Marking Headlie Taylor’s contribution to grain industry


Bruce Taylor and the late Colin Wood, both great nephews of Headlie Taylor, with the HST header at the museum in Henty.

One of the most significant players in global grain harvesting, Headlie Shipard Taylor, has been recognised by the Henty community this month with the unveiling of a bronze sculpture.

The sculpture, by Melbourne artist Paul Smits, recreates a young Taylor poised over his anvil with a hammer in one hand and tongs in the other, refining parts to his famous ground drive header, first demonstrated at the 1914 Henty show.

The sculpture has been spearheaded by the Headlie Taylor Header Museum Heritage Project Committee and will be officially unveiled on September 12 in Henty’s Bicentennial Park fronting the Olympic Way.

Committee chairman and Taylor’s great nephew, Bruce Taylor, will pay tribute to the pioneering inventor and the community’s effort to raise $85,000 for the sculpture project during the official opening of the Henty Machinery Field Days on September 18.

Mr Taylor will unveil a maquette, or model, of the Taylor sculpture for field day patrons.

He said the bronze sculpture was the culmination of four years of fundraising under the chairmanship of the late Colin Wood.

He said Taylor’s inventions of the ground driven header in 1914 and the auto header in 1924 had revolutionised the harvesting of grain on a global scale.

“Stage two of our project will be a memorial scholarship for an agricultural student,’’ he said.

Co-patrons of the project, former WA Governor Malcolm McCusker and former NSW Governor, Marie Bashir, have contributed ongoing support.

“In conjunction with Murray Arts and Greater Hume Shire, the committee is excited to see the invention recognised as history, art, agriculture and engineering, and to have the sculpture as a continuous reminder of a world renowned achievement created in Henty over 100 years ago,’’ Mr Taylor said.

Field day visitors will be able to inspect the maquette, speak to Taylor’s descendants on his inventions and see a restored 1927 Sunshine auto header owned by Kerry Pietsch, of Pleasant Hills.

The Taylor family drew on photographs taken of Headlie during the 1920s to create the sculpture.

“Every expression on the face, folds in the clothing, Headlie’s shoe size, height, eye colour and hair had to be exactly right on the sculpture,’’ Mr Taylor said.

“Headlie has his shirt sleeves rolled up and he is getting down to work.

“Three dimensional photographs were taken of the anvil, tongs and hammer plus the stump the anvil sits on to create perfect replicas.

“Headlie lived by the saying of Nil Desperandum, or never give up, and this is written on the brass plaque accompanying the sculpture.

“There is already a timeline of the Headlie Taylor story on the windows of the museum.’’

Mr Taylor said 14 submissions were received from artists before Paul Smits was chosen by a panel.

“We started on this project four years ago following the centenary of the HST header in 2014, and aim to raise a total of $200,00 to include the scholarship,’’ he said.

Special guests on the day will include Headlie Taylor’s son, John, of Geelong, Henty farmer Dugald McKay, a great grandson of H.V. McKay, who negotiated the patent rights to the HST header, and field days founder Milton Taylor, of Henty.

ABC TV’s Landline filmed the creation of the bronze sculpture at a Melbourne foundry and will follow up with the unveiling as an update to their story in 2014 on the Headlie Taylor header centenary.