Wool specimen, stud ram 'Lord Welcome', bred by Augustus Lucian Faithfull, Springfield, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia, 1904
The wool collection held by the Powerhouse Museum contains thousands of wool samples collected between 1804 and 2003. These samples provide a record of wool growing in Australia. The different fleeces reflect the breeding programs and environmental conditions under which the fleeces were grown and, as such, they provide a valuable history of the areas of Australia in which sheep were grazed.
Sheep were introduced into Australia in 1788 from Cape Town in South Africa. Since then sheep from other countries, including the Spanish Merino were imported into Australia and selectively crossbred. Careful crossbreeding, paying particular attention to the impact of the environment on both animal and fleece, led to the evolution of the Australian Merino. It is an excellent example of the engineering, through selective breeding, of a domestic animal. Wool went on to become the mainstay of the Australian Economy from 1807 to 1960.
This particular wool specimen comes from a sheep bred at Springfield station near Goulburn in New South Wales. Springfield was established in 1838 by William Faithfull with 960 mixed aged ewes from Camden Park, near Menagle in New South Wales. In 1835 Faithfull bought twenty Saxon rams from Collaroy station and he continued to buy the best Saxon and Spanish rams, favouring the Saxon type for its very fine wool. Lucian Faithfull became the studmaster in 1871 and was a skilled sheep man who began selectively breeding the flock. In 1888 he used a stud ram from California, in the United States, that proved highly successful. This ram, San Joachim, transformed the Springfield flock creating a large-bodied sheep with a fine quality of long wool perfectly suited to the wool combing machines of the time. Springfield developed into a station in the same class as Wanganella and became a hugely influential stud throughout Australia.
Charles Massy. 'The Australian Merino', Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Victoria, 1990.
In 1890 Alfred Hawkesworth, honorary wool-classer to the Museum, noted the following about this flock:
This stud flock was first formed in the year 1838 by William Pitt Faithfull, who purchased ten rams from James and William Macarthur's Camden Park flock, and therefore the progeny of the first pure-bred Spanish merino introduced into Australia, which were presented to Captain John Macarthur by George III in the year 1800. In the early history of Australian merinos, culling and classing were not much though of or practised; and the owner, to improve his flocks, purchased annually ten rams from the following pure merino breeders- Messrs Edward Cox, Jas Riley, and NP Badgery, so that this flock for forty-four years has had nothing but the best merino blood. In 1871, Mr A. Lucian Faithfull undertook the management of the Springfield flocks, and began by classing for two purposes- 1st, a high type of merino to produce quality and density; 2nd, a deeper or stronger and longer style of wool; and our of the flock of 4,500 Springfield ewes, selected for No 1, 63; and for No 2, 82, and these have been kept separate ever since. In 1872 the sixty-three high class stud ewes were mated with a ram (No 43) bred by the late Hon E. King Cox, purchased at Rawdon, 1870, and a descendant of that famous Prussian Silesian sire "Prince Lichwoski"; and from this strain, to a great extent, comes the present fineness and density so noticeable in the Springfield wool. The ewes from this cross were mated to a "Lue" ram purchased from James Riley Esq, and in 1875 to stud ram No 01, bred by E.D. Antill Esq, which was sired by a David Taylor ram which cost originally in Sydney 105 pounds, the dam of No 01 being a pure Bayly or Cox ewe. This ram in 1878 was replaced by No 3 "Viscount", bred by James Gibson, Bellevue, Tasmania, and himself a prize taker, taking Champion two years in succession at Yass, NSW, and whose offspring took twenty-eight first prizes and seven second. The Springfield extra stud flock now numbered 143 of the highest class of wool, combined with weight; and in 1877 there were further introduced twenty stud ewes from the St Johnstone stock, bred by David Taylor, Tasmania, and at this time these ewes and progeny number 115.
In the same year also twenty stud rams were purchased from the well known Tasmanian breeders Messrs James Gibson and son WH Gibson, and H Gatenby, and the best of these "Viscount" and "Noble" were used in the extra stud. And the remainder) with the exception of three sold) were used in the second stud flock. "Noble" took first prize in Sydney 1878. In 1879 that grand ram "Duke of Richmond" bred by Mr Toosey, which was placed second for Champion's Cup in Tasmania, was used, and for length, quality, and quantity of wool was highly commended. In 1881 the owner made a still more important addition by importing from Messrs W. Gibson and Son, Scone, Tasmania, that splendid stud ram "Grand Prince" which, after serving 213 stud ewes, took Champion Prize at Goulburn, and was purchased by R.C. Cooper at auction for 490 guineas. More classic rams were added in the year 1883, purchased from Messrs W. Gibson and son- "Royal Duke Third" 325 guineas; and "Prince Victor" 235 guineas. The eighty-two strong woolled ewes were mated in 1872 to No 32. No 32 was a stronger type of wool than No 43 although from the same flock, bred by the late Hon E. King Cox. In 1874 a son of No 32 was used. In 1877 a David Taylor ram, No 5 "Trojan" was introduced, which was purchased in 1877 at Messrs Mort and Co's sales in Sydney, and was the largest framed and most heavily woolled ram sent from Tasmania that year, his fleece weighing 16 1/8 lbs, 16 ½ lbs, and 17 ½ lbs three years in succession, twelve months growth, grass-fed only, and heavily used at stud. In 1879 and 1880 sons of "Trojan" were used, and in 1882 a Canowie stud ram was tried as an experiment with thirty strong woolled ewes; but this was an entire failure.
The Springfield sheep have been great prize takers. The following may be especially mentioned, viz: Six firsts and two second prizes for wool at Sydney Metropolitan Agricultural Society, New South Wales; Honourable Mention, Paris Exhibition, 1878, for wool; Certificate of Merit at Goldsbrough Exhibition of Merino Wool, 1878, for the most valuable fifty fleeces; seventy-five prizes at Murrumbidgee Pastoral and Agricultural Society, Wagga Wagga, 1884-1887, and Gold Medal, Centennial Exhibition, Sydney, 1888.
Alfred Hawkesworth, Technological Museum, Sydney, Descriptive Catalogue No 1. Raw wools and specimens to illustrate the woollen manufacture. Sydney Government Printer. 1890.
Sire, 'Lord Nelson' by 'Premier II' by 'Premier I' by 'San Joachin'.
Originally donated by P A Jamieson, Barnaby, Taralga, New South Wales, 1904.
This wool specimen is part of the Bill Montgomery Wool Collection which consists of approximately 7000 samples. In the older part of the collection there are 5000 samples from Australian sheep fleeces grown between 1856 and 1906. The samples were collected by the Museum at a time when scientific research was prominent in the Museum's activities. In 1979, when the Museum's focus changed, most of its wool collection was transferred to the teaching collection of Mr Bill Montgomery, a wool classing teacher at Newcastle Technical College. When Bill retired from the College, the collection was again in danger of being thrown away. He took the entire collection home and stored it in his garage for 15 years. His Collection also contains approximately 1500 wool samples grown between 1950 and 2000 and collected by Bill himself. It includes 147 examples of faults and stains occurring in Australian flocks, 20 pigmented wools and 33 rare and extinct breeds from around the world. The Museum purchased the entire collection in 2003. Bill Montgomery died on 7th July, 2007.