This is a hand-powered 'Hamond Visible' petrol pump made by F. Hammond/Latimers Ltd, Australia, in about 1924. By 1920 service stations and garages had opened in many Australian towns and were selling fuel from roadside pumps connected to underground storage tanks. We still use the name bowser for these pumps, after an early US maker. Hand-powered pumps like this one enabled the attendant to deliver a measured amount of fuel, from half a gallon to four gallons, to a customer's vehicle; the attendant used a hand lever to pump the fuel to the top of the bowser, and then allowed the fuel to fall into the vehicle's tank via a flexible hose. The visible display of fuel in the top section ensured customers that they were getting the fuel they paid for.
Some local authorities thought bowsers were ugly and dangerous and tried to have them banned. The Hammond petrol pump, an Australian invention introduced in June 1920, was a great improvement and made refuelling safer for service station attendants. Designed by Sydney engineer Frank Hammond and made in 1924 by Latimers Ltd, it pumped faster than its rivals and was one of the first to have a petrol-measuring display.
Electrically operated petrol pumps began replacing hand-powered pumps at service stations from 1938.
Margaret Simpson, 2 October 2007