Ebenezer Shoobridge

WE Shoobridge's home, Hawthorn Lodge at Bushy Park, c 1875 (W.L. Crowther Library, SLT)

William Ebenezer Shoobridge (1846-1940), engineer, inventor, irrigator, sometimes parliamentarian, pillar of the community and prolific writer, was a man of many talents and large vision, and was not averse to reminding others of the fact. Shoobridge designed and implemented irrigation schemes at the family farms, Valleyfield and Bushy Park, as well as other properties in the Derwent Valley. He also designed and built hop kilns, invented the cup-shaped method of pruning fruit frees, and revolutionised the fruit industry by shipping apples overseas in refrigerated compartments. An early advocate of government regulation of water supplies, he became a tireless promoter of schemes to harness state waters for irrigation and other purposes, earning the sobriquet 'Water Willie'. His descendants still farm in the Derwent Valley, producing hops until the 1980s.

Further reading: Weekly Courier, 16, 23, 30 December 1931; Mercury, 18 May 1940; H Broinowski, 'W.E. Shoobridge', Honours thesis, UT, 1970; ADB 11.

Margaret Mason-Cox