John Furphy

John Furphy (1842 – 1920) farming machinery manufacturer, inventor, lay preacher
furphy2 With his piety and strong sense of duty, John Furphy was prominent in Shepparton affairs. The first religious service in Shepparton was held by the United Free Methodists in his cottage behind the blacksmith’s shop in 1873. In his thirty-five years of unbroken association with the Methodist Church in Shepparton he filled every office open to laymen and was well known as an effective preacher.


John Furphy (1842-1920), engineering blacksmith, was born on 17 June 1842 at Moonee Ponds, Victoria.

In 1864 he set up as a blacksmith in Kyneton and stayed there until 1873 when he moved to the newly surveyed township of Shepparton in the Goulburn valley, where he opened the first blacksmith’s and wheelwright’s shop.

One of his patents was a grain stripper which won first prize at the Grand National Show in 1884 and had a wide sale before the manufacture of the combine harvester. At the International Exhibition in 1888-89 his entry of a grain-stripping machine, a furrow plough and iron swingletrees was among those gaining the highest possible award.

Furphy’s most distinctive product was a simple invention which he never patented: a watercart with a 180-gallon (818 litres) cylindrical iron tank, mounted horizontally on a horse-drawn wooden frame with cast-iron wheels. The name Furphy was painted in large capitals on both sides of the tank. These carts, generally known as furphies, were ideal for the transport of water on farms, and an estimated average of 300 were produced annually for about forty years. They were used in large numbers by the Australian army in World War I. Drivers of the carts were noted for spreading gossip, and in time furphy became a synonym for idle rumour.

With his piety and strong sense of duty, John Furphy was prominent in Shepparton affairs. The first religious service in Shepparton was held by the United Free Methodists in his cottage behind the blacksmith’s shop in 1873. In his thirty-five years of unbroken association with the Methodist Church in Shepparton he filled every office open to laymen and was well known as an effective preacher. Even his watercarts reflected his moral earnestness. Cast in the metal of one end was a rhymed exhortation to do one’s best, and above it an inscription in shorthand warning of strong drink and urging the reader to stick to water.
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/furphy-john-3584

That Pitman’s Shorthand caption is shown on this tank image below.

The Pitman’s Shorthand across the centre of this tank reads, “Water is the gift of God, but beer and whiskey are concoctions of the devil, come and have a drink of water”

See also
http://www.furphys.com.au/history14.html

and
http://bytesdaily.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/aussie-slang-furphy.html

Furphy water tanks at Gallipoli : https://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/john-simpson-kirkpatrick/

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