Napier Grasslands - Lansdowne Engineering - A Goninan & Co - UGL.
THESE are the name changes of a great engineering company on Lansdowne Road that is disappearing off the map.
It's a damn shame a company like this is closing down and it's a great loss to NSW and Australian engineering and manufacturing.
Approximately 45 to 50 years ago when called Napier Grasslands they purchased 125 acres out at Lansdowne Road and built four very large factories to manufacture farm equip for farmers around Australia and to export overseas. They originally had their manufacturing company in Sydney before moving to Taree.
These sheds had the engineering equipment to manufacture installed, with an automatic paint line for manufactured parts in one shed.
A offset rail line came down through two sheds off the main northern line for transporting finished goods to the farmers around Australia by rail. Road transport was also used.
One shed was a R and D (research and development) shed plus it had modern automatic engineering machinery.
Napier Grasslands built farm equipment such as trash seeders, V-50 mix alls, post hole diggers, tynes, large watering equip and every type of farm equipment you could think off.
The steel for manufacturing was purchased from BHP and railed up to Taree and shunted out into the sheds for unloading.
Steel would also be purchased from merchants to start manufacturing awaiting delivery from BHP. Large and small castings would be purchased from foundries all over Australia including Tasmania and delivered to the Taree factory for machining before painting and fitting.
All hydraulics would be purchased and fitted. About 50 per cent of parts would be manufactured at the Taree plant then fitted up in another sheds.
The selling of this equipment fluctuated with the seasons. If the farmers had a good year weather wise and good crops they would buy new and updated equipment but if they did not they would not buy and I think they had more bad than good.
After a number of bad years Napier Grasslands finally sold out to a Newcastle company called A Goninan and Co, an engineering company which manufactured SRA double deck rail carriages, diesel locomotives and repaired different SRA equip as well manufacturing sugar mill gearing and equipment.
Goninan's new company in Taree was named Lansdowne Engineering, a division of A Goninan and Co Broadmeadow, NSW.
Goninan's in Newcastle at the time was building double deck passenger carriages for SRA and soon was to develop a new bogie called a DCA Bogie which was designed to fit under coal wagons.
Lansdowne Engineering now had contracts from J I Case building backhoes and Komatsu contracts for building graders.
After a number of years the name Lansdowne Engineering changed to A Goninan and Co Taree.
A Goninan Broadmeadow also opened factories in Townsville Queensland and in Western Australia where they would build rail equipment and coal wagons and locos for these states.
The Broadmeadow plant secured a contract for NSW SRA coal wagons which they passed onto their Taree company at Lansdowne Road. This meant Taree was set up to build the bogies, resulting in Taree having a lot of work for a number of years.
With all this SRA work coming in more tradesmen were employed and tradesmen in the country were very hard to get at the time.
The company built a large sand blasting shed so they could run the coal wagons in on their rail, sand blast them and run them out ready for painting. All large steel fabricated parts would be sandblasted before painting and assembling.
In the meantime Goninan's Taree received contracts from Caterpillar Australia for building different size dump truck bodies and to ship these bodies all over Australia. Another local transport company, Byrnes Transport won the contract for delivery and purchased a special low loader for transporting these dump truck bodies over a number of years.
Goninans Taree also built a number of small bodies for Caterpillar export to India.
Before building these bodies Taree had to have very high quality control system on their manufacturing so they set about with Standards Australia and passed all tests to satisfy Caterpillar. Every 12 months Caterpillar would do an audit on all welding, manufacturing and purchasing to make sure Goninan's Taree was keeping a very high standard to what Caterpillar wanted.
Other work coming in was 13 metre communication dishes for around Australia and small dishes for export, manufactured out of aluminium and steel.
They soon had more contracts for Australian Rail to build a quantity of large diesel locos, more work from SRA to refurbish the old 'red rattlers' that went around Sydney for a extra few years, flat top wagons that would carry BHP steel all over Australia.
Taree would also do a lot of repair work on excavators, bulldozers manufacture large and small buckets for J I Case Komatsu, Caterpillar, plus other dump truck bodies for different Australian companies.
Finally Goninan Broadmeadow got the big contract from SRA for the Sydney passenger trains called Tangara, where a lot of work went to Taree for again a number of years.
I have seen 300 workmen-plus working at the Taree complex at the same time over a number of years, so as I said it's a sad time to finally see this great company closing down.
Ex-contracts purchasing officer