Historical information

Langlands Company History:

Langlands foundry was Melbourne's first foundry and iron shipbuilder established in 1842, only 8 years after the founding of the Victorian colony by two Scottish immigrants, Robert Langlands and Thomas Fulton, who had formed a partnership before emigrating (1813–1859). The business was known as the 'Langlands Foundry Co'.

Henry Langlands (1794-1863), left Scotland in 1846 with his wife Christian, née Thoms, and five surviving children to join his brother Robert. By the time he arrived in early January of 1847 the partnership of Robert Langlands and Fulton had dissolved as Fulton had gone off to establish his own works. It was at this time that the two brothers took over ownership of Langlands foundry. Several years later Robert retired and Henry became sole the proprietor.

The foundry was originally located on Flinders Lane between King and Spencer streets. Their sole machine tool, when they commenced as a business, was a small slide rest lathe turned by foot. In about 1865 they moved to the south side of the Yarra River, to the Yarra bank near the Spencer Street Bridge and then in about 1886 they moved to Grant Street, South Melbourne.

The works employed as many as 350 workers manufacturing a wide range of marine, mining, civil engineering, railway and general manufacturing components including engines and boilers. The foundry prospered despite high wages and the lack of raw materials. It became known for high-quality products that competed successfully with any imported articles. By the time Henry retired, the foundry was one of the largest employers in Victoria and was responsible for casting the first bell and lamp-posts in the colony. The business was carried on by his sons after Henry's death.

The company was responsible for fabricating the boiler for the first railway locomotive to operate in Australia, built-in 1854 by Robertson, Martin & Smith for the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company. Also in the 1860s, they commenced manufacture of cast iron pipes for the Board of Works, which was then laying the first reticulated water supply system in Melbourne.

Langlands was well known for its gold mining equipment, being the first company in Victoria to take up the manufacture of mining machinery, and it played an important role in equipping Victoria's and Australia's first mineral boom in the 1850s and 1860s.

Langlands Foundry was an incubator for several engineers including Herbert Austin (1866–1941) who worked as a fitter at Langlands and went on to work on the Wolesely Shearing machine. He also founded the Austin Motor Company in 1905. Around the 1890s Langlands Foundry Co. declined and was bought up by the Austral Otis Co. in about 1893.

History for Grimoldi:

John Baptist Grimoldi was born in London UK. His Father was Domeneck Grimoldi, who was born in Amsterdam with an Italian Father and Dutch mother. Domeneck was also a scientific instrument maker. John B Grimoldi had served his apprenticeship to his older brother Henry Grimoldi in Brooke Street, Holburn, London and had emigrated from England to Australian to start his own meteorological and scientific instrument makers business at 81 Queens St Melbourne. He operated his business in 1862 until 1883 when it was brought by William Samuel and Charles Frederick, also well known scientific instrument makers who had emigrated to Melbourne in 1875.

John Grimoldi became successful and made a number of high quality measuring instruments for the Meteorological Observatory in Melbourne.


The barometer was installed at Warrnambool old jetty and then the Breakwater as part of the Victorian Government's insistence that barometers be placed at all major Victorian ports. This coastal barometer is representative of barometers that were installed through this government scheme that began in 1866.

The collecting of meteorological data was an important aspect of the Melbourne Observatory's work from its inception. Just as astronomy had an important practical role to play in navigation, timekeeping and surveying, so the meteorological service provided up to date weather information and forecasts that were essential for shipping and agriculture. As a result, instruments made by the early instrument makers of Australia was of significant importance to the development and safe trading of companies operating during the Victorian colonies early days. The provenance of this artifact is well documented and demonstrates, in particular, the importance of the barometer to the local fishermen and mariners of Warrnambool.
This barometer is historically significant for its association with Langlands’ Foundry which pioneered technology in the developing colony by establishing the first ironworks in Melbourne founded in 1842. Also, it is significant for its connection to John B Grimoldi who made the barometer and thermometer housed in the cast iron case. Grimoldi, a successful meteorological and scientific instrument maker, arrived in the colony from England and established his business in 1862 becoming an instrument maker to the Melbourne Observatory.
Additional significance is its completeness and for its rarity, as it is believed to be one of only two extant barometers of this type and in 1986 it was moved to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village as part of its museum collection.

Physical description

Coast Barometer No. 8 is a tall, red painted cast iron pillar containing a vertical combined barometer and thermometer. Half way down in the cast iron framed glass door is a keyhole. Inside is a wooden case containing a mercury barometer at the top with a thermometer attached underneath, each with a separate glass window and a silver coloured metal backing plate. Just below the barometer, on the right-hand side, is a brass disc with a hole for a gauge key in the centre. The barometer has a silvered tin backing plate with a scale, in inches, of "27 to 31" on the right side and includes a Vernier with finer markings, which is set by turning the gauge key. The thermometer has a silvered tin backing plate with a scale on the left side of "30 to 140". Each of the scales has markings showing the units between the numbers.

Inscriptions & markings

Inscription at the top front of the pillar reads "COAST BAROMETER" Inscribed on the bottom of the pillar is "No 8". and "LANGLANDS BROS & CO ENGINEERS MELBOURNE "
The barometer backing plate is inscribed "COAST BAROMETER NO. 8, VICTORIA" and printed on the left of the scale, has "J GRIMOLDI" on the top and left of the scale, inscribed "Maker, MELBOURNE".
There is an inscription on the bottom right-hand side of the thermometer scale, just above the 30 mark "FREEZING"
Etched into the timber inside the case are the Roman numerals "VIII" (the number 8)