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Vickers Ruwolt Collection




The Vickers Ruwolt Collection comprises over 1,000 whole plate glass negatives relating to the Vickers Ruwolt Factory in Victoria Street Richmond, taken between 1925 and 1942. It also includes a small selection of factory signage and documents from the same period. The collection was donated to Museum Victoria by Vickers Ruwolt Pty Ltd between 1987 and 1989.

In 1902 German-born and Australian educated, Charles Ernest Ruwolt (1873-1946), opened an iron foundry and engineering works in Wangaratta for making windmills and carrying out agricultural machinery repairs. By 1906, Ruwolt had diversified into repair work on bucket dredges and other gold mining equipment employed in the Ovens Valley, employing a workforce of 20 to 30. In 1908 Ruwolt merged his business with an engineering workshop in Bright owned by Isaac Stevenson, an experienced dredge engineer from New Zealand, and they commenced manufacturing complete gold and tin mining dredges.In 1912 Ruwolt started an engineering and steel foundry business in Richmond, Melbourne. By 1914 Charles Ruwolt Pty Ltd (registered in 1910) moved to Victoria Street, Richmond, Melbourne, becoming a public company in 1920 under the name Ruwolt & Co. In 1922 Ruwolt diversified into heavy industrial work, producing road-making equipment, crushing machinery for mine-work, brewing machinery and hydraulic presses for the nascent car industry. By 1938 it was one of the largest engineering companies in Australia, occupying 20 acres (8 ha) and employing 600-700 workers. With the advent of World War II the firm was deployed to manufacture field artillery and Mr Ruwolt held a senior position in the wartime administration of home-front resources. Ruwolt died in 1946 and by 1948 Vickers Limited (UK) had purchased Ruwolt and became Vickers Ruwolt Pty Limited. Later, Hoskins and HADWA, both companies in Perth, were purchased and a new public company, Vickers Australia Limited was formed. Vickers Ruwolt, a Division of Vickers Australia Limited, was over one-third owned by the Australian public and employed about 4,000 people around Australia. Between 1982 and 1983, the HADWA steel foundry in Perth and the Ruwolt steel foundry in Richmond were closed, and in 1985 it was decided to close the Ruwolt facility and move the heavy fabrication, machine and fitting factories to Karrabin, Queenland. The collection comprises over 1,000 glass negatives, a small collection of workplace signs from the Richmond factory, and a small number of documents. The material in the collection relates to the period from 1925 to 1948 when the company had moved to Richmond and begun producing heavy industrial equipment. The images show the products produced by Ruwolt & Co, both in the factory and the field, and also depict the factory, its development and staff, during this period.

Please direct access requests via Museum Victoria's Discovery Centre


1925-1950; Apprenticeships; Bucket Dredges; Building & Construction; Castings; Engineering Industry; Engineering Products; Engineering Works; Foundries; Gold Dredges; Manufacturing; Manufacturing Equipment; Manufacturing Works; Mining Machinery; Occupational health & safety; Road Making Machinery; Rock Crushers; Structural Steelwork; Trade unions; Trades; Working life

Coverage Spatial

Richmond, Victoria, Australia

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