Monday, 16 December 2013

William A. Smith lace factory in Doveton

Lace Street in Eumemmerring is the only  reminder of the William A. Smith lace factory which operated there from 1949 to the 1980s.  When the factory was built it was in Power Road, however Power Road was later diverted around the Eumemmerring Creek and the small section of it, south of the Creek, was renamed Lace Street (see aerial photograph below). The factory was in an area which has gone through many changes of name - initially Eumemmerring, then Dandenong, from 1954 called Doveton and from 1981 called Eumemmerring (again)

This article was  in, of all papers, the Kalgoorlie Times of March 30 1948 and is about the establishment of the lace factory. It also appeared word for word in the Burnie Advocate.  

Maria Harding, in her book, Doveton: a brief history says that the factory was built in 1949 and started operations that year. Two managers houses were also built at this time.  Mrs Harding writes that this factory made handkerchiefs, napery and veils, no doubt using the products imported from the English factory. In 1953, another factory was built alongside the original one and this factory manufactured lace. A third managers residence was also built and eighty four people were employed. The factory operated until the 1980s when it closed as it could no longer compete with cheaper imports. The factory, which was on the west side of Lace Street was sold and has been demolished as have the three houses.

The employees of the lace factory in 1951.

There was an article in the Women's Weekly of April 22, 1959 entitled Dandenong: a symbol of industrial strength. This article looked at various factories in the Dandenong,  including the lace factory. They interviewed William Smith and he claims that his factory was the first in Dandenong. It goes on to say that at his 300 year old walnut desk, brought from England, Mr Smith sighed ' for the old days at Dandenong (1947) when not a light could be seen for miles at night'.  "Look at the bustle now', he said. A heavy stream of traffic packed the four-lane highway in from of the factory.

This picture accompanied the Women's Weekly article about Dandenong and shows some of the lace factory employees.
Women's Weekly of April 22, 1959

This is a 1963 aerial of Doveton / Eumemmerring. Click on photo to enlarge it. That's the tree-lined  Eumemmerring Creek, snaking through from top right to bottom left and just to the right of the Creek, at the bottom, you can see Lace Street and the two factories on the western side, along with the three Manager's houses. Further north, the two ovals are Robinson Reserve and L.S. Reid oval. The intersection middle top is that of Frawley Road/Paperbark Street with Power Road. Follow Power Road to the bottom of the photo and it intersects with the Highway.  Power Road was diverted at this end as it would have been too expensive to build a bridge to take heavy trucks*. 

 *William Smith in an interview with Maria Harding

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