Derwent Ironworks and Engineering Company

The Derwent Ironworks and Engineering Company was established by John Clark at Salamanca Place, Hobart in 1860. It expanded rapidly to include Tasmania's first boilermaking facility by 1870, and in 1876 a foundry, which produced Tasmania's first small railway locomotives in 1877. In 1884 the firm imported the first hydraulic riveting machine. The Company supplied steam engines and boilers to a wide range of industries, particularly sawmills, mining operations and flourmills. In 1884 the business was transferred to a limited company, which enabled Clark to become the government Inspector of Machinery.

After a slipway was acquired at Battery Point, Robert Kennedy & Sons from Melbourne were encouraged to establish a marine engineering branch. In 1886 the firm manufactured the only iron ship built in Tasmania, the steam dredge Andrew, for operation in the Mersey estuary. The firm played a prominent role in developing modern dredging equipment in the early 1900s, but by the 1940s their foundry was sold, and when Kennedy and Sons went out of business in 1947, their main income came from the quarry behind Salamanca Place.

Further reading: I McShane, 'Robert Kennedy and sons…', Institution of Engineers, Australia (Tasmania Division), report 85/9, 1985; A Hudspeth & L Scripps, Battery Point historical research, Hobart, 1990; L Scripps, The industrial heritage of Hobart, Hobart, 1997.

Keith Preston