Webster Limited

AG Webster and Son's office in Hobart, 1910 (AOT, PH30/1/2447)

Webster Limited began in 1831, when Charles Smith opened a wool and grain store in Hobart. His nephew Alexander George Webster joined the firm in 1850, and took over after Smith died in 1856. A man of foresight, he held his first wool sale in 1871, and introduced shipping and insurance services. Sales of agricultural machinery increased in the 1870s and Websters was to the forefront, securing agencies for popular brands and opening branches in Launceston, Devonport and Burnie.

From about 1900 the company sold generators and refrigerators, and later pumps and motors to the Hydro-Electric Commission and paper-making mills. A policy of extending financial accommodation to growers in need assisted many in the 1930s Depression. In the 1960s the firm branched into bearings and engineering supplies, and in the 1990s extended its interest to horticulture and aquaculture. The Webster family remained involved in management until 1976. Today Websters is the fourth-oldest surviving company in Australia.

Further reading: Webster Limited, Annual Report 1981.

Alison Alexander