Geelong Butter Factory

Geelong Butter Factory

Here is one more post before this blog takes its mid-year break. As Geelong grows and changes, quite a few old industrial premises are being demolished. In Lonsdale Street, South Geelong, for example, workshops and offices no longer needed by Barwon Water, our regional water supply authority, are being taken down. On the early Plan for the Parish of Corio [it can be downloaded from the Public Record Office of Victoria website but, warning, it takes a while], I saw that a small narrow block of land at the westerly end of the area being cleared had long ago been the location of the Geelong Butter Factory [as shown in the ‘dead centre’ of the map extract in the featured image above]. I started looking for resources online. There are quite a few newspaper articles but little other researched material. I decided the story would interest others and should be the subject for a List on the Trove website, the web address of which is shown in the references below.

In the introduction I wrote that the newspaper articles and websites contained are: “resources for the history of the Geelong and District Butter and Cheese Factory which was located from c. 1892 to c. 1910 in an unpretentious corrugated iron building on a tiny triangular block in Lonsdale Street, South Geelong right next to the South Geelong Railway station. The company was formed after public meeting of dairy farmers in 1892, and erected a small, corrugated iron building housing the churning and refrigerating machinery which received cream by daily train from creameries at Ceres, Inverleigh, Lara, Moorabool and Mount Moriac. Butter was sold both in the Colony of Victoria and in England under the “Fern leaf” brand, and early shipments earned good prices in London. There are regular articles describing the business’s annual general meetings in the Geelong Advertiser newspaper. A regular lament was insufficient supply of milk from a district in which only a few areas have regular high rainfall needed for sustained milk production. By 1909, the business was in liquidation and was closed. Prominent in its affairs had been local businessman and politician, H. F. Richardson who owned the “Exchange” where AGMs were held. Another cooperative butter factory was to start in Geelong in 1937. Much later the Lonsdale Street block was home to a greengrocer’s, and then it was the workshop of Barwon Asset Solutions prior to demolition in mid-2019.”

References

PROV – Parish Plan, Corio (Imperial) – http://access.prov.vic.gov.au

Trove List – “Geelong Butter Factory”https://trove.nla.gov.au/list?id=131224

Featured Image

Extracted from Geelong, Parish of Corio, Parish Plan [see above]

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An Amazing Site

An Amazing Site

When I was researching the history of my house and the neighbourhood, the Geelong Heritage Centre referred me to a page on the website of the State Library of Victoria which allows the researcher to access the digitised Sands and McDougall Directories. It took a while to learn, but a click of my mouse led me to the land use of local properties over decades. I ended up with the table below which shows for fifteen local properties that had changed land use, corner shops and industry had almost gone and the locality is more residential:

1930 1950 1970 Today
Residential Residential Offices
Butcher [Jas.Leckie] Butcher [C. McKenna] Butcher [C. McKenna] Residential
South Geelong Police Station South Geelong Police Station Residential Residential
Wood Yard Wood Yard Fuel Merchant Residential [6 units]
Butcher [William Rogers] William Rogers Vacant Residential [2 houses]
Grocer [Eustace Martin] Grocer [Miss A. M. Little] * Page missing from scan Massage & Health
Confectioner and grocer [Harry Cox] Confectioner and grocer [Harry Cox]  “ Fast food & convenience store
Atlantic Union Oil Co. [Oil Depot] Atlantic Union Oil Co. [Oil Depot] Esso [Bulk Fuel Depot] Station Car Park
Briquette Depot [State Electricity Commission Briquette Depot [State Electricity Commission Briquette Depot [State Electricity Commission Part-Station Car Park and part-residential [28 town houses]
Fuel Merchant Part -Station Car Park
Foundry [J. Dyson & Co. Pty. Ltd] Foundry [J. Dyson & Co. Pty. Ltd] Foundry [J. Dyson & Co. Pty. Ltd] Residential [6 houses]
Robert W. Hill [Engineering] Robert W. Hill [Engineering] Robert W. Hill [Engineering] General Engineering
Grocer [ J. O’Halloran] Grocer [ Miss M. Diamond] Grocer [ Mrs. B. Holden] Residential
Grocer [Thos. Hindson] Grocer [J. A. McGregor] Grocer [R & N Trevorrow] Milk Bar
Station Master’s House Station Master’s House Station Master’s House Child Care Centre

Reference

http://digital.slv.vic.gov.au/R/?func=collections&collection_id=3907

Featured image

The Yarra Street milk bar continues to serve our local area.

Pressure is Sufficient

Pressure is Sufficient

Not far from our house is the car park for commuters from South Geelong Station. From 1928 till demolition in 1990, part of the site was sheds for the Victorian State Electricity Commission’s [SEC] Geelong briquette depot. The Melbourne Museum’s SEC Collection web page, the second item on my new Trove List, Briquettes and Geelong, https://trove.nla.gov.au/list?id=126043 , has plenty of images of briquette production and retail sales and is a good place to start with this topic. The SEC no longer exists [ it was broken into bits in the 1990s to create an “electricity market”], and briquettes, from the 1930s to 1970s a mainstay for industries and domestic heating and kitchens, are now scarcely used, replaced in part by natural gas. The SEC was formed in 1919 to exploit Victoria’s brown coal and hydro power resources and to cut reliance on black coal shipped from New South Wales. A power station was built at Yallourn in the Latrobe Valley and a hydro-electricity generation complex in the Kiewa Valley and networks of high voltage transmission lines were built across the State. Brown coal would be uneconomic to transport it in its natural form, being naturally wet and requiring a sharp reduction in its high moisture content before it will burn. Using technology derived from Germany, a briquetting plant was built at Yallourn. Wet coal was brought by conveyor from the open cut mine and dried by a blast of hot air. What followed is described lyrically in the first history of the SEC written in 1949: “…And now comes the amazing transformation. The mould, very slightly tapered away from the press plunger, is filled with the requisite quantity of warm, powdered brown coal. The plunger exerts upon it a pressure of 250 tons. And the contents of the mould are pressed out, no longer a brown powder, but a solid, hard, shiny briquette. No binding agent is used. The heat of the coal, the slight moisture content, and the pressure are sufficient”. Geelong’s power station was fired for many years with briquettes transported via South Geelong. Small-scale electricity generating plants were superseded as SEC power was connected to the remotest communities. The SEC also ran trams in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

Featured image

The South Geelong briquette depot, circa 1990, just before demolition. Source: Public Records Office of Victoria, GVRDO5767, Briquette depot – Railway Siding – South Geelong, 2 Files: VPRS 18094/P0016/9 and VPRS 18094/P0016/30.

Quotation

Page 138, SEC (1949), Three Decades: the story of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria…to 1948, Hutchinson

Knowledge magazine

Knowledge magazine

In the archives I came across some folders of Knowledge magazine, a publication I remember reading assiduously when I was at secondary school in England in the early 1960s. The magazine was a “part work”. Every week you collected a 16-page part from the local news agent, then you placed them in order in a folder which came with the first issue, and then you tied each part in with a string—after twelve parts you had a volume. The Wikipedia reference below says that each part cost two shillings, quite a lot from my earnings delivering the milk on Saturday mornings! The one-or-two-page articles covered topics like ancient, medieval and modern history [the latter was mostly about events in the nineteenth century]; physical and human geography; astronomy, the human body, and animals. The concept for the magazine was based on an Italian original called Conoscere. The illustrations are colourful [unusual in those days of black and white TV and only black and white illustrations in books] and following a uniform style for painted illustrations, maps, photographs and diagrams with, to my mind anyway, an Italian look about them. It is interesting to revisit the view of the world I was absorbing. Many articles can still be read profitably today, but much has changed. For example, page 14 of Volume 1 [part of its cover is the featured image above] says there were 11 countries in the British Commonwealth: today there are 53 in the Commonwealth of Nations, and the significance of that grouping is quite different. Page 24 says there were 49 cities in the world with populations over 1 million. Today, Google tells me, “…by 2030…731 cities will have between 500,000 and 1 million inhabitants.” Page 421 of Volume 3 lists about 100 known elements; today there are 118. In another article, Pluto is still shown as a planet. However, the compiler of Knowledge was up with the then latest technology and science – talking about the then new theory of plate tectonics, mentioning the introduction of electronic control for manufacturing machines, and illustrating a main frame computer [“…electronic tubes are replacing the functions of man, especially when the job is one that repeats the same act time after time”], mind you this was the pre-transistor era and two generations before our digital age. Knowledge magazine was broad in scope, clearly and brightly presented, and a pleasure to assemble, handle and keep and, today, there is even a market on eBay.

Reference

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_(partwork)

Michael Cannon

Michael Cannon

Late last year I re-read Michael Cannon’s radical history The Land Boomers, a riveting account of the amazing time over 120 years ago when Melbourne’s land market boomed and busted spectacularly, its consequences lasting decades. The book was first published by Melbourne University Press in 1966, and the edition I read was published by Nelson’s in 1976 and is illustrated with striking and forthright cartoons drawn for the Illustrated Australian News, Melbourne Punch, Truth, The Ant, Australasian Sketcher, Bulletin, and the Australasian. I had just read Ross McMullin’s account of the career of Will Dyson and recognised some of Dyson’s meticulously-drawn, acerbic cartoons. Soon afterwards I came across Michael Cannon’s own description of his long and significant writing and publishing career in an article from the Latrobe Journal. Cannon also writes about his second career as an archivist and the challenges he took on in the early days of the Public Records Office of Victoria like compiling the important Historical Records of Victoria. At one time: “… in a portable safe outside the Keeper’s office I discovered dozens of files of original documents, most of them written by Lonsdale [a key government official in early Melbourne], and unknown to historians. The safe had obviously been tipped on its side during transit…and the files were a frightful mess, strewn out of order and unaccessioned. I arranged photocopies of the originals into sequence and left the originals for someone else to sort out. Similarly, on a shelf in a dark corner of the repository, with no name and no location number, I discovered a crumbling ledger book that contained the magistrate’s quill-written records of Geelong’s first court cases.” In my much less significant late career in the archives last week, I came across an envelope of those small black and white photographs taken in the austerity years of 1946-1948 – the kind my parents took to record significant family events and my mother used to call them “snaps”. I placed the photographs in order and put them in protective sleeves: it dawned on me that the thirteen-year-old photographer had told the story of his experience at boarding school with exceptional insight. It was a “real find”.

Featured Image

https://www.mup.com.au/authors/michael-cannon

Reference

Michael Cannon’s summary of his writing and publishing career is at:

https://www.slv.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/La-Trobe-Journal-97-Michael-Cannon.pdf

Until 2019

Until 2019

In 2018 this blog published thirty times and a fifth of the views were from outside Australia. Thank you to every visitor. I’m finishing the year with a note on the Ford plant which closed in 2016. another of the plants which once prospered in the northern suburbs of Geelong:

Hubert Charles French (1882-1961) joined Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd in 1922 as assistant sales manager. In 1923 he was sent to investigate Ford’s Australian operation. He was highly critical of the quality of Australian roads and disdained the ‘easy living, luxury loving’ independent Ford distributors. This outlook, and his discovery of the expanding presence of General Motors-Holden’s Ltd, convinced him Ford should  open “our own business in Australia”. Because of Geelong’s harbour and rail-side location, it was decided in February 1925 to centralise manufacture of parts and bodies in Geelong (with local assembly in other States). The Ford Motor Co. of Australia Pty Ltd works opened at North Shore in 1925, with French as managing director. A single storey 200,000 square feet factory was built and the first Model T Ford rolled off the production line at the new factory in August 1926. Ford’s prices were reduced, and its share of the market increased. 35,758 Model T’s were sold before the Model A was introduced in 1928.

Featured Image

Aerial View, Ford and International Harvester plants, Geelong, 1953 –

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/images?page=1&keyword=ford%20geelong&smt=1

Reference

Joe Rich, French, Hubert Charles (1882 – 1961), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, Melbourne University Press, 1996, p. 225.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/french-hubert-charles-10249

“The Phosphate”, 1920s

“The Phosphate”, 1920s

This post is about another well-known location in northern Geelong and introduces a new Trove List of resources dating mainly from the 1920s for the early history of the Phosphate Cooperative Company of Australia Ltd (later ‘Pivot’, and renamed after its main product). Phosphate rock was being imported from Nauru and Ocean Island (now Banaba). The new venture required construction of a new wharf and created much additional traffic for the local railway network. The factory still operates as part of the Incitec Pivot firm whose website says: “…IPL’s fertiliser history goes back to 1919 with the formation of the Phosphate Co-operative Company of Australia Limited, which was later to become Pivot Limited…” Quotations from two of the sources summarise key events in this early history:“…The major advance for the industry was when the impact of phosphate on agricultural productivity was recognised by farmers. The first imports of phosphate rock occurred in 1905…” , and“…In early 1919 Augustus Wolskel had visions of forming a co-operative company to manufacture fertilisers (mainly 22% superphosphate) for farmers at cost price. As soon as sufficient shareholders were recruited he took over a small chemical company in Macaulay, a suburb of Melbourne near Flemington, which was manufacturing glauber salts, Epsom salts and other like industrial chemicals, and had a reasonable laboratory in which they could work to develop the manufacturing processes for sulphuric acid, and the rock and acid mixing to make the superphosphate…”

The List

https://trove.nla.gov.au/list?id=124214

Featured Image

From SLV Image Library, showing the factory in the 1960s, but –

For an image of the factory in 1927 go to: State Library of Victoria, Pivot, by C. D Pratt circa 1927 – https://cv.vic.gov.au/stories/a-diverse-state/north-shore-geelongs-boom-town-1920s-1950s/pivot-phosphate-co-op-co-of-australia/