Southern Cross was Australia’s first pump manufacturer, founded in 1871. From its humble beginnings, when George Washington Griffiths opened an ironmongers shop, the Griffiths family business, later known as the Toowoomba Foundry, has manufactured an extraordinary range of products.
George Griffiths was soon joined in Australia by his brother John Alfred Griffiths, an engineering graduate from Manchester University and the name of the company became Griffiths Bros and Co. In 1874 the brothers bought land at the corner of Ruthven and Campbell streets in Toowoomba for the purpose of expanding. Sometime later a Foundry was built. Additional land was bought from time to time and over 11 acres is now covered by modern factory buildings.
In 1884 the name was changes to Toowoomba Foundry and Railway Rolling Stock Manufacturing Company. In 1922 it was changed to Toowoomba Foundry Co. Ltd and in 1932 to Toowoomba Foundry Pty Ltd, the present name of the manufacturing company.
The Southern Cross Sales organisation comprised a group of companies spread over Australia distributing and servicing the products of Toowoomba Foundry Pty Ltd, under the trade name Southern Cross. Toowoomba Foundry sold its first windmill under the trade name Southern Cross in 1903. This windmill was a new design and was an immediate success. When well boring machines and other stock watering machines were made they also sold as Southern Cross equipment and the so the trading name Southern Cross came to be adopted by the Toowoomba Foundry over a century ago.
The establishment of the original business in 1871 and the development of windmills and associated water storage and handling equipment played an important part in Australia’s early development.
The success of our early pioneering settlers basically came back to a dependence on one vitally important resource, a reliable supply of good quality water. Today’s modern industrial, community and agricultural developments have that same reliance, and even greater demand, for safe, clean and reliable supplies of water.
In the early development the company also manufactured an extended range of products including such things as wool presses, steel railway sleepers, steam boilers, stationary and portable steam engines, dairy equipment, railway rolling stock and steam locomotives for both the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments. Quantities of munitions and appliances used during two world wars, and including hundreds of engines, pumps, air compressors, diesel marine engines and machine tools were manufactured for British Forces in North Africa, Americans for use in the East and for our own Army and Navy.
Southern Cross was acquired by Tyco Flow Control Pacific in late 1999, then in 2002, Tyco relocated Southern Cross to a new world-class manufacturing facility at Withcott near Toowoomba, Queensland. In October 2012, Pentair Water and Tyco Flow merged to become a united business called Pentair.
Pentair also owns the iconic pump brand Onga which was established in 1967 by Don Davey in Tooronga Victoria and starting out as a manufacturer of farm and domestic pumps. Onga remained as a privately owned enterprise until 1986 when it was purchased by Sta-Rite USA. (Sta-Rite was owned by Wicor, part of the Wisconsin Energy Group) It was at this time Sta-Rite moved to their Notting Hill premises and “New Zealand” was formed.
In August 2004, Pentair Water Technologies sold off their Tool Division an acquired WICOR’s (part of the Wisconsin Energy Group) Pump Division and creating Pentair Water. In October 2012, as a result of the Pentair merger, Pentair Onga moved to their new purpose-built manufacturing plant at Dandenong South. The new 6,800sqm facility incorporating the manufacturing, spare parts and research and development projects.