Advance Inverell was the slogan above the door of Robert Gibson’s Foundry when it opened in 1909, fifteen or sixteen years after the first attempt to establish a foundry in Inverell.
Advance Inverell was the slogan above the door of Robert Gibson’s Foundry when it opened in 1909.
At that time “free trade” was in force and imported goods were cheaper than the Australian article – sound familiar? However, things did change for the better for the local manufacturer.
Robert Gibson came to Inverell from Newcastle to begin the steam foundry and ironworks which consisted of a core-making machine, dredging furnace, a two-ton casting furnace capable of turning out two ton of castings a day, a planing machine, blacksmith’s furnace with a jib crane, steam hammer, shearing and punching machine and various other necessary equipment.
He did have access to Inverell sand for moulding. Located on the Ashford Road, and not far from the railway station, the iron foundry building was 125ft long and 16 feet wide. Originally 12 men were employed using all these machines.
A photo of the crowd and staff at the foundry’s grand opening in June 1909 was taken by Mr Pomroy and can be seen in Elizabeth Wiedemann’s book World of Its Own.
By 1913 engineers, Mr H Brown and Mr Franke, had taken the reins at the foundry and skilled artisans were constructing mining implements, tractors, fuel stoves, and ornamental decorations for the many new homes being built in the town.
The foundry changed hands again in 1919 this time to PG Campbell and Craig. When mining began to suffer during the 1920s the foundry turned to manufacturing lawn rollers, garden seats, grates for open fires, hot water systems and of course agricultural implements. During World War II the chief work was iron pipes.
By 1953 the Inverell Foundry had become agents for Leyland trucks; they also made a rake for a bulldozer which was used by Bert Finn to clear Brigalow scrub. The monument for Constable Alexander Walker, the policeman credited with the shooting of the bushranger Thunderbolt, was cast and made at the Inverell Foundry - it was unveiled at Uralla in 1970.
The foundry poured its last cast in 1981, a 500 kg tractor wheel weight. Following its closure, the building has had many uses and is still known as the Inverell Foundry.