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Goetz at Harvester House Openeing 1939

On 22 May 1939, the new headquarters of the International Harvester Company of Australia P/L,  was officially opened by the then Victorian Premier Mr. Dunstan.

On the corner of City Road and Balston Street, South Melbourne, it was a good thing that the site covered four and a half acres (1.8 ha), as there were 2,000 guests present! 

‘Representatives of Federal and State Governments, municipalities, and agricultural and business interests were present’. (The Argus, 23 may 1939, p. 10)

As part of the ‘business interests’, there was a presence from W. G. Goetz & Sons. In this photo taken at the official opening celebrations is L-R: Capt. J. H. Moss (age 56), E. M. McLean (not known if he was from Goetz or another business), Otto Goetz (age 42) and Albert Goetz. (age 54).

The Australasian, 27 May 1939, p. 32. According to the accompanying article, around 2,000 guests attended the opening!

Around the same time, International Harvester opened its assembly factory at Geelong. On 4 August 1950, the first sod was turned at its 23 hectare site in Dandenong, officially opening in August 1952.

Edgell and the 11PSV Can Closer

In the 24 August 1959 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, there was a 7-page series of articles about canned food. Among the articles were entries congratulating Gordon Edgell & Sons Ltd. on the release of their new product – Edgell-Gerber Baby Food, manufactured at their new plant in Bathurst. Around the same time, in order to supply Edgell with cans for the baby foods section, Containers Limited opened a can making plant nearby.

The W. G. Goetz & Sons advertisement featured the 11PSV 4-head high speed automatic can closing machine, as used by Edgell.


Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Aug 1959, p. 14


Can seamer at the Containers Limited plant, near the Edgell factory, Bathurst. Difficult to tell in this photo, but perhaps another Goetz machine?

RVB Engineering

RVB Engineersing were W. G. Goetz & Sons neighbours in Hall Street, Spotswood. In the early days of RVB, some Goetz members served on the RVB Board of Directors and assisted Roy Butler to get started with RVB. Roy Butler had sold some surpless land to Goetz for the W. G. Goetz & Sons factory.

RVB made tyre guages, automotive horns and other pneumatic equipment – some of it using Goetz machinery. Below is an advertisement referencing the Melbourne International Trade (Fair 27 February – 16 March 1963, Royal Exhibition Buildings), showing some RVB products. From The Age, February 28 1963, p. 17 “International Trade Fair Supplement”.

Among other exhibits at the Trade Fair was Donald Campbell’s Bluebird land speed record car – at the time he was still to beat John Cobb’s 15 year old record of 394.2 mph (634 kmh). Campbell broke the record at Lake Eyre, S.A., on 17 July 1964 at 403.1 mph (648.73 kmh).

Otto Goetz and Capt. James Moss on the RVB Board

W. G. Goetz & Sons bought their Hall Street site from Roy Butler of RVB Engineering.

The land was previously owned from 1911 by Bickford, Smith and Co. Explosives, who had become associated with the chemical firm, Nobel (Australasia).

In 1939 Nobel moved and RVB purchased “about 520,000 square feet: Mr. Butler retained 240,000 square feet and sold the remainder to Messers. Goetz”. The Argus, 22 May 1956 p.15

See 1930 aerial photo of the site about half way down on this page.

Along with Roy Butler, Albert and Otto Goetz and Capt. James Moss were founding members of the RVB Engineering company. At times, both Otto Goetz and Capt. James Moss served on the RVB Board of Directors.

The Argus, 2 October 1953, p. 13

During May 1956, RVB celebrated its 21st year of operation. Below is an exerpt from and article in The Argus, 22 May 1956, p. 10 “A Great Firm Comes Of Age”, in which Roy Butler pays tribute to the management of W. G. Goetz & Sons for their support in the early days of RVB.

Employment, early 1950s

An assortment of employment advertising durinig the early 1950s.


Foreman Maintenance Fitter
Williamstown Advertiser, 21 April 1950, p. 8


Junior Draftsmen
The Age, 5 August 1959, p. 28

Engineering Apprentices
Williamstown Chronicle, 24 November 1950, p. 4

Female Capstan Lathe Operator
Williamstown Advertiser, 22 August 1952, p. 5


Process Workers
Williamstown Advertiser, 9 October 1953, p. 5

Tool Setters
Williamstown Advertiser, 1 October 1954, p. 5

A Goetz History (from the 1970s)

Sometime after 1971, a short Goetz history document was produced, some of which was reproduced in a 1975 Melbourne Herald article celebrating what was believed to be the company’s centennary.

Other than serving as a press release for The Herald centenary article, details about the author or other intended uses of the article remain a mystery; the printed copy was found with other documents rescued from a dumpster during the closure of the company.



As noted on the page Beginnings – Queen Street, Melbourne, is is unlikely that the 1875 commencement year is accurate. The little evidence available by way of early Melbourne business directories, points to a more likely start in 1880.

The article is also in error claiming that in September 1875, W. G. Goetz was “newly arrived in Australia”; in fact he had arrived 12 years earlier on 14 December 1863 on board the S.S. Great Britain.

No records have been found so far as to his activities during his first 17 years in Melbourne, other than his marriage in 1876. See Goetz Family for more information.

Click the image below or here to download as a PDF. Transcript below.




W.G. Goetz & Sons Limited

Company History

In September 1875, Wilhelm Gottlieb Goetz, an energetic and ambitious young engineer, newly arrived in Australia from his native land, Germany, set up business in small and unpretentious surroundings in Queen Street, Melbourne.

In his small engineering factory, Wilhelm Goetz, a man of vision, produced probably the first metal working equipment manufactured in Australia, along with fireproof safes, many of which are still in service today.

By the turn of the century, this dynamic man had developed his business to such an extent that it was necessary to seek larger premises which were then located in Batman Street, West Melbourne. Following the transfer to the new premises, with an upsurge of energy and activity new projects were developed which resulted in simple can-seaming machines being available to the canister trade shortly thereafter. At the Batman Street site the business continued to expand and it was found necessary to acquire adjoining properties to house the growing organisation.

On the demise of Wilhelm Goetz in 1917, the task of further developing the business was undertaken by two of his sons, Albert and Otto (Jack) who had already served their apprenticeship in the business. The latter son controlled the destinies of the company in his role as managing director until his death in 1971.

Five years after taking control, the two brothers were joined by their brother-in-law, Captain J.H. Moss, who remained as chairman of the company until his death in 1966. Under the leadership of these three astute and progressive businessmen the company continued to develop in Batman Street until the mid-nineteen-thirties when further expansion of the premises was no longer possible and a tract of land was then sought and purchased in Spotswood, the site of the present works and offices.

Manufacturing operations commenced at Spotswood in 1939, and in the new environment the company continued with the policy of product development and general expansion producing in 1943 a high-speed can body-making line capable of producing 300 cans per minute, the first of its type manufactured in Australia.

Upon the outbreak of hostilities in the second world war, the entire resources of the company were directed to the manufacture of precision gauges and machinery and tooling for production of 303 bullets. In addition, presses and tooling were developed for the production of charger clips for Vickers and Browning machine guns. A large annexe was also operated by the company on behalf of the Commonwealth Government for the production of shell fuses on a 24-hour per day basis. Vertical shaping machines were also produced for use by United States, Dutch and Australian armed services workshops.

With the advent of America’s entry into the war, production of munition manufacturing equipment ceased and the company was directed by the government to revert to standard peace time production, the manufacture of can making and cannery equipment, to enable the increased demands for food for the allied forces to be met.

Company Products

in addition to equipment for the canning industry, the company also manufactures sheet metal working machinery, power presses and press tools for various applications in the industrial field, including builders’ hardware; electric motor laminations and automotive parts. The present range of equipment manufactured is comparable in standard and performance with machinery available elsewhere in the world, and in many instances special features are incorporated to meet local requirements.
Currently, all types of equipment associated with the high-speed manufacture of three piece open top cans and automatic can-closing are part of the range of production. Over the years machinery has been developed to meet the needs of local industry, an example being gripper feed units for attachment to power presses, manufacture in Australia being pioneered by the company in 1953. A further example is the important contribution made in 1971 with the introduction of machines for the closing of soft drink or beer can sat speeds up to 1,200 cans per minute.

In 1969 a manufacturing agreement was arranged with the old established firm, Buffalo Forge Company, U.S.A.,for the manufacture in Australia of their range of Universal Ironworkers, punch and shear machines, bending rolls and billet shears, the majority of these items previously being available to Australia only from overseas sources.

In the role of general engineers and toolmakers, the company has participated in many projects in conjunction with our clients and have thus made major contributions to many phases of industrial development in Australia.

Company Markets

The major canneries together with many of the lesser known canners in Australia comprise an important sector of our clientele.

These together with the can-makers in Australia are the users of the majority of can making and can sealing equipment produced, there are however many exports of such items.

Goetz produced equipment operate in many overseas countries including New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand,Indonesia and Malayasia.

For general industry purposes, power presses and sheetmetal machinery is produced, the major portion of our output being for the requirements of Australian industry.

Press tooling, many being of complex design and extremely accurate are manufactured for and used by many sectors of Australian industry.

Job Opportunities

The company provides job opportunity for many occupations which include metal industry tradesmen, (first class machinists, fitters, turners, toolmakers, patternmakers, etc.), design engineers and draughtsmen, clerical workers, stores personnel, planning engineers, transport workers, etc.


The training of apprentices has long been part of the company’s philosophy. The issue of indentures has been traced back as far as 1890 when, for the sum of two shillings and six pence per week, the apprentice signed to “well and faithfully serve the said W.G. Goetz as his apprentice and diligently attend to the said business at all times from the hour of eight in the morning till five in the evenings. His secrets keeps his lawful commands, gladly obey. He shall do no hurt to his said master, nor suffer it to be done by others when it is in his power to prevent same. He shall not waste his said master’s goods, nor embezzle the same, give nor lend nor absent himself from his said master’s service, nor do any other act matter or thing whatsoever to prejudice his said master, but in all things shall demean and behave himself”

The company continues the training of apprentices and each year applicants are invited for indentureship to the trade of fitting and turning with the company.