Enoch Rudder | Inventive entrepreneur

Previous stories: 

FROM bridges and parks to mountains and lakes their names live on, but have you ever wanted to know more about the people behind these place names…. 

THERE’S Rudder Park and Rudder Street, the name is certainly familiar across Kempsey, but who was Enoch William Rudder ?

Kempsey was given its name in 1836 by Enoch Rudder but what’s not generally known is that he was one of the people responsible for the discovery of gold in Australia.  

He was a very inventive man – conducting experiments on the pressure of the ocean during his journey to Australia in 1834 for example.

Born in Birmingham he was the eldest of six children and the only son.  His father was a brass founder and in 1815 Enoch started working for him and just four years later, took over the business.

Displaying his inventiveness he started taking out patents for various improvements he made and in 1827 he took a partner into the business thereby forming Rudder and Martineau.

Together they invented a gold washing machine designed for the gold fields of South America.

The partnership was short-lived and in 1829 Enoch disposed of his interest in the foundry to Mr Martineau.  Not one to remain idle, he moved to a small estate and commenced mining for coal.

He became conversant with the nature of almost every metal used in the arts and in manufacturing.

By 1833 Enoch and his wife Emma has produced seven children and in the following year they sailed from Liverpool to Sydney.

It was during this journey that he conducted experiments on the pressure of the ocean at different depths – the results of which were forwarded to the Geographical Society.

His move to Australia was largely inspired by the desire to acquire land for farming.

After working for some time as a ‘merchant’ in Sydney he sailed for Van Diemen’s Land where it is reported he rode the length and breadth of the island.  He must have liked what he saw as he applied for a free grant of land there upon his return to Sydney but this was denied.

He soon heard news of land north of Port Macquarie which was being made available for settlement on a ‘splendid river’ and bordered by fertile plains.

He travelled overland to the Macleay River and was suitably impressed  – purchasing 812 acres which he set about clearing.  

The region’s cedar stands were largely untouched and he could see a bright future as a resident cedar merchant with ready access to the ‘red gold’ and to the world’s markets via the quick flowing Macleay.

His family would soon follow on a chartered schooner bringing furniture and supplies.  He later decided to subdivide this property into allotments to be sold at auction thereby creating a new township.

Enoch named the town Kempsey in commemoration of the beautiful vale of Kempsey in Worcestershire, England, which he believed it resembled.

He chose a stunning high point overlooking the Macleay River for his new home – the place we now know as Rudder Park.  All that remains of the home today is an old well. 

When news of the Californian gold rush reached Enoch, he wasted no time in travelling to Sydney to construct a gold washing machine similar to the type patented years earlier by his firm.  Then with two of his sons he sailed to San Francisco, arriving in 1850.

Unfortunately their high hopes were dashed as it was realised the machine was unsuited to the type of mining operations taking place in California at the time.  

It was there that Enoch met Edward Hargraves and they travelled huge distances visiting gold fields across the country and they noticed how similar the geological formations in the gold-bearing part of California were to those of NSW.

So it was in 1851 when Edward Hargraves was credited with the discovery of gold in NSW Enoch was deeply hurt as he believed he should have received recognition for the part he played.

Enoch would go on to involve himself in the administration of the gold fields.  He was appointed a JP and at one stage was the Coroner at Kempsey and would regularly exhibit specimens of bark and timber at international exhibitions.  He even became well known for his dairying and wine making ventures.

In 1888 Enoch Rudder passed away at the age of 89.

This story What’s in a name | Enoch Rudder first appeared on The Macleay Argus.