To celebrate Australia Day this week, we’re looking at some of the best inventions to ever come out of our sunburnt country. Today, we pay homage to Mervyn Victor Richardson, who made the menial job of mowing grass faster and easier for people around the world with his two stroke Victa lawnmower.
Back in 1948, Richardson watched a public demonstration of a new rotary lawnmower called the “Mowhall”, which required two people to operate and ended up being a commercial failure. When his son started a lawnmowing business the same year, Richardson decided to try and help him out by adding a Villiers two-stroke engine to a reel-type mower.
The reel-type mowers worked well enough, but it was in 1952 when Richardson realised he could combine the two-stroke engine with a rotary mower like the Mowhall. After a few hours work, Richardson had created his first Victa mower prototype, using scrap metal, billy cart wheels, and a peach tin as a fuel tank. The prototype worked, and within three months had sold 30 units. Within four years he’d sold 60,000, created his own company and become a millionaire.
In 1997, the seven millionth Victa lawnmower was built and sold. While the original idea wasn’t actually patented, improvements on the design have since been patented. Victa lawnmowers are exported to over 30 countries around the world, and have changed the way people thought about their lawns. Not bad for a backyard operation from Sydney, hey?