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Mathew Churchward
Matthew Churchward

Matthew Churchward originally trained in mechanical engineering, later undertaking a Masters Degree examining the development of mining machinery manufacturers in Victoria during the 19th century.

In 1989-90 he undertook the Victoria Steam Heritage Survey for Museum Victoria, researching the history of steam power in Victorian industry and completing extensive fieldwork to document and record some 2,000 examples of historic steam equipment throughout the state. He has also worked for various government departments as an Industrial Heritage Consultant.

Since 1994, he had been employed as a curator in engineering and transport with Museum Victoria undertaking research, exhibition development, collection development and documentation, machinery restoration and conservation projects.

For the past 15 years he as been a member (and current chair) of the National Trust (Vic) Industrial History Committee and has been actively involved on the steering committee overseeing the Victorian Timber Bridges, Metal Bridges and Concrete Bridges Studies, developing the bridges database used for the studies and helping to edit the book Wooden Wonders.

Current research interests include Australian mining, engineering and transport history with an emphasis on Victorian transport infrastructure, horse-drawn vehicles, immigrant shipping and local engineering and manufacturing history. His research for this paper has been undertaken as part of a wider study into various forms of industrial power utilised in Victorian industry from the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries.

Paper: Gas Engines in Victorian Industry, 1870-1950

Abstract: In 1866, the German engineer, Nikolaus August Otto, was awarded a patent for his ‘free piston atmospheric gas engine’, which he presented the following year at the Paris Exhibition, winning the Grand Prize. It was to become the world’s first commercially successful internal combustion engine design. Manufacture of Otto atmospheric gas engines had began in Germany and Britain by 1869 and within five years Otto engines were being used in Victoria. After the introduction of the improved ‘four-stroke’ Otto gas engine in 1876, the invention was further popularised, becoming an economical and efficient alternative source of industrial power to steam engines for smallscale enterprises.

Following the 1850s gold-rushes, Victoria had become the key centre of manufacturing in Australia and its industrialists were early adopters of gas engines. In 1880, 5% of all mechanically-powered factories in Victoria were using gas engines and by 1901 the proportion had reached 30%. Although oil engines and electric motors were to provide increasing competition as the newest sources of industrial power, gas engines continued to play a key role in Victorian industry well into the 20th century. The introduction of the suction gas producer was of particular importance, enabling gas engines to be freed from their earlier dependence on reticulated town gas supplies enabling their application in a wide range of rural industries.

Sir Neil Cossons
Paul Davies
David Dolan
Wayne Johnson
Euan McQueen
Robert McWilliam
Duncan Waterson
David Beauchamp
Trevor Butler
Matthew Churchward
Andrew Cleland
Rachael Egerton
John Fitzmaurice
Don Fraser
John Gibson
Owen Graham
David Hamilton
Bill Harvey
Peter Holmes
Kevin Jones
Paul Mahoney
Tom Williamson
Peter Lowe
Peter Marquis-Kyle
Gavin McLean
Rob Merrifield
Owen Peake
Miles Pierce
John Porter
Nigel Ridgway
Tony Silke
Jim Staton
Richard Venus
Ian Walsh
Daniel Woo
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