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John Stokes Bagshaw (1808–1888)

by E. Zalums

This article was published:

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John Stokes Bagshaw (1808-1888), by Townsend Duryea, 1867

John Stokes Bagshaw (1808-1888), by Townsend Duryea, 1867

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 11312

John Stokes Bagshaw (1808-1888), manufacturer of agricultural machinery, was born on 15 August 1808 at Chetwynd, Shropshire, England, son of Edward Bagshaw, a rich farmer of Pilson, and his wife Margaret. At an early age he showed mechanical aptitude and was apprenticed to a millwright and engineer. In 1836 he married Jane Dale; soon afterwards, as a joiner of Stafford with free passages for himself, his wife and infant daughter, he embarked in the Eden at Portsmouth and arrived in South Australia on 24 June 1838. He first settled south of Adelaide and helped to build flour-mills at Noarlunga, Port Noarlunga and Encounter Bay. He then joined the small number of mechanics who established workshops in country centres to cater for farmers' mechanical needs. At this time agriculture was just beginning in South Australia; favoured by climate, soil and geographical position, the area under wheat soon extended but when immigration stopped in 1841, the shortage of agricultural labourers became serious and resulted in several harvesting crises. Farmers were anxiously searching for mechanical labour-saving devices, and Bagshaw was one of the resourceful men who were able to meet their needs. By 1839 he had established an agricultural implement workshop at Elizabeth Street in Adelaide, later extending it to Crowther Street. He manufactured horse-ploughs, chaffcutters and corncrushers. He won public recognition by building for John Ridley the first harvesting machine; it could strip six acres (2.4 ha) of wheat a day. He then designed and produced the first winnowing machine in Australia. It became his speciality and he produced more than two hundred. They each sold for £17 under the trade mark of 'Champion'. Machinery for flour-mills, pumping and drilling was gradually added to his firm's activities and in 1870 the name of J. S. Bagshaw & Sons was changed to the Pioneer Works. His eldest son, John Augustus, was also a skilful engineer and inventor; he entered the business at an early age and was later joined by his younger brother, Thomas Henry. William, the third son, spent only a short time with the firm and settled on land at Christies Beach. Bagshaw left a well-established business to his family. In 1912 the company bought a site at Mile End and in 1924, when J. H. Horwood joined the firm, it became known as Horwood Bagshaw Ltd. The company operated around Adelaide until 1975, when its operations were moved 50 miles (80 kilometres) to the east at Mannum, on the River Murray. The multinational CNH Industrial group took over Horwood Bagshaw Ltd in May 2018, promising to maintain productions in Mannum without reducing the company’s workforce.

Bagshaw was a founder of the Ancient London Order of Oddfellows in South Australia and was active in Trinity Church affairs. He represented the Gawler ward in the Adelaide Municipal Council in 1870-74 and was prominent on its Health and Public Works Committee. He died on 1 January 1888 at his home Chetwynd House, Franklin Street, Adelaide, and was buried in the West Terrace cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • W. F. Morrison, The Aldine History of South Australia (Syd, 1890)
  • J. J. Pascoe, History of Adelaide and Vicinity (Adel, 1901)
  • Frearson's Monthly Illustrated Adelaide News, Apr 1884
  • Observer (Adelaide), 7 Jan 1888
  • M. P. Mayo, Index to Miscellaneous Information and Advertisements, 1839-72 (State Records of South Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

E. Zalums, 'Bagshaw, John Stokes (1808–1888)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 13 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

John Stokes Bagshaw (1808-1888), by Townsend Duryea, 1867

John Stokes Bagshaw (1808-1888), by Townsend Duryea, 1867

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 11312

Life Summary [details]


15 August, 1808
Chetwynd, Shropshire, England


1 January, 1888 (aged 79)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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