Vulcan Foundry

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Erected by William Croll (1811-1861), of Geelong, in 1857 at the junction of Gnarre Creek and Yuille Creek. [1]




(Late Crolls),
BEG to inform the mining companies and the public, that they have taken the above extensive foundry and engineering establishment, and are now prepared to execute any orders entrusted to them, in a style, and at prices which defy competition.
It is well known that no expense has been spared in fitting up this establishment; every department being replete in tools and machinery, enabling the proprietors to turn out work in the most systematic manner.
H. C. & Co. would particularly invite the attention of mining companies to the fact that they will supply pumps and pipes of any required size, puddling machine gear, trams, &c., at 20 per cent, less than any other factory, and with such dispatch as will merit the patronage of the mining community.
Every variety of brass castings, gun metal, boaring brasses, steam cocks, lubricators, &c, in stock or made to order.

Already a successful venture when H. Courtis & Co. took it over from Croll in August or September of 1858 [3], the Vulcan Foundry (on the north side of Creswick Road to the west of Doveton Street [4]) was known to be fitted with the best of tools and machinery, which provided consistent and quick filling of orders to the highly demanding mining industry.

Robert Watson developed his business from his blacksmith's shop and took ownership of the Vulcan Foundry by 1860.[5] By 1861 the foundry was regularly supplying mining companies with the work of the 45 men he employed.[6]

Tuesday, 18th December…CORRESPONDENCE.
4. From Robert Watson, of the Vulcan Foundry, calling attention to the particulars of the contract entered into with him for the supply of water pipes, fire plugs, &c, for the municipality of Ballarat East. He had sent in his tender, which the Council had accepted, but on making delivery of the articles the engineer had refused to accept them, on the ground that they had not each a hydrant or standpipe accompanying them, and he never understood the word "keys" to mean "hydrants" or "standpipes." In conclusion he hoped the Council would reconsider the matter and instruct the Engineer to accept the fire plugs made by the writer. Received. After some discussion the communication was made an order of the day for the next meeting of the Council, and the Surveyor was requested to bring up a report on the subject.
For SALE, all that desirable property known as the VULCAN FOUNDRY, consisting of capacious foundry, smithy; turning, fitting, and pattern rooms, with, their appurtenances; and an excellent Cottage for proprietor or overseer. The Machinery consists of a six horse steam engine, three lathes with slide rests, a vertical drilling machine, vyces, patterns, &c.; together with about Half-an-Acre of Land, centrally situated near the Railway Station, fronting Creswick road.
The property and machinery is leased to an excellent tenant at £ 300 per annum, who pays the rent quarterly in advance. The lease terminates on the 20th June, 1861.
From R. Watson, Vulcan Foundry, asking the Council to allow his fence to remain where it was for the present. Received. Cr Campbell moved - "That the letter be made an order of the day for the next meeting, and that the Council would then consider the propriety of rescinding a former resolution passed on the subject." Cr Caselli seconded the motion, which was agreed to.[9]
A few nights ago an entrance was made into Mr Watson's Foundry on the Creswick road, by some thief who stole an octagonal American clock.[10]
Thursday, 27th February.
(Before his Honor Mr Justice Chapman.)
Mr J. W. Stephen obtained a vesting order of an interest in the land, on which is erected the Vulcan Foundry, at Ballarat. The land was a portion of the partnership property of a firm of which the father of the infant minor abovenamed was a member. Since the death of the infant’s father, leaving the infant his heir, the partnership has been dissolved, and its landed property purchased by Mr Watson, for whom Sir J. W. Stephen appeared.
Order made.-Argus.
[ADVERTISEMENT.]- We are requested by Messrs James Oddie and Co, Auctioneers, to draw particular attention to the further postponement of the sale of the Plant and Material of the Vulcan Foundry, Creswick road, Ballarat, until Tuesday, the 2nd June, proximo.[12]


To Engineers, Iron Founders, Blacksmiths, and others.
J. S. CARVER has received instructions from the proprietor,
Mr William Croll,
To sell by public auction, on the premises, known as the
Ballarat Vulcan Foundry,
situate on the Creswick Creek Road,
On Tuesday, 4th May, at twelve o’clock,
All that Valuable Piece or Parcel of Land.
Being No. 1-6 of subdivision, block 10, situate and having a frontage of 247 feet to the Creswick Creek Road, by an average depth of about 110 feet to the creek, and on which is erected a substantially built
Dwelling House,
Containing four rooms, kitchen, pantry, water tank, and covered with a galvanised corrugated iron roof,
Together with the whole of the elegant Household Furniture.
Moulding Shop.
Constructed of timber, measures 50 ft x 21 ft, with walls 12 ft high, and covered with an iron roof, with provision for fixing crane.
Cupola, with fan and pipes complete; brick core stove, with brick roof, iron doors, and furnace; also furnace for brass.
Blacksmith’s Shop,
25 ft x 21 ft, walls 12 ft high, and tools complete.
Turning and Fitting Shop,
With six horse power steam engine, and shafting complete.
Three Turning Lathes,
1 large treble motion turning lathe, with cast iron beds, slide rests, &c., height of centres 16 inches.
1 turning lathe, back motion, with slide rest and top motion, height of centres 10 inches, beds of timber plated with iron.
1 turning lather with V cast iron beds planed, height of centres 6 inches, with top motion and tools complete.
Office, with Fittings.
20 tons pig iron.
4 cwt copper
3 cwt block tin
Quantity of piping
1 spare steam boiler, for an engine of six horse power, with doors, bars, &c., complete.
5 tons coals
50 tons firewood
Terms – One half cash, remainder by approved bills, at w and 6 months, bearing bank interest.
Title guaranteed.
Another case of jumping came before the Police Court on Saturday. It seems that a miner resident on Soldiers' Hill took up a portion of the ground enclosed by Mr Watson, of the Vulcan Foundry, and proceeded to erect a house thereon. The building was partially completed when a “crow-bar brigade," consisting of a dozen persons with ropes, sledge-hammers, &c , razed the tenement to the ground, despite the efforts of complainant, and for the damage done to the house he sought to recover the sum of £20. As a question of title to the ground was involved in the dispute, and as proceedings were pending-in the Warden's Court, the Bench dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction. Costs were, however, not allowed.[14]
Wednesday, 28th August … STREET RESERVES.
Cr Caselli drew attention to the Vulcan Foundry jumping case as encroaching upon the street, and urged the expediency of at once preserving other street reserves from being jumped.
A map of the Municipality was laid on the table and the subject discussed, and it was resolved that the town clerk write to the government upon the matter.
The batch of the now notorious Vulcan Foundry jumping cases was called on in the Warden's Court yesterday, but one case only, that of Headdey v Harris, was heard, and that in part only, the rest of the business in the matter, being postponed till next Wednesday. The defence relied on, we believe, is that the area is a reserve.[16]
Monday, 23rd September…CORRESPONDENCE.
Inspector of nuisances, reporting that he had given notice to Mr Watson, of the Vulcan Foundry, to remove the fence erected on the reserve adjoining and encroaching on the Creswick road, and that Mr Watson had not complied with the notice.
(Cr Stewart here joined the Council.)
The Town Clerk was directed to write to Mr Watson on the matter, proceedings being stayed in the meantime.
The premises owned and occupied by Mr Robert Watson, under the designation of the Vulcan Foundry, are situated upon an irregular piece of ground on the north side of the Creswick Road, to the west of Doveton street, and at the junction of the Gnarre and Yuille’s Creeks. The site, which presents the figure of an abelisk, and contains in all about one acre, lies upon the eastern slope of the Gnarre Creek, and awkwardly enough, below the level of the adjoining road. The main entrance, which is near the wider extremity of the enclosure, leads at once into the business premises, which were first erected some four years ago by Mr Croll, of Geelong. On this gentleman’s retirement, which was about three years since, they came into the possession of Messrs Robert Watson and partners, and are now solely conducted by Mr Watson, who has not only greatly enlarged them, but entirely refitted the machinery; the old lathers, after having done food service in their time, being consigned to an obscure corner of the yard. Entering the main gate, we have on the left a large wooden building, containing the office, the pattern makers’ shops, and the pattern stores. The shops are fitted up with six benches, while so numerous are the patterns which have accumulated during the past few years, that the places originally designed for their reception are quite inadequate for the purpose. In the rear of this building is a yard and sheds devoted to the manufacture of agricultural implements, a branch which Mr Watson has lately added to his business. We noticed here several stripping-machines in progress of manufacture. To the right of the office stands the fitting shop, a spacious structure of wood, 60 feet in length by 35 feet in width. Beneath a shed, on its exterior, stands a huge punching and clipping machine from the works of Crawhall and Campbell, of Glasgow, capable of punching and clipping ¾ -in. iron plate. Just within the door to our left is a splendid screw-cutting lathe, supplied by the same eminent Glasgow firm. It has a bed of thirty feet, and is capable of cutting screws of any pitch from ¾ in. to 2 ¼ in. For this purpose there are no less than forty separate wheels for the regulation of the different pitches. The proprietor conceives this lathe to be one of the finest in Ballarat. On the opposite side of the shop is a bench fitted up with six vyces. Close by is placed a self-acting vertical drilling machine for boring wheels of any diameter. All of these machines are securely mounted upon stout bluestone foundations, and, with the blast for the cupola and forges, are all worked by shafting and belting attached to the engine. At present the motive power is being performed by a portable engine of 9 horse power, stationed outside, pending the completion of a 12 horse power horizontal engine now being made on the premises. This step was rendered necessary by the inadequacy of a former table engine to drive the machinery added of late years. The boiler, furnace, and brick stack are outside of this building, and closely adjoined by an iron tank capable of holding 15,000 gallons. Crossing the yard, we come to the furnace and oven for discharging the moisture from the cores used in casting pipes and pumping gear. In this case, the oven has two doors, so that when the truck is sent in at the one, it enters the moulding shop by the other, with the cores ready for casting. Close by the oven is the cupola, capable of melting iron for a casting of from five to six tons. Adjoining this are various sheds for the lodgement of tools required in the formation of moulds, and for the moulds themselves. The entrance to the next main building is close to the cupola. It contains the smithy as well as the foundry, and is 80 feet in length by 35 feet in width, tall and airy, and lighted from the roof. On the occasion of our visit, the floor was completely occupied by workmen engaged in making preparations for the casting of mining and agricultural machinery. Midway down the building we noticed a powerful crab having command of the building from side to side, and at the extremity three forges with brick stacks attached. Outside, the ground is littered with moulders’ boxes, portions of machinery just taken from the mould, heaps of bar iron, patterns which cannot find room elsewhere, and an assemblage of objects for which it would puzzle the uninitiated to devise a use, or invent a name. Leading between the fitting shop and the foundry is a tramway in the course of construction, and intended for the purpose of conveying the castings and other work from point to point, and to the carriage road. Besides the main buildings already described, there are others smaller, with sheds attached, the erection of which has become necessary by rapid extension of the operations of the establishment, which employs on the average forty-five hands. At the present moment Mr Watson has in hand a revolving battery of eight heads for the Alliance Company, and one of eighty heads, square, for the Kangaroo Company, both of Gordon’s. The men are also engaged with pump mountings for the Sons of Justice Company, Bald Hills; overhauling the engine of the Reliance Company, Sulky Gully; and the manufacture of pumping gear for the Britannia Company, at Carngham; besides, as we before stated, carrying on with all convenient speed the new engine for the use of the foundry itself.
Within the last few months Mr Watson has turned out batteries for the Rifle Company, township; the Independent Company, Black Hill; the Majestic Company, Black Hill; the Imperial Company, Buninyong; the Enterprise Company, Creswick; the Britannia Company, Carngham; the Monte Christo Company, Little Bendigo; the Danish Company, Bakery Hill; the Combined Company, Little Bendigo; the Sisters’ Company, Little Bendigo; the Norwegian Company, Mount Pleasant; and many others up the country. Besides these, he has supplied 12 ½ -inch pipes for a force and drawing lift for the British Company, Lucky Woman’s, and very heavy pumping gear for the Scottish and Cornish Company. Of this last, the spur wheel was probably the heaviest casting ever made on Ballarat. It was 12 in. on the face, 4 in. in the pitch, and weighed 2 tons 12 cwt. The pumping gear attached was also very heavy smithy’s work, the lift being 17 ½ in. in diameter. The proprietor expresses himself to the effect that it was the heaviest piece of wrought ironwork ever done in this district.
These works, the creation, comparatively speaking, of so short a period, are, as we have stated, undergoing continual extension, and Mr Watson is contemplating the introduction of additional improvements in the way of machinery. This is equally gratifying, whether we view it as indicative of the meet reward of so much enterprise and perseverance, or as pointing out the importance and stability of the iron-founding interest in Ballarat.
SIR,-I am constrained to call attention to one of the grossest violations of sanitary rules that has transpired, and which was committed during the course of last night when a quantity of night soil was emptied off the bridge in Creswick Road into the Wendouree Creek, and not being properly cleaned off the road, and the creek being low, the effluvia arising therefrom has been such as to render it not only a nuisance bat absolutely injurious-the atmosphere around my foundry having been contaminated to such an extent that it renders it unfit for respiration.
Where is our Inspector of nuisances that such acts can be committed with impunity? Surely there are places provided as receptacles for this night soil and filth. Why, then, should I have it emptied at my very doors? As a confirmation of the justness of my complaint, I see that Mr Dennis has put up a notice on the bridge, offering a reward of £2 for information as to the offending parties. As summer is approaching, it is essential to health that such proceedings should be promptly suppressed and au example made; and for this end I must request you to insert this letter in your columns.
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
Vulcan Foundry, Ballarat.
We hear that Mr Alexander Laing, produce merchant, of Ballarat East, has turned his attention westward, and purchased the premises known as Watson’s Foundry, on the Creswick Road, for the sum of £700, which he purposes fitting up as a wholesale produce store.[20]


Experiments on the new process of Mr Porter are proceeding with unabated vigor, and with somewhat varying results. Mr. Watson, of the Vulcan Foundry, yesterday completed an experiment on about 1 ½ cwt of tailings from the Old Post Office Hill Company's claim. In this case, new quicksilver and a new retort were employed, and the quicksilver was employed in the proportion of 1 lb to 2 ½ lbs of tailings. The experiment occupied about two days, and the result was some few globules of mercury and sundry pieces apparently of iron, but so gold was visible. Whether or not the globules contain any gold Mr Watson has not yet ascertained, but he will test them further. Mr Watson very liberally offers the use of his retort and furnace to any one wishing to make an experiment, so that those curious in the matter can try the new process for themselves.[21]

Community Involvement

Works Produced

To Mining Companies, Quartz Crushers, &c., &c.
THE whole of the ironwork of a Quartz Crushing Battery of 12 head of stamps, consisting of cam barrels, cams, stamper boxes, bottoms, guides, cam shaft, spur wheel, ratchet, stamp heads and shanks, &., &c., made from plans by the celebrated engineer James Hamilton, whose designs for quartz batteries are considered the best and most efficient yet erected on Ballarat. Inspection is invited of the undermentioned batteries, viz:-
The Township Reef Quartz Company, Ballarat.
Independent Company, Black Hill, Ballarat / Imperial Company, Hiscock’s, Buninyong, &c., &c.,
All of which are from similar plans, and have been supplied and erected by the undersigned, and are now proved to give every satisfaction after six months trial.
To parties wishing to save time this is an opportunity seldom to be met with, as the whole could be erected in five weeks and put in complete working order.
Engines and every description of mining and other machinery supplied, and on the most favourable terms.
Orders executed on the shortest notice, and every attention paid to punctuality in time.
ROBERT WATSON, Vulcan Foundry, Creswick Road, Ballarat.
N. B.- Also in course of completion rotary stampers from the plans of Stevens and Hoskins.
Tuesday, 12th February…CORRESPONDENCE.
From J. Crossley, stating that he had called at Watson’s Foundry relative to the fire plugs, and found that they were not being made, and he expected compensation for loss of time. Received, and made an order of the day.

Workplace Relations

The People

Robert Bennett, clerk (<1863>)

Henry Webb Courtis

William Croll

Robert Watson


See also

Further Notes


  1. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 14 December 1861, page 2.
  2. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Wednesday 1 September 1858, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  3. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Wednesday 1 September 1858, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  4. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 14 December 1861, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  5. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 27 October 1860, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  6. Bate, Weston. (1978). Lucky City: The First Generation at Ballarat 1851-1901. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press. [University of Ballarat, Mt Helen Library]
  7. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Wednesday 19 December 1860, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  8. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 20 April 1861, page 4. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  9. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Tuesday 15 October 1861, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  10. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Monday 27 January 1862, pages 2-3. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  11. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 1 March 1862, page 3. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  12. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Friday 29 May 1863, page 3. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  13. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Wednesday 28 April 1858, page 3. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  14. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Monday 26 August 1861, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  15. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 29 August 1861, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  16. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 29 August 1861, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  17. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Tuesday 24 September 1861, page 3. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  18. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864) Saturday 10 August 1861, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  19. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Friday 29 August 1862, page 4. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  20. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Friday 24 April 1863, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  21. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Thursday 28 March 1861, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  22. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Saturday 27 October 1860, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  23. The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), Wednesday 13 February 1861, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.

Further Reading

External Links

--Beth Kicinski 10:37, 2 December 2011 (EST)

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