damage done to the shops on the north by breakage of windows, flooding with water, and so forth. In the darkness and confusion, however, that supervened, as soon as the flames were got under, it was impossible for the damage done to be very nicely estimated. The proprietors of the foundry informed as that they were only insured for a small amount. The fire broke out in the stables which belonged to Mr Watson, of the hotel, who is uninsured, and were occupied by Mr Bull, and the origin of the fire was, as usual, obscure, though it was reported that a drunken person was on the premises, and that the neighbors had for a long time anticipated the catastrophe. There were three horses in the stable when the fire commenced, two of which were with great difficulty saved, and the other perished in the flames. The Eastern and Western Fire Brigades, and some members of the Saving Corps were on the ground with all convenient speed, and soon fell to work and prevented the spread of the fire beyond its original seat. The flames were quite subdued in about twenty minutes, but had there been no rain just before, or had the wind kept up and veered to the south, the destruction of property would inevitably have been great, as the whole of the Victoria Foundry works must have been destroyed, and most likely Port’s timber yard adjoining, as well as a host of wooden buildings besides those that stood in immediate contiguity to it. At the Eastern Police Court on the following Monday, a young man named Robert Dingwell, was charged with being the originator of the fire. When the alarm was first given, Mr Watson observed Dingwell coming down the ladder from the hay loft, where the fire broke out. On the ensuing day he was again brought up, but discharged for want of evidence. There is no doubt that the fire was caused by carelessness.[14]
About twenty minutes past seven o'clock on Sunday night a fire broke out in an unoccupied cottage belonging to Mr B. Williams, of Melbourne, near Messrs Hunt and Opie's foundry, and within a few yards of the scene of the fire that occurred in the same locality a short time ago. The cottage had been occupied to within the last week by a man named Heenan, an ostler at the Port Philip stables, and contained a quantity of hay and stray. The Western fire bell rang out the alarm and was speedily followed by that of the Ballarat brigade. The members of the Western brigade were speedily on the spot with their fire engine and hose carriage, and the Ballarat brigade was also promptly at the fire. Before the arrival of either, a small portable engine belonging to Messrs Hunt and Opie did good service in keeping the flames under, but from the ignitable nature of the material in the building there was no probability of saving the house from destruction, and it was completely burned to the ground. The cause of the fire is at present unknown, but from circumstances that have come to our knowledge it is not at all improbable that an inquiry will be instituted into its origin It is stated that a person, under the influence of drink, was seen coming out of the building a short time before the fire broke out. The damage is estimated at from £30 to £35, and from what we can learn the place was not insured.[15]
We understand that Messrs Hunt and Opie, the proprietors of the Victoria Foundry, have not been able to come to terms with the Colonial Insurance Company, touching the loss sustained through the fire at the stables at the rear of the Town Hall Hotel. The claim made for loss has been repudiated by the Insurance Office, and Messrs Hunt and Opie have entered an action in The Supreme Court for £400. The trial will probably come off at the next Circuit Court.[16]
Wednesday, 4th June.
1. From Mr Frost, water-carter, complaining that he had not been paid for being second at the fire at the Victoria Foundry.[17]
In the Warden's Court on Monday, the proprietors of the Soho Foundry summoned the proprietors of the Victoria Foundry to show cause why the plaintiffs should not be put in possession of certain Crown lands at Mount Pleasant. It appears that the land in question is profitable to the parties, as supplying them with a particular kind of sand or loam used in making moulds for casting. The defendants held a license to remove sand or loam, and the plaintiffs did not, but as the land was not a reserve, the Warden ruled that there was no objection to the plaintiffs being registered for residence areas as applied for. Notice of appeal was given, and the Warden consented to hold over his order.[18]
Monday, 28th September.
(Before the Resident Warden.)
Robinson and Thomas v Hunt and Opie. Mr Trench for the plaintiffs, Mr Randall for the defendants. This was an application by the proprietors of the Soho Foundry to be put in possession of certain land at Mount Pleasant, alleged to be held in excess by the defendants, the proprietors of the Victoria Foundry, who held a Crown lands' license to remove sand or loam from the ground in question. The evidence of the plaintiffs showed that they had applied to be registered for a residence area there, but the defendants had lodged objections thereto, and in the mean time bad themselves applied for registration while holding the ground. Mr Randall contended that the application by the plaintiffs was only a ruse to deprive the defendants of their rights under their license, and that the Warden would not sanction such an application. Moreover the land was about to be sold. Mr Trench replied that his clients had as good a right to buy as the defendants, who held 80 perches of land there, Mr Randall handed in four miner's rights, which he said covered the whole area held by the defendants. Mr Trench objected to the tender of the miner's rights, and the application by the defendants' agent, Mr Chaffers, for a residence area, under cover of the license to remove loam. Mr Randall said his clients had nothing to do with Mr Chaffers, who acted for the Phoenix Foundry Company. His Worship found that the plaintiffs were entitled to have the land applied for, and be ad judged accordingly. Mr Randall gave notice of appeal, and the Warden said his order would be stayed for the usual period.[19]
The little feud between the foundry proprietors touching the right to the removal of sand from Crown lands at Mount Pleasant has been healed, the proprietors of the foundries having agreed to buy the land and use it between them.[20]
THE following description of the Locomotive Engine for the works of the West Australian Timber Company, we take from the Ballarat Star. Much interest is evinced here for its arrival, when the Railway, the first in the colony, will be formally opened:-
The starting and naming of the new locomotive engine made at the Victoria Foundry, Ballarat, for the West Australian Timber Company, took place in the presence of a large number of interested spectators. Mr. Hunt's firm is an old one at Ballarat, and old at the manufacture of locomotive as well as other engines, for it is a good many years now since the "Lady Barkly" and its angle wheels were the observed of all the observers on the little bit of trial railway at the Green Hills, where Mr. Davis, of the Ballarat and Geelong railway works, and others had come, and a host of connisseurs [sic] to wee the experimental trips there and then made. Since then the Victoria FOundry has turned out a good many engines of one sort and another, but no more until now of the locomotive sort. The one, made for a local company by a local firm for work in Western Australian, has about it many associations of interest. The name given to the new engine is "Ballaarat," though why not "Ballarat" we do not know, the more as ont he engine itself the maker's name, "John Hunt, Ballarat," is put in very plain letters. The engine was designed in all details by Mr. Jonathan Robinson, the foreman of the Victoria Foundry, and was executed under the superintendence of Mr. W. Watson, the inspecting-engineer of the West Australian Timber Company, both Mr. Robinson and Mr. Watson having considerable experience in the construction of locomotives. The "Ballaarat" has two 7in. cylinders, with 14in. stroke, the maximum admission of steam being 75 per cent., the nominal power being 16 horse-power, but with ability to draw to 60 horse-power. The traction force at the rails is 2330 lbs., and the total load tractable on the level 150 tons, at a speed of 10 miles per hour. There are four 3 feet coupled wheels, and the gauge is 3 1/2 feet. The grate surface is 5 feet and the heating surface 300 feet, the boiler being a well made one by Hickman, of Mair street, barrel 7-16-in., fire-box and ends of plates 1/2-in., and being all of the best Lowmoor iron. This is the second locomotive turned out at the Victoria Foundry, and is, we believe, the largest that has been made entirely in the colony for traction on iron rails. There is no superfluity of ornament about it, for all is excessively plain, but the skill and the pluck which have sufficed for this work will doubtless suffice for greater things, and if the Victorian Government will but give the Victoria Foundry the chance, we may, as Mr. W. C. Smith took occasion to hope for, see all the rooling [sic] stock for our new railways made on the spot. The engine worked admirable, and was most narrowly scrutinised by the knowing ones. The cost, delivered in Melbourne, is £800.
Mr. Macpherson, J.P., mayor of Melbourne, who is a man of iron and knows a thing or two about engines and engineering, was called on to ascend the engine and baptise "her." His worship said he had great pleasure on the occasion of his visit to the auriferous metropolis to be invited to name an engine manufactured in Ballarat, for he was sure we ought to be proud of the workmanship, which would compare favourably with that of any engines in use in Victoria. He had no doubt that under the fostering care of Government the firms that had thus shown their ability to turn out work like this would be encouraged, and that eventually it would be seen that there was no need of importing engines. Perhaps his audience would hardly believe it, but the materials of which that locomotive was composed had paid 15 per cent. duty, but he had no doubt that in a short time Government would see the advantages to be derived from affording protection to this and similar industries that established or might be in a fair way for establishing themselves. Ballarat was far ahead of Melbourne in respect of the manufacture of locomotives, for no engine worth calling an engine had been made in Melbourne, whereas Ballarat had turned out four; and from his own personal knowledge of such things he was quite sure that the firm that had manufactured this one on which he stood was quite capable of making larger ones. His worship then sacrificed the ceremonial bottle of wine, and named the locomotive "The Ballaarat," amid the cheers of the crowd.
MR. Jospeh Jones was called on for a speech, and he said that as an ardent and consistent supporter of native industry he was much pleased to be present on such an occasion, and to add, while standing on a Ballarat made engine, his testimony to the success with which the Victoria Foundry had grappled with the problem of manufacture. Briefly adverting to the protectionist theory, he said the Government ought to admit raw material free of duty, and to give substantial rewards to firms like manufactures in our midst. The Government ought also to encourage the growth of native manufactures by giving its orders to local firms whenever possible. He said this freely, for while he held to the free-trade doctrine of buying in the cheapest market, he maintained that the cheapest market was not always that where the price was lowest. The proper way was to buy where, taking all things into consideration, the article could be got most profitably. In conclusion, he propposed "Success to the West Australian Timber Company," which was greeted with three cheers.
Mr. John Ditchburn briefly responded, remarking that one reason the West Australian Timber Company had for giving the order to the Victoria Foundry was, that the order would be executed in half the time required to get an engine from England, and that the local manufacture could be supervised by the company's own officer. He proposed "Three cheers for the mayor of Melbourne," which were heartily given.
Mr. C. E. Jones, at this stage of the business, appeared on the scene, and essayed a little speech, which was not so brief, however, but he was able to misrepresent what his namesake had said. He said it was now admitted that it was not right to buy in the cheaper market, and that the proposed giving of a bonus was like the case of an illegitimate child.
Mr. Joseph Jones administered the necessary correction to his namesake's mis-statement, and said that as to the illegitimate child, he did not feel the point, as he was responsible for the bantling.
Mr. W. C. Smith subsequently appeared, and in a few words addressed to the crowd, remarked that he wanted to see all the rolling stock of our railways manufactured in the colony, for he was sure we had the men here who could do the work. Why, £4000 were paid for imported locomotives, and for that £4000 £3000 represented labor. Well, what he wanted to see was that money going into the pockets of the men who were here, and going about with their hands in their pockets, and nothing to do.
This closed the oratorial portion of the business, but the "Ballaarat" kept puffing away all day, and in Mr. Hunt's office copious libations of potent liquors added moisture and merriment to the drier and duller work of speechmaking, and provoked many cheers, jokes and good wishes in honor of the celebration.[21]


Desirous as we have ever been to take notice of the advancement of our district, it needed only the receipt of information that some of the largest castings of pipes ever made in the colony were being made on Ballarat, to induce us to pay a visit to the scene of operations, viz, Messrs Oakey, Hunt & Co.’s Victoria Foundry, in Armstrong street. This foundry (opened early in 1856) was the first established on Ballarat; and though at first castings of very limited size only were attempted, the increasing demand has prompted the enlargement of operations till now they have assumed a very respectable magnitude. The elaborate and expensive machinery required for “fitting” has of course precluded the manufacture of the nicer branches of factory work; but, at the present rate of progress, even that would appear to be no remote contingency.
The work in question is the manufacture of certain large pipes for pumping the water from the shaft of the Great Redan Extended Company, on the Redan Lead. A length of about 240 feet was required, and, with the company’s engine of 30 horse power, an extraordinary size was demanded. The Golden Gate Company lately had pipes made of 12 ½ inches in width, but a still larger bore being needed, those which are the subject of our present remarks were made 9 feet long and 14 ½ inches in diameter. Twenty-six pipes and two door pieces had thus to be cast separately, each of them requiring about a ton of metal.
On entering the yard we say a large number of the pipes ready for use lying at the entrance. They were neatly finished, and furnished conclusive testimony to the skill of the pattern maker and caster. Further on, in the fitting shop, the working barrel was being turned by a powerful lathe driven by a steam engine of some four-horse power, also used to drive the fan of the furnace. To the left were the columns used for regulating the size of the bore.
In the moulding house, were the arrangements for casting two of the pipes—a daily task. The pattern had just been lifted from its bed of loam, the inner barrel round which the metal had to be poured was lowered into its place, and the upper box placed over all, securely weighted down with bars of crude iron, worn out stampers, and heavy masses of metal, and “fast in its prison walls of earth” the mould awaited the stream of metal.
By this time the furnace showed signs of readiness. The roar of the fan and occasional gleams of the bright glow within, reminded one of Schiller’s lines thus translated:—
“What friend is like the might of fire,
When man can watch and wield the ire,
Whate’er we shape or work we owe
Still to that heaven descended glow.”
A huge cauldron carefully lined with sandy clay is run along a railroad to under the mouth of the furnace. A few blows with an iron produces an aperture, and the fiery stream rushes forth till the cauldron is filled with the mass of gleaming molten ore.
Now comes a moment of danger. The too hot metal must lie to cool, and in a moment it boils fiercely. This is owing to a scarcity of air, and that must be supplied, or the cauldron must be upset, or the whole would blow up in the air. A short run down the railroad, however, puts it right, and the cauldron being lifted by a powerful crane and tilted over the seething mass funs into the mould, from the air-holes on each side of which tongues of flame dart out.
In a few minutes the task is complete.
“Now its destined task fulfilled
“Asunder break the prison mould.”
The upper box is removed and the massive [illegible], lying in its bed red hot, is un fait accompli.[22]
The Victoria Foundry, under the proprietorship and management of Messrs Hunt & Opie, is, like the Phoenix, and at least one other similar establishment, located in that chosen habitat of workers in iron, Armstrong stret [sic]. Its proprietors claim for it the distinction of being the pioneer foundry of Ballarat, - a claim which we are not prepared to gainsay. Their premises occupy an allotment extending backward from Armstrong street to Doveton street, in which latter locality they possess a frontage of 207 feet. Towards Armstrong street the frontage is more circumscribed, owing to the sale of the south-east corner of the original quadrangle. The entire area now claimed by the firm comprises about three quarters of an acre. Entering from Armstrong street, we find ourselves in a spacious yard, with the office and draughtsmen’s rooms on the left, and a storeroom will stocked with oils, paints, metals, tools, and other appliances, on the right. Immediately facing is a shear-legs, capable of raising from 10 to 12 tons. To the right is a small punching machine, for the lighter description of work. To the left, and communicating by belting to the shaft in the fitting shop, is another punching and shearing machine for heavy work. Near hand are a set of rolls for the making of boiler plates, also capable of being connected by belting with the main gear; and the boiler-makers’ shed, fitted with a furnace and anvil for the making of rivets, and other necessary appliances.
Occupying the land midway between the two streets are the pattern shops, the foundry, and the fitting shop. Passing through these, we reach the Doveton street yard, having on one side of the gate a capacious smithy, and on the other, two residences, one of which is occupied by a member of the firm. A stable for three horses stands to the eastward. On a piece of vacant ground to the south are a series of tressels supporting one circumference of the gigantic overshot water wheel now in course of manufacture for Messrs Anderson Brothers, of the Smeaton flour mills. The dimensions of the wheel are 28 feet in diameter, and 7ft. 3in. breast to the water. The wheel is to be of iron throughout, and when in full action will be equivalent to 40 horse power. Close by is a pair of shear legs calculated to lift 7 or 8 tons at a time, and some large pipes, a portion of an order from the Try Again Company, Springdallah, of which the firm have already supplied some two hundred feet. Lying against the pattern shops we noticed the pattern of the firm’s newly invented iron frame for quartz batteries, which is rapidly superseding the use of wood for the same purpose. We learn from the firm that since the granting of the patent in February, 1861, they have issued stamper frames to the value of from £1500 to £2000; besides those which have been turned out by other foundries to whom license had been granted to manufacture them. Close by the pattern above referred to, are lying a number of stampers now turning out for the One-and-All Company, Hiscock’s, and for the Great Reef Company, Yandoit. Among a multiplicity of castings our attention was particularly directed to some heavy masses of iron intended for stone breaking machines, to be used by Messrs Williams and Little on the Ballarat line of railway, as also wheels for trucks ordered by the same firm. Lying outside of the smiths’ shop are a quantity of T bolts for the gigantic water wheel, as also a most excellent casting for the nave or centre, on which the name of the foundry is inscribed in large capitals. Behind an immense heap of pig iron, towards the foundry, is a little fire engine, by Mayher and Co., of New York, which has more than once done good service in extinguishing fires, and is of use besides in watering the ground and buildings in hot weather. In close proximity, is a large will which extends into the smiths’ shop and is 24 feet long, 13 feet deep, and 6 feet wide. This and two others of somewhat smaller dimensions, always keep the works plentifully supplied with water. At the door of the foundry are a number of large ladles for carrying molten iron from the cupola to the moulding boxes. Their capacity descends from 3 tons to 1 ½ cwt.
The pattern room, on the north, contains patterns of every description of gear for agricultural and mining purposes, as also for the component parts of locomotive engines. We saw patterns for wheels, which, when cast, would weigh from a ½ lbs. up to 5 tons, and men engaged in making patterns of toothed wheels, the diameter of which, when completed, will be 28 feet. At the other end of the foundry is another pattern shop, with seven pattern makers and an apprentice at work. In the lost are stored the patterns of large stationary engines, of which the cylinders are 20 ½ in. in diameter, with a 3 feet 6 in stroke. The first made by the firm from these patterns was for the Polar Star Company, and had two large boilers. The second was supplied to the Canadian Quartz Mining Company; and the third, made for the New North Clunes Company, had a marine boiler 18 feet long by 8 feet in diameter, with tubing 3 ¼ in. diameter. Three other stationary engines on the same principle, but of smaller size, have likewise been turned out by the firm. The wood used for making these patterns is clear pine, which, for the sake of preservation, is coated with varnish. Here we observed two artisans busily engaged in making the patterns of various portions of Messrs Williams and Little’s stone breaking machines. The firm lost £500 worth of patterns by the late fire in the hay and corn store adjoining. The insurance company remedied the damage done to the walls of the building, but as they demurred to reimburse the firm for the loss of its more valuable contents, recourse has been had to law, and the dispute is not yet settled.
The moulding shop is a spacious structure of wood, roofed ridge and valley fashion, and covered with galvanised iron. A series of louvre-boards amply provide for ventilation, while light is procured from large windows in one end of the building. Its interior measurement is 110 feet by 45 feet. A series of iron pillars running down the centre, support the main beam of the roof, to which is attached an immense jib crane, capable of lifting twelve tons. It is fixed by diagonal stays, and is so contrived that it can be used on all sides. Close by this, at the time of our visit, we observed that preparations were being made for casting several 12 ½ inch pipes, and a variety of toothed wheels and plummer blocks. Our attention was also directed to the large box (8ft. square) used for moulding the patent framing for batteries. A little further on is the cupola o furnace, for melting the iron, of which it is capable of turning out six tons if necessary. In the north-east corner of the building is the stove for drying the cores used in casting pipes. It is supplied with a railway leading into the stove, and a truck for carrying in the newly-made cores, and of course for bringing them out after the moisture has been sufficiently discharged from the sand. It was here pointed out to us, that charcoal mixed with water, and technically called “blacking,” is used to coat the cores with, for the purpose of enabling them to be readily disengaged from the casting. What is called the skin of the casting is left clean if this contrivance be adopted. Attached to the drying-stove are furnaces for melting gold or brass. Close by, is a 12 horse power engine, driving all the machinery in the adjoining fitting-shop, as, also, the large fan blast for the smithy, the loam mill, the blacking mill, a large grindstone, and the patternmakers’ lathe.
The smithy is a long wooden building stretching towards Doveton street, 105 feet in length by 25 feet in breadth, and roofed with galvanised iron. It is fitted with an engine of 8 horse power, which drives the fan blasts for the furnaces, of which there are six. The blast can be regulated to a nicety by means of a series of stop cocks at the sides of the forges, which, by the way, are of cast iron, and of improved construction. The bellows are of course not ordinarily in use, but can be shipped at ten minutes’ notice, should anything happen the engine, or should work be brought in in the night time, when too much time would be consumed in getting the steam up. At the east end of this building is another furnace for heavy work, with a crane attached.
Leaving the smithy, we enter the fitting shop, which is 105 feet in length by 16 feet in width. Our attention is at once arrested by a large break lathe and screw-cutting machine, stated to be the largest in the colony, and of beautiful workmanship. It was made by Beacock & Tannett, of the Victoria Foundry, Leeds, and cost over £700 before it was got into position. Close by is a large 9-inch plummer block, and a large shaft for the same purpose in another lathe. Further on is a ponderous drilling machine, capable of boring holes from a quarter of an inch to six inches in diameter, and 2 ft. 6 in. deep. The machine is provided with a table of cast iron, weighing 35 cwt., and a railway to enable it to pass to and fro beneath the drill. The machine is capable of receiving a diameter of 9 feet. At the eastern extremity of the shop is another smaller screw-cutting lathe, of 16 feet bed, and a lathe with a 30 feet bed. The fitting benches are supplied with eights vyces. Twenty-two men are generally engaged at these lathes and vyces, while the number of men and boys engaged in the entire works, averages one hundred.
Having thus given our readers some slight insight into the mysteries and most noteworthy points in connection with Messrs Hunt & Opie’s foundry, it only remains for us to make allusion to the tank locomotive engine, which has lately been turned out by the firm. The patentee is Mr James R. Davies, the principal engineer employed by Messrs Williams & Little, on the Ballarat railway, and the engine referred to is the first on this principle which has been manufactured in Victoria. The merit of the invention consists in the engine being enabled to travel on a flat wooden tramway without any chance of abrading the material, as flanged wheels are apt to do. The angular guide wheels are flanged, but as the carrying wheels are each on its own axis, and the former merely keep the locomotive on the line, side strain is avoided, and there is no perceptible wear and tear. It is intended for tramway traffic, and its inventor hopes, by its introduction, to establish a cheaper system of railway communication. The “Lady Barkly,” for so the engine has been christened, has already ran over 300 miles back and forward, at the rate of 40 miles an hour, on a rail three-quarters of a mile in length, laid down for the purpose. We are informed that Mr Davies’ expectations have been more than realised in the trials already made.
We must now bring our notice to a conclusion, promising to pursue our subject in subsequent articles.[23]

In our article on the Soho Works, we erroneously stated the firm to be Messrs Robertson, Thomas and Co., instead of Messrs Robinson, Thomas and Co. In the article on the Victoria Foundry, typographical errors make us to say that Messrs Hunt and Opie have turned out from £1000 to £1500 worth of patent iron frames for stamping machines since the granting of the patent, instead of £10,000 to £15,000 worth. In like manner, in speaking of the diameters capable of being made by the boring machine, the article states them at from a quarter of an inch to six inches, instead of from a quarter of an inch to 16 inches. With these necessary alterations, we conclude the fourth article of our series.[24]


Community Involvement

Works Produced


We are glad to learn that the railway department is practising the principle of decentralisation so much talked of lately, and that the enterprise of Ballarat machinists has come in for a share of the good results. An order for one sample locomotive engine has been given to Messrs Hunt and Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, for use on the Ballarat railway, with the understanding that if the sample be accepted a large order will be given to the same foundry.[25]
An order for one sample locomotive engine has been given to Messrs Hunt & Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, for use on the Ballarat Railway, with the understanding that if the sample be accepted a large order will be given to the same foundry.[26]
Our readers may remember that an order was given to Messrs Hunt & Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, for a sample locomotive engine for railway use. We hear that the firm in question have so far completed the specimen iron horse that steam was got up yesterday by way of trial, and the engine worked satisfactorily. As yet we have not been able to inspect this new product of local skill, but we shall embrace an early opportunity of doing so.[27]
The locomotive engine made by Messrs Hunt & Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, for Mr Davies, the patentee and one of the officers attached to the Ballarat railway staff, is now completed for transmission to the residence of the patentee at Lal Lal. We understand that Mr Davies intends to test the action of the engine on some mile or two of railway in that neighborhood, with a view of determining its eligibility for use on the “feeders" that may connect the surrounding towns with the trunk line.[28]
The denizens of the Main road were surprised from their usual serenity yesterday morning by the dashing apparition of a gala day turn-out extraordinary, even in this season of pic-nics. Two of Cobb's coaches, decked out with evergreens and rosettes, crowded inside and out with unmistakable pleasure seekers, and heralded by a line of buggies, tilburies, and other vehicles, also laden with passengers equally on pleasure bent, went off from Bath's Hotel and through Ballarat East. The party was one of well known faces in Ballarat, for it seemed to the looker- on as if all the barristers, all the solicitors, all the municipal councillors of both municipalities, and all the bank managers, had thrown business to the winds, and had turned out with wardens, surveyors, doctors, engineers, iron founders, hotelkeepers, and others, for a regular day in the country. The affair was not one of the usual sort, and had received no publication beforehand, as although a thoroughly "monster" party, including about a hundred of our best known citizens, it was a private gathering though with a decided public purpose. It was, in fact, a company invited to be present at a trial of the new locomotive engine made by Messrs Hunt and Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, for the patentee, Mr J. R. Davies, the chief engineer of the contractors for the Ballarat and Geelong Railway. Circulars had been issued in Mr Davies's behalf by Mr Alexander Smyth inviting a large circle of private friends, and most of the public men of Ballarat to be present at the testing of the locomotive on a tramway laid down contiguous to the patentee's present residence at the Green Hills, about 15 miles from Ballarat. The day was gloriously fine, and the coaches, "tooled" by Mr Warren and "Tom Woods," and preceded by the lighter vehicles aforesaid, rattled off to the music of an instrumental trio under M. Fleury tor the locality of the enterprising host. The party arrived about noon at the spot where a large tent had been prepared for housing the guests, and in which, under the excellent catering of Mr Pope, of Ballarat, the liberal host had spread a collation so ample that it seemed not even the large gathering of right hungry pic-nicers could do much towards exhausting it. Below the tent, and running alongside of the "Green Hill," was the tramway laid by Mr Davies, and "Lady Barkly," the object of the day's excursion, stood arrayed in branches of trees and bouquets of flowers, and throwing out vaporous jets of welcome to the visitors.
After the several vehicles had discharged their passengers, and the necessary greetings had been gone through, everybody at once proceeded to look at the stone-breaking machines on the side of the Ballarat and Geelong railway. Passing over the crest of the hill, the first thing that attracted the eye was an enormous mountain of broken metal, containing some 30,000 or 40,000 cubic yards of ballasting, ready for immediate transit to the various portions of the line on the Ballarat side of the depot. On the slope loading down to the line was the machinery employed in producing this mountain of metal, and on arriving there, we found a twenty horse-power engine, and four iron monsters devouring great lumps of bluestone and spitting them out in small fragments with a reckless voracity absolutely appalling. These were Appleton's stone-breakers, patented in America, and apparently able to “chaw up" a volcano, or an army of "them darned niggers," or anything else that came within their awful jaws, From a quarry a few yards above, and intersected with railways in all directions, there kept running down trucks of bluestone blocks which are shot down in front of the "breakers." Four men kept shovelling the stone into the iron jaws of the monsters as last as they could, and down below in a dark cavernous place full of dust, other trucks were being continually filled with the metal as it passed through the insatiable mouths of the "breakers" above. From this cavern the laden trucks were run off down an incline, either to the mountain aforesaid, or to the railway itself ready for drawing off along the line where ever wanted. Everything showed a perfect conjunction of convenience and economy. Each one of the stone eaters turns out 70 cubic yards of metal per diem, or about 300 tons a day for the four; the day consisting of eleven hours, seven of those days making up the week. Some notion of the great value to the contractors of this method of producing metal will be obtained when we state that the cost is something like 50 per cent less than by the old system of hand labor.
As soon as the visitors had taken the fill of this part of the place, they returned to the business of the day, to wit, to pay their more particular devoirs to "Lady Barkly" of the branches, and the bouquet and the angle wheels, and so forth. By the time the party had got there, her ladyship was seen to be in an unwonted state of excitement-puffing and snorting, and darting hither and thither, under the directing hand of a smart young engineer, "she" seemed disposed to improve the occasion and show off her capabilities to the very best advantage. Indeed, "she” even screamed with excitement as a party of a dozen or so of the visitors rushed to the companionship of the engineer, and went careering along the tramway at the rate of thirty miles an hour. The tramway and the engine, our readers should know, are by way of experiment, to prove the adaptability of Mr Davies’ patent to the one, and both to the requirements of this and other districts of the colony, as feeders to the railways proper, and as cheap developers of traffic between the several centres of population. The great peculiarity of the patent is the application of angle or guide wheels in addition to the ordinary vertical wheels attached to the common locomotive; and we have much pleasure in stating the general verdict passed yesterday, to be that the experiment make was, as far as the trial went, a complete success. The engine, as our readers are aware, was manufactured by Messrs Hunt and Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, Ballarat, from drawings made by the patentee, its power being computed at that of 20 horses the width of rim of the vertical wheels is 4 ½ inches, and of the guide, or angle wheels, 2 ½ inches, the latter working at an angle of 45 degrees, with V shaped grooves fitting the angle of the rails. Ordinary steel springs are attached to the axles of the vertical wheels, and india-rubber springs to those of the guide wheels; and each wheel, both vertical and guide runs on its own separate axle. The tramway laid down for the experiment is 12 chains long, with a curve having a radius of one-tenth of a mile, and a gradient of 1 in 85, other portions of the way having gradients of 1 in 37 and 1 in 76, the gauge of the way being 5 feet 3 inches. The rails are of stringy bark, 5 x 6 inches square, laid on transverse sleepers, 3 feet apart. The sleepers are cut to the gauge, and the rails are fixed by pine wedges. The whole way was solid and firm, and the vibration, even at the greatest speed, scarcely appreciable. The capacity of the engine was estimated by the driver, Mr James Davies, son of the patentee, to be equal to hauling six ordinary railway carriages. Up to the night preceding our visit the engine had run 13,305 trips on the tramway, or had, in other words, done equal to five and three quarter years ordinary traffic, and yet there was but little effect of wear and tear visible on the rails. The total cost of tramway, with rolling stock, stations, &c., is estimated by Mr Davies at £5000 per mile. A wish was expressed for a trial with carriages attached, but that was not practicable, nor was it apparently necessary to the essential value of the experiment. Trip after trip rapidly succeeded, and all, or nearly all, the visitors, by turns, had their experimental ride; while critical eyes and fingers inspected and handled the engine and rails, and all the appurtenances, with a seemingly conscientious resolve to know all about the whole affair. The result was, as we have already stated, an unanimous verdict of "great success." During the trial, a diversion of an alarming nature, but of short duration took place, as a spark from her ardent ladyship of the bouquets and, boughs and smart engineer had attached itself to the canvas lining of Mr Davies's house, and threatened a disaster. A rush of guests however soon put all that to-rights, and by that time everybody was agreed that, barring that little peccadillo, "Lady Barkly" had behaved uncommonly well, and that it was time to go and partake of the host's good things.
The large tent was speedily filled, and the clatter of knives and forks and the popping of corks from bottles of wine, ale, spirits, and more temperate drinks, showed that healthy appetites were the order of the day. As soon as the guests bad refreshed themselves, Mr W. C. Smith, M.L.A., who acted as chairman for the occasion, rose to propose "Success to Mr Davies." He said that Ballarat, of all puttees, would appreciate the outlay that gentleman had gone to, for the invention would be most valuable to Ballarat and the district generally. We wanted tramways opened up to Smythesdale, Linton, and the surrounding places, while Ballarat ought by the same means to be connected with Creswick, Clunes, and so on to Maryborough. He was sure there was both money enough and enterprise enough in Ballarat to carry out the enterprise, and it would be most essential as feeders to the railway. When it was remembered that I instead of paying £50,000 per mile for railways we could get these tramways for less than one-tenth of the cost, there was no doubt that by private enterprise the whole country might be opened up. He was proud that not only the patent was brought out here but the engine itself was a specimen of Ballarat industry and skill. (Cheers.) If the same energy were displayed in this as in other things it would be found that private enterprise would beat the Government, and a larger extent of country would be opened up. The people of Hamilton had petitioned Parliament for the reservation of land, and Mr Frazer had already moved for hind to be reserved for a line to Maryborough; and soon, he hoped, there would be land reserved for a line to Smythesdale, and so on to Skipton, Streatham, and other places in that direction. And this was the more desirable as the wool growers in the Portland district were even new carting their produce to Geelong in preference to the tedious and uncertain coasting transit. Now, if there was a cheap tramway through Smythes' and Linton, and thereabouts, where there was a population of20,000, there would speedily be an enormous traffic, and Ballarat would become the great entrepot of the district. The very commonest timber had been used in the construction of the tramway, and yet with a traffic equal to 10 trains a day for over five years, the rails were scarcely touched, so that proved that the enterprise would be eminently successful in the long run, and the Government lines thus be made to pay far better. He must say that the enterprising spirit of Mr Davies was admirable, and now that gentleman had called them together to see the success of the experiment, he would propose "the health of Mr Davies," hoping he would live long to see the success of his patent, and tramways in all directions.
The toast was drunk with "three times three," band-"For he's a jolly good fellow."
Mr Davies, in rising to respond, was loudly cheered. He said that he sincerely trusted the trial that day would facilitate the desires of those gentleman who had the interests of the colony at heart and wishes to see the full development of its commerce. But those ends would only be attained by vigorous and determined efforts on the part of the public. The Government, the Legislature, the banks, and the mercantile community generally, were all interested in the welfare of the colony, and should therefore foster the enterprise alluded to by the proposer of the toast. They had all witnessed the experiment made that day, and all he could say was that he hoped they would all put their shoulders to the wheel, and help on the undertaking. (Cheers.)
Mr Dyte, Chairman of Ballarat East then rose to propose a toast he was sure all would heartily respond to. They had all seen Mr Davies’ engine, and they all knew that whatever Ballarat took in hand it could go through with, and no doubt Mr Davies knew very well that he had only to bring the patent to Ballarat to have it gone through with If it required the genius of Mr Davies to invent the engine, it required the skill of the firm of Hunt & Opie to make the engine. (Cheers.) They all knew what Ballarat firms could do, if the Government did not know what Ballarat could do. Had the Government determined that the scientific skill of the colony should be employed in making the railway plant, most of the machinery might be made in the colony, and Ballarat would have come in for a full share. That fair share would be more than one half of the whole, and the firm of Hunt & Opie would then have had their full share. He begged therefore to propose the health of Messrs Hunt & Opie. (Cheers.)
Mr Hunt, in responding to the toast, thanked the company, and expressed his gratification at the way the engine had worked. He hoped they would never make a worse one, and he was prepared to make a better any day. He trusted the day was not far distant when larger ones would be wanted. No protection was wanted here. (Hear, hear.) All the protection necessary was a fair field, and no favor, and a little accommodation from the neighbors. ("The banks.") Well, he was not ashamed to say he had not got plenty of money, and sometimes a little help was very valuable. He hoped they all saw the engine could do her work, and all he could say was, that their firm was ready to turn out any orders that might be given to them. (Cheers.)
Mr W. C. Smith then proposed the health of Mr Alexander Smyth, coupled with the name of Mr James Davies, the engineer, of the "Lady Barkly."
The toast was enthusiastically drunk, the band playing “for they are jolly good fellows."
Mr Smyth rose amid loud cheers, and briefly acknowledged the toast.
Mr Davies, junior, in doing the same said "All I have to say gentlemen is, that I wish to endorse all that my father has said." (Loud cheers )
This concluded the list of toasts, and the party at once broke up and spread over the green sward. More trips on the tramway were indulged in by those that way inclined, while farther down the slope the others unbent in games of cricket, racing, leap frog, and other amusements, everybody seeming determined to make the most of the opportunity. Persuaded thereto by the whilom chairman of the banquet, the representatives of the press and two or three other enterprising gentlemen betook themselves to a trip on the Ballarat railway, and proceeded as far as Mount Doran and back, drawn by the "Moorabool," a newly imported locomotive by George Stephenson & Co., of Newcastle. We were told very lovingly by the driver of the extraordinary merits of this new engine. He entered into the description with an excruciating particularity of detail, that would have entranced us if we had an ounce of engineering brains in our bead. But we have not space to detail the narration. On oar return to the "Green Hills" we found that our kind persuader and all the party bad gone away to Ballarat with coaches, buggies, tilburies, green boughs, rosettes and all. In this dilemma we fell back upon the ready kindness of our host, whose resources seemed to be boundless. A two-horse buggy was at once furnished forth, the driver of "Lady Barkly " took the helm, and proving himself as accomplished a director of horses of flesh and blood as of iron we succeeded, in spite of an hour’s start had by our deserters, in passing them and reaching Buninyong before them. There all the party re-assembled, and finally the procession, a trifle more “jolly” than in the morning, arrived safely at Bath’s well pleased with the day’s excursion.[29]
… We may add that in reference to the Southland railway that its total length, as at present contemplated by the Southland Government, is to be 80 miles, of which some 36 miles have already been completed. The line is of wood, the rails being 8-inches square scantling. As illustrating the working of Davies’ patent angle-wheel engines on wood rails, we may state, on the information of Mr Woods, that the “Lady Barkly” locomotive, manufactured by Messrs Hunt and Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, Ballarat, is now in Southland, and has had a good trial there on the contractors’ ballast line. That locomotive has run 19,200 miles on that line, drawing each trip from 30 to 40 tons of bluestone ballast, and yet we are informed that the new marks are not worn off the rails. When it is considered that each rail can be turned four times, the statement just given as to the inappreciable friction on the rails speaks a good deal alike for the utility of such rails, and the remarkable apparent adaptation of the Davies locomotive to that kind of way. We need hardly say that we add our congratulations to those of the visitors at the Soho Works on Saturday, and that we trust this manufacturing experiment may prove to be but the earnest of other and larger successes in promotion of local enterprise and progress.[30]


Yesterday afternoon a large number of the shareholders and other persons interested in the Alston and Weardale Company, Winter’s Flat, attended at the claim, in order to witness the starting f the new engine and pumping gear recently erected by the company. All those present were much gratified, as the extensive machinery was put in motion without any “hitch” occurring. The Alston and Weardale Company, through having had machinery of insufficient power hitherto, have suffered considerably in time and money; so now that their great [illegible] are overcome, it was natural they would feel a pride on the occasion of a new start. Accordingly they took measures for inaugurating the new engine with all honors, everything being in readiness by about three o’clock, Mrs Hetherington (daughter of John Winter, [illegible] wife of one of the shareholders, gracefully threw a bottle of wine at the ponderous flywheel, amidst loud cheers and cries of “Success to the Weardale.” After this ceremony there was a considerable amount of speech-making and toasting in honor of the engineers, Victoria Foundry, proprietors, &c., not omitting the healths of the lady mentioned and several guests present.
While on the subject, it may not prove uninteresting to give a few statistics with reference to the company, which the manager was good enough to furnish us with. Operations were commenced at the claim on the 17th July, 1858, the company then consisting of 28 shareholders, who continued working with a small engine of 12 horse power for about twelve months, when they purchased a 25 horse power engine and 12 in. lifts complete. They readily sold the latter to the Great Gulf Company, in order to make room for the “Invincible,” which is a very fine horizontal engine of 70 horse power, with four feet stroke; the pump stoke is seven feet and the weight of fly-wheel is between 6 and 7 ton. There are two boilers, each 26 feet long and 1 foot in diameter, which were supplied by Macfarlane, Melbourne. The pipes are 15 ½ in. bore and the pumping gear of an unusually strong and [illegible] kind. This part of the plant was supplied by Messrs Hunt and Opie, of Ballarat, to whom the company have awarded a highly complimentary testimonial for their good workmanship. The [illegible] is 350 feet deep, and the main drive, which is in a westerly direction, was in about 410 feet [illegible] the company opened out at a different level, and have driven 520 feet. If the new engine answers to expectations of the shareholders it is calculated that the water will be all out within a month, and washdirt may be reckoned on within about two months. The gross outlay up to date has been upwards of [illegible], and the number of shares was lately increased from [illegible] to 66. The company being in thorough [illegible] order now, and being registered for four leads, it is to be hoped that their sanguine anticipations of success may speedily be realised.[31]
…The plant which the company has just opened is about the finest in the district, or is fit to rank with the best. The engine-room, which measures 70 feet by 40, contains a beam condensing pumping engine of 32 inch cylinder, with 4 feet stroke, and a nominal power of 100 horses; the winding engine being an ordinary horizontal one of 16 inch cylinder, with 3 feet stroke and 25 horse power; one boiler, measuring 31 feet by 6 ½ feet, supplying the required steam-power to both engines. The beam engine was imported by the Melbourne Gas Company, and cost the Great North West Company £776 5s; the horizontal engine being supplied by Messrs Cairns, Wilson and Amos for £604. The castings were supplied by Messrs Hunt and Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, [[Ballarat], and that firm has won much credit for the way in which the work has been turned out. The spur wheel of the beam engine is, we are informed, the most massive piece of casting yet executed in the colony, and the excellent finish of both it and the pinion wheel is certainly quite enough to show that our local founders can achieve some of the most difficult things in that way. The spur wheel is 7 feet in diameter, 14 inches in the face, and weighs 4 tons 13 cwt; the pinion wheel having a diameter of 3 ½ feet. The sole plated, plummer blocks, and other castings, have all given great satisfaction, the total weight of foundry work done at the Victoria being 30 tons. The engines and gear are well raised on very strong basaltic masonry, executed by Messrs Evans and Lewis, there being between 5000 and 6000 feet ashlar and some 160 perches of rubble in the work. The round brick chimney shaft is 70 feet high. The shaft is now down 60 feet, and has to go say from 360 to 370 feet. It is slabbed with massive sawn timber, and measures 9 by 5 ¼ feet in the clear, having a lateral partition for the pumping gear, and longitudinal partitions for the winding gear. The brace is 30 feet high, and the poppet-heads 63 feet, the whole being erected with every imaginable precaution as to strength and convenience. The total expenditure of the company up to date has been £6350, and this merely to make a fair start with, a tolerably emphatic proof of the magnitude of our mining operations, and of the enterprise which does not shrink from liberal outlay, in spite of all the uncertainty inherent in such undertakings, and the special legislative and other impediments to their unembarrassed prosecution.[32]


A novelty in wheels is now being manufactured at the Victoria Foundry for Messrs Anderson, of the Bullarook Flour Mills. This wheel, which is to be all iron, is a water-wheel, to represent 45 horse-power, and will be driven by the excellent water power belonging to Messrs Anderson’s mill. The diameter of the wheel is 28 ½ feet, with 7 feet breast, and will weigh about 15 tons, the cost being nearly £1000.[33]
Messrs Hunt and Opie, emulous of proving their loyalty and their howitzers to the full, on Tuesday fired a grand salute at midnight by way of explosive wind up to the day's proceedings. We were informed that the morning's salute was heard distinctly at Bunker's Hill. We should add that Messrs Robinson and Co., of the Soho Foundry, also cast a gun or two for the festive celebration of Tuesday.[34]
[His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark]
The early morning was ushered in by the booming of royal salutes, fired by Messrs Hunt and Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, and by Messrs Robinson and Thomas, of the Soho Foundry, from guns cast by these firms expressly for the occasion.[35]
…From the kiln we pass across the floor to the east end of the building where the mash tun is. This is a huge tub, inside cast iron, and outside wood, measuring eighteen feet across and six feet deep, its mashing capacity being 50 quarters. This iron tub was cast by Messrs Hunt and Opie, of the Victoria Foundry, the machinery inside for stirring up the prodigious mash being supplied by Mr Shaw, of, we presume, the Phoenix Foundry…[36]

Workplace Relations

The People

William Creber

James Hunt

George Oakey

James Michael Opie (1828-1868)

John Michael Opie

Tristram Opie (1830-1927)

Richard Trahar


See also

Richard Wicking

Further Notes


  1. Spielvogel Papers, Volume 3. Ballarat Historical Society, 1987.
  2. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 4 September 1856, p. 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  3. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864) Thursday 7 August 1856, page 3.
  4. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864) Thursday 7 August 1856, page 2.
  5. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Monday 31 August 1857, page 4. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  6. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 23 October 1858, page 1.
  7. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Tuesday 16 November 1858, p. 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  8. Bate, Weston. (1978). Lucky City: The First Generation at Ballarat 1851-1901. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
  9. William Bramwell Withers. The History of Ballarat from the First Pastoral Settlement to the Present Time. Ballarat: F. W. Niven and Co., 1887, page 292. [University of Ballarat, Mt Helen Library]
  10. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 7 January 1860, p. 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  11. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Monday 6 May 1861, p. 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  12. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864) Saturday 1 June 1861, page 3.
  13. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 18 July 1861, page 1.
  14. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 24 October 1861, pages 1-2.
  15. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Monday 18 November 1861, page 2.
  16. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Friday 31 January 1862, page 2.
  17. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 7 June 1862, page 2.
  18. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Tuesday 29 September 1863, page 2.
  19. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Tuesday 29 September 1863, page 4.
  20. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 1 October 1863, page 2.
  21. The Inquirer & Commercial News (Perth, WA : 1855 - 1901), Wednesday 24 May 1871, page 3. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  22. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Friday 27 August 1858, pages 2-3.
  23. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864) Thursday 5 December 1861, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  24. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 December 1861, page 2.
  25. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 16 May 1861, page 2.
  26. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Friday 24 May 1861, page 1.
  27. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 5 October 1861, page 2.
  28. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Tuesday 12 November 1861, page 2.
  29. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Friday 13 December 1861, page 1.
  30. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 16 May 1864, pages 2-3.
  31. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 21 November 1862, page 3.
  32. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 25 May 1864, page 4.
  33. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 9 November 1861, page 2.
  34. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 21 May 1863, page 2.
  35. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 23 May 1863, page 4.
  36. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), 29 June 1863, page 3.

Further Reading

External Links

--Beth Kicinski 10:34, 2 December 2011 (EST); --Clare K.Gervasoni 19:32, 13 August 2020 (AEST)

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