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Kelly & Lewis Newspaper Cuttings

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This documents contains summarys and highlights from a collection of newspapers cuttings relating to Kelly & Lewis tractor production.

For books on Kelly & Lewis Engines, refer to the Engine section of our catalogue. For Bulldog tractor books, refer to the Lanz section of our catalogue.

[Melbourne papers unless otherwise mentioned]

Argus 30-11-1945 ?  - "Tractors to be made here". An article mentions the firm "Kelly & Lewis" with a plan for floating a new company to manufacture tractors here in Australia, paid up capital would be £200,000 in £1 ordinary shares.

Argus 31-7-1946    -  K.L. hope to reach a production rate of 2,000 tractors by the second year of production.

Herald 5-9-1946    -   K.L. Tractors registered at Victorian titles office.

Herald 13-12-1946.- Casting factory for tractor parts proposed for Hobart (Tasmania) to meet an "unsatisfied demand for at least 2,000 tractors."

Argus 18-9-1947.   -  Prototype K.L.tractor to be exhibited at the Royal Melbourne show. (late September, and was exhibited there.)

Herald 24-9-1947   -  Production of completed tractors "would start some time this calendar year, and full output obtained by June next."

Herald 22-9-1948   -  First tractor off production line that day, and to be exhibited at the Royal Melbourne Show. Production expected to reach 1,000 by next January, at a price of  £1,000 per tractor.

Herald 23-11-1948  -.Production delays leading to loss of revenue. Deliveries expected to start after February (1949).

Hobart Mercury (Tasmania) 5-3-1949   - Reports the opening of the casting factory plant in Hobart.

The Sun 17-3-1949  -  "NEW TRACTOR LINE ROLLS",  Assembly line started yesterday in the new factory of 40.000 sq. ft. at Springvale, where K.L. tractors aim to produce 1,000 of the 40hp. semi-diesel tractors per year. “The venture would help to increase primary production, on which the country's future real standard of living depended”. “ Australia employed 24 per cent of her people in secondary industry - more than America - and could export her primary produce, but not manufactured goods”. “Secondary industry should be confined to converting primary produce into finished articles, and ventures like the tractor factory which helped the farmer”. “The company had been wise to raise it's capital in Australia and no more paper money should be imported from overseas for capital ventures”. Except for ball and roller bearings from England, the tractor was entirely Australian made. It's fuel was crude oil from sterling areas which meant a dollar saving. An annual need of 10,000 tractors would be worth £1,000,000. Also full page add showing 3 finished tractors outside factory, and photos inside factory etc, (opposite page shows view of sectionised K.L. tractor)

The Age September 1952   - Commonwealth Engineering Co. (CEC) was under attack in Canberra as in May 1950 the Hartnett Motor Co. placed an order with the CEC for complete sets of panels for it's Australian car. CEC provided a Commonwealth Bank guarantee of performance that they would deliver the panels. The guarantee was for £14,000. In return the Hartnett Motor Co. provided CEC with a letter of credit for this amount on which CEC could draw on as panels were delivered. By June 1952 Hartnett Motor Co. had not received a single production unit. Hartnett had finished bodies, but no panels to finish them off, It goes on, and owing to similar misfortunes several similar articles were cut out and glued into a Kelly & Lewis scrap book which has survived, and was the basis of this web page.

Herald 16-12-1952   -  "K.L. TRACTOR HAS LOSS" K.L. Tractors Ltd. incurred a loss of £6,530 in the year to June 30th, compared with profits of £10,310 and £22,300 in the previous two years. After producing 850 tractors since it’s inception, tractor production has been suspended. The factory is still making spares and doing general engineering, but are not taking full capacity of  factory. Factors. affecting the industry according to directors are - reduced Wheat acreage, credit restrictions, and high tax. The post-war shortage of agricultural tractors has been overcome and large stocks are now held. The Hobart foundry has been closed and steps are now in hand for stock and equipment to be sold. Total current liabilities of £357,384 exceed current assets by more than £37,000.

The Age 23-12-1952   - "HEAVY HOLDINGS OF UNSOLD TRACTORS". K.L. Tractors chairman stated. In the current year Wheat acreage was estimated to be 9,250,000.Acres, or about 64% of the 1929-1939 average which was 14,500,000. Acres. As far as tractor production by the company was concerned, it was not practical to add to unsold stocks and production has been suspended. The company had been offered a large contract which would occupy the factory profitably for 18 months, this offer was made by Kelly & Lewis Ltd. Acceptance depended on arranging finance, but negotiations had not yet been finalised.

The Age 10-11-1953   -  "TRACTOR FIRM'S £275,000 WRIT" A writ claiming £275,000 damages from the Commonwealth was issued in the high court by K.L. Tractors Ltd., of Springvale. According to the writ the firm built a factory to make tractors after it had made contracts with two Commonwealth defence factories for the delivery of tractor parts which the company's factory would assemble. The Government defence factories, it stated, delivered the parts later than the contract specified, and some were so poor in quality that they had to be sent back. Relying on Government contracts, the K.L. company contracted to supply tractors at specified dates. The company claimed that the failure of the Government factories to supply parts at contract time increased their costs.

Herald 15-12-1953   - A winding up petition by the Commonwealth against K.L. tractors will not be considered until next year. The Commonwealth claims that K.L. Tractors should be wound up because it did not pay the debt of  £107,000. The debt was for machine parts made by Commonwealth Ordinance Factories. The company opposed the petition, mainly on the grounds that it has in the High Court a writ for £275,000 damages against the Commonwealth for breach of contract with the manufacture of parts.

Herald 18-12-1953   - "TRACTOR ASSET QUERY" Auditors say certain designs, drawings, technical data, tools, gauges and patterns are valued far less than balance sheet figures.

Herald 21-12-1953   - "TRACTOR CO. MAY NOT MAKE AGAIN" "FUTURE IN DOUBT" It was unlikely tractor production would continue,  this was told at the annual meeting,  also mentioned was the company sold imported "LANZ" tractors for which they had the agency and also did servicing and sold spare parts. The future of the company depended on the outcome of Court proceedings (as mentioned above) The claim against the Government had not been made until six months ago. This was done because the company had hoped to effect an amicable settlement through negotiating with the Commonwealth. This had not been possible.

Age 23-3-1954   -   "PETITION TO WIND UP COMPANY" The Commonwealth Government in the Supreme Court yesterday petitioned for the winding up of K.L. Tractors Ltd. of  Springvale, which it claims owes it  £107,975 for tractor making machinery.   K.L. Tractors has an action awaiting trial in the High Court in which it claims £275,000 damages from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth did not consider the action against it offset the debt K.L. had failed to pay. K.L. Tractors said, the company was formed to make tractors after World War II when tractors were in short supply in Australia The company brought machinery for making tractors from the Commonwealth Munitions department.   Because the department did not want to break up its whole production staff the company contracted to take a supply of essential tractor parts which the department would make. "PARTS FAULTY" In the High Court action the company alleged a large proportion of the tractor parts the department delivered to it were faulty. This slowed up production and caused losses to be made.

Herald 6-5-1954   - "COURT ORDERS WINDING UP" An order for the compulsory winding up of  K.L. Tractors Ltd. was made in the supreme court today, being for tractor components and goods supplied by Government factories between April 1948, and June 1952. (total of £107,975) The debts claimed by the Commonwealth were for component parts and tools for tractors, made at Government factories under two contracts - one for Bendigo and Maribyrnong ordinance works and the other for the Government factory at Sonnerdale.

For further information relating to this unique Australian tractor contact –

Craig Pink
C/- Post Office
Beeac Vic 3251

Text used with permission of courtesy of the "Herald & Weekly Times Ltd."

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