Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler are credited
with designing the first car in 1886, however
few would know that the first Wolseley
motor vehicle would be developed only 10
years later. Even more surprising is that
the Wolseley car was developed by a company
manufacturing mechanical sheep shearing
machines for Australia!
The Australian connection to the Wolseley car name began in 1854, when, at the
age of 17, Fredrick York Wolseley left the family home in Ireland to travel to
Australia and work as a Jackeroo. Arriving in Melbourne, he travelled to a sheep
station located near the New South Wales country town Deniliquin, where he later
became the manager.
In 1870 he began devising a mechanical sheep shearing machine and, 16 years later,
gave the first public demonstration of the machine on his own property 'Euroka'
(near Walgett on the Barwon River). In 1887 the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine
Company was formed in Sydney and, by 1906, thousands of the mechanical sheep
shearing machines were being sold.
This was not all good news for Australian manufacturing however, as Wolseley
had transferred the operation to England in 1889 and had moved back there as
Managing Director of the company. After five years (1894) he resigned from the
company and returned to Australia, only to return to Surrey England in 1898 after
becoming seriously ill. He died on 8th January, 1899.
Obviously a very successful and inventive man, but where is the connection to
the Wolseley motor car I hear you ask? Well, it was in fact Wolseley's foreman
Herbert Austin, who later became the General Manager of the Wolseley Sheep Shearing
Machine Company, that developed the first Wolseley Motor Car in 1896, two years
after Wolseley had left the company to return to Australia.
Also see: Honour Roll - Founding Fathers Of The Automotive Industry