In 1864, John Furphy established his family business J. Furphy and Sons and Furphy Foundry at Shepparton, Victoria. His steel and cast iron water tanks produced from the 1880s revolutionised the cartage of water for both domestic and livestock use. Previously during dry periods, farm families and their livestock relied on the farmer filling small wooden barrels with water, then carting them on the backs of wagons.
However it is the water tanks contribution during the first world war that has ensured the Furphy name was cemented into the Australian language.
In 1898, John Furphy recognised the value of advertising and added raised lettering to the cast tank-ends to highlight the products the company made, along with his strong message of good, better, best etc. His son William went on to add further messages, which included a saying attributed to Prime Minister W M Hughes: ~ “Produce and Populate or Perish”
Like their modern day counterparts, the office water cooler, the Furphy water carts were typically placed near the camp latrines, which was one of the few places the troops could share gossip and tall tales away from the prying eyes and ears of their officers. The water cart drivers were also notorious sources of information for news hungry soldiers, and despite most of their news being hearsay, or totally unreliable, they spread any snippet of information gathered from camp to camp. To this day, the word furphy is Australian slang for suspect information or rumour.
Carts were available in 180 and 250 gallon models. (681 and 946 litres)
Production of the cast iron ends ceased in 1983, however the company continues to provide a reconditioning service by fitting the original cast ends to a new tank.
This cart was restored by Robert Vitnell ~2016