Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Butter and Cheese Factories - Part 3

Lang Lang Butter Factory.

In this blog post, we will look at the Yallock, Lang Lang and Yannathan milk factories. Yallock Southern Creamery, which was situated on the corner of the Yallock Creek and the No.5 Yallock drain, opened in 1897 as a Co-Operative, closed in 1898, re-opened 1899 and eventually sold to the owners of the Lang Lang Butter Factory. A butter factory had operated in Lang Lang for a few years before it closed in February 1893. It re-opened around 1895 with Charles Wood (or his company Wood & Co) being listed as the owners until 1926, when it was sold to Southern State Produce. It was then purchased by Ivan Stedman, a butter merchant, in 1928. It closed in 1940. The Factory was a major employer in Lang Lang. Farm pick-ups were initially done by horse and cart, but the 1930s the Factory had a fleet of trucks which collected from farms as far away as Phillip Island.

Lang Lang Butter Factory trucks. The photograph above, shows a truck on the punt to Phillip Island.

Yannathan Butter Factory (pictured below) was established in 1900 or 1905 (depending on sources) and was purchased by Ivan Stedman at the same he purchased the Lang Lang Factory. From 1929 the Cranbourne Shire Rate books lists the Yannathan factory as the “old Butter Factory” so I assume it was closed at this time. Yannathan, Catani and Bayles dairy farmers could also send their milk to Melbourne on the train, after the Strezlecki Railway line opened in 1922, and in 1923 the milk train carried over 1000 gallons of milk per day from those stations.

Incidently, Ivan Stedman (1895-1979) was a champion swimmer and led the Australian team at the opening ceremony of the Antwerp Olympics in 1920. He won a silver medal in the 4x200 freestyle relay team at those Olympics and also competed in the 1924 Paris Olympics. This is an achievement, made even more remarkable, by the fact that Ivan spent over three years in the A.I.F. during the First World War and was wounded at Passchendaele.

To read Part One of these blog posts on Butter and Cheese Factories, click here. To read Part Two, click here.

Photograph credits : The Yannathan Butter Factory photograph is taken from More Mickle Memories of Koo-Wee-Rup by David Mickle, published by the author, 1987. The Lang Lang photographs are from the collection of George Smith, held by the Lang Lang & District Historical Society.

Butter and Cheese Factories - Part 2

Cora Lynn Cheese Factory (taken 1998)

As we discovered in the previous blog post, in 1888 the Victorian Parliament allocated money to establish creameries, cheese and butter factories in the Colony and in the 1890s there were over 140 such factories in Victoria, including some in the Casey Cardinia. Up until around 1930 the area could sustain several factories for a number of reasons. Firstly, dairy cattle numbers were at their peak in the 1920s. It is estimated that the Parishes of Koo-Wee-Rup, Koo-Wee-Rup East and Yallock had 12,000 dairy cattle in early 1920s. Secondly, most farmers were still using horse and cart for transport, so local factories were necessary. Lastly, the factories had slightly different purposes in that whole milk could be was received at Iona and Cora Lynn, whilst farms with a separator could deposit cream at Drouin, Lang Lang or Bayles.

The Rouse farm at Cora Lynn, in 1928. Typical of many small dairy farms in the area.

At Iona, a Creamery run by the Fresh Food and Frozen Storage Company, was opened in 1897 and by 1900 it had 500 suppliers. The Creamery operated until around 1907. In 1906 Drouin Co-Operative Butter Factory established a factory in Iona on the corner of Little Road and the Main Drain. It closed in October 1928 and was demolished in 1930. Another butter factory, operated by Holdenson and Neilson, operated in Iona from 1912 or 1917 (depending on sources) and was taken over by the Drouin Co-Operative Butter Factory in April 1921. At one stage the Fresh Food and Frozen Storage Company operated 70 butteries and creameries in Victoria. Holdenson and Nielson operated at least 20 and in the early 1890s they produced over 2 million pounds of butter, most of it being exported.

The Drouin Co-Operative Butter Factory was established in 1904 and expanded under the leadership of their aptly named General Manager, Bill Kraft. This Company should not be confused with the Drouin Co-Operative Creamery which was established in 1891, went into liquidation in 1895, and was taken over by the Victorian Creamery and Butter Company, who were another big player in the dairy industry, at this time.
The Drouin Co-Operative Butter Factory also established a factory at Cora Lynn in 1910. This was extended in 1932, partially to compensate for Iona closing down, when the factory had around 500 regular suppliers, however it was closed in the late 1940s. Drouin Co-Operative Butter Factory took over the Bayles Butter Factory in 1944, which had been established in 1922. It was re-built and enlarged in 1966 and operated until January 1980. This gave Drouin access to the Melbourne market as Bayles had a City distribution licence. It was for this same reason that Drouin had obtained shares in the Croftbank Dairy in Cranbourne in the 1930s.

The Bayles Butter Factory, taken in 1923.
Photograph from the Bayles Fauna Park collection.

In the next blog post we will take a look at other Butter factories in the region.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Butter and Cheese Factories - Part 1

The Old Cheese Factory, Berwick, constructed 1875.

In my last blog post, I reproduced a copy of an article from the Argus newspaper of September 29th, 1932 about the Cora Lynn Cheese Factory. I thought it would be interesting to find out more about Cheese and Butter Factories in the Casey Cardinia area, as dairying has played an important role in the life and the economy of the area since European settlement. Private factories, which processed milk, were erected in the mid 1800s, one of the earliest was a cheese factory constructed in the 1860s by James Buchanan, at his farm Ardblair in Beaumont Road in Berwick. However, the best known example of these factories is the Old Cheese Factory in Homestead Road in Berwick. This was erected for Sir William Clarke in 1875 and he employed Murdoch McDonald as the manager and Cheese maker. A report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of November 17th, 1880 reports that the dairy is built specially for the manufacture of cheese, having double walls and double roof, with a space between to keep the building cool in hot weather, whilst the floor is well laid with cement. The lower room is used entirely for the manufacture of cheese, and the upper room for storing the cheeses when made. The daily work of the farm must be considerable, as two hundred cows are milked daily, and the establishment turns out 150 cheeses each week, employing about a dozen hands regularly , and at once shows the advantage of the excellent machinery in plant in use.

The property became part of a Soldier Settlement sub-division and as the tenants did not take up the option to purchase the property it reverted to the Crown. It was restored by the City of Berwick and officially opened on October 20th, 1985 as a "Centre for Cultural and Artistic Development" and can be hired out for functions and exhibitions.

Old Cheese Factory, ground floor, during 1985 renovations.

Another private cheese factory was constructed in 1892 by John Henry Smethurst on his property Glen Avis in Yannathan (pictured below). Smethurst was a pioneer in the use of machines. His dairy had a four horse-power boiler and a three horse-power Tangye engine which worked a 90 gallon separator and 200lb butter churn. He milked 75 cows at Yannathan and also had another cheese factory on his other property Lang Lang Park, at Athlone, where he milked 260 cows.
In 1888 the Victorian Parliament allocated money to establish creameries, cheese and butter factories in the Colony and in the 1890s there were over 140 of these factories in Victoria, including some in the Casey Cardinia and we will find out more about these in part two and three.

This is a photograph of the Smethurst property, Glen Avis, in Yannathan, taken from Buln Buln : a history of the Shire of Buln Buln by Graeme Butler (Shire of Buln Buln, 1979). It is now, unfortunately, out of print, but if you have an interest in the area it worth trying to track down a copy from a library or a second hand book dealer. Yannathan was part of the Shire of Buln Buln until 1893 when it was annexed by the Shire of Cranbourne. The book has an interesting chapter on dairying, where I found the information on Smethurst.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Australian Newspapers Beta project

The National Library of Australia commenced a four year project of digitising Australian newspapers in 2007 and ultimately aims to digitise 3 million pages. The project currently involves twenty six newspaper titles and the only Victorian one so far is The Argus which is on-line from 1915 to 1940. These newspapers are a great resource for both local and family historians. The Argus started in 1846 and closed in 1957 and covered State and National news but you can also find lots of local news. I did some searches using the names of various Casey Cardinia towns and found the following local items - a letter to the editor about the 'deplorable conditions' of the roads in Pearcedale in 1923 ; a report on the Congregational Church girls' camp at Harkaway in 1927 ; a photograph and short report on the unfurling of the Union Jack, by Miss Ada Arymtage, at the Beaconsfield Primary School. The School had sent an Australian flag to the Beaconsfield School in England in exchange ; a visit by the Governor of Victoria, Lord Somers, to the Gilwell Scout Camp at Gembrook in 1931 and a report on the official opening of the re-modelled Cora Lynn cheese factory in 1932 (see below)
The Argus, Thursday 29 September 1932, page 10.

You can search by any key words including family names which makes this project a great resource for Family historians. My great, great, great Grandfather Thomas Weatherhead, was a Sea Captain. I found a few reports in the Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser which mentioned Captain Weatherhead. On May 25th 1822 it was reported that Captain Weatherhead and the transport ship The Phoenix, carrying 182 male convicts, had arrived on the previous Monday. The Phoenix had left Portsmouth on January 5th. In the June 1st 1822 edition in the Claims and Demands column in the Classified Advertisements it tells us that Captain Weatherhead and The Phoenix was leaving the Colony and that any claims (debts etc) should be presented (see below).
Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser, Saturday 1 June 1822, page 1.

As you can see there is a wealth of information in these old newspapers and it is a fantastic project and a fabulous resource. You can find the newspapers on the National Library of Australia website at > Find > Newspapers > Digitised newspapers or click on this link