Extract from Triumph of the Griffiths Family By Bruce Millett - (1984)
The history of the Toowoomba Foundry is worthy of description because it depicts the pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit of the Griffiths family, it continues to be deeply immersed in the economic evelopment of the Darling Downs, and it reflects the tenacity of an organisation to survive and prosper after 112 years of fluctuating circumstances. The firm commenced business in 1871 when George Washington Griffiths opened an ironmonger's shop in Ruthven Street, Toowoomba. A number of years later, a foundry was established and became known as the Toowoomba Foundry, a manufacturer of a
diverse range of products including windmills and locomotives. The following history is portrayed in terms of the critical events and issues in the life of this successful enterprise.
1871 - The Ironmonger's Shop
Towards the end of 1870, George Washington Griffiths came to Australia in the sailing ship Light Brigade. Mr Griffiths was twenty-six years of age when he left England with his wife, Isabella, eldest daughter Margaret and eldest son Arthur, to establish a new life in the Colony. During the sea voyage, a Mr J.C. White of Jondaryan, lectured to some of the four hundred passengers and crew on Australian rural life, and the thriving sheep and wool industry on the Darling Downs. It was the glowing account of the Darling Downs by Mr White that influenced this Griffiths family to settle in Toowoomba.
Toowoomba offered exciting prospects for the new settlers with talent and enterprise.
The establishment of railway lines linking Toowoomba with Ipswich, Dalby and Warwick
promoted the prosperity of the region.
Upon arrival in Toowoomba, G.W. Griffiths immediately gave up the idea of sheep farming because of the capital and experience required to purchase and maintain the large properties of the day. His experience with woodwork gained him employment in the building trade. With an initial capital of £200 and an average weekly wage of 8/-, he was able to build the family's first cottage within the first twelve months. The cottage was located opposite the present Roman Catholic Cathedral in James Street, Toowoomba.
In 1871, Mr Griffiths and his brother-in-law, Mr W. Atherton, set up an ironmonger's shop next to the City Hall. His father had sent him a couple of consignment of ironmongery which was enough to allow the partners to commence trading under the name of `Griffiths and Atherton'. Atherton also came from England on the sailing ship LightBrigade. He was an excellent fitter and turner and in England, was recognised as a millwright. With this sort of experience, the partners were able to operate a small repair workshop comprising a small lathe, a drill, a steam engine and two small blacksmiths fires. In 1873,
Mr Atherton left the partnership but it is believed he remained on in the workshop as an employee of the firm. At about the same time as Mr Atherton's departure, Mr Griffiths's brother, Mr John Alfred Griffiths, arrived from England. John Griffiths was an engineer with academic qualifications. The two brothers formed a new partnership and the firm was renamed 'Griffiths Bros. and Co.'. The new partnership commenced during a period of increased trade, and before long, the two brothers began to consider expansion. In November 1873, the Toowoomba Chronicle reported that the 'little machine ship of Griffiths Bros. and Co.' was being expanded. In fact, Griffiths Bros. had sold the firm to Holberton and Co.with a view to establishing a Foundry.
A New Foundry for Griffiths Bros.
The beginnings of the present Toowoomba Foundry can be traced to the purchase of two acres of land in late 1874 on the north-west corner of Ruthven and Campbell Streets. The land was purchased for £260 from a Mr Stewart. The position was ideal for the erection of a foundry because it had access to good water, the railway line and the main street. The design and construction of the new foundry was a major enterprise in itself, the operations didn't commence until the beginning of 1876. During1876,MrJ.A.Griffiths left the firm to become Assistant Engineer in the Construction Branch of the Qld Railway Department. Although he was no longer on the staff of Griffiths Bros. and Co., he retained the status of partner with a financial interest. In 1890, the Toowoomba Foundry entered the great depression period with only a small jobbing trade and struggled for survival until 1895 when more rolling stock contracts were gained. These contracts meant a new period of stability until the contracts began to run out in 1901. It was during this period that two of Mr G.W. Griffiths's sons joined the business.
Atherton A. Griffiths was born in 1878 and left school in 1895 to join his father. He commenced as a fitter in the machine shop but soon became an assistant to his father in the office. George Herbert, known to workmates, business associates, and local people generally as 'Bert', was born in 1881 and joined the Toowoomba Foundry in 1898. He gained valuable experience in his early years as a designer, pattern maker, moulder and windmill erector. In August 1900, at the age of 22, Atherton A. Griffiths was appointed a Director and Deputy Managing Director of the Company. This was the first of a number of significant promotions in the young man's life. Three years later, he was placed entirely in charge of the business while his father took twelve months leave and returned to England to visit his parents and relatives. Although this was an honour for Atherton, it was nevertheless a big responsibility to accept particularly in 1903. In 1923, Messrs A.A. and G.H. Griffiths made a decision of great importance which has profoundly affected the future development of the company. They decided that the development and sale of the proprietary Southern Cross line of products throughout Australia and overseas, would be their main objective. Mr Leslie A. Boyce, a nephew of A.A. and G.H. Griffiths, was wounded in France during the first world war and when discharged, he joined the company as an assistant to A.A. Griffiths. In 1922, he became a director and appointed General Manager in 1944.
After World War I, the company went through a period of reorganisation and the development of the first formal company Objective in 1923 was a significant milestone for the future. In 1924, the founder of the organisation, Mr G.W. Griffiths, died at the age of eighty. In the early 1930's, the volume of trade had significantly dropped due to the great depression and profits were affected accordingly. However, at no stage did the Toowoomba Foundry run at a loss. When World War II broke out in 1939, the sales offices for the Toowoomba Foundry had developed into a large network of outlets for the Southern Cross products, covering most of Australia, and some overseas countries.
There was offices in Toowoomba, Sydney, Charleville, Townsville, Rockhampton, Melbourne, Perth, Tamworth, Moree, Lismore and South Africa.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Commonwealth Government called on the company for assistance in manufacturing thousands of engines - stationary and marine - compressor units, generating and alternating sets, pumping and other equipment, for supply to the fighting forces of the Commonwealth, as well as to those of the USA, and the Netherlands East Indies. At the conclusion of the war, the Toowoomba Foundry received a letter from Wm H. Donaldson Jr., Brigadier General, US Army, Commanding, expressing thanks to the management and staff for 'the behind-the-scenes' work which is so necessary in militaryoperations and which, more often than not, goes unrecognised'.
Following the war, the Toowoomba Foundry continued to prosper with the gross output exceeding £1 million for the first time in the year 1948. This was in spite of a variety of difficulties including a shortage of materials, strikes and inflation. Also in 1948, 'Mr A.A. Griffiths, then Chairman of the Board and President of the Southern Cross Associated Companies in Australia, died in Toowoomba at 69 years of age. Bert Griffiths then became president. In January, 1959, a new era in the management of the organisation commenced. Mr H.A. Griffiths was appointed Managing Director of Industrial Enterprises Ltd and its
subsidiary companies. Herbert Atherton (Bunty) Griffiths is the eldest son of Mr G.H. Griffiths. He joined the firm in June 1936 and worked in a variety of departments in his early years. Mr Leslie Boyce retired from active management in 1957 but remained on the board, from time to time, in an advisory capacity. This was the end of an active career which lasted more than 40 years which included appointments as sales manager in Rockhampton, General Manager of Toowoomba Foundry and General Manager of
Industrial Enterprises Ltd. Mr G.H. (Bert) Griffiths retired from active involvement in the management in 1944. However, he maintained his involvement through various positions on the Board of Directors. Bert passed away in 1977 at the age of 96, ending a colourful career in commerce and industry on the Darling Downs. The holding company name was changed from Industrial Enterprises Ltd to Southern Cross Corporation Ltd in March 1984. The board of directors felt this was necessary to incorporate the Southern Cross name and image at the apex of the organisation. At the same time the new S.C.C. logo was adopted. In July, 1984, Mr H.A. Griffiths retired after 48 years with the organisation, the last 25 of which were as managing director. The organisation, under the direction of a board of directors and Mr Richard Griffiths who succeeded Mr H.A. Griffiths as managing director.
Over the years, the Toowoomba Foundry has produced a wide range of products for general sale. Steam engines and boilers, diesel and petrol engines, pumps of all descriptions, hay, chaff and wool presses, chaff cutters, and windmills are but a few of the exhaustive list. Many of the products were and still are connected with agriculture. For this reason, seasonal variations and innovations in farm technology have caused products to come and go. The windmill however, has been predominant in the early years, in establishing market stability and enhancing the tradename of 'Southern Cross' around Australia. Even though the Southern Cross windmills are no longer the dominant force in the current range of Southern Cross products, it still has a role in the supply of water. The history of the Southern Cross windmill is in integral part of the history of the Toowoomba Foundry and warrants some mention. In 1876, Griffiths Bros. & Co. were credited with making one of the first windmills in Australia. Sir Joshua Bell, part owner of Jimbour Station near Dalby, placed an order with Griffiths Bros. & Co. to construct four windmills, based on a windmill which had been previously imported to Jimbour Station from California, USA. These first windmills,known as the 'Griffiths' mill, were direct acting mills and the wheels and towers were of
wood. A few years later, the firm produced a lighter windmill with the turntable located on top of the tower. This was known as the 'Economy'. Up until 1893, the Toowoomba Foundry had a range which included 'the Economy, 'the Improved Economy', 'the Simplex Mill', 'the Little Wonder' and 'the Reliance which was
taken over from Porritt's Reliance Foundry, purchased privately by Mr G.W. Griffiths in 1891. In 1893, during the depression and flood, Mr J.A. Griffiths returned to the Foundry and designed the 'Zephyr' windmill. Although there had been some previously made in the United States of America, this was the first geared windmill made in Australia. The first 'Zephyr' had a cellular steel sail while the vane arms were of wood. About 300 were made during the ten year period following 1893. Initially, there was little competition from American windmills during the first years of the 'Zephyr'. The only American mills
sold were light wooden ones which had very narrow slatted sails. From 1898, galvanised American geared windmills on galvanised steel towers appeared on the Australian market. The Toowoomba Foundry made no attempt too copy any of these as the 'Zephyr' remained competitive. The 'Zephyr' was only produced when orders were received for them.
In 1902, Mr A.A. Griffiths with the assistance of Mr H. Eastgate then leading blacksmith at the Foundry, designed a galvanised steel wheel for the 'Zephyr' windmill. Previously they had put a galvanised steel vane on the mill. The 'Zephyr' windmill then with a galvanised wheel and painted steel tower and a
galvanised vane bore some resemblance to the imported American windmills.
Also in 1902, Mr Bert Griffiths who had been a railway wagon and carriage builder at the Foundry was sent to the Show Grounds with Mr Ernie Hindmarsh, still employed in the company's tool shop, to erect two of these 'Zephyr' windmills. There were numerous American steel windmills on exhibition. The advertising literature which was distributed at the time, described the immense numbers of these windmills that had been sold in the United States, and the magnitude of the firms manufacturing them. In some cases there were pictures of the large workshops where the windmills were produced. This situation
caught Bert Griffiths's attention, particularly as the 'Zephyr' windmills would not revolve at anything like the speed with which the US mills did. The windmills were attracting a great deal of interest, and the slow speed of the 'Zephyr' was adversely commented on by onlookers. Discussing the problems of selling the 'Zephyr' against the American competition with his father, G.W. Griffiths, Bert was informed that the American mills were a cheap product. The Toowoomba Foundry Company could not possibly produce
cheap mills such as the American counterparts. However, it was agreed that Bert Griffiths could make sketches and drawings of a very cheap windmill which the Foundry might sell in competition with the American ones. The sketches of this windmill which G.W. Griffiths named the 'Eureka' were made in an
exercise book. Bert, being a woodworker, made the patterns. The whole concept was cheapness. Studies were made of the curvature and angle of the sails and a very fast running wheel was designed to go with the 'Eureka' windmill. These mills were sold very cheaply and were a success in terms of sales. There was no difficulty in selling them as they soon earned a reputation as good pumpers. Bert Griffiths went out erecting the mills, carrying tools on horseback and at that time climbed every windmill he came across. He also collected catalogues and literature regarding windmills from America, England and Germany. It soon became evident that the 'Eureka' windmill was not good enough to build up a permanent trade on and it was equally evident that a very big and permanent trade was desirable. Bert Griffiths then, on the knowledge he had gained of windmills, designed a new mill of extreme simplicity but which was very robust. The patterns for this new 8ft mill were made by Bert Griffiths and E. Williams, a pattern maker at the Foundry. The 'Southern Cross' windmill, as designed and named by Bert Griffiths, was to become
one of the 'success' products which allowed the Toowoomba Foundry to regain stability and profitability after losing government railway contracts to Ipswich in 1902.
Mr A.A. Griffiths was also part of these developments but he resigned from the company in early 1904, before the 'Southern Cross' had time to establish itself in the market. However, at the end of 1904, Mr Bert Griffiths who had been in regular communication with his brother sent him a cable advising him not to remain in England but to return to Australia immediately, because of the success of the Zephyr and Eureka windmills, and the increasing popularity of the Southern Cross. When A.A. Griffiths returned in early 1905, the 8ft. Southern Cross Windmills, by this time, were selling well. A lot of the lands about Toowoomba had been cut up into small farms. A.A. Griffiths took a bicycle and rode around Eaton Vale, Harrow and other places selling windmills. People demanded the Southern Cross but he had nothing but
the 8ft. mill to sell, so he sold 10ft. and later 12ft. for quick delivery. Jury patterns were produced for these windmills in a few weeks, and in 1905, 8fts., 10fts. And 12fts. Were being manufactured in considerable numbers. The 'Southern Cross' windmill was the forerunner of a whole range of windmills that were manufactured and sold under the trade name of 'Southern Cross' from 1903 until the present day. The mills have been improved over the years through the research and design efforts of such men as Bert Griffiths, W. Boshammer and A. B. Lindley.
The firm added to its range of windmills in 1925 when it completed an amalgamation arrangement with the Eclipse Windmill Company which operated on the land next door to the main workshop of the Foundry. The managing directors of Eclipse Windmills Company, Messrs E.A. & H.J. Cohoe, became shareholders of the Toowoomba Foundry and also took up managerial duties with the organisation.
The windmill still has its place today as a cheap source of power for pumping water In out-back areas. But the Southern Cross windmills serve as a monument to the early pioneering days, to the hardships, to the ingenuity of the pioneers, and not least of all, to the establishment of 'Southern Cross Machinery' as a producer and supplier of quality agricultural products. The 1903 Southern Cross Windmill was one of the major sales successes which later led to the creation of the Southern Cross Sales
APPENDIX No. 1
A BRIEF HISTORY OF WINDMILLS
MANUFACTURED BY TOOWOOMBA FOUNDRY (circa 1973) circulated to Southern Cross Distributors.
In 1871, Mr George Washington Griffiths, newly arrived from Manchester, England,
set up an ironmongery and mechanical repair shop in Ruthven Street, Toowoomba, Queensland.
This was the beginning of what is now the Southern Cross Organisation.
In due course Mr G. W. Griffiths was joined by his brother John Alfred Griffiths,
an engineering graduate from Manchester University, and the name of the Company became Griffiths Bros. & Co.
In 1874 the brothers bought land at the corner of Ruthven and Campbell Streets in Toowoomba for the purpose of expanding.
Some time later a Foundry was built.
Additional land was bought from time to time and over 11 acres is now covered by factory buildings.
Griffith Bros. & Co. built some of the earliest windmills in Australia.
One of the first was called the "Economy", followed by the "Simplex Economy", the "Simplex" and later the "Little Wonder".
In the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica, Mr J.A. Griffiths is mentioned as a world authority on windmill design.
In 1884 the name was changed to "Toowoomba Foundry And Railway Rolling Stock Manufacturing Company Limited",
in 1922 it was changed to "Toowoomba Foundry Co. Ltd.", and in 1932 to "Toowoomba Foundry Pty. Ltd."
The Southern Cross Organisation comprises a group of companies spread over Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand,
distributing and servicing the products of Toowoomba Foundry Pty. Ltd., under the trade name "Southern Cross".
Toowoomba Foundry sold its first windmill under the trade name "Southern Cross" in 1903.
DETAILS OF WINDMILLS PRODUCED
The first windmills manufactured by the Griffiths Brothers.
Four mills were built of the direct acting type and with wheels and towers constructed of wood.
These "Griffiths" Windmills were supplied to Jimbour Station, Dalby, QLD.
1876 to 1884 The "Economy" windmill and later the "Improved Economy" Windmill for which a Patent was applied for in 1885.
These mills were all direct acting and made in several sizes, probably up to 16ft.
Construction of the towers and sails was in timber.
The turntable was located on top of the tower and incorporated large cast iron balls running in a cast iron race.
A small counterweighted vane fitted on a lever at right angles to the vane pole provided the governing action.
Reefing was carried out by climbing the tower and hanging a weight on the lever arm.
1886 to 1892 The Simplex Economy Mills with wheels in the range of 10ft. to 20ft.were introduced around this time.
The basic form of construction being similar to the earlier Economy Mills,
but the ball type turntable was discarded in favour of a plain one. 1889 to 1893 The Little Wonder Windmill was introduced and a 10ft. was on display at the Toowoomba Show in 1889.
UP to 1893
Mills were normally made to order and the design frequently modified to suit a customers particular requirements.
The wheels and towers were predominantly of wood, and with the wheel operating behind the tower.
1893 to 1903 The "Zephyr" Windmills were one of the first geared mills to be produced in Australia.
They were made with 8, 10, 12, and 18ft.wheels, and were the first built in which the wheel ran in front of the tower.
The wheel was of steel all of riveted construction and were transported either completely or partially assembled.
Initially the Vane and Tower was constructed of timber. Around 1900 a revised wheel and a steel tower was introduced.
1902 to 1903 The "Eureka" Windmill was a revision of the "Zephyr" mill but was quickly replaced by the "1903" mill.
Initially the bearings were of wood but later changed to babbitt.
1903 to 1911 This range of mills initially known as the 1903 and was the first to bear the trade name "Southern Cross".
Prior to 1908 only the 8ft. was available and this range was eventually extended to include 10, 12, 14 and 16ft. Wheels.
The mechanical design was similar to the "Zephyr" and "Eureka"
with the exception that the gear was an internal one in place of the earlier external spur type.
The bearings were of bronze and grease lubricated.
1911 The 1911 "Southern Cross" Windmills were first marketed under the name of "Enterprise" and had a 20ft. wheel.
The mills were geared and used an internal gear system like the 1903 models.
1913 to 1915 The Geared "Western Model" Windmills was produced and included 18ft., 20ft., 22ft. 6 ins., 25ft., and 27ft. 6 ins.
1913 to 1923 A range of Direct Acting Windmills in sizes of 16ft. to 30ft. ("A" Patterns)
1923 Two Direct Acting Windmills were made called 36ft. "E" pattern, with a 35ft. 6 ins. wheel.
1920 to 1927 The "F" and "G" Pattern Geared Mills were produced, in sizes 7ft., 8ft., 10ft., and 12ft.
1920 to 1930 The "A" Pattern Direct Acting Windmills were produced, in sizes of 12ft. to 30ft.
1925 to 1930 The "H" Pattern Geared Self-Oiling Windmills were produced, in sizes 8ft., 10ft., and 12ft.
1930 to 1953 The "Z" Pattern Geared Self-Oiling Windmills were produced, in sizes 6ft., 8ft., 10ft., 12ft., and 14ft.
1930 to 1973 The "AGE" 14ft. Direct Acting Mill was produced,
which was replaced in 1955 with
The "JAE" 14ft. Mill which was discontinued in 1973.
1929 onwards( to 1973 )
The "R" Pattern Direct Acting Windmills, were produced, Also known as Seneschal Mills,
These were initially in sizes 14, 17, 20, 24, 28, and 30ft., but were now are only in 17ft., 21ft. and 25ft.
1953 onwards( to 1973 ) The "IZ" Pattern Geared Self-Oiling mills were produced, in sizes 8ft., 10ft., 12ft., and 14ft. The "IZ" mill superseded the "Z" mill.
SUMMARY OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS SERIAL NUMBERS SHEET No. 368 - 1921 to 1980
- 1915 to 1923 - 1915 Pattern Mills - 18ft., 20ft., 22ft. 6in., & 25ft.
- 1915 to 1925 - 1915 Pattern Mill - 30ft.
- 1920 to 1925 - A. Pattern Mills - 12ft., 14ft., 16ft., & 16ft. 6in.
- 1922 to 1929 - A. Pattern Mills - 18ft., 20ft., 24ft., & 26ft.
- 1922 to 1925 - FA. Pattern Mill - 7ft.
- 1925 to 1929 - AB. Pattern Mills - 12ft., 14ft., 16ft., & 16ft. 6in.
- 1921 to 1928 - G. Pattern Mills - 12ft., 14ft., 16ft.
- 1925 to 1930 - AEW. Pattern Mill - 30ft.
- 1926 to 1931 - H. Pattern Mills - 8ft., 10ft., 12ft.
- 1929 to 1939 - RE. Pattern Mill - 14ft.
- 1929 to 1992 - RF. Pattern Mill - 17ft.
- 1929 to 1934 - RG. Pattern Mill - 20ft.
- 1934 to 1992 - RG. Pattern Mill - 21ft.
- 1929 to 1934 - RH. Pattern Mill - 24ft.
- 1934 to 1992 - RH. Pattern Mill - 25ft.
- 1929 to 1932 - RJ. Pattern Mill - 28ft.
- 1932 to 1960 - RK. Pattern Mill - 30ft.
- 1931 to 1954 - Z. Pattern Mills - 6ft., 8ft., 10ft., 12ft., & 14ft.
- 1940 to 1955 - AGE. Pattern Mill - 14ft.
- 1955 to 1973 - JAE. Pattern Mill - 14ft.
- 1954 to - IZ. Pattern Mills 6ft., 8ft., 10ft., 12ft., & 14ft.
- 1992 to 1993 - The CLASSIC Windmill - 5ft.
In 1958, the double ringed wheel which had been used since 1915, was discontinued, a new wheel for all the 'R' Pattern Mills was introduced.
In 1931 about 800 Windmills were manufactured, this steadily increased every year to 1950, where 8000 were manufactured.
The 8ft Mill was by far the most popular windmill, well over 60 000 were manufactured.
By the year 2000 the 200 000 th Southern Cross Windmill was manufactured
Today - Southern Cross Windmills are available in Australia is the "IZ" in sizes 6ft., 8ft., 10ft., 12ft., and 14ft.
Southern Cross Windmills - Tyco Pumping Systems
8618 Warrego Hwy.
Withcott, QLD, 4352.
Ph: 131786 --- John Taylor