Archives, Kirby Cable Laying Company Ltd ; Kirby, Thomas Anning; 1925-1929; WY.1...


Archives, Kirby Cable Laying Company Ltd

About this object

This is a box of archives pertaining to the Kirby Cable Laying Company Ltd.

In 1926 Joseph Kirby invented a machine to facilitate the laying of underground cables. A syndicate of nine members, comprising mainly Wyndham businessmen was formed, with Mr James Robertson as Secretary and Charles E Davey to attend to the legal requirements. Amongst those who supplied parts and assisted in the construction of the machine were Ernest Lister Garage proprietor, with J C Allison and Alex McMillan both blacksmiths. The machine was designed to lay armoured or lead covered cable underground to a depth easily adjustable between 6 and 23 inches. The machine was drawn by a traction engine which played out the cable from a winder as well as supplying the haulage. The machine accomplished in one hour the work that would have taken 100 man hours to do manually.

By mid 1926 the reputation of the Cable Layer has reached Canada; and in November that year it was sold to the Post & Telegraph office, NZ for about £200.

Negotiations were under way with Canada and Australia for the purchase of machines. However, for some unknown reason the patent rights were not completed and some of the overseas visitors who inspected Mr Kirby's machine then went away and manufactured their own copies.

The original machine is believed to have been left in the yard of the Southland County Council, were it lay abandoned for many years.

The box contains:

Kirby Cable Laying Company, Ltd Share Document 5th August 1927

Copy of a Share Application form for The Kirby Cable Laying Company, Ltd

American Patent Corporations: Two Letters to Mr Joseph Anning Kirby November 25th 1929 and December 9th 1929

International Patent System letter from Ottawa Canada to Mr Kirby and an
Information Sheet regarding Canadian Patents

Extract from Southland Times 21st January 1927 titled: Cable Laying

Newspaper Cutting titled "Successful Invention, New Cable Laying Machine, World's Rights Secured"

Handwritten Paper stating the Dates of Articles in the Wyndham Farmer relating to the Kirby Cable Layer 1925-1927

Account Documents relating to The Kirby Cable Laying Syndicate including Wyndham Motor Garage, Threshing Mill & Chaffcutter Owner, General Carrier for Coal, Blacksmiths, Barrister & Solicitor

Typed Article Regarding Demonstration of The Kirby Cable Laying Machine at Wyndham 5th May 1926 with an explanation of the working of the Machine


Kirby, Thomas Anning

Date Made




Place Made

Oceania, New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Wyndham

Medium and Materials

organic, processed material, vegetal, paper
organic, processed material, vegetal, paper, card
inorganic, processed material, metal, steel


h 10 mm x w 445 mm x d 590 mm

Subject and Association Keywords

People and Families (including births, weddings, deaths)

Subject and Association Keywords

Machinery and Tools

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

Attribution (cc) Attribution (cc)

This object is from

Include tags such as place names, people, dates, events and colours. Use commas to separate multiple tags. e.g. Pablo Picasso, Madrid, red, 1930s.