Photograph of a Clyde Engineering seed grading machine

Made 1900-1940

This photograph shows a steel-wheeled farm wagon carrying a seed grader made by The Clyde Engineering Co. Ltd, a large Australian firm in Granville, a suburb of Sydney. This firm made agricultural machinery, engineering equipment, and railway rolling stock during the first half of the twentieth century.

Wheat has been a facet of Australian agriculture since the First Fleet arrived in Sydney in 1788. Wheat can be grown in a variety of soils and conditions but early varieties were susceptible to ...

Summary

Object No.

88/289-70

Physical Description

A rectangular black and white silver gelatin glass pate negative in landscape format. The image depicts a seed grader mounted on a Clyde steel wheeled farm wagon and driven by an internal combustion engine. There is a transparent sleeve that accompanies the negative with a rectangular sticker on the right hand corner which reads 'No. 903 / Wheat Grader / Agric. Dept." within the red squares.

Dimensions

Height

164 mm

Width

215 mm

Depth

1.5 mm

Production

Notes

The Clyde Engineering Company photograph collection is made up of around 1300 ½ plate glass negatives and approximately 4000 triacetate negatives.

The tri-acetate collection appears to date from the late 1930s through to 1960s the glass plates from around 1900 -1950. Most of the photographs are commissioned works taken around the Clyde Works in Granville, Sydney. Others are copies of original photographic prints, blueprints and pages from books. These are hard to accurately date it is almost certain that the collection is the work of numerous photographers; unfortunately their identity is at present unknown.

Glass plates were first used to support photographic emulsions in the late 1840s and remained in continuous use right through until the middle of the twentieth century. While the earliest plates supported 'dry' and 'wet' collodion emulsions these were replaced with silver gelatin emulsions in the 1880s. Unlike earlier plates these were mass produced on a huge scale and were capable of fast speeds even at ½ and full plate sizes.

One drawback of this process was that larger plate sizes required a correspondingly large camera to fit the plate. These were relatively cumbersome and when you take into consideration the weight of the glass plates it is no surprise to find they were mainly used for studio and commercial work. However they were still favoured by many professionals for a long time after roll film was introduced by Kodak in the late 1880s. This was because the large plates could be more easily worked on for masking and their contact prints provided better results than some of the early enlarging equipment

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, February, 2008

References
Gernsheim, H. and Gernsheim A., The History of Photography from the Earliest Use of the Camera Obscura in the Eleventh Century up to 1914. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1955.

Made

1900-1940

History

Notes

The Clyde Engineering Company photograph collection was acquired by the Powerhouse Museum in December 1987. The material was removed from Clyde Engineering when the offices were being relocated and appears to be only a portion of the original collection. Around 1350 ½ plate glass negatives and approximately 4000 tri-acetate negatives came to the Museum at this time.

The origins of the collection can be dated back to 1855 when William Henry Hudson set up the firm of Hudson Brothers in a small shop in Redfern, Sydney. Initially the company specialised in woodworking and the first major contracts undertaken by the Hudson Brothers included woodwork for the 'Great Hall' at Sydney University and building the Sydney 'Garden Palace' in 1879.

In 1876 Hudson Brothers won a lucrative contract to build rolling stock for the New South Wales government and as a result the business began to move toward metal-work rather than wood-work. The business was a success and twenty five years later had expanded to such a degree that a new work shop was needed to accommodate staff and equipment. In 1881 Hudson Brothers moved onto two hundred acres of land at Granville in the Western suburbs of Sydney and the new factory opened two years later in July 1883.

Unfortunately the recession of the 1890s hit Hudson Brothers hard and by 1898 it was forced into receivership. It was then that the newly formed Clyde Engineering Company took over the Hudson Brothers, although William Hudson continued to remain a board member and motivating force behind Clyde Engineering. Given the new company arose out of the old Hudson Brothers it is not surprising to find Clyde Engineering adopted a phoenix as its logo. The choice was apt for the new company did rise out of the ashes of the old and by 1950 Clyde Engineering had become the largest engineering enterprise in New South Wales.

In 1901, soon after it had become Clyde Engineering Ltd., the company began making carriages for the Federal Government and in 1903 began making them for the West Australian Government as well. In 1905 Clyde won a major contract with the New South Wales State Government to make railway locomotives.

Clyde Engineering was a large operation and took on contract work for major state government projects, mainly in New South Wales. These included prefabricated steel work for the Hawkesbury Bridge and the northern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In 1932 the company also built and supplied steel work for the Clarence River Bridge at Grafton and the Manning River Bridge at Taree.

Clyde Engineering made agricultural equipment for many parts of New South Wales, continuing the work of Hudson Brothers who began to manufacture windmills and ploughs made to their own unique designs in 1884.

During the Second World War it was an integral part of 'Workshop Australia'. In this period Clyde Engineering took on a new field, the repair of Hudson and Wirraway aircraft. In addition it provided munitions; 25-pounder field gun parts; locomotives and rolling stock to the war effort.

The tri-acetate collection is made up predominantly of copies of blueprints and plans of machinery dating from the late 1940s through to 1960s. These subjects may have referred to actual work carried out by Clyde but material appears to have also been used for research and copied directly from books. In 2007 the tri-acetate negatives were placed into cold storage while waiting to be catalogued. In the same year the glass plates were catalogued and digitised as a part of the Total Asset Management Project for the Museum's collection database and website and for Picture Australia.

The subject matter contained in the ½ plate glass negatives covers over 60 years of the Clyde Engineering Company's activities in New South Wales. It starts in the 1880s when the company was still called Hudson Brothers and goes through to the late 1940s. Most of these images were taken at the Clyde Works in Granville, Sydney, New South Wales and many include interior and exterior images of the people and workshops at Clyde Engineering and on the banks of the Duck River.

Some appear to have been commissioned to record the completion of particular Clyde projects such as locomotives, boilers and agricultural equipment at the Clyde works. A few have been photographed in other locations such as the aircraft photographs taken at Bankstown Airport and some works photographed after delivery.

A few photographs are copies of original photographic prints, blueprints and pages from books and these are hard to accurately date. As most of the original negatives were taken over a long time period it is almost certain the photographs are the work of numerous photographers, unfortunately their identity is at present unknown.

Some of the negatives have appeared in a Clyde booklet published for the delegates of the 'Seventh Congress of the Chamber of Commerce of the British Empire in 1909' and a Clyde booklet held by the museum which was published around 1945. These publications and the fact that some of the negatives have been masked make it clear that the while the photographers were cataloguing the accomplishments of the company they were also creating content used to advertise and promote the company's products.

Two photographers who did photographic work for Clyde from the 1960s onwards were Charles French of 87 Yarram Street, Lidcombe in New South Wales and Jack Draper an employee and photographer employed by Clyde Engineering around the same period.

Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, February, 2008

Cite this Object

Harvard

Photograph of a Clyde Engineering seed grading machine 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 January 2018, <https://ma.as/367695>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/367695 |title=Photograph of a Clyde Engineering seed grading machine |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=22 January 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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