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Victa rotary lawn-mower
power mower with rotating cutting blade

This is the story of an innovator who turned someone else's great idea into a phenomenal success.

Lawrence Hall, a boat engine builder, invented a rotary blade lawn-mower to cut his parents lawn in 1948. His 'Mowhall' had blades mounted onto a plough disc and used a kerosene tin as the petrol tank, a boat motor and a tubular steel frame. It was so heavy that his son and nephew had to pull it with a rope as well as push it across the lawn.

Mervyn Victor Richardson saw Hall's mower demonstrated in a park in Concord, Sydney and forgot about it. Four years later, he made some cylinder type mowers for his son's part time lawn-mowing business.

Then he tinkered together a lightweight, cheap, prototype rotary-blade lawn-mower with a peach tin for its petrol tank and a two-stroke engine. Word spread and neighbours clamoured for them. It was the ideal machine to take the backbreaking effort out of mowing the rough grass backyards of Sydney's growing suburban sprawl.

Within two years Richardson sold 20 000 Victa brand mowers and had already begun to export them. By 1992 the five millionth Victa had rolled off the assembly line of the world's biggest lawn-mower factory.

Who Did It?
Key Organisations
Victa Pty Ltd : R&D, design, manufacture
Key People
Mervyn Richardson : designer, entrepreneur
Lawrence Hall : inventor

Further Reading
'Mowers and urban myths'
Vin Maskell
The Age, 8 December 1992, p 21.

Victa Home
Victa Patent
GUD Holdings Ltd

Questions & Activities
Victa rotary lawn-mower

An early Victa that could ?turn grass into lawn?. Courtesy Powerhouse Museum. Photo Sue Stafford.
Effective advertising played a big part in Victa?s success. This advertisement is on a tram in front of Customs House at Circular Quay, Sydney. Courtesy Victa, A Division of Sunbeam Corporation.
ATSE Powerhouse Museum