Read Gough Forklifts celebrate their 60th Birthday this year, and will be publishing a review of the history of the Hyster brand in text version

Goughs and Hyster ­ 1945-2005

Gough Forklifts celebrate their 60th Birthday this year, and will be publishing a history of the Hyster brand in New Zealand, from the early post war years to the present day. The story of Goughs and Hyster is an example of a successful long term partnership ­ one that started small, and grew steadily into what is now one of the most successful forklift supply companies in the country. From the early days, when Hyster manufactured only six models of forklift truck, we'll be looking at the people, the places, and the machines that have contributed to the Goughs and Hyster story.

The Beginning ­ 1945-1964

When Gough Gough & Hamer gained the Hyster dealership in 1945, it was almost by accident. An american company, Hyster had a close relationship with one of its major customers, the Caterpillar Tractor Company, to whom it supplied winches and logging arches, as well as trailers, to suit the Caterpillar D series range of tractors. Many Caterpillar dealers also took on a Hyster dealership as well, a natural fit that resulted in support for the tractor accessories, as well as access to Hyster's other major product, forklift trucks.

This photo shows the interior of Gough's Auckland branch, in about 1950. In the left foreground is a Hyster Logging Winch to suit a Caterpillar D4N Tractor.

Hyster Company had been founded in 1929, coincidentally the same year as Gough Gough & Hamer. Hyster's original machines were steel and lumber carriers ­ a version of straddle truck that continued in production, with upgrades of course, up until the mid 1970's.

The first actual forklift truck was built by Hyster in 1935, based on a reversed tractor chassis, and the range was broadened again with the first "Karry Krane", a uniquelooking vehicle that enjoyed much popularity with the American war machine during World War II. By 1945, Hyster had set up an overseas export department, and one of the first markets they secured was in New Zealand, with Gough Gough & Hamer. During 1945, Goughs had access to only six models, starting with the QT20 1 tonner, the YT40 2 tonner, the VT75, RT150, the M2 Straddle Truck and the KC Karry Krane. Records of the time are incomplete, but the earliest recorded sale was of a 1946 Hyster M2 Straddle Truck ­ to Auckland-based woodproducts and plywood company Henderson & Pollard. This truck is pictured here, with the photo taken some time after delivery. This picture appeared in the November 1947 edition of "N.Z National Review" magazine. Henderson & Pollard ordered at least four more Hyster Straddles, and Goughs imported the last one in 1959, an M300E. We know that Henderson & Pollard were still using the Hyster straddle trucks in the late 70's, but by the mid 80's, the last of them had gone. None are known to have survived (but if you know of any, please contact the writer). The other popular truck of the day was the YT40. These forklifts could lift almost 2000kg and were great general purpose trucks. Most of the Gough branches around the country had a YT40 as the "workshop hack". This surviving picture shows the 1954 Christmas party at Gough's Auckland branch in Stanley Street. Father Christmas arrives at the party being carried on a YT40 "Sleigh".

There are still one or two YT40's in use around the country. Kaiapoi Vehicle Maintenance still operate a 1947 YT40 on a daily basis. Mark Spencer, pictured recently with the old Hyster, reports that it's still on the original engine, and requires no more than standard maintenance and the odd set of new spark plugs.

Is this New Zealand's oldest Hyster? If you know of any older ones, please contact Craig Armstrong-Fray at Gough Forklifts, on 03 983 2433, or email [email protected]

Company Structure

In the early days, the management structure of Hyster basically fell into the existing company structure. No dedicated Hyster Sales Representatives, for instance, were appointed. Sales duties were carried out by Gough Gough & Hamer Branch Managers, and they were expected to sell Caterpillar, Hyster, and also the other brands that Goughs represented, such as John Deere. In the late forties, Goughs set up the General Industrial Division, into which Hyster was placed. In 1950, the manager of this division was Pat Davis. By 1957, the Manager was Bill Brittain, a long-serving employee of Goughs who retired in 1993 after 43 years of service. As well as Hyster, the industrial division supplied Cedar Rapids crushing plants, Joy mining machinery, generator sets, Skajit logging machinery, Northwest shovels and draglines, Athey wagons and elevating graders. The company's branch network was extensive, even by today's standards. Gough Gough & Hamer had branches in places as diverse as Taumaranui and Timaru, as well as the usual main centres. The Auckland branch was located on Stanley Street, near what is now the Tennis stadium. This picture from the 1958 Auckland Branch Christmas party shows that, until recently, Stanley St hadn't changed much in over fifty years.

By 1958, Santa has graduated to a Hyster ZA80. Pictured outside the Auckland branch of Gough Gough & Hamer

Health and Safety standards were noticeably more relaxed in those days, as this picture from the Auckland Show in 1956 shows. Upon closer inspection, however, these men aren't in as much danger as they look. A special clamp attachment is holding the timber pack to the forks. This type of clamp was popular with timber merchants of the day, as it allowed for higher density storage of the timber on purpose-built racks. The machine is another Hyster ZA80.

Hyster People

The first Hyster Salesmen were also Caterpillar and John Deere salesmen. Almost invariably they also managed the local branch. Around this era, Goughs employees such as Ferg Brinsden in Auckland, Wally Nicholson in Christchurch, Stan Hadcroft in Wellington, Harry Richards in Palmerston North, Barney Barnes in Rotorua, George Smith in Hamilton, and Charlie Richardson in Hastings handled any forklift enquiries, as well as placing orders with the factory and managing the servicing. With the growth that invariably happened, it wasn't long before product specialists began to appear, such as Stan Moyle in Palmerston North. In Part Two (Post 1964), we'll look closer at some of the people who have helped shape the company into what it is today.


Beginning in 1947, Gough Gough & Hamer also started importing Hyster-Ransomes Electric forklifts. Formed after Hyster took over the British Ransomes company, Hyster-Ransomes became a popular addition to Gough's product lineup. When Hyster started designing and manufacturing its own electric forklifts in 1964, the Ransomes name disappeared. The first New Zealand Hyster-Ransomes customer was Christchurch's D.H. Brown, who operated a flourmill on Moorhouse Ave. In 1947, they took delivery of a Hyster Ransome TE1H 1 Ton Platform Truck.

Early Customers

In addition to Henderson & Pollard and D.H. Brown, Goughs supplied forklifts to a diverse range of companies, most of whom are still around today in some form or another. Henderson & Pollard ended up being taken over by Carter Holt Harvey in 1987, and formed the nucleus of what is now the Carters retail arm. The old D.H. Brown flourmill on Moorhouse Ave is now operated by Goodman Fielder, still on the original site. Other Hyster customers were the Wellington Harbour Board, the Ministry of Works, Odlins, Fletcher Kaiser, Senton Sawmills in Hamilton, Williams and Kettle, A. Ellis and Co, to name just a few, and New Zealand Forest Products, who by 1964 had an extensive range of Hysters.

The Next Frontier

By 1964, Goughs had imported at least 396 Hyster forklifts, an impressive feat for the fledgling company in less than 20 years, but bigger challenges were around the corner. Gough Gough & Hamer enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Hyster Company, and had impressed the American Head Office to the extent that they were about to offer a rare opportunity. New Zealand was about to become only the tenth country in the world to have their own Hyster manufacturing plant and Goughs were about to embark on a new challenge ­ the manufacture of Hysters in-house, firstly at the Sydenham factory in Christchurch, and later at Ensor's Rd in Woolston. In Part Two of this two part series, we'll be covering the modern history of Gough Forklifts, from 1964 to present day.


Gough Forklifts celebrate their 60th Birthday this year, and will be publishing a review of the history of the Hyster brand in

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Gough Forklifts celebrate their 60th Birthday this year, and will be publishing a review of the history of the Hyster brand in