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McKay, Hugh Victor (1865–1926)

Hugh Victor McKay, 1912

Hugh Victor McKay, 1912

Museum Victoria, MM 021624

Mr. Hugh Victor McKay, head of the well-known agricultural machinery firm bearing his name, died at his home, Rupertswood, Sunbury, Vic., on 21st May, after a long illness.

A son of the late Nathaniel McKay, a pioneer settler of Victoria, Mr. McKay was born at Raywood on 21st August, 1865, and spent his early years on his father's farm. He there obtained a practical knowledge of a farmer's requirements, and being of an inventive turn of mind, soon set about devising machinery that would do the work more efficiently and economically. His greatest triumph was undoubtedly the combined harvester, the first of which ho constructed out of old bits of machinery and kerosene tins before he reached the age of twenty. Through lack of capital it was not possible to greatly develop the idea until 1887, when he obtained a Government premium for the best combined harvesting machine. With this encouragement he built his first factory at Ballarat in 1888. The harvester met with instant approval amongst wheatgrowers, and the sales extended not only throughout Australia, but also to South Africa and Argentina. The expansion of the business led to the transfer of the factories to Sunshine near Melbourne, about 20 years ago, where Mr. McKay established a model township.

Mr. H. V. McKay was a man of outstanding ability, thorough to the last degree and of inflexible character. He never spared himself where work was concerned, and expected the same from his employees. At the same time he was notably just in dealing with the men, and would go out of his way to help any to better their position. For his services to the country during the war he was made a Companion of the Order of the British Empire.

Mr. McKay purchased Rupertswood, Sunbury, Vic., from Sir Rupert Clarke in 1922.

Shortly before his death Mr. McKay made a trust deed which is expected to provide an annual income of £10,000. His expressed wish is that this income shall be used primarily for improving the conditions of life in inland Australia, the advancement of agricultural methods, and for charitable objects connected with his firm's works.

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'McKay, Hugh Victor (1865–1926)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 September 2020.

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