Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Victa Mowers Pty Ltd

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Victa Mowers Pty Ltd

The Victa lawnmower story began in a shed in Sydney, back in 1952, with a peach can, billycart wheels and a few scraps of metal. Victa Mowers is now a multi-million dollar industry exporting to 30 countries around the world.

The Victa mower was developed by Mervyn Victor Richardson, in August 1952. While it wasn't the first rotary lawnmower ever developed, it was cheaper, lighter and easier to use than the mowers that came before. Its major advantages were its weight and the ease with which it could be manufactured.

A British patent for a rotary lawnmower existed from 1932, and Lawrence Hall built a rotary lawnmower in Sydney in 1948, the Mowhall rotary mower. It was disadvantaged by its weight – it required two people to operate it, one to push and one to pull. Mervyn Richardson saw the Mowhall demonstrated in 1948, and in 1949 when Mervyn's son, Gary, started a mowing business, Mervyn decided to build two lawnmowers for Gary to use.

In August 1952 Mervyn had the idea to put one of the engines on its side to drive a blade rotating in a horizontal plane. He assembled a prototype from a few scraps of metal and a peach tin for a fuel can. The prototype was tested and worked – it cut fine grass, long grass and weeds.

Within two years, Victa had sold 20,000 mowers and was beginning to export them. Mervyn Richardson soon gave up his old job to become full time manager of the business, and moved the company to a shed in Mortlake. The company continued to improve the technology, design and marketing of its products, and sales boomed.

In 1958 the company moved to a new factory, and at the same time began a major advertising campaign, using an all-media approach. Victa pioneered the use of television advertising in both Sydney and Melbourne. A two-minute film called Mowing Places with Victa was distributed to cinemas around the country. During 1959, the slogans 'Turns grass into lawn' and 'Australia's top selling mower' were introduced. These slogans featured in much of Victa's advertising for the next 40 years.

By the start of the twenty-first century, after 50 years of operation, 6.5 million Victa mowers had been sold in 30 countries around the world.