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2011/17/1 Photograph album, loose photographs (24) and paper material, paper / cardboard, relating to the motor body building company, Smith & Waddington Ltd, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia, 1921-1929. Click to enlarge.

Photograph album and ephemera from motor body builders Smith & Waddington Ltd

Made by 1921-1929

This photograph album and loose photographs relate to the important Sydney motor body building firm, Smith & Waddington Ltd, from 1921 to 1929. This company was very well known in Australia in the 1920s for building luxury hand-made car bodies for imported chassis, especially Rolls-Royce, in their Camperdown factory from 1921. Albums of finished cars were shown to prospective clients for them choose and develop their preferred design. This album may have been one of those produced.

The reason ...

Summary

Object No.

2011/17/1

Object Statement

Photograph album, loose photographs (24) and paper material, paper / cardboard, relating to the motor body building company, Smith & Waddington Ltd, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia, 1921-1929

Physical Description

Photograph album, loose photos and paper material, paper / cardboard, relating to the motor body building company, Smith & Waddington Ltd, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia, 1921-1929

The photograph album has large black and white photographs of cars, charabancs and buses, the bodies of which were presumably made by the Sydney motor body builders, Smith & Waddington Ltd. Some of the images were taken near the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and others in front of the Hartley Court House on the way to Jenolan Caves, New South Wales. Some of the photographs have been removed or are detached from the album.

Other paper material comprises a Smith & Waddington brochure entitled 'Made to Measure' and a letter from the firm.

Production

Made

1921-1929

Notes

The firm Smith & Waddington Ltd was established at Parramatta Road, in the inner-Sydney suburb of Camperdown in 1921 by Frank Waddington, Arthur Spurway Smith and Charles Leslie Fairs. The latter two previously worked as master coachbuilders for May Bros Body Builders Ltd. The body designer, Arthur Smith, who trained in Omaru, New Zealand, with John Cunningham, also joined the partnership and was responsible for the design of the elegant and luxury custom-made car bodies built by Smith & Waddington for imported chassis including Rolls-Royce Ltd, Wolseley, Hudson, Dort, Essex and Benz. During the 1920s Rolls-Royce bodies made a large proportion of the companies' work and it was said that in 1923 some 85% of all Rolls-Royce cars in Australia had Smith & Waddington bodies. The 1925 Rolls-Royce Twenty in the Museum's collection (object No. B1339) has a body made by Smith & Waddington.

By 1923 the Smith & Waddington factory employed 150 workers and by the following year the factory had expanded into 11 buildings along Parramatta Road. The cars were constructed of a composite timber frame, especially seasoned on site to prevent shrinkage from drying out, a problem in the dry Australian climate. The exterior metal panels were hand beaten on the shop floor from the best imported steel, glass was imported and mostly Australian-made leather used. Skilled artisans took great pride in manufacturing the car bodies which involved separate wood workers, metal workers, electro-platers, upholsterers and painters.

The increasing mechanisation by the large firms such as E.W. Holden's works at Woodville, South Australia, meant that Smith & Waddington were less able to compete in the standard car body market so there was more emphasis on the manufacture of bus bodies for local bus runs as well as touring cars with extended bodies, known as charabancs. These were used to take tourists to the Jenolan Caves and Royal National Park. One such car was 15-passenger White charabanc owned and operated by N.L. Day of Coogee.

The original Smith & Waddington factory buildings along Parramatta Road were demolished in about 1926 and a new multi-storey steel and concrete one was built at 45-61 Parramatta Road. Production here saw the chassis lined up on the top floor of the building and these were progressively moved down each floor in hydraulic lifts, as work was completed on them. This was said to be ahead of the usual construction methods of the time.

History

Notes

This photograph album and loose photographs were in the family of William Diskon (1888-1947) who worked as a motor body builder for Smith & Waddington Ltd at least until 1929 when the firm went into liquidation during the Great Depression. By 1932 Diskon had joined with Robert Molyneux to form his own motor body-building firm, Diskon & Molyneux Ltd. The firm's body building business ended during the Second World War when their factory was moved over to wartime production. After the War production did not recommence, and William Diskon died in 1947. These photographs and other material were handed down through his family.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Mary Tugnett, 2011

Acquisition Date

18 March 2011

Cite this Object

Harvard

Photograph album and ephemera from motor body builders Smith & Waddington Ltd 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 12 November 2019, <https://ma.as/415018>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/415018 |title=Photograph album and ephemera from motor body builders Smith & Waddington Ltd |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=12 November 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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