The Sperry New Holland building at Cranbourne, c. 1992
Sperry New Holland commenced operations in Victoria at Dandenong in 1955. They manufactured agricultural equipment including hay balers and hay bale elevators. In 1980, they purchased a 46 hectare site (around ten times the size of their Dandenong operations) in Cranbourne-Berwick Road, Cranbourne. They built a 2 hectare factory and it opened around 1982. Initially there were over 400 people employed but a recession hit within 18 months and there were redundancies and layoffs. In 1985 the Company was taken over by the Ford Motor Company, but continued producing machinery and also made parts for car manufacturers.
The factory had its own spur line from the main South Gippsland Railway line, The spur line went into what is now the The Shed, a skate board facility, so I presume it was used a for despatch. If you are interested in railway infrastructure then there are some photographs of the old line on the Vicsig.net website, here.
The Ford New Holland factory closed down around 1992 as operations were shifted to New South Wales and sadly, workers were made redundant. The entire site was sold to the Cranbourne Shire for five million dollars. The Casey Cardinia Library Corporation moved into the Administration building in 1996 and the main factory building is now the Terry Vickerman Indoor Sports Centre.
Terry Vickerman was the Cranbourne Shire Chief Executive for 22 years until he retired in December 1994, after the Council amalgamations. He was responsible for the purchase of the building, which was not without its critics. The Shire of Cranbourne Ratepayers and Residents Association threatened to stand candidates against the sitting councillors who had voted for the purchase - the gist of the complaints against the purchase were that the Council had not provided enough information on the transaction and that residents outside of the Cranbourne township would have to pay for the site but would obtain no benefit from it.
Cranbourne Sun March 16, 1992. It's a scan of a photocopy, so it's a fairly ordinary image, but if you click on the photo you can enlarge it and read it.
It depended on who you asked if the cost of the site at five million dollars was reasonable or not. It does appear that many ratepayers were unhappy with not only the initial purchase price but with the money required to convert it to its new purpose - an estimated ten million dollars. However, according to a report in Hansard on May 3, 1994, the local member Gary Rowe (Liberal member for the Legislative Assembly seat of Cranbourne from 1992 to 2002) considered that the five million dollars was a 'bargain basement ' price.
Hansard May 3, 1994. Access Mr Rowe's full speech here
We found this envelope the other day in a cupboard in a store room at Cranbourne Library - it was the key cupboard, all the keys are still there - but we souvenired this for the Archive, as it has the Sperry New Holland logo and the Cranbourne address!