Corporate entry: 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 1885-90 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.

Keith Preston