Phoenix Ironworks

The Phoenix Ironworks was founded in Launceston in 1860 by millwright William Henry Knight. Initially he imported and manufactured agricultural equipment, and was a traditional millwright for the flour and sawmilling industries. After new premises were erected in 1875, the company rapidly expanded, largely as a result of railway and mining work. Knight's son (also William Henry) established a boilermaking capability in 1882 and an iron and brass foundry in 1883. A reverberatory furnace for re-working wrought iron and a hydraulic riveting machine in 1885 enabled lattice girder bridges to be fabricated.

Railway expansion 188590 saw the production of all structural ironwork for ten major river crossings, including two substantial swing bridges at Fisherman's Dock, Hobart, and Leith. The fabrication of high-pressure wrought iron vessels became a company speciality, enabling the supply of air compressors for mining equipment and large diameter piping for the Duck Reach hydro-electric scheme in 1895. The company merged with Peter's Foundry in 1926.

Further reading: M Morris-Nunn & CB Tassell, Launceston's industrial heritage, Launceston, 1982

Keith Preston