John & David ShearerPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Bryan Cole

The plaque commemorates John and David Shearer who were agricultural machinery manufacturers and inventors. The plaque is located at the site of their former factory. 

In 1877, John and David Shearer set up their forge and began making the implements for Australian farmers.  It was the invitation of Mannum farmers that brought the Shearers to Mannum, and the farmers gave them their full support.  In the early days the surrounding districts of Mannum were densely covered with mallee and pine.  The Shearer Brothers developed several new machines, adding Stump Jump Ploughs to the grubbing machines, fixed ploughs, scarifiers and harrows already being produced. 

Business had increased enormously by 1895.  Shearer strippers were in terrific demand.  The only answer was to enlarge the factory still more and install more plant.  But as they expanded their business the Shearer brothers made still more improvements, and in 1902 a lighter, stronger stripper with a wider cut was made and enthusiastically received by farmers.  Farm wagons too were manufactured at this time.

10 years before Henry Ford in America had built his automobile, David Shearer, at Mannum, had built a steam car with the world’s first differential. 

It was in 1910 that John and David, decided to dissolve partnership.  The businesses at both Kilkenny and Mannum were securely under way, and it was decided that David should continue at Mannum, making harvesting equipment, harrows and plough shares, while John, at Kilkenny, make tillage equipment.

Insistent demands from farmers led to David Shearer taking up the manufacture of stripper harvesters. These machines following the specifications of farmers, were made to stand up to rough conditions and proved very successful, particularly to Mallee farmers.

During World War One, agricultural equipment production reduced as the factory was making war equipment.  David Shearer Limited first placed the header harvester on the market in 1927, and it was an immediate success.  Popularity was such that this type of machine went on to take the major portion of the factory’s capacity in the early 1950s. 

In World War Two, David Shearer Limited had over 300 employees working round the clock to produce vital equipment. 

Becoming a public company in 1952 with an authorised capital of $2 000 000, the development of agricultural machinery progressed through various headers.

In 1968 the first Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design was awarded to David Shearer Limited for the XP88 self-propelled header.


Address:49 Randell Street, Mannum, 5238
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.912137
Long: 139.313743
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People


Front Inscription

In commemoration of the contribution made to the community by John and David Shearer

Site of their former factory

Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au