Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Donald Garvie

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Donald Garvie (1879-1939)

1939 Obituary [1]

"DAVID GARVIE was well known in Australia for his pioneer work in establishing the manufacture of electric refrigerators in that continent. He was born in Oamaru, New Zealand, in 1879, and received his practical training from 1894 to 1898 in the machine shops and foundries of various general engineering firms in Oamaru and Dunedin.

During 1899-1900 he was employed in the New Zealand Government locomotive workshops at Auckland, after which he joined a shipbuilding firm in Sydney, New South Wales. He went to sea as assistant engineer on SS Nineveh in 1901, came to England, and for five years was employed chiefly as tool room or erecting shop foreman by several important firms, including the Thornycroft Steam Wagon Company, of Basingstoke.

During 1906-7 he toured America and visited many prominent engineering works, returning to England as head of the tool department of the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company, Ltd., Birmingham. He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1909. Shortly afterwards he joined the service of the South Australian Government, and became acting superintendent of the workshops at Glanville, consisting of pipe foundry and machine shop, a position which he held for two years. When the new railway workshops were established at Islington, Mr. Garvie returned to the head office as a draughtsman, but in 1916 he went into business on his own account as a manufacturer of cinematograph projectors. He subsequently developed a general engineering side to his business, and also began the manufacture of motor body hardware. When the arrival of sound films rendered his projectors out of date, he decided to embark on the manufacture of electric refrigerators. His first refrigerator appeared in 1927, and the business developed so that in 1932 he formed a company, Refrigerators Pty., Ltd., at Unley, South Australia, for manufacturing domestic refrigerators and commercial refrigerator compressors and coils, as well as brass valves and pipe fittings. Mr. Garvie was managing director of the firm until his death, which occurred on 14th July 1939."

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