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Engineering Pioneers: The Price Brothers and the Growth of New Zealand's Industries

Updated: May 6

Alfred and George Price were pioneers in the field of engineering, paving the way for the growth of New Zealand’s industries. Alfred, born in 1838 in Gloucestershire, arrived in New Zealand at the age of 25 with technical skills from an industrialised world undergoing the Industrial Revolution. He and his brother George settled in Onehunga and initially focused on creating flax-dressing machines, which revolutionised the process of extracting fibre from green flax leaves.


The Price Brothers’ ambitions didn’t stop with flax. They turned their expertise to mining machinery, foreseeing the importance of quartz-crushing machinery in the increasing gold industry. As railways began to crisscross the landscape, they played a key role in shaping the transport infrastructure, delivering carriages and wagons for the new railway lines.


Their journey was not without challenges. A fire consumed their foundry, but their resilience led them to rebuild stronger. Their vision extended to new works on the Thames goldfields, enabling them to remain at the forefront of industry developments.


The Price Brothers’ contributions extend beyond their machinery. They laid the groundwork for primary industries to flourish, driving economic growth and technological progress. Their legacy lives on in the industrial landscape they helped shape.


In a world of rugged pioneers, Alfred and George Price stood tall as innovative trailblazers. Their journey reminds us that success is often born from resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace new opportunities, even in the face of adversity. The Price Brothers were true engineering pioneers, whose technical expertise paved the way for New Zealand’s growth and development.


Alfred and George Price were not only pioneers in engineering but also visionaries who saw opportunities where others did not. They recognized the potential of flax-dressing machines to revolutionise the process of extracting fibre from green flax leaves and helped establish the lucrative flax trade. They also foresaw the importance of quartz-crushing machinery in the gold industry and established themselves as reliable suppliers.


As railways began to crisscross the landscape, they played a key role in shaping the transport infrastructure. Their craftsmanship shone as they delivered carriages and wagons for the new railway lines. This marked not only their technical prowess but also their adaptability to diverse industries.


Despite challenges such as a fire that consumed their foundry, they remained resilient and rebuilt stronger. Their vision extended to new works on the Thames goldfields, enabling them to remain at the forefront of industry developments.


The Price Brothers’ legacy lives on in the industrial landscape they helped shape. They laid the groundwork for primary industries to flourish, driving economic growth and technological progress. In a world of rugged pioneers, Alfred and George Price stood tall as innovative trailblazers whose determination and adaptability paved the way for New Zealand’s growth.


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