Fords of Katandra

Victoria Australia

Owned by Joseph Herbert FORD

The photo below was taken at Numurkah, Victoria of Joseph and his Foden steam traction engine. The photo was taken by photographer
E A KRUTLI from Numurkah.

foden traction engine owned by joseph herbert ford

In the photo above, a couple of Joseph's children are standing in the foreground.
In the background, you can see the building of
W A Fairless Commission Agent and Sunshine Harvester Dealership.
On the other side of the street is a Deere Machinery dealer.

On each of the wagons you can make out the names J H Ford and Numurkah Foundry.

The following text is taken from an article in "The Newletter of Engineering Heritage Australia" dated December 2001.  This article gives some background regarding the Numurkah Foundry that built the wagons pulled by Joseph's Foden.

The Coxon Foundry operated in Numurkah from 1894. Edward Coxon was born in Ballarat in 1866 and moved with his family to Invergordon in 1874.  He worked at Furphy's foundry in Shepparton in the early 1890's as a "Striker" at the rate of 10 shillings ($1) per week. A striker worked around a fire and with the aid of an assistant would hammer hot pieces of metal into the required shape, using anvils, swages and dies.  The striker, usually the younger of the two men, would be allocated the heaviest hammer. Over the next 3 years Coxon learnt all he could from Furphy about blacksmithing and foundry operation.  In July 1894, in partnership with a Mr Gourley, he took over the Agricultural Department of House Brothers. Soon Coxon had brought out his partner. He began with one fire doing general blacksmithing and horseshoeing, he added a wheelwright shop and production of farm drays, box wagons, buggies, gigs, jinkers, cream carts and sprung carts commenced. Later products included ploughs, disc harrows, water carts, wool presses etc.
Up to 40 local men were employed.  The son of H V McKay also spent time at Coxon's Foundry. To publicise his products, Coxon would hire a traction engine to tow trailers carrying his products to regional shows, well up into the Riverina.  The team could be away for up to a month and return with just the engine and orders, having sold the wagons and their load.
Both HV McKay and Furphy took Edward Coxon to court.  In Furphy's case the dispute was over the water cart (items now keenly sought by collectors).  Coxon proved that his water cart wasn't the same as Furphy's, as it had a square filling lid and Furphy had a round lid. The introduction of the motor car and tractor, coupled with the Depression made it difficult for regional manufacturing businesses, however Coxon saw the future in motor cars.  The Foundry closed virtually  overnight and he built a garage alongside.  He was a pioneer in the motor trade and was one of the first Ford Dealers in country Victoria.
Edward Coxon died in 1946.
Such was the standard of his products that many still survive to this day with some still in regular use.

In 1913, Joseph Herbert FORD registered a steam traction engine for driving on the road. As well as being a farmer, Joseph also carted grain, chaff and wood. 
He purchased a new Foden Steam Engine, which was imported from England from Langwill Bros & Davies Ptd Ltd.
The wagons were made by Numurkah Foundry
The above advertisement was kindly supplied by the Melbourne Steam Traction Club, who also provided the following information on the photo of Joseph's engine.

"The photo was interesting to see. It confirmed for me that the engine is a Foden Compound traction engine. Langwill Bros. & Davies were their agents. Unfortunately their records have not survived, so finding whom it was first sold to, or identifying the engine is very difficult.  Many rural engines did not fall under the government boiler inspection scheme and checking my records did not show any possible engines. There are some records of early vehicle registrations in Victoria, and J H Ford, Katandra is recorded in 1913 as owning a traction engine registered to drive on the road.  The engine in the photo is most likely this engine, and the engine is most likely a pre WW1 build engine. I've attached an advert from Langwill Bros & Davies for Foden engines which shows the typical canopy, wood basket, and large rear driving wheels with more spokes than other makers.  I cannot say if this engine has survived, the engine number is on a plate on the side of the cylinder block, this is too dark in the photo and the number would be too small to work out anyway.  I'd suggest trying local newspapers, I've seen accounts, particularly if an engine was the first in the district, mentioned when the engine first arrives."

" I don't know if you have noticed the maker of the wagons, they were made locally by Edward Coxon at his Numurkah foundry. A short article about Coxon is attached for some background."



Unfortunatley, neither Foden's or the importer Langwill Bros and Davies Pty Ltd documentation has survived.  Langwill Bros & Davies went bankrupt and little remains of their records today.  Interestingly - during the bankruptcy proceedings - one of their directors shot himself in the head in the toilets of the courthouse.  He was found after he failed to appear after his summons.

Joseph's grandson can recall that someone had to follow about 1/4 mile behind the steam engine to put out the fires it lit along the roadside.

Apparently this was a common occurance, below are some newspaper articles relating to Steam Traction Engines in the Katandra district around the same time Joseph owned his Foden Traction Engine.

(Melbourne Vic) Saturday 25 December 1915

DOOKIE, Friday- A fire, believed to be started by a passing Traction engine, broke out on a road at Katandra North, and rapidly spread in Mr. F.A. Batey's property. The fire quickly burned its way over about 7 acres of stubble, and entered a growing crop, where stripping operations were being carried on.
Fortunately, with a change to the wind, the flames were turned towards a fallowed paddock, where they were extinguished. The loss substained by Mr Batey was about a quarter of acre of crop burned and about 10 bags of wheat partly charred.



Family Memories


Joseph and his son, Lem, used to camp out over night, on trips with the Engine.   They often camped by the bridge over the Goulburn River near Nagambie. 



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