September 1- 7, 2013: Issue 126
Metters – Australian Stoves, Windmills, Baths and more
There is a good stove
And a better stove,
But the best stove
Is a Metters stove
Although many of us think of stoves when we think of Metters, this firm manufactured bathtubs, fireplaces and many other household items, agricultural equipment, washing machines, yes, even the kitchen sink was among their ever expanding product range! They extended their manufacturing into radiogram cabinets, provided kitchenware, field stoves and pontoon bridges during WWII and many of us can recall their wood fire stoves, gas ranges and even the electric stoves they sold, ranges so well made that people are still using them today.
Metters was started by Frederick Metters, born on 14 May 1858 in Melbourne, eighth child of James Metters, a Cornish-born bricklayer, and his wife Susan, née Flux, from the Isle of Wight. Fred may have worked for his father, who by 1869 was employed as a stove setter. He moved to Adelaide and married married Frances Fisher:
METTERS—FISHER.—On the 8th October, 1883, at Clayton Church, Kensington, by the Rev. T. Hope, Frederick, son of the late James Metters, of Melbourne, Victoria, to Frances, daughter of Mr. I. Fisher, late of Norwood, S.A. Family Notices. (1908, October 8).The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 6. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5191144
Their first son was born soon after:
METTERS.—On the 18th July, at Rose Park, the wife of Frederick Metters, of a son. Both doing well. Family Notices. (1884, July 22).The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article35964297
He took the family returning to Melbourne for a while as he established his stove manufacturing business in 1891. An early experience set the tone for the whole of his career as he became renowned for improving and patening his products prior to their release ever after:
Patent Case. — The Commissioner of Patents on April 2 sealed letters patent for an invention entitled 'Improvements in the Construction of Ovens or Ranges for Cooking Purposes,71 for which application was made by Mr. Frederick Metters, of the firm of Metters Brothers, of 269, Post-Office-place, Melbourne, kitchen range manufacturers. The advantages claimed by the invention are that it permits great economy of fuel and easy regulation of -the heat in addition to being ready movable through being self-contained. These advantages are obtained by causing the heat to travel with a slow draught from a fire-box placed on the top down the whole of both sides and over the whole of the bottom and back of the cooking chamber. The regulation of the heat is accomplished in connection with such arrangement of the flues by providing the firebox with Eliding doors, by means of which the draught can be made slow or quick, as desired. The application was opposed by Mr Matthew V. Adams, and the hearing of the objection held on February 25, 26, and 27 was adjourned in order that the specification might be intended. The adjourned hearing was held on Monday, March 28, the applicant (Mr. Frederick Metters) being again represented by Mr. Francis H. Snow, and the objector Mr. Matthew v. Adams by Mr. C. N. Collison. Mr. Snow reported the amendment of the specification, and that, as ordered, a copy had been supplied to Mr. Collison, acting for the objector. The Commissioner stated that letters patent would be sealed, but that as the specification had been amended he allowed costs to the objector. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY. (1891, April 8). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48098330
Those persons who intend to enjoy good cheer at Christmas combined with roast beef and plum puddings, must necessarily be anxious to know the best means of cooking those luxuries, and if they look in at Mr. F. Metters' stove department in Hay-street, they will soon be able to select a-range to suit their requirements. In this establishment which, by the way, is a branch of the firm established in Adelaide, they can make choice from a small self contained stove to the more elaborate 8ft. range. In fact, to be guilty of a vile pun, they have a wide range of stoves from which to make a selection. Mr. Metters appears to have reduced stove-making to a science. He aims to provide the largest amount of cooking space with the smallest expenditure of fuel, and in this, judging by the specimens we saw, he has admirably succeeded. The improved ovens, which burn wood, are so constructed that a good bottom heat is obtained, an important consideration with cooks, especially when one has to brown potatoes under a joint or cook a Yorkshire pudding. That the-firm anticipate a large business in thiscolony is evidenced by the fact that they are now erecting a foundry at West Perth, where they will not only be able to cast all the iron work for their own stores, that do general foundry business for builders and others. The establishment of this industry, in Perth will mean the employment of a large number of men, and as a natural corollary the expenditure of money amongst our local tradesmen.. Some idea of the favor in which these stoves are held by housewives and the general public can be formed from a statement that no less than 1,500 are now in use in the colony. The stoves are used extensively at Coolgardie and all over the goldfields and give general satisfaction. Another novelty which will be greatly appreciated by those having to undertake the weekly wash, is the improved Western washing machine. This is a most ingenious apparatus, which reduces the hard work of a heavy day's washing to a minimum. The clothes after being soaked are placed in the machine which is filled with hot water, and by the application of a patent lever handle for eight minutes the articles come out beautifully clean. The patent is really the introduction of the old Lancashire dolly, cleverly applied. The firm have on hand a good selection of tailor's and heating stoves, and to the housekeeper an inspection of their various appliances will well repay a visit. FRED METTERS. (1895, December 27). The Inquirer & Commercial News (Perth, WA : 1855 - 1901), p. 4. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72376272
Rundle street, Adelaide, Metters - courtesy Satte libray of south austalia, image no B1278
Production and distribution of Metters equipment was expanded to Perth, Western Australia, in 1894 where Metters formed a partnership with Henry Spring (1864–1937), and then to Sydney, New South Wales in 1902. They did everything, and although both gentlemen started with nothing, they established empires:
FRED. METTERS and CO., Ornamental and General Ironfounders, engineers, Coppersmiths, etc. Columns, Frieze Brackets, Panels, and all kinds of Builders' Ironwork. Quotations given. Catalogues free on application. Showroom : Corner Hay and William sts., Perth. , Classified Advertising. (1899, October 31). The West Australian(Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3237756
Mr Metters patented and manufactured a number of appliances including the 'top-fire' fuel stoves. The popular 'Metters Improved Stove No 2.' used an enclosed wood fire to heat a hob above and an oven below. Pots and pans could be exposed to direct heat by removing small plates recessed in the cooking surface. Metters also produced a large variety of other wood stoves. The Metters Adelaide foundry manufactured the: 'Beacon Light'; 'New Improved'; 'Barossa'; 'Royal'; 'Dover'; 'Bega'; and 'Wilga' wood stoves. The Metters Sydney foundry maufactured the: 'Beacon Light'; 'Dover; 'Bega'; 'Canberra'; 'Empress'; 'Regina'; 'Herald'; 'Newcastle'; 'Samson'; 'Edford'; 'Capitol'; 'Shearer'; 'Royal'; 'New Royal'; 'Improved'; 'Crawford'; and 'Early Kooka' wood stoves.
Mr. Fred. Metters is making a very complete show of stoves and ranges of his own manufacture. Over 15,000 of these stoves have been sold in South Australia alone. He also exhibits steel wind motors in three sizes, 8 ft., 10ft., and 12 ft., connected with tanks of water. There are also a number of household requisites.
And in the same article. Listing exhibitors at the Horticultural and Royal Agricultural Society, which gave him an award in 1899:
Messrs. A Simpson and Son are the only makers of vitreous enamelware in the southern hemisphere, and deserve much credit for their enterprise and energy. A number of plates and signs are shown, which attest the progress the firm has made in this manufacture. Before long both here, as in England, brass office plates will be almost wholly abandoned for enamel, which, besides being cheaper, is much more easily kept clean. General News. (1899, March 4). Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87787726
Mr Metters toured every agricultural show there was, not nly establishing his prime products but manufacturing agircultural equipment as well;
FRED. METTERS & CO., of PERTH, ADELAIDE & SYDNEY.
An Enterprising Firm. Specialists in Ironwork.
AS an instance of the benefits to the Commonwealth produced by a protective policy, we may well point with pride to the manufacturing firm of Messrs. Fred. Metters and Co., whose Corner of Mantelpiece and Register Grate Department name has become a household word throughout the length and breadth of Australia. The reputation which they gained by the placing on the market of one-fire stoves was great, and since then the firm has been continually extending its operations, until, at the present time, they are the leading stove manufacturers in Australia. They have works in three States, at Perth. Adelaide, and Sydney, and directly support at least1,000 people. The Perth works extend over an area of four acres at West Perth, and the buildings cover a floor space of46,000 square feet. The illustrations on this page are evidences of the advancement made by Messrs. Metters since their establishment in this State. The view showing portion of their bulk store and despatching room gives a good idea of some of their manufactures. Each year this firm deals a fresh blow at the imported article, on the example set by manufacturers in the New World. This year two new stoves, the "Dover" and the "Beacon Light," to suit the Australian markets, have been added to their lists. Messrs. Metters and Co. act on the best lines in confining their efforts to the manufacture of as few lines as possible, believing that success in manufacturing is achieved by "specialising." They, therefore, confine their business to supplying the Australian public with cooking and heating appliances, wind-mills, tanks, etc., and to the manufacture of ornamental ironwork. In these lines the firm are undoubtedly in the lead of all others.
Another of our illustrations shows one of their little 6-ft. Doris wind-mills supplying two of their patent squatters' tanks. These particular tanks each have a capacity of 4.000 gallons, but they make all sizes from 3,000 to 30,000 gallons, and are most ingeniously constructed, in as much as they can be taken to pieces and re-erected by unskilled labour, and will cover little space in transport. The tank on the left of the picture has simply a clay bottom: the other, on the stand, which is filled with sand, the object being to raise the tank for troughing purposes, has an iron bottom. The firm has just taken out a patent for the manner in which the bottom of this tank is connected with the body.
In South Australia. Messrs. Metters and Co. now do three-fourths of the windmill trade, having successfully competed against American competition. In this State, so far, America has been supplying most of the windmills, the product of the Yankee having obtained a big hold before the above firm were able to lay down their plant. But now, however, this period is drawing to an end, owing to the local manufacturer's ability to produce an article as good and cheap as that imported from other countries. Messrs. Metters and Co. may well be congratulated on their success.
Perth Showrooms, William-street. Perth.Perth Works, Manpiis-street, West Perth.
Adelaide Showrooms, 142 Rundle-street. Adelaide.
Adelaide Works, Mile End. West Adelaide.
Sydney Showrooms, Bathurst-street. Sydney.
Sydney Works, Alice-st.. Newtown, Sydney.
Portion of Bulk Store and Despatching1 Room.
FRED. METTERS & CO., of PERTH, ADELAIDE & SYDNEY. (1904, December 25). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), p. 45. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37805814
The expansion and ability to offer other services for builders and a wide range of products enable Fred Metters to take his family overseas on frequent occasions
BUSINESS MEN OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA.MR. FRED METTERS. The well-known Ironmonger. who left for a trip to England last week. Hammer & Co., photo. BUSINESS MEN OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA. (1905, April 15).Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), p. 25. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88420882
MR. and Mrs. Frederick Metters and the Misses Muriel and Dora Metters,- who arrived in London recently, having travelled by the Orient liner Orontes, are for the time being doing London's lions from head-quarters at the Bedford Hotel, Bloomsbury. LONDON PERSONAL NOTES. (1909, June 8). The Advertiser(Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5728604
METTERS—REES.—On the 18th July, at the Methodist Church, Williamstown, by the Rev. H. W. Frederic, Frederick Hubert, eldest son of Frederick Metters, Esq., West Adelaide, to Lorna Crissie, eldest daughter of Mr. Joseph Rees, Williamstown, Victoria. Family Notices. (1906, August 11). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 6. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57019245
MELLOR-METTERS.-ON the 28th February, at St. Luke's Church, Whitmore square, by the Rev. W. G. Marsh, Stanley Charles, third son of John F. Mellor, Fulham, to Frances Muriel, eldest daughter of F. Metters, Rose Park. METTERS-SMITH.-On the 21st March, at the Congregational Church, Henley Beach, by the Rev. P. Watson, Stanley Harry, second son of F. Metters, Rose Park, to Gladys Irene, only daughter of Mrs. K. Smith, and the late W. G. Smith, of Henley Beach. Family Notices. (1912, May 16). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59066096
The range Frederick Metters is most well known for is his 'Kooka' enamelled stoves:
THE ENAMELLING INDUSTRY. Large Extension by Metters, Ltd. Metters, Ltd., stove manufacturer and ironfounder, whose works are situated at Subiaco, will proceed immediately with the installation of an up-to-date enamelling plant which, with the necessary building extension, will cost about £10,000.The new plant will enable the production of mottled enamelled gas and woodstoves, all classes of enamelled castings, and sheet metal work, including refrigeration cabinet linings and outside sheets, advertising signs, name and numberplates, and enamelled hollow-ware. The new industry, it is stated, will employ a large number of male and female workers. The one-storey building to be erected, which will measure 200ft. by 80ft., will have a steel frame, iron and brick walls, and concrete floors, and will be completed in about two months. As soon as the floor is finished the company will install the furnace, and when that is ready it will put in the plant, a task that will occupy another month. The building will house several spraying booths, a large fuel-heated furnace (or muffle), a large drying room, a sand blast unit, and a compressed air plant. A contract was recently let for the Subiaco Municipal Council to install electric transformers at the company's works, where a new office will also be erected. Minister's Appreciation. The Minister for Industrial Development (Mr. A. R. G. Hawke), expressing gratification at the enterprise of Metters,Ltd., said yesterday that the further extension of industry in this State should be the means of providing employment, apart from the Government's activity, which was mostly on a part-time basis. Only by the extension of our industries could the problem of unemployment be permanently solved. THE ENAMELLING INDUSTRY. (1936, November 7). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40975395
The Metters company introduced the 'Early Kooka' range of gas cooking appliances in 1936 as shown in the page from the National Library of Australia's catalougue below. The name of this oven, punning on 'cooker', was emblazoned over the enamelled image of a kookaburra gobbling a worm. Metters Limited was acquired by Email Limited in 1974, which continued to market electric and gas kitchen cookers under the Metters brand name, but was eventually phased-out in the mid-1980s.
Enamel was first applied commercially to sheet iron and steel in Austria and Germany in about 1850. Industrialization increased as the purity of raw materials increased and costs decreased. The wet application process started with the discovery of the use of clay to suspend frit in water. Developments that followed during the 20th Century include enameling-grade steel, cleaned-only surface preparation, automation, and ongoing improvements in efficiency, performance, and quality. The word enamel comes the High German word 'smelzan' later becoming 'esmail' in Old French. Hence the current usage of 'smalto' in Italian, 'email' in French and German and 'enamel' in English.
Right: Metters electric stove, circa 1930, courtesy Museum of Victoria
A quick scan of online forums show many others around Australia still have working treasured versions. Now ranging from $50.00 to over a thousand dollars, these Australian made stoves have become an iconic byword for quality and a product built to last. As with so many Australian originators and their stories, tracking down definitive information on the products was easier then the man who ensured thousands of people were employed and products unequalled in quality were designed, manufactured and found in just about every Australian home.
Both Frederick Metters and Henry Soring passed away in 1937. Mr Metters with a simple:
METTERS. —On the 25th of September, at a private hospital. Frederick Metters. aged 79 years.Family Notices. (1937, September 27). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article30780342
Mr Spring, residing by now at Mosman:
INDUSTRIALIST'S DEATH. The Late Mr. H. L. Spring.
The death of Mr. Henry Langdon Spring, which occurred at Sydney on April 21, has removed one of the captains of industry in Australia and a pioneer of Western Australia. Born in London in1864, the late Mr. Spring arrived in Perth in 1894, and came in contact with Mr. Fred Metters, who had commenced manufacturing cooking stoves In a small way in Adelaide. At the time of the influx of population due to the West Australian discoveries of gold, Mr. Spring opened a branch in Perth with a capital of about £160, and established the small West Perth foundry that has grown to the present works at Subiaco. A branch was later formed in Sydney. In 1908 Mr. Spring purchased the interest of his former partner and formed a limited liability company. Metters, Ltd., with him-self as managing director. This position he held uninterruptedly until his death, in addition to being chairman and managing director of General Industries,Ltd.
Although residing in Sydney for some years, Mr. Spring retained his interest in Western Australia and made frequent visits. As managing director of Roy Hill and Marillana stations, he was prominent in the West Australian pastoral industry, and pioneered motor transport of cattle to Meekatharra. He continually advocated better main roads for opening up the country. Under his guidance, the small partnership formed in Perth in 1894-which employed five or six hands-has grown to the present organisation with branches in all States of the Commonwealth (except Tasmania) and in New Zealand. The original capital of about £160 has grown to nearly £1,000,000.INDUSTRIALIST'S DEATH. (1937, May 27). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), p. 26. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37824658
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