A & G Price

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A & G Price Limited was an engineering firm and locomotive manufacturer in Thames, New Zealand, from 1868. In 2004 a precision formed yacht keel division was formed to make the Maximus canting keel. A few months short of 150 years after it was founded it was put into liquidation on 26 July 2017. About 100 employees lost their job [1] The liquidated company was bought as a going concern and continues to operate as A & G Price.[2]

History of A & G Price[edit]

The firm was established in 1868 in Princes Street, Onehunga by Alfred Price (1838-1907) and George Price (1843-1917), two brothers from Stroud, Gloucestershire. They built almost 100 flax-milling machines in their first year.[3] They also produced machinery for gold miners, which accounted for their move to Beach Road, Thames in 1871. The Onehunga works closed in 1873, after building 10 coaches and 12 trucks for the Public Works Department. The firm remained under family management until 1949.[4]

A & G Price, Thames, early 1900s
photograph by William A Price

From November 1949 all the ordinary shares in A & G Price were acquired by Wellington engineers, William Cable & Company.[5] In 1954 Downer & Co Ltd were also taken over and William Cable Holdings became Cable, Price, Downer Ltd.[4] In 1964 A & G Price merged with William Cable Holdings, a partnership of heavy engineers (William Cable) and civil engineers (Downer), and the new grouping's name was Cable Price Downer. The group members kept their identities.[6] In 1974 the staff of A & G Price alone was in excess of 520 people and its head office in Fanshawe Street, Auckland. Beach Road Thames was described as a branch.[7] In 1988 "corporate raider" Brierley Investments obtained control of the group parent, Cable Price Downer, and broke the group back into its three separate businesses.[6] A & G Price, Beach Road, Thames, was until liquidation part of the Tiri Group,[4] based in Mount Wellington and controlled from Nelson by Tom Sturgess.[8][9]

In the 1930s the firm hired Abner Doble to help them develop a steam engine for buses at the Thames workshops.[10] The first engine was trialed by the Auckland Transport Board in the early 1930s. A second bus was constructed in 1932 for White and Sons for the Auckland Thames route.[11]

A & G Price and railways[edit]

A & G Price was the largest private New Zealand railway locomotive manufacturer, both in terms of output and in terms of supply of rolling stock to the New Zealand Government Railways (NZGR or NZR) and other firms.

Price manufactured 22 carriages and wagons in the early 1870s, and manufactured two locomotives in the 1880s for private industry, the first being a 0-4-0ST Saddle Tank type locomotive. The Thames Branch railway line opened in 1898, and Price won a tender to make locomotives for NZR in 1903 and 1906 (Wright page 106). Later in the 1950s and 1960s they manufactured a number of diesel shunting locomotives for the NZR, the TR class, and some for private users.

In the 1920s several petrol tanks were built for NZR and in 1964 for Mobil. 400 LC class wagons were built in 1960.[4]

In 1990 A & G Price regauged 24 of the 31 Silver Star carriages to metre gauge (1000 mm) for running in Malaysia Singapore and Thailand as the Eastern and Oriental Express. Six carriages from this train were stored at Price's Thames workshop in case any extra carriage conversions were required, with the remaining carriage shipped to SE Asia but not refurbished. As of 2013, these carriages remained on-site at Thames, five of which are listed on the New Zealand Rolling Stock Register page for NZR passenger carriages.

Locomotive types built by A & G Price[edit]

Price 16-wheeler
  • 1912 16-wheeler 0-4-4-4-4-0T type (4), similar to the Johnston 16-wheeler
  • 1912 Price C 0-4-4-0T type (2), similar to the Climax A Type
  • 1912 Price D 0-4-4-0T type (1), a smaller lighter version of the Price C
  • AB (20)
  • BB (30)
  • WAB (8)
  • 1923 Price E 0-4-4-0T type (4), similar to the Climax B Type
  • 1924 Price Ca 0-4-4-0T type (1), a Price C but with Heisler style bogies
  • 1924 0-4-0 petrol Fordson rail tractor, followed by similar TR type locos for NZR and PWD[4]
  • 1925 Price Cb 0-4-4-0T type (4), an updated version of the Price C
  • 1926 Price Ar 0-4-4-0T type (1), a Meyer locomotive type
  • 1927 Price Cba 0-4-4-0T type (1), an improved development of the Ca and Cb types
  • 1937 Price E 0-4-4-0T type (1), an improved version of the previous E type
  • 1939 Price Rail Tractor (10), a small petrol-mechanical design
  • 1943 Price V 0-4-4-0T type (1), the last Heisler built in the world for Ogilvie & Co at Gladstone, near Greymouth.[4] Moved from there in 1965.[13]
  • 1951 Price Da 0-4-0 type (3), 2 ft gauge diesel mechanical design for Mines Department at Ohai coal mines
  • early 1950s 5 diesel and 7 battery-electric 3-ft gauge for Rimutaka Tunnel construction[4]
  • Price Model 1 through Model 22, various diesel types, many of which were supplied to the NZR
  • 1971 Price Rail Tractor (1), last locomotive constructed, for yard use at A & G Price. It used a Fordson Major E1 as its base.

Preserved locomotives[edit]

1951 built 2ft gauge Da type locomotive


  • Lloyd, W. G. Register of New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives 1863-1971 (2nd edition 2002) ISBN 0-9582072-1-6
  • Vennell, C. W. Men of Metal: The story of A & G Price Ltd, Auckland and Thames 1868-1968 (1968, Wilson & Horton, Auckland)
  • Wright, Matthew Rails Across New Zealand (2003, Whitcoulls NZ) ISBN 1-877327-14-X
  1. ^ "Dozens of jobs lost after Thames engineering firm closes". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  2. ^ "A&G Price 'a healthy business now' after being put into liquidation in 2017". Stuff. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  3. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Price, Alfred". www.teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Carter, Graeme (October 2017). "A & G Price Ltd". Railway Observer: 146–157.
  5. ^ "INCREASE IN PROFIT, OTAGO DAILY TIMES". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 1 July 1950. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  6. ^ a b Company History Downer Group and conflicting cert. of incorporation
  7. ^ The New Zealand Business Who's Who, 22nd Edition, FEP Productions, Wellington. undated ISSN 0077-9571
  8. ^ History Bloomberg
  9. ^ About Us - Tiri Group
  10. ^ Thames News, Auckland Star, Volume LXII, Issue 47, 25 February 1931, Page 17
  11. ^ Thames News, Auckland Star, Volume LXIII, Issue 162, 11 July 1932, Page 5
  12. ^ New Zealand Geared Locomotives. Locomotive Owners: A & G Price Ltd., Thames.
  13. ^ "Looking at the West Coast August 1965". West Coast New Zealand History. Retrieved 2018-12-25.

External links[edit]