The Jersey Butter Factory on Windsor Terrace and its conversion to flats

The decision to draw up the Articles of the Association for the Hawkesbury Dairying Company and to select a site for the establishment of a butter factory in Windsor was made at a meeting held on Thursday, 14 January 1892 at Bushell’s Royal Hotel in Windsor. The meeting was chaired by Mr James Bligh Johnston and was attended by a large number of Hawkesbury farmers and interested local residents. It was estimated that £2,000, in £1 shares, would be required to form the company and a further £1,000 would be required to run the factory. This cost was based on figures obtained from Mr Josephson of Messrs Waugh and Josephson, ‘boilermakers, dairy and refrigerating engineers’ of Sydney for a building that would ‘do for 1,000 to 2,000 gall[on]s per day’.

Messrs J.B. Johnston, B. Hall, J.T. Gosper, A. Tuckerman, S. Gow, W. McGrath and J.C. Fitzpatrick chose the factory site and paid £320 for approximately five (5) acres (a little over two hectares) on part of Mr J.T. Gosper’s land on The Terrace at Windsor, on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. The site is now known as 63 The Terrace, Windsor.

By 18 March 1892, tenders were being called ‘for erection and completion of buildings for butter factory at Windsor’ and Mr J. Lavor from Parramatta was the successful tenderer.  With the buildings costing £120 and the machinery costing £510, the factory was completed and ready for business by 1 August 1892. It was officially opened on Wednesday, 24 August, by His Excellency the Governor (Lord Jersey) and afterwards became known as the ‘Jersey Butter Factory’.

There was an underground Cooling or Butter Room built into the bank of the river with dimensions of 30 x 12 feet. ‘The floor, like the rest of the building, is of concrete. Brick walls of double thickness, and round this building outside is an air-space or shaft of 3 feet in width which allows a current of fresh air to be continually passing round the room, and by means of many moveable ventilators the air can be admitted or excluded from the chamber…The room is roofed with patent Traeger Wellbleck iron and covered with 4 feet of earth and turf to exclude the heat of the sun…Outside of the cooling room is a flight of brick steps, which communicate from the road into the building…The rest of the building is below the road and is on a level with the cooling chamber…Outside the building, adjoining the cooling room, is a large underground tank from which cool water is obtained…The tank has a capacity of 10,000 gallons’.

There was also a Separating Room on site, with dimensions of 20 x 20 feet. The roof was ‘covered with the new patent fluted red French tiles from a Marseilles maker, which, besides keeping the building wonderfully cool, gives a pleasing and artistic appearance to the building. The milk is received from the road at a door which is immediately above the separating-room, the road being almost level with the roof of the building’. Other rooms in use were the Engine Room, Boiler Room, Washing-Up Room and the Board Room. The windows were ‘all provided with Venetian shutters to exclude the heat of the sun’ and ‘the floors are all granolithic pavement’.

Despite the initial success of the Jersey Butter Factory during the first few years of its operation, it appears that the company was in financial trouble by 1907 as a report in the local newspaper states that it was the intention of Mr I.N. Woods ‘to remove the plant of the Windsor butter factory to the Ebenezer wharf, near Mr Cross’ residence, and will there establish a saw mill. Mr Woods has given an undertaking to send 100 tons of wood per week to Sydney, and it will be shipped by the S.S. Narara. When the wood is cut out around Ebenezer, the plant will be shifted to another spot, and so on, up and down the river.’

By 1911, the butter factory and the land had been acquired by Mr Ray H.H. Brown of Ebenezer and it was from him that the Hawkesbury Condensed Milk Company Limited purchased the ‘fee simple’ and moved the machinery and plant from the Pitt Town Dairy and Butter Company to the factory on The Terrace at Windsor. The company spent ‘over £5,000 in alterations and additions to the building, and in new and up-to-date plant and machinery’. They began operations in Windsor on 28 January 1911, with the intention of manufacturing ‘Red Cross’ and ‘Swan’ brands of condensed milk and sweet cream. ‘The new factory buildings were built by Mr G.H. Hardy of Sydney and the whole of the new machinery was installed under the supervision of the well-known Sydney consulting engineers, Messrs J. Wildridge and Sinclair, who also provided the plans for the building…the floors of the factory are laid in cement or petrite, and the walls are all metal, so that the whole place can be sluiced down morning and evening and kept thoroughly sweet and clean…a fine can-washing room has been provided for suppliers…once the fresh milk enters the vacuum pan, it is never exposed to the ordinary atmosphere again, the whole process being conducted in either air-tight plant or hermetrically sealed chambers.’ It was recorded as ‘that attractive structure on the bank of the river, in the four corners of which the milk-preserving industry will shortly receive attention’.

In 1912, Windsor Council gave permission to Mr Frank A. Waller, Managing Director of Australian Milk Products Limited, to ‘erect additional factory premises, in the shape of a packing shed, which would be in keeping with and in the same material as the present buildings, to cost £200.’ By December 1916, Windsor Municipal Council Health Officer recommended approval of a request from Mr Hilton Clarke of Australian Milk Products Limited, for additions to the packing shed at the factory.

On Wednesday morning, 14 December 1921, it was reported that ‘a bad accident happened at the A.M.P. factory. Mr Stan Daniels was coming down the steps from the condensing room when he slipped. There is a window near the bottom and his arm went through a broken pane of glass. He sustained a terrible cut on the forearm, one of the arteries being severed.’ Mr Daniels was immediately rushed to hospital after treatment by Dr Alsop. The same newspaper also reported on the impending closure of the Australian Milk Products factory in Windsor by Nestles and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company Limited, who had acquired the Windsor condensed milk industry. On the same day, 14 December 1921, staff were told they would not be required after 24 December. That was a poor Christmas present for the staff and Mrs Margaret Kooy, the daughter of Fred Davis who was one of the workers at the factory, commented to the author recently that ‘they bought the factory to close it down’.

By 1926, the condensed milk factory had been sold to the Peacock Jam Company (called the Nepean Tomato Products Factory) for pulping of fruit and tomatoes for jam-making. This venture was apparently not successful and by December 1933 Windsor Council’s Electricity Engineer, Mr K. Mortley, had carried out removal of the ‘disused mains and equipment’ from the site of the factory on The Terrace at Windsor and tenders had been called for the demolition of the wooden buildings on the site. In 1934, Mr S. Busby, Surveyor from Parramatta, submitted to Windsor Municipal Council for approval, plans for the proposed subdivision of land in Terrace Street, Windsor, on account of Nepean Tomato Products. The request was approved subject to payment of ‘necessary fees and charges’.

From 1937, it appears that the extant building on the site of the old condensed milk factory at 63 The Terrace, Windsor was acquired by Mr C. Hall and approved by Windsor Municipal Council as flats. A report of the Council meeting in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette dated Friday, 2 April 1937 on page 7 states that ‘Inspections have been carried out at buildings in course of construction and drainage inspected in accordance with the regulations. The installation of the septic tank at C. Hall’s flats, on The Terrace, has been completed satisfactorily, and with the exception of external pointing, the converting of the factory into flats has been completed with excellent results’.

The external brick walls of the building (which was known locally as Hall’s Flats) are of solid (not cavity) load-bearing design using semi-dry-pressed face and common bricks of modern Imperial dimensions laid in English garden wall bond which has been described as:

English garden wall bond. The general arrangement of bricks in this type of bonding is similar to that of English bond except that the heading courses are only inserted at every fourth or sixth course. Usually the arrangement consists of one course of headers to three courses of stretchers. A queen closer is placed next to the quoin header of the heading course to give the necessary lap.

The window openings of the flats feature bull-nosed brick sills and concrete lintels. This construction is typical of multi-story industrial buildings constructed in the late Victorian/early Edwardian period and is consistent with reports of the Jersey Butter Factory building constructed on the site in 1892. The entrance doorways to the flats are installed in original window openings that have been opened up to floor level. The doorways feature terrazzo thresholds over the full width of the opening and the original two-inch timber (probably Oregon) quad moulding that covered the joint between the verandah decking and the brick wall on each floor is still in place on some of the flats. These are typical of construction details used between the wars and are consistent with the reported conversion of the factory building into flats in 1937.

(This article by Carol Roberts first appeared in Hawkesbury Historical Society Newsletter, April 2015.)

copyrightCarol Roberts, 2017.

References:

All newspaper references from the National Library of AustraliaTrove, http://trove.nla.gov.au, accessed between 14 November 2014 and 23 March 2015.

‘Butter Factory and Dairying Company’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 16 January 1892, p. 4.

‘Butter Factory, Windsor – Tenders’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 19 March 1892, p. 9.

‘Hawkesbury Dairying Company’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 13 August 1892, p. 5.

‘Visit of the Governor to Windsor: Opening of a Dairy Factory’, Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday, 25 August 1892, p. 8.

‘The Jersey Butter Factory’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 15 October 1892, p. 2.

‘Dyer’s Windsor’ (removal of plant to Ebenezer wharf), Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 15 June 1907, p. 3.

‘Windsor as it is – and as it was – by The Wanderer’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 19 November 1910, p. 1.

‘A Local Industry: Hawkesbury Condensed Milk Coy., Limited – Now Established in Windsor’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 4 March 1911, p. 7.

‘Windsor Municipal Council, Full Council present at the Ordinary Meeting on the 23rd October’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Saturday, 2 November 1912, pp. 1 and 2.

‘Early Days of Windsor, Industries’, by Rev. Jas. Steele, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 2 October 1914, p. 12.

‘Windsor Municipal Council, regular fortnightly meeting, Health Report’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 8 December 1916, p. 1.

‘Week to Week’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 16 December 1921, 22 September 1933.

‘An Enterprising Firm, Jam Factory for Windsor, Purchase of A.M.P. Buildings’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 7 May 1926, p. 4.

‘Local and General News’, Shoalhaven Telegraph, Wednesday, 9 June & 4 August 1926.

‘Windsor Council, Electrical Engineer’s Report’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 8 December 1933, p. 1.

‘Windsor Council’, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, 6 April 1934, 2 April 1937.

Information on English garden wall bond brick pattern from The Construction Civil website, http://www.theconstructioncivil.org/, accessed 10 December 2014.

Construction information about extant building at 63 The Terrace, Windsor, from Geoff Roberts, former CSIRO Research Scientist (Building).