Early History References – Fred Wolseley - A Man of Many Parts by Ian Itter
Later Engine Development - Wolseley Stationary Engines by Mr David Edgington

Wolseley stationary engines were produced from 1909 up until 1974. The company producing them was the Wolseley Engineering Ltd, formerly known as the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machinery Company - Ltd abbreviated to WSSMC-Ltd. The WSSMC was founded in 1889 by Frederick York Wolseley in Sydney, Australia.

Fred Wolseley was an Australian pastoralist who immigrated to Australia from his birth country of Ireland. Born in 1837 Fred was seventeen years old when he arrived in Melbourne in 1854. His early years were spent on sheep stations in western NSW where he realised the need for a mechanised tool to replace the traditional hand shearing blade tools of the time.

  In 1867, Fred along with others worked years on producing a reliable shearing machine which could be sold to the many sheep stations of Australia. Early designs though patented, were unsuccessful and proved unreliable. This continued until 1885 when he along with John Howard produced the first "satisfactory" shearing machine. Patents continued but in 1888 manufacturing costs were so expensive in Australia that Messrs. Brown and Company in English were contracted to continue production.
So successful were these machines that orders outstripped supply and in 1887 the WSSMC was formed in Sydney.

In 1889 Fred Wolseley sold his sheep shearing company to British interests and he took the role as managing director (a position he held until his dismissal in 1894). Build quality of the shearing hand pieces produced at Brown and Co. and CG Bonehill of Birmingham deteriorated and in 1892 the Wolseley board purchased property at Broad St in Birmingham to experiment with other areas. This factory became known as the Cumberland Works and Herbert Austin (who later becomes the car magnate) currently employed by the WSSMC in Australia returned to England to become the Works manager. In 1893 Austin developed a two cylinder steam engine to power the shearing equipment which up until that time had been horse driven. Deciding to manufacture the shearing hand pieces "in house" a new factory was established at Alma St, Birmingham in 1894 and becomes known as the "Sydney" works. Shearing hand piece production commenced here in 1895 under Herbert Austin’s supervision. At this time the firm JC Dalman was commissioned to manufacture various engine parts for WSSMC Ltd’s early steam and oil engines they (read Austin) were developing to power the shearing equipment.

At this time and in great secrecy, Herbert Austin produced the third Wolseley motor vehicle the Autocar No 1 (the first and second having been also designed by Austin based on an existing French design) and the Sydney works continued development in areas other than shearing equipment, including bicycles, bicycle parts, tools and tooling equipment. The Wolseley board soon realised that the automobile division was outgrowing them and their ability to finance its expansion.  
(side note here - Frederick York Wolseley, creator of the Wolseley name dies virtually penniless on the 8th of January 1899 in Penge, London from cancer – he has no children) In 1901 the Wolseley board accepts an offer from Vickers Sons and Maxim Ltd for their automobile and tooling patents and the Wolseley Machine Tool and Motor Car Company (a subsidiary of WSSMC Ltd) is transferred to them without any relation to the WSSMC Ltd with the exception that Herbert Austin manages this new company until 1906. WSSMC Ltd continues with the manufacture of sheep shearing equipment and in 1902 branches into manufacturing Cream Separators. In 1906 the company began supplying electrically driven sheep shearing machines and in 1907 also various agricultural pieces of equipment.

  In 1909 the first "true" Wolseley Portable Stationary Engine was produced following in 1911 by their first 3HP stationary engine.
The company continued producing stationary engines, sometimes to drive their shearing and cream separation units and their lighting sets, but more frequently for general farm use. The progression of the range of engines produced can be found on our "Model Range" pages. Wolseley stopped production of sheep shearing sets in 1965 with the last units being sold in Australia in 1969. (these last units were found during the clean out of RA Listers St Peters works in Sydney) Engine production continued until 1974 when the last engine rolled off the production line. The Wolseley company is still in existence today but in disparate fields including Heating and Cooling.