A & G Price is an engineering firm and locomotive manufacturer in Thames, New Zealand, from 1868. A few months short of 150 years after it was founded its then owner was put into liquidation on 26 July 2017. About 100 employees lost their jobs.[1]

A & G Price Limited
IndustryHeavy engineering
Founded1868; 154 years ago (1868) in Onehunga, New Zealand
incorporated 1907
Fatedeleted from the register 2000
  • 1. Not known
  • 2. A & G Price Limited #6756516 incorporated 2018
New Zealand
Key people
Alfred and George Price
  • locomotives and rolling stock
  • ships and ship repair
  • steel and non-ferrous foundry
  • general engineers
Number of employees
520 (1980)
  • independent
  • Cable, Price, Downer
WebsiteA & G Price Limited

The business was bought from the liquidator by Christopher Reeve in April 2018. Reeve had been unable to sell the land and buildings.[2] The business now operates with a reduced workforce under Reeve's ownership through a new company, A & G Price Limited, incorporated in March 2018.[3][4]

The foundry building has a Class I listing with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

History of A & G PriceEdit

The firm was established in 1868 in Princes Street, Onehunga by Alfred Price (1838-1907) and George Price (1843-1917), two brothers from Stroud, Gloucestershire. They built almost 100 flax-milling machines in their first year.[5] The brothers also built machinery for gold miners. They moved to the Coromandel Gold Rushes in 1871 setting up premises in Beach Road, Thames and closing the Onehunga works in 1873 after building 10 coaches and 12 trucks there for the Public Works Department. The firm's ownership was transferred to a limited liability company in 1907.[6]


A & G Price, Thames, early 1900s
photograph by William A Price

A & G Price Limited remained under family management until November 1949[6] when it was bought by Wellington engineers, William Cable & Company. The two companies then exchanged board members but kept their separate identities.[7] Cable bought Downer & Co in 1954 and in 1964 William Cable Holdings was renamed Cable, Price, Downer Limited.[8]

In 1974 the staff of A & G Price alone was in excess of 520 people. Its head office was in Fanshawe Street, Auckland. Beach Road Thames was described as a branch.[9] In 1988 corporate raider Brierley Investments obtained control of the group parent, Cable Price Downer, and broke the group back into its three separate businesses. A & G Price, Beach Road, Thames, was until liquidation part of the Tiri Group,[6] based in Mount Wellington and controlled from Nelson by Tom Sturgess.[10][11]


A & G Price produced water turbines under the Pelton patent. Lester Allan Pelton invented and a highly efficient turbine patenting it in 1880. Initially, Pelton manufactured and sold the turbines to gold mine operators in the California goldfields, and later licensed the manufacturing to companies across the world. A small A & G Price turbine is on display at the Goldmine Experience in Thames, New Zealand.

Abner Doble helped A & G Price develop a steam engine for buses at the Thames workshops.[12] The first engine was trialled by the Auckland Transport Board in the early 1930s. A second bus was made in 1932 for White and Sons for the Auckland Thames route.[13]

In 2004 a precision-formed yacht keel division was set up to make the Maximus canting keel.[14]

A & G Price and railwaysEdit

A & G Price was the largest private New Zealand railway locomotive manufacturer, both in terms of output and in terms of supply of rolling stock to the New Zealand Government Railways (NZGR or NZR) and other firms, mainly Bush tramways used for logging timber.

Price manufactured 22 carriages and wagons in the early 1870s, and manufactured two locomotives in the 1880s for private industry, the first being a 0-4-0ST Saddle Tank type locomotive. The Thames Branch railway line opened in 1898, and Price won a tender to make locomotives for NZR in 1903 and 1906.[15] Later in the 1950s and 1960s they manufactured a number of diesel shunting locomotives for the NZR, the TR class, and some for private users.

In the 1920s several petrol tanks were built for NZR and in 1964 for Mobil. 400 LC class wagons were built in 1960.[6]

In 1990 A & G Price regauged 24 of the 31 Silver Star carriages to metre gauge (1000 mm) for running in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as the Eastern and Oriental Express. Six carriages from this train were stored at Price's Thames workshop in case any extra carriage conversions were required, with the remaining carriages shipped to South East Asia but not refurbished. These carriages were later sold by the Eastern and Oriental Express to private owners in New Zealand.[16]

Locomotive types built by A & G PriceEdit

Price 16-wheeler
  • 1912 16-wheeler 0-4-4-4-4-0T type (4), similar to the Johnston 16-wheeler
  • 1912 Price C 0-4-4-0T type (2), similar to the Climax A Type
  • 1912 Price D 0-4-4-0T type (1), a smaller lighter version of the Price C
  • AB (20)
  • BB (30)
  • WAB (8)
  • 1923 Price E 0-4-4-0T type (4), similar to the Climax B Type
  • 1924 Price Ca 0-4-4-0T type (1), a Price C but with Heisler style bogies
  • 1924 0-4-0 petrol Fordson rail tractor, followed by similar TR type locos for NZR and PWD[6]
  • 1925 Price Cb 0-4-4-0T type (4), an updated version of the Price C
  • 1926 Price Ar 0-4-4-0T type (1), a Meyer locomotive type
  • 1927 Price Cba 0-4-4-0T type (1), an improved development of the Ca and Cb types
  • 1937 Price E 0-4-4-0T type (1), an improved version of the previous E type
  • 1939 Price Rail Tractor (10), a small petrol-mechanical design
  • 1943 Price V 0-4-4-0T type (1), the last Heisler built in the world for Ogilvie & Co at Gladstone, near Greymouth.[6] Moved from there in 1965.[18]
  • 1951 Price Da 0-4-0 type (3), 2 ft gauge diesel mechanical design for Mines Department at Ohai coal mines
  • early 1950s 5 diesel and 7 battery-electric 3-ft gauge for Rimutaka Tunnel construction[6]
  • Price Model 1 through Model 22, various diesel types, many of which were supplied to the NZR
  • 1971 Price Rail Tractor (1), last locomotive constructed, for yard use at A & G Price. It used a Fordson Major E1 as its base.

Preserved locomotivesEdit

1951 built 2ft gauge Da type locomotive


  1. ^ "Dozens of jobs lost after Thames engineering firm closes". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  2. ^ A&G Price foundry sold and to be restored. Teresa Ramsey, Stuff accessed 3 March 2019
  3. ^ "A&G Price 'a healthy business now' after being put into liquidation in 2017". Stuff. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  4. ^ "From liquidation to bustling business A&G Price is an example for all". Stuff (Fairfax). 10 August 2019.
  5. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Price, Alfred". www.teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Carter, Graeme (October 2017). "A & G Price Ltd". Railway Observer: 146–157.
  7. ^ "Increase in Profit, Otago Daily Times". paperspast.natlib.govt.nz. 1 July 1950. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  8. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Downer, Arnold Fielder". www.teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  9. ^ The New Zealand Business Who's Who, 22nd Edition, FEP Productions, Wellington. undated ISSN 0077-9571
  10. ^ History Bloomberg
  11. ^ About Us - Tiri Group
  12. ^ Thames News, Auckland Star, Volume LXII, Issue 47, 25 February 1931, Page 17
  13. ^ Thames News, Auckland Star, Volume LXIII, Issue 162, 11 July 1932, Page 5
  14. ^ "Review: Elliot Supermaxi 100" (PDF). Elliot Marine. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  15. ^ Wright 2003, p. 106.
  16. ^ "Living on board a Silver Star train". 13 April 2018. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  17. ^ New Zealand Geared Locomotives. Locomotive Owners: A & G Price Ltd., Thames.
  18. ^ "Looking at the West Coast August 1965". West Coast New Zealand History. Retrieved 25 December 2018.


  • Lloyd, W. G. (1974). Register of New Zealand Railways Steam Locomotives 1863-1971 (2nd ed.). ISBN 0-9582072-1-6.
  • Vennell, C. W. Men of Metal: The story of A & G Price Ltd, Auckland and Thames 1868-1968 (1968, Wilson & Horton, Auckland)
  • Wright, Matthew (2003). Rails Across New Zealand. Whitcoulls NZ. ISBN 1-877327-14-X.

External linksEdit