This is the story of an iconic New Zealand company.
The first stirrings of the embryonic engineering enterprise that became CWF Hamilton & Co Ltd began 75 years ago on a high country sheep station at the foot of Mt Cook. At Irishman Creek Station the inventive Kiwi farmer, Bill Hamilton, and his idealistic English wife, Peggy, fashioned an extraordinary community turning rabbiters and farmhands into skilled trades-people.
When Bill Hamilton won the contract to construct an aerodrome at Mt Cook in 1935, the sheep farmer-turned-engineer was on his way to establishing an engineering business eventually to employ 500 people in Christchurch that would leave its mark on the post-War infrastructural development of New Zealand. Yet it was Sir William Hamilton's jet boat hobby that made him internationally renowned. He and his team discovered for themselves the secret to a successful jet boat, one that could tackle the swift-flowing rivers of the South Island. Soon Hamilton's jet was making headlines conquering the Colorado River upstream through the Grand Canyon, river racing in Mexico, re-tracing Stanley's footsteps in Zaire and jetting Sir Edmund Hillary in the sacred Ganges in India.
In the economically turbulent 1980's, CWF Hamilton & Co nearly succumbed like so many companies. To secure its future, the Company morphed from a multi-product heavy engineering business, aimed at the domestic market, to a single product-line manufacturer with a global perspective. That product was not the jet boat but the waterjet propulsion system itself.
The untold story of the Company's success on the world stage from that point on, in competition with Rolls Royce no less, is a salutary lesson in how to make commercial success of Kiwi ingenuity. Hamilton Jet is now the dominant propulsion choice for high-speed oil industry crew boats, navy and coast guard patrol boats, fast ferries and lately offshore windfarm servicing vessels around the world. With millions of dollars of waterjet product leaving the Christchurch factory each week, the legacy and romance of Bill Hamilton lives on.
Dimensions: 152 x 228 mm
Publication Date: 22-09-2014