With the arrival of European settlement and the development of Geelong during the gold rush, came the expected social problems and so it was deemed necessary to build an orphanage to house the destitute children of Geelong. The first site chosen was at Fyansford where the Protestant Orphanage Asylum was erected at the top of Fyansford Hill overlooking the Moorabool Valley below. Built in 1855 of local bluestone in the Gothic style, it was designed by Geelong architect Andrew McWilliams, winner of a design competition for the building. A north wing was added to the orphanage in 1857 then in 1865 a Common School designed by Joseph Lowe Shaw was built.
|The Protestant Orphanage Asylum/Cement works Retirees Museum June, 2012|
|The Protestant Orphanage Asylum 1873 showing the original building and newer|
north wing (right). Image by Thomas Washbourne, reproduction rights held by the
State Library of Victoria
Over the years, small portions of the original land grant to the orphanage were revoked for the benefit of the cement works. Initially, just prior to the opening of the railway line to Fyansford in 1918 a section was reclaimed for the Board of Land and Works (Railway) to enable the construction of the line to the cement works. Next, the ownership of a small portion of land at the north east corner of the orphanage block was transferred to the ownership of APC in 1927.
It was only around two years before this, on 13th January, 1925 that the company had finally purchased the land on which their works had stood for the past 35 years. In the same year APC also made another significant land purchase when it bought the "old Fairview gardens" (The Age, 2nd March, 1925) along with additional adjacent land, including many of the quarter acre blocks within the Fyansford township reserve which had first been sold in 1854. It was on this site that they built a new plant constructed of steel and concrete, modernising and expanding their operations and floating the company on the stock exchange as Australian Cement Ltd. 1926 also saw the opening of a private railway owned by the cement works which carried limestone from the quarry at Batesford to the new works.
|An aerial view of the cement works showing the newly-erected plant on the|
site of the old 'Fairview Gardens'. Photographer Charled Daniel Pratt, 1926
Image held by the State Library of Victoria
The new building was located in Broughton Dr, Belmont where until 1955 it was known as the Geelong and Western District Protestant Orphanage after which it became Glastonbury - Geelong Protestant Orphanage. Today, the building is home to the junior school campus of Christian College Geelong.
At Fyansford, following the departure of the orphanage, the old buildings and the land at the top of the hill were sold to the cement works who used the property to build leisure facilities for its employees. The buildings were converted into a recreation hall, library, billiard room and concert hall whilst tennis courts, a bowling-green, a sports oval and a croquet-lawn were constructed on the additional land. For a time during the 1950s the orphanage building was used to house migrant workers, then in the late 1970s a museum collection was established in part of the building. Over the years it grew to become the Geelong Cement Works Retirees Museum which occupied most of the building.
|The Fyansford Cement Works viewed from the south in 1996. Image taken by|
Joyce Evans, downloaded from the National Library of Australia
Whilst the orphanage buildings and bowling green still stand, the cement works buildings along with their iconic chimneys were demolished in 2004 to make way for a proposed residential development - Fyansford Green - the brainchild of Robert Moltoni, owner of Moltoni Group Pty Ltd who had been in talks with the City of Greater Geelong as early as 2001. Little remains of the cement works besides the silos which remain a prominent feature of the skyline above Fyansford Hill.
|Remaining cement silos at Fyansford, September, 2016|
In 2011 however, all these plans were put on hold when Moltoni Group ran into financial difficulties. Development of the area stalled until the land was sold to developers ICD Property who are now implementing the first stage of the Gen Fyansford development.
|Gen Fyansford development, September, 2016|