06 September, 2011

Anything but run of the mill

In my last post I looked at several of the wool scours which operated along the Barwon River in Newtown and also mentioned a number of the major woollen mills which operated in the same area. The whole wool industry from growing through to the end product - tweeds, blankets, flannels, rugs, carpets and fine-quality worsted fabrics used to make suits - was at one time or another represented along the banks of the Barwon.
Whilst the mills themselves no longer operate, in some cases the buildings they occupied have at least in part been preserved. Below are photos of some of the remaining buildings and EH Robinson Wool Scouring Works which I did not include in the previous blog:
The Geelong Returned Sailors and Soldiers Co-operative Mill (aka the Diggers' Mill)
Returned Sailors and Soldiers Woollen and Worsted Mill,
cnr Pakington and Rutland Sts
Returned Sailors and Soldiers Woollen and Worsted Mill,6
cnr Pakington and Rutland Sts
Foundation stone of Returned Sailors and Soldiers
Woollen and Worsted Mill, cnr Pakington and
Rutland Sts
 Collins Brothers Woollen Manufacturers
Remaining offices of Collins Brothers Mill, La Trobe Tce
The Albion and Union Mills were two of Geelong's top producers over the decades from 1870 to 1900, being the largest producers of tweed by 1900:
Remaining section of the Albion Woollen and Worsted Mill,
La Trobe Tce

Western view of remaining section of the Albion Woollen
and Worsted Mill, La Trobe Tce. The Union Mill stood
on the adjacent vacant block
EH Robinson Scour has operated since 1920:
EH Robinson Wool Scouring Works, Riversdale Road


  1. Hi, this is a great blog! I wonder if you might know anything about a scouring works owned by a HB Smith, possibly somewhere on Shannon Avenue? The scouring works closed down sometime (I think around 1940-50s and moved to Williamstown in Melbourne. Unfortunately that's all I know about it, but I'm hoping to learn the name and actual address of it.

  2. Hi,
    I had a similar question to yours a couple of years ago on another related post (was that you?) asking about EB Smith. I was not able to find anything of much use at that time and am not faring much better now, but a couple of things spring to mind.
    Firstly, the 2 main scours I know of which could possibly be described as on or near Shannon Ave (known originally as the West Melbourne Road) were the Phoenix Wool Scour established by Brigadier General Robert Smith and the Marnock Vale Wool Scour which I believe is today's EH Robinson Wool Scour on Bridge Street, so set back from Marnockvale Rd which would originally have formed the bottom end of Shannon Ave on the old bridge alignment. Newspaper reports suggest it opened in 1920 with HR Wilson in charge. So, could your Henry B Smith have been a son of the Brigadier? I know he had 2 daughters and a son, but could not find names. The Brigadier died in 1928.
    The Corio Wool Scour also opened "on the Barwon" at Marnock Vale in 1919 (closed 1926), but I'm not sure where and in 1894 a scour owned by "Francis and Cook" close to the Princes Bridge went up in flames. Once again, this would have been close to the old bridge alignment, not the current one, so possibly on West Melbourne Rd. Whether it reopened I don't know. Another scour at Marnock Vale (no name or location) also went up in smoke in 1898.
    There seems to be a shortage of names and also the names of proprietors associated with these articles making it tricky to know if any may have included Henry B Smith.
    I can't see much else, but if I find anything I'll let you know.

  3. Hi,
    I took another look around the internet for some info on what the mill could be, and came across the death notice for Robert Smith on trove. It says he went into business with Mr W & I Smith, I think after he came back from the war and before he died. This Henry B Smith could be a relative of W or I Smith perhaps.

  4. Hello My great grandfather William Francis together with a Mr Cook owned the Marnock Vale Wool Scouring Works which was situated right near the bridge and did burn down in 1894. The newspaper article reporting the fire speculated whether they could afford to resume the business. I have three photos relating to this wool scour.The foundations of the scour can be found today.