Varley has been providing innovative services and solutions for 133 years and congratulates Engineers Australia on its 100th anniversary.
Today Varley bears the name of its founder George Henry Varley and remains one of Australia’s oldest growing privately owned companies.
It was 1886 when George H Varley formed a plumbing and boiler-making business in King Street, Newcastle. As Newcastle was a port city, Varley took the opportunity to work in the marine trades, repairing and replacing faulty gear and equipment so the ships could load their cargo and head back to sea. In 1912 a brass foundry, machine and blacksmiths shops were added opening a second workshop in Darby Street. The King Street plant was later closed and sold in 1925.
In the mid-sixties, Newcastle City Council decided to relocate all the industrial businesses out of the city to the north of the city to create a green public space, today known as Civic Park. The relocation came at an opportune time as the business had grown and become cramped for space.
So it was 1964 when the company moved to a new 2500m2 factory site on 10,570m2 of land at the corner of Parker and Everett Streets, Carrington. The new facility allowed for expansion into heavy engineering and construction activities. At this time the emphasis of Varley was changing and diversified from marine specialisation to broader industrial manufacturing.
By 1989, Varley was employing 220 workers with the heart of the business located at Parker street, Carrington and corporate offices at 1 Elizabeth Street, Tighes Hill. Eventually the Tighes Hill head office was sold and moved to the Parker Street site so the engineers and project managers could be directly involved in the development of the projects they were designing.
The late eighties saw ‘Varley Shelters’ created to fulfill the company’s initial inroad into the Defence market sector. By 1990 a contract had commenced to design, manufacture and fit-out ruggedized and lightweight military maintenance shelters for the Australian Army.
The ‘Varley Commander’ fire truck contract of fifty five vehicles for NSW Fire Brigades was obtained in 1999 and was the first time in the company’s history saw Varley’s team build a special vehicle from design through development, prototype and production of the cabin, chassis and fire-fighting body with pump outputs of 3500 to 5500 litres per minute. This project supported Varley’s move to the current head office and main workshop at Tomago in 2000. The company has gown immensely to be Australia’s largest manufacturer of Fire Appliances and Ambulances.
Although the expansion into the defence and vehicle markets have soared with contracts, Varley is still locally recognized for its trades in the marine sector. The most famous being for their efforts with the M.V. Sygna in 1974, Pasha Bulka 2007 and more recently the Y.M Efficiency.
Varley’s drive to be a leading engineering and manufacturing company in Australia has come with many feats over the years. The numerous projects have had Varley build strategic partnerships with Defence industry primes like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman through the JSF F-35 program as a supplier for deployable mission systems, repair and maintenance, training and simulation capabilities. This partnership has Varley continuing to be an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).
Today Varley’s diversification continues to service its customers with thought-provoking design, manufacture, fit-out and maintenance of world-class innovative solutions. Varley has achieved global recognition as a supplier of first-class engineering, manufacture and support services to the defence, aviation, transportation, marine and energy industries including rail.
Varley has built a strong national service network of 15 facilities employing approximately 820 people, whilst their international facilities in Indonesia and the United States employ 195 and 150 people respectively.
Original article included in the feature liftout in Saturday August 10, 2019 Newcastle Herald, ‘Celebrating 100 Years of Engineers Australia’.