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1 July 1847 James Martin

 1 July 1847 James Martin

James Martin arrived in South Australia on 1 July 1847. He became involved with John Ridley in building his wheat stripping machines. In 1848 he hired a blacksmith’s shop at Gawler and soon had 30 men working for him and in 1852 began manufacturing the reaping machines and other agricultural implements. With the development of mining in South Australia he expanded his business into that field. In 1873 he formed James Martin and Company with Frederick May, an engineer with the Moonta Mines, and his nephew J. F. Martin. The plant by then was valued at £30,000 and stores and work capital the same and they employed 95 men; this number increased to 300 by 1883. At the 1881 Adelaide Exhibition the firm won a special order of merit for a stripper and collection of agricultural machines. In 1888 the extension of the railways led the SA Railways to contract with Martin to build 52 locomotives. Orders came from other colonies and New Caledonia and by 1900 700 men were working at the Gawler factory. At the height of his firm’s success James martin died on 24 December 1899. Henry Dutton of Anlaby, Kapunda bought the company in 1907 and he carried on the business under another name. In 1915 Perry Engineering bought the company. On 15 August 1903 the people of Gawler unveiled a statue of James Martin in recognition of his contribution to the town.

R.M. Gibbs, A History of South Australia, Balara Books, 1969, p.182

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