Fredrick Wolseley

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Fredrick Wolseley
Fredrick Wolseley

Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler are credited with designing the first car in 1886, however few would know that the first Wolseley motor vehicle would be developed only 10 years later.

Even more surprising is that the Wolseley car was developed by a company manufacturing mechanical sheep shearing machines for Australia!

The Australian connection to the Wolseley car name began in 1854, when, at the age of 17, Fredrick York Wolseley left the family home in Ireland to travel to Australia and work as a Jackeroo.

Arriving in Melbourne, he travelled to a sheep station located near the New South Wales country town Deniliquin, where he later became the manager.

In 1870 he began devising a mechanical sheep shearing machine and, 16 years later, gave the first public demonstration of the machine on his own property 'Euroka' (near Walgett on the Barwon River).

In 1887 the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company was formed in Sydney and, by 1906, thousands of the mechanical sheep shearing machines were being sold.

This was not all good news for Australian manufacturing however, as Wolseley had transferred the operation to England in 1889 and had moved back there as Managing Director of the company.

After five years (1894) he resigned from the company and returned to Australia, only to return to Surrey England in 1898 after becoming seriously ill. He died on 8th January, 1899.

Obviously a very successful and inventive man, but where is the connection to the Wolseley motor car I hear you ask?

Well, it was in fact Wolseley's foreman Herbert Austin, who later became the General Manager of the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company, that developed the first Wolseley Motor Car in 1896, two years after Wolseley had left the company to return to Australia.

Also see:
Honour Roll - Founding Fathers Of The Automotive Industry

Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource