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George Methven (1938-1928)

The South Dunedin plumbing manufacturer who made his own motor car

George Methven's CarGeorge Methven rose from humble origins in Dundee, Scotland, to found a major Dunedin engineering firm. He emigrated to New Zealand as an assisted migrant in 1874. With a strong engineering background in Britain he had no trouble finding work. For several years he was the foreman at the Reid and Gray foundry in Oamaru. Then in 1886 he set up his own engineering business from a workshop in the back of his home at Goodall Street in Caversham.

Ten successful years later Methven moved to Crawford Street and established a substantial engineering plant. In 1910 he moved again, this time to Andersons Bay Road, where the business expanded to employ over 100 workers. The company specialised in taps and other light castings for plumbers including a popular copper boiler guaranteed not to stain clothes. Methven was a clever man, constantly developing his products to lessen work in the home. He was also fascinated by the new technology of the automobile. In 1903 he indulged this interest by building himself a car -the first locally made car in Dunedin.

(Photograph Otago Settlers Museum Collection)

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