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Walter William Bult, Timber Buyer & Expert, Sunshine Harvester Works (1842-1923)

Photograph - H.V. McKay Pty Ltd, Portrait of William Bult, Victoria, circa 1920

Image: Photograph - H.V. McKay Pty Ltd, Portrait of William Bult, Victoria, circa 1920

Source: Museum Victoria

The Bult family had the longest association with the Sunshine Harvester Works, beginning in the 1890s until the 1960s. Four generations of the family accumulated over 500 years of service to the firm. D.B Ferguson, an executive at Sunshine Harvester Works, jokingly likened the family to cockroaches, 'every time you turn something over you find one!' (Sunshine Review, September 1952, p.10).

Walter William Bult and his sons John and George were amongst the first to be employed by the company in the 1890s when it was based in Ballarat.

Walter was born in 1842 in Twickenham, England. By 1866, he had migrated to Victoria and settled in Ballarat where he married Elizabeth Ann Cox. The couple had 12 children together:

  • Elizabeth Jane, born in Miners Rest, Victoria in 1867
  • Francis John, born in Miners Rest in 1869
  • George, born in Miners Rest in 1871
  • John, born in Miners Rest in 1873
  • Frank, born in Miners Rest in 1877
  • William Walter, born in Ballarat in 1879
  • Fred, born in Miners Rest in 1881
  • Percy David, born in Ballarat in 1883
  • Elsie May, born in Ballarat in 1886
  • Gertrude Lily, born in Ballarat in 1888
  • Albert Edward, born in Ballarat in 1890
  • Violet Maude, born in Ballarat in 1892

In 1897, Walter joined the Sunshine Harvester Works where his sons George and John had been working since the early 1890s. Prior to this, Walter had been working as a cooper in Ballarat's Leggo Brewery. Walter worked as a timber buyer and expert at the Sunshine Harvester Works. He held this position until his death in August 1923, aged 80.

Besides John and George, Walter's other sons also worked for the Sunshine Harvester Works. Frank, Fred and Albert were shop foremen, while William and Percy established themselves as a labourer and moulder, respectively.

In addition, Walter's ten grand-children and three great grand-children were employed by the company. They entered into various roles in Sunshine's factory and office, including those of a storeman, turner and fitter, toolmaker, foreman, assembler, electrician and carpenter. Female members were also employed by the company. For instance, Walter's grand-daughter Vera Lillian worked as a nurse, while great grand-daughter Beverley Ann was a timekeeper.

Walter's grandsons Raymond and Reginald and great-grandson Kenneth were amongst the last members of the Bult family to be employed by the company. They left the Sunshine Harvester Works in the early and mid-1960s.

References
H.V McKay and Massey-Ferguson Employment Records held at the University of Melbourne Archives.
Notes - George Bult Speech, 1929. Museum Victoria, H.V McKay Sunshine Collection, registration no. HT 31999.
Notes - Memories of George Bult, 16 June 1948. Museum Victoria, H.V McKay Sunshine Collection, registration no. HT 31998.
Sunshine Review 1946, '447 Not Out!', vol. 3, no. 6, p.4.
Sunshine Review 1952, 'It's a Family Affair', no. 17, p.10-11.
Transcript of interview with Vernon Bult. Held at Living History Museum of West, registration no. VLMW 87.15.
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Digger - Death Index. Victoria 1921-1985.
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Digger - Edwardian Index. Victoria 1902-1913.
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Digger - Federation Index. Victoria 1889-1901.
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Digger - Marriage Index. Victoria 1921-1942.
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Digger - Pioneer Index. Victoria 1836-1888.
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