Cobargo District Museum

Portable shearing plant

The Story

Location: It is part of the Cobargo District Museum collection and is available for viewing.

History: The Shearing Plant was donated to Cobargo District Museum by the owners of a property located on Barlows Road north of Cobargo. It is believed the property had been previously owned by a member of the Barlow family.


LISTER Company: In 1909 RA Lister & Co. produced their first shearing machines - Lister Shearing was born. Manufacturing of other Lister products was paused during the First World War as attention was turned toward the war effort. However, the production of wool and sheep shearing equipment was continued, by special order, as wool was needed for the manufacture of uniforms and blankets.

In 1947 one of the first batch of 500 shearing machines made and exported by Lister was returned from Australia for repair after nearly 40 years of service. Lister Shearing was awarded a Royal Warrant by HM King George VI in 1950. This award has been continually held over the years and is now awarded by HM Queen Elizabeth II.

In cooperation with the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB), Lister opened its School of Shearing in 1958 travelling the UK, passing on expert knowledge to young shearers. In 1964 the first Golden Shears UK and Eire Championships were held.

A management led buyout in 1998 secured the future of Lister Shearing when it was put up for sale by its (then) parent company, Lister Petter. In 2003 the Wahl Clipper Corporation, at the time Lister’s biggest customer, bought the company. The year 2009 marked 100 years of manufacturing shearing and clipping equipment.


Significance to Cobargo and the Bega Valley:

Indigenous heritage: William Barlow share farmed with Vera Tarlinton at the property called ‘Fairview” near the Murrambrine Creek just west of Cobargo in the 1920s. His son Allan was born at “Fairview”. According to Harold Tarlinton, when this area was first selected, the creek flats and swampy areas were important for the local aboriginal groups for sourcing food such as wild ducks. It is believed to have been the scene of a conflict between a local aboriginal group and a group from the Monaro. Trees on the property also had evidence of tree scarring consistent with indigenous use.

Settling and developing the region: We do not have full details of when the Barlow family came to the Bega Valley but continue our research. The William Barlow family also farmed with Jack Guthrie at “Mogilla” between Candelo and Bemboka. William Barlow and his wife had 5 sons and I daughter.

Wartime in the Bega Valley: Allan and 3 of his brothers were called up for national military service in 1940. Allen was subsequently discharged in 1942 to help his mother, youngest brother (Jack) and sister to work the property. Rural industry was considered important in WW2 and it was not unusual to leave adult males on farm to continue rural production.

Pastoralism in the Bega Valley: After the war the brothers moved back to Cobargo and Allan and his brothers developed the “Alanbar” Jersey Stud. Allan was a respected cattle breeder in the area and regularly attended local agricultural shows and cattle exhibitions.

Lister products, including separators and shearing plants, were used throughout the Bega Valley. Discussion with an older local farmer revealed that he had used a similar Lister manual shearing

plant at a property at Wandella. The Cobargo District Museum collection also has a Lister separator in good condition which was used at a property in Yowrie.

Related Objects

Photograph: Photo supplied from Collection of Mr Ray Sawtell – titled “Getting ready for Show”

This photo was found in a collection of photos given to the Cobargo AP&H Society by Mr Ray Sawtell and approved by him for use by the Cobargo District Museum. It shows the shearing plant being used to groom a dairy cow on a local property believed to be at Barlow’s. The man using the shears and the boy turning the arm have been identified by a member of the Barlow family as Mr William Barlow and his youngest son Jack (see information above). The date it was taken is unknown but possibly about 1920.

In the modern era animals are still “groomed” in preparation for exhibition and judging at agricultural shows and for stock promotion.

(To come)

From the Cobargo District Museum Inc. collection.

Image courtesy of and © Cobargo District Museum. All rights reserved

Associated References:

Book: Tales of the Far South Coast. Edited by Steve Elias 1996. “The story of Cobargo” by Harold Tarlinton

Newspaper: Bega District News 11th July 2002 – the Reverend Dr Canon Donald W Gibson “Obituary for Mr Allan James Barlow”

Personal discussions: Use of Lister products – separators shearing equipment blades

Website: Lister Company

{Text and photographs prepared by and property of Cobargo District Museum Inc. for the purpose of Bega Valley 101 Items project}

Contributors to this “library”: Beverly Holland, March 2019.

Acknowledgements, Rights and Permissions: Acknowledgement of Cobargo District Museum Inc. and Beverly Holland. © Cobargo District Museum Inc. All rights reserved.

© Cobargo District Museum Inc. All rights reserved

Image by DoubleTake Photographics licensed to South Coast History Society

This Bega Shire Hidden Heritage project has been made possible by the NSW Government through its Heritage Near Me program.

Any further information about object and any associated histories will be GREATLY welcomed and will be added to the above library of information. Please email your contribution to


52 Princes highway Cobargo NSW 2550