This website has been archived and is no longer updated.

The content featured is no longer current and is being made available to the general public for research and historical information purposes only.
About Students and teacherslinks and references Australia Innovates
A century of innovationThe Innovation cycleThe innovation game
The best of the century What is innovation? Overview Timeline Test your AIQ
Humespun pipe
concrete pipe made by centrifugal casting

Sewerage and water-supply systems are a hidden but essential part of urban living and a field of constant innovation.

The first European Australians built brick-lined sewers and aqueducts and used pipes made of wood or terracotta, essentially 2000-year-old technology. But these old methods proved too expensive and slow for rapidly expanding suburbs that were a long way from water reservoirs and dams.

In 1910 Walter Hume perfected a method for making steel-reinforced concrete pipes. He showed that if concrete was pumped into a spinning, cylindrical mould lined with reinforcing mesh, centrifugal force flung it evenly around the sides and squeezed out the water. The resulting pipes were very dense, waterproof, strong and relatively lightweight.

Walter and his brother formed a company to manufacture spun concrete pipes for sewage and drainage. The Hume brothers invested the profits from their pipes and culverts into research and development to improve the design of the products and the quality of the manufacturing processes.

Humes' was one of the earliest Australian manufacturing companies to set up factories and distribution networks in all Australian states and overseas. Hume's company and its licensees have made Humespun concrete pipes on every continent ever since.

Who Did It?
Key Organisations
Hume Bros Cement and Iron Company Ltd : R&D, design, manufacture
Key People
Walter Hume : inventor, company founder
Ernest Hume : company founder

Further Reading
Making it: innovation and success in Australia's industries
R Renew
Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 1993.

Technology in Australia 1788-1988, ATSE
Spun concrete pipe patent example

Questions & Activities
Humespun pipe

Related Innovations
RibLoc pipe

Humespun pipes on horse and cart making their way to the Gold Coast. Courtesy CSR Humes Pty Ltd.
Concrete being delivered into a spinning mould lined with reinforced steel mesh. Courtesy CSR Humes Pty Ltd.
A Hume employee strikes a pose inside a 2.1 m diameter concrete pipe, at the time the world?s biggest. Courtesy CSR Humes Pty Ltd.
In 1929 as this advertisement shows, Hume pipes had the world pipe market in its grasp. Courtesy CSR Humes Pty Ltd.
ATSE Powerhouse Museum