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2005/247/1 Pig iron ingot, iron / paper, made by Sandford, Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia, 1907. Click to enlarge.

Ingot of pig iron produced by Sandford

This small iron ingot moulded with the maker's name is a reminder of the struggles manufacturers like William Sandford endured in their efforts to establish an iron industry in Australia. The first attempts -- at Mittagong in New South Wales in 1848 and at Lal Lal in Victoria from the 1870s -- failed because of the cheap price of imported pig iron. Undeterred, William Sandford built a blast furnace at Lithgow and on 13 May 1907 produced the first samples of pig iron. In fact, to ensure success on the day, the first pig iron had been tapped on 30 April after the blast was started that same day by Sandford's daughter, Clarice. However, the company was seriously undercapitalized and in December 1907 the Commercial Bank foreclosed on William Sandford Ltd. The company was taken over by Hoskins Bros, manufacturers of iron pipes and, aided by a federal bounty on locally smelted iron, successfully traded until the 1920s. Eventually, the distance of the blast furnace from major markets and the expense of shipping raw materials to it meant the company could not compete with imported iron.


Object No.


Object Statement

Pig iron ingot, iron / paper, made by Sandford, Lithgow, New South Wales, Australia, 1907

Physical Description

Rectangular ingot with embossed name of maker 'Sandford'.
Paper label attached with inscription ' First Pig Iron Produced in Australia'.
Painted RAHS Number 487.


Maker's mark 'SANDFORD'



20 mm


12 mm



This ingot was produced by William Sandford in his Lithgow blast furnace presumably as part of the official opening ceremonies on 13 May 1907. William Sandford had arrived in Australia in 1883 to manage a wire-netting plant for John Lysaght. Three years later he took over the lease of the Fitzroy Ironworks in Mittagong and later the Lithgow ironworks. Not content with simply precessing steel from imported or re-used iron, he decided to set up a blast furnace. After much research and with a seven-year government contract for the supply of pig iron, Sandford built a blast furnace on 22 hectares of land in Lithgow. On 13 May 1907, the premier of NSW declared the plant officially open at a ceremony where guests were brought up from Sydney by train.


Credit Line

Gift of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 1981

Acquisition Date

30 November 2005

Cite this Object


Ingot of pig iron produced by Sandford 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 September 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Ingot of pig iron produced by Sandford |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


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