Former Nugget Polish Company Building
16-20 Kanowna Street
EXTENT OF NOMINATION
The nomination received was for the two-storey former Nugget Factory Building (L-shaped along Kanowna Street) as well as the single storey extensions, Williamstown.
Nomination diagram not to scale
BRIEF SUMMARY OF HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
The former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown was originally built as a steam laundry in 1887-88 for Mrs Eliza Black to replace a similar facility she ran to launder linen for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) ships which docked at Williamstown. Formerly located in timber buildings near Nelson Place in the early 1880s, the new steam laundry was constructed in Morris Street (later Kanowna Street) opposite the Melbourne railway line, and near the docks area. Designed by Footscray architect, Charles Polain, the substantial two storey brick building presented an ornate street facade to Morris Street. After Black’s death in 1888 the building was offered for sale and purchased by George Thompson in 1892. It continued to operate as a laundry for a short period before occupation by the Silex Soap Company in 1896-97. After remaining unoccupied for some time, the building was leased to importers and manufacturers, the Standard Centrifugal Company before being again offered for sale in 1907. The property was subsequently sold to the Nugget Polish Company, an English company formed in 1898 to manufacture shoe polish, and established in Melbourne in the early twentieth century importing the product. A decision to manufacture locally led to the purchase of this building which was located close to rail, shipping and raw products. The company began by exclusively manufacturing shoe polish, with other products added through the twentieth century. Additions to the property included a separate single storey brick building to house the accounting office in Morris Street in 1921, single storey buildings to either side of the original building possibly c1932-33 and large storage buildings to the west in the 1950s. A significant change was made to the building at this time with the stripping of the decoration and replacement of windows from the main facade. Manufacturing continued at the premises until 1976 when business was transferred interstate. The building was then used by the naval dockyards and for various ship and boat-related activities.
The nominated section of the former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown comprises a two storey L-shaped building and two attached single storey wings to the west and south. The main wing of the two storey building fronts Kanowna Street. The two storey building and the single storey building to the rear constitute the original building and the wing to the south was possibly added c1932-33. These buildings are built of red brick with hipped iron roofs. The main two storey Kanowna Street facade is parapetted and divided into five sections by pilaster strips. Paired pilasters flank the central bay of the symmetrical facade. Steel framed rectangular windows are contained within each bay at both levels, with one lower bay containing a door and smaller window. Simple horizontal mouldings define the upper floor and ceiling levels, with a plain parapet above. The main facade was substantially altered in the 1950s with the removal of all decorative ornamentation, including decorated pilasters, paired semi-circular arched windows, decorative moulded string courses, contrasting brickwork or render, decorative finials, a highly decorative central pediment and the central entrance. Plain pilaster strips and parapet are all that remain from the original decorative scheme. Large rectangular steel-framed windows have replaced original paired arched window openings and the original central entrance has been relocated to a flanking bay. Single storey red brick additions flank the original facade. Interiors have been altered with later partitions, ceilings and windows; and removal of fireplaces, chimneys and changes to openings. A central timber staircase possibly dates from the early construction. No industrial machinery or equipment associated with its early uses appears to remain at the building.
REASON FOR NOT RECOMMENDING INCLUSION IN THE VICTORIAN HERITAGE REGISTER
The former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown has historical significance at a local level but does not have sufficient cultural heritage value to be included in the Victorian Heritage Register.
Built in 1887-88 as a steam laundry
, the former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown was one of a number of industrial buildings constructed in Victoria in the period from the 1880s through to the early twentieth century. The building is of some local historical interest for its original use as a laundry to service ships in the late 1880s and early 1890s, albeit for a very short period, and for its longer use as a factory building in Williamstown in the twentieth century. The building however does not retain sufficient fabric to clearly demonstrate either of these former uses or its original date of construction.
A number of externally intact industrial complexes and individual factory buildings remain in Victoria to clearly demonstrate their history. These include the former Denton Hat Mills, Abbotsford (VHR H0815); former Foy & Gibson complex in Collingwood and Fitzroy (VHR H0755, H0897 and H0896); former Victoria Brewery in Victoria Street (VHR H0624); former Bryant & May factory in Church Street, Richmond (VHR H0626); former Swallow and Ariel Factory, Port Melbourne (VHR H0567); former Fuse Factory, Bendigo (VHR H1680); former Wertheim Piano Factory, Richmond (VHR H2165); and Kinnears Ropeworks, Footscray (VHR H2067).
The former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown is of little architectural significance due to the removal of the original 1880s decorative treatment from the facade in the 1950s and the replacement of all openings. There is little evidence of the original design and the building is therefore no longer an illustrative example of the work of local architect, Charles J Polain. A number of industrial buildings remain in Victoria from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century with significant architectural merit. This is particularly evident in the work of important Melbourne architect William Pitt at the former Denton Hat Mills, Abbotsford (VHR H0815) and the former Victoria Brewery in Victoria Street (VHR H624).
The transformed 1950s appearance of the former Nugget Polish Company Building is of little architectural merit. A number of industrial buildings of greater architectural note were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s and a collection of these were identified as being of potential significance at a state level in the ‘Survey of Post-War Built Heritage in Victoria: Stage One’ in 2008. These included the H J Heinz Co Pty Ltd Factory, Dandenong South (1955); Tuftmaster Carpet mills, Dandenong South (1940s-50s); Ford Motor Company Factory, Campbellfield (administration building 1964); General-Motors Holden factory, Dandenong South (1956 onwards); Dulux Australia paint factory
, Clayton and Nestle-Peters Ice Cream Factory, Mulgrave (1964). The ETA Factory, Braybrook (VHR H1916, 1957) is already included in the VHR.
The use of the building by the British-founded Nugget Polish Company for approximately seventy years is noteworthy but not unusual and its association with the production of this well known shoe polish is of interest. However it should be noted that the Kiwi brand of shoe polish was the first commercially manufactured shoe polish in Australia, with both companies remaining the main competitors in Australia in the twentieth century.
The Executive Director, Heritage Victoria, finds that the former Nugget Polish Company Building does not meet the Heritage Council criteria for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register as a place of state level significance.
Local Government Authority
HERITAGE LISTING INFORMATION
No individual overlay, but included in Government Survey Heritage Precinct
Heritage Overlay Controls:
External Paint No
Internal Alteration No
Development of Williamstown and industrial growth
The townships of Melbourne and Williamstown were surveyed after the Port Phillip District of New South Wales was declared in 1836, and settlements were laid out in both these locations in the following year. Named by Governor Bourke, the township of Williams Town was surveyed at Point Gellibrand in 1837 and comprised four blocks of land fronting Nelson Place
, including Section 1 between Ann Street and the present Kanowna Street. The first land sales were held in June 1837, on the same day as the first land sales in Melbourne.
Williamstown developed as the first major port of Port Philip and the first substantial jetty in the district was constructed there in February 1839. The difficulty of navigating the Yarra River and the shallower water off Port Melbourne resulted in Williamstown handling most of Melbourne’s shipping through the 1840s and the development of the town was directly linked with this role. Early businesses were associated with shipping, rail transport or the pastoral industry that used the port. This included ship building and repair, wool stores and the main railway workshops of the Victorian Railway Department that were initially established at the end of Nelson Place in the 1850s.
Noxious industries associated with animals and animal by-products developed along the Maribyrnong River and from the 1840s a number of boiling down works were established to process tallow. Industries that developed included the Victorian Bone Mills, a tannery and a bacon curing works which were located in Footscray and Yarraville. Industries such as these were discouraged at Williamstown.
As its use as a port declined in the late 1870s, Williamstown’s association with shipping continued with the establishment of such facilities as the Alfred Graving Dock. Large scale industrial businesses were also established in Williamstown and neighbouring Spotswood and Newport, encouraged by the proximity to the port and the railway from Melbourne which had opened in 1859. These industries included the Alfred Woollen Mills, the railway workshops at Newport and the Melbourne Glass Bottle Works in Spotswood. In 1882, the Williamstown and Footscray Chronicle published a description of the principal manufacturing industries in Williamstown, Footscray and Yarraville. They included the Pyrites & General Smelting Works, Melbourne Woollen Mills, Victoria Sugar Company’s Works, Chemical Works and the Victorian Bone Mills, all located in Yarraville; Stonecutting Works in Footscray and the Artillery Brewery in Williamstown.
By the late nineteenth century a concentration of manufacturing between Williamstown and Braybrook, to the north, resulted in the creation of a suburban and industrial belt west of the city of Melbourne. After the 1890s depression and associated decline in development, prosperity returned to Victoria during the first decade of the twentieth century. Tariff protection had first been introduced in Victoria in the 1860s to protect local industries from competitors from lower cost producers and to raise revenue. From 1901 the Commonwealth Government played a greater role in Victoria's economy, and in 1907 introduced the 'New Protection', in which manufacturers were to be protected by a Tariff Wall, and the workers by Industrial Arbitration Acts.
Further industrial growth subsequently occurred in the western suburbs and manufacturers were encouraged to establish factories in Williamstown. It was at this time that the Nugget Polish Company moved into an existing building in Morris Street (Kanowna Street) in 1908. By 1911 Williamstown, Footscray and Braybrook had become the most highly industrialised suburbs of Melbourne and the growth of industry continued in the 1920s with the expansion of existing manufacturers and establishment of new industry.
In Williamstown itself the portion of land bounded by Nelson Place, Ann Street, Cecil Street and Morris Street (later Kanowna Street) remained largely vacant into the early twentieth century. Some industrial development occurred in Morris Street, including reuse of the existing steam laundry building in the early twentieth century, and establishment of the James Seymour & Co Pty Ltd Woollen Mill (later Port Phillip Woollen Mills) in the 1930s. This industry expanded over the next thirty years to occupy a large portion of this land.
In Wealth of a City: an account of the industries of Williamstown, published in 1947, a large number of industries were described including maritime, engineering works, building materials, textile and clothing, petroleum, food and leisure industries. Although a large number of companies were listed in this publication, the Nugget Polish Company was not mentioned.
Williamstown witnessed a decline in industry in the 1970s as many industries moved to larger sites in outer suburban Melbourne, or interstate. The opening of the Westgate Bridge in 1978 provided easier access to Williamstown from Melbourne and as a result the suburb has become a convenient and desirable residential area.
Shoe polish manufacture
The manufacture of shoe polish commenced in the nineteenth century and in 1895 Paul Fitte and H C Lane began manufacturing wax boot polish in Kennington, England. This partnership became known as the Nugget Polish Company Limited in 1898. Another British firm, the Chiswick Soap Company, launched Cherry Blossom polish in 1906 to cater for the growing demand for the product.
In Australia the first commercially manufactured shoe polish was produced by William Ramsay and Hamilton McKellan who had established a small factory in Carlton in 1901 to produce various chemical products. After experimenting with various products they launched Kiwi shoe polish in 1906 which was produced in premises in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. At this time they were reportedly competing with a number of brands of shoe polish, including the British-produced Nugget brand.
In 1906 F E Pincott of the Nugget Polish Company in London was transferred to Australia, where business was already developing for this shoe polish company. An office was initially rented in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne and stocks of polish imported until a decision was made to manufacture locally. The Nugget Polish Company decided to establish their business in Williamstown in 1908, close to shipping and rail transport and also factories producing necessary raw products such as lanolin. This company traded almost exclusively in shoe polish for many years, adding floor polish and cleaning products to their production in the mid-twentieth century.
The local Australian company, Kiwi Polish Company, and the British company, Nugget Polish Company, were the main competitors in the manufacture of shoe polish in Australia in the twentieth century. The demand for shoe polish increased during World War I and the Kiwi Polish Company obtained the contract for the Australian Army. This led to an enormous demand for Kiwi polish by British and, later, American forces and after the war the company built a factory in Burnley Street, Richmond. By 1918 thirty million tins of Kiwi polish had been sold and by 1924 it was distributed in fifty countries.
Both brands became known world-wide and ownership of the brands changed in the late twentieth century. In 1958 Nugget Pty Ltd became part of the Reckitt & Colman group, and Kiwi part of the Sara Lee Corporation in 1984. Kiwi is recorded as the most popular shoe polish brand in the world and is sold in over 180 countries.
The Architect Charles J Polain
Architect Charles James Polain designed the former Nugget Polish Factory Building, Williamstown in 1887. Polain worked as an architect in South Australia in the early 1880s before moving to Melbourne where he established his office in Footscray.
As a local architect, Polain designed a large number of buildings in the western suburbs in the late 1880s and early 1890s. These included houses, churches, public and commercial buildings and some were the result of winning architectural competition entries.
His designs for buildings in Williamstown included:
Tabernacle Baptist Church, 1884
Presbyterian Manse, 1887
Sea Baths, 1887
Steam Laundry, 1887
Additions to Mechanics Institute, 1888
Coffee Palace, 1888
Four shops, Nelson Place, 1888
Grandstand, Williamstown Racing Club, 1889 (winning competition entry)
Two 2-storey shops, Nelson Place, 1890
Masonic Hall, Melbourne Road, 1890 (winning competition entry)
Cricket Pavilion, 1890
Williamstown Town Hall, 1890 (competition entry)
Federal Stores, Ferguson St, 1890
Polain also designed a number of buildings in Footscray, including a 5-storey glue factory at Michaelis Hallenstein & Co’s tannery in Footscray in 1891 (now demolished).
Polain moved to Perth in 1895 and died there on 29 October 1899. At the time of his death he was recognised for his architectural work, as well as his invention of a starting machine for horse racing that reportedly revolutionised the racing industry.
HISTORY OF PLACE
The former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown is situated on the west side of Kanowna Street (formerly Morris Street). It is situated on land contained in Section 1 in the Parish of Cut Paw Paw that was part of the original government survey area of Williamstown which took place between 1837 and 1855. Allotments 18 and 19, located between what became Little Nelson and Cecil Streets, were purchased by William Mair in Crown Land sales in 1852. The building known as the former Nugget Polish Company Building was constructed on part of this land in 1887-88 as a steam laundry for Mrs Eliza Black.
In 1883 the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) established a steam laundry in Williamstown to launder large amounts of linen from the vessels in their fleet on arrival at the port. The laundry was a busy facility. Each P&O boat which called at Williamstown sent an average of 29,000 articles to the laundry. French steamers also sent 3,000 to 4,000 items. The laundry was described in the Williamstown Chronicle in April 1883 as being located inside the railway fence near Nelson Place and as comprising four timber buildings and an extensive yard, all surrounded by a high picket fence. It contained boilers; a drying room; main washing house with engine, washing machines, wringing machine and scrubbing tubs; receiving rooms and an ironing room. Mrs and Miss Annie Black were reportedly managers of this establishment which employed 14 women and 2 men.
It would appear that Mrs Eliza Black purchased land in Morris Street at some stage with the intention of building a more permanent steam laundry to run her business. In the Australian Builders and Contractors News on 13 August 1887, it was reported that a large two-storey brick laundry was to be erected at Williamstown for Mrs Black. The architect was Charles James Polain and the builder was George Hyde. This laundry was subsequently erected on the Morris Street site between Little Nelson and Cecil Streets which was owned by Mrs Black. In the Williamstown Rate Book the following year, Mrs Eliza Black is listed as the owner of a laundry, offices and machinery with a rateable value of £200. In 1889 the Sands and McDougall Directory names this property the ‘Williamstown S (Steam) Laundry’.
The newly constructed building presented a detailed and ornate brick facade to Morris Street, which was divided into five bays by pilasters, with a central entry bay and two pairs of arched windows to each of the flanking bays. Flanked by paired pilasters, the central bay was crowned by a pediment and a parapet, surmounted by urns or finials, which concealed the roof form.
Eliza Black died on 11 March 1888 and her will listed debts due and by the deceased from the Peninsula and Oriental Company and the architect C J Polain. A tender notice for her estate appeared in The Argus on 23 October 1889, inviting tenders for the purchase of ‘Land at the corner of Cecil Street and Morris Street, Williamstown, with the building thereon known as the Steam Laundry and the machinery, plant and chattels used in connection therewith’. The factory and land were valued at £3450 plus £500 for machinery.
The Steam Laundry remained in the estate of Eliza Black until 1892, with auction notices for its sale appearing in The Argus in 1891 and 1892. On 22 December 1891 it was described as ‘substantially erected brick premises, known as the steam laundry, with land 262 ½ feet frontage to Morris Street by a depth of 132 feet along Cecil Street, situated close to shipping and train’. The lack of interest in the business is likely to reflect the decline of the Port of Williamstown and the removal of most passenger ships to Port Melbourne. By 20 February 1892 it was stated that the buildings ‘could easily be converted into warehouse, store or factory’, with ‘foundations [are] capable of carrying another story’. However it was still noted that the building contained ‘all machinery and appliances for carrying on an extensive laundry business, including patent ironing machines, nearly new, and in perfect order.’
The property was purchased by George Thompson in 1892 and continued to be used as a steam laundry for a short time only. The rateable value of the property fell from £200 to £120 from 1893 to 1897 and although it continued to be described as a brick laundry in the Rate Books, the Sands and McDougall Directory in 1896-97 listed the occupant as the Silex Soap Company. After remaining unoccupied for a period of time, the property was leased to the Standard Centrifugal Company, importers and manufacturers.
The property was listed for sale in 1907 and was described in an Auction notice in The Argus, 2 March 1907 as a
... substantially built modern two-storey brick building, comprising on ground floor five very large compartments and one storey washing and draining room, with bricked floor, and dome and skylights, containing in all 3,235 square feet; also machinery room, with 15 H.P. engine and boiler, and shafting. Iron chimney stack. Drying Room. Hoist and hand-lifts. Upstairs - large room, 1200 square feet, and large compartment fitted with clothes rails, heated by steam pipes, and drying-room overhead. The whole splendidly lighted on all sides. The building was erected at immense cost, and was formerly used by the Williamstown Steam Laundry, and for such a business it is splendidly equipped or is adapted for any manufacturing business.
Soon after this notice appeared in the newspaper, the property was leased by the Nugget Polish Company, and by October 1909 the company had purchased the building. Rail transport and shipping, the proximity to production of requisite raw materials such as lanolin and tallow and the drive by the municipality to bring industry to Williamstown may all have influenced the company’s choice of location.
When first occupied by the Nugget Polish Company, the building in Morris Street (now known as Kanowna Street), Williamstown was described as a ‘blacking manufactory’ and the brick building with iron roof and central timber staircase contained a filling room, boiling room, engine room and finishing room on the ground floor, and stitching room on the first floor. The ornate facade to Morris Street was retained and the company name added to the parapet in letters above the stringcourse ‘The Nugget Polish Co of Australia Ltd’.
Further descriptions of the factory were provided in the Williamstown Advertiser in January 1909 which included a description of an ingenious machine for filling tins with polish. It was reported that 15,000 tins were filled each hour. At this time the tins were imported however it was anticipated that the factory would soon be self sufficient. The employment of local residents was emphasised and annual picnics of the company were reported in the newspapers from the 1910s through to the 1930s.
In 1921 a new brick building was constructed on land immediately to the south of the original building to house the accounting offices. Improvements were also made to the factory at this time including demolition of several internal walls, as reported in the Williamstown Chronicle, 26 November 1921. Single storey additions to either side of the original building (which may have accommodated the tin making plant installed in 1933) are likely to have been constructed 1932-33 to the designs of architect JW Parry.
Changes in ownership and amalgamations with other companies in the post-war period resulted in a variety of new products manufactured at the Nugget factory site. The factory expanded with construction of storage buildings in the 1950s and at some stage after 1945 and before 1960, the ornamentation on the facade of the Nugget Polish Company Building was removed, possibly in an attempt to modernise the factory building. This probably took place in the 1950s when the factory expanded production.
Manufacturing continued at the Williamstown site until 1976, when operations were transferred to Sydney. The building was then used by the naval dockyards and more recently as a facility for boat storage and sail making.
VICTORIAN HISTORICAL THEMES
05 Building Victoria’s industries and workforce
5.2 Developing a manufacturing capacity
The nominated portion of the former Nugget Polish Company Building comprises a two storey L-shaped brick building and two attached single storey brick wings to the west and south. The main wing of the two storey building fronts Kanowna Street and this facade has been painted. The two storey building and the single storey building to the rear constitute the original building, and the wing to the south was possibly added in 1932-33.
These buildings are of red brick with hipped iron roofs and a parapet conceals the roof along Kanowna Street. The main two storey facade is divided into five sections by pilaster strips with double pilasters flanking the central bay. Steel framed rectangular windows are contained within each bay at both levels, with one lower bay containing a door and smaller window. Simple horizontal mouldings define the upper floor and ceiling levels, with a plain parapet above.
The addition to the south (c1932-33) is also constructed of red brick using stretcher bond brickwork rather than Flemish bond of the earlier building. The 1930s detailing includes multi-pane steel framed windows with concrete lintels and exposed rafters at the eaves.
OBJECTS AND INTERIORS
A riveted rectangular wrought iron liquid storage tank is located on site. Originally located underground, this tank is now located on the ground, to the south-west of the nominated building.
The original ornamentation of the brick facade has been removed, including pilaster capitals, paired semi-circular arched windows, decorative string course and cornice mouldings, contrasting brickwork or render, decorative finials, a highly decorative central triangular pediment and the central entrance. The five bays and stripped pilasters, parapet and some string course and cornice mouldings remain, however rectangular window openings replace paired arched openings, the entrance has been relocated and single storey additions made to both ends of the original facade.
The interiors of the buildings have been altered. Partitions have been added to the original spaces, later ceilings installed, fireplaces and associated chimneys removed, openings blocked up in the rear facade and steel-framed windows generally installed throughout the building. The central timber staircase possibly dates from the early construction.
The building appears to be structurally sound.
Although constructed as a steam laundry, the former Nugget Polish Company Building was only used for this purpose for a very short period (1887-c1892). It was used as a factory for a longer period from c1896 to 1976 and other factories constructed for the manufacturing of goods in Victoria make clear comparison. A number of industrial complexes and individual factory buildings remain from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Victoria. Sufficient fabric has been retained at a number of these to clearly demonstrate their former industrial use.
Factory complexes and buildings from late nineteenth & early twentieth century
A number of factory complexes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are included in the Victorian Heritage Register. These include the:
Former Denton Hat Mills in Abbotsford (1888, VHR H0815)
Former Victoria Brewery in Victoria Street (1881-1940s, VHR H0624)
Former Foy & Gibson complex in Collingwood and Fitzroy (from 1887 to 1920s, VHR H0755, H0897 and H0896)
Former Bryant & May factory in Church Street, Richmond (from 1909, VHR H0626)
Former Denton Hat Mills, Abbotsford
Former Swallow and Ariel Factory, Port Melbourne (from 1858, VHR H0567)
Former Fuse Factory, Bendigo (from 1870s, VHR H1680)
Former Wertheim Piano Factory, Richmond (1909, VHR H2165)
Kinnears Ropeworks, Ballarat Rd, Footscray ( 1909, VHR H2067)
(1888, VHR H0815)
The former Denton Hat Mills factory is a large late nineteenth century industrial complex. The existing polychrome brick factory was built c1888, to designs by Melbourne architect, William Pitt, who designed some of Melbourne’s most notable buildings. The factory rapidly grew to be one of the suburb’s largest, and had associations with a number of prominent manufacturers and commercial merchants.
Former Denton Hat Mills Former Victoria Brewery
Former Victoria Brewery, Victoria Street, East Melbourne
(1881-1940s, VHR H0624)
The former Victoria Brewery comprises many structures built from 1884 to the 1940s, mainly of red brick with render bands and some polychromatic brick in a Romanesque style. Architect William Pitt was involved in the design of the early buildings. The former brewery displays a distinctive and comprehensive castellated style
, with street facades and towers creating a dominant landmark.
Former Foy & Gibson Complex, Collingwood and Fitzroy
(from 1887 to 1920s, VHR H0755, H0897 and H0896)
The former Foy and Gibson complex of warehouses, factories and showrooms was constructed over a long period beginning c1887. It is an outstanding nineteenth and early twentieth century industrial complex which illustrates the development of early department store retailing. It is an imposing and substantially intact example of late nineteenth century industrial architecture which is associated with the architect William Pitt. The exterior fabric remains substantially intact with the principal facade element consisting of rusticated pilasters between windows above a lower cornice line and capped by a similar cornice and parapet.
Former Foy & Gibson complex
Former Bryant & May factory in Church Street, Richmond
(from 1909, VHR H0626)
The former Bryant and May Industrial Complex is a largely intact factory complex built from 1909 which is illustrative of the development of industry in Melbourne from the early twentieth century. Built by an English company it demonstrates the importance of British capital in the development of Victoria's industry. It is of architectural note for the quality and cohesion of its architectural development and for its association with the important Melbourne architect, William Pitt.
Former Bryant & May factory, Richmond
Former Wertheim Piano Factory, Richmond
(1909, VHR H2165)
The former Wertheim Piano Factory was constructed for Hugo Wertheim in 1909 to designs by Melbourne architect Nahum Barnet. As an important demonstration of new government protection policies designed to encourage local manufacturing, the opening of this factory was attended by prominent Victorian politicians and business people. Manufacturing facilities were located on the ground floor, with offices above. The business closed in 1935 and the Heinz Company bought the factory for food production in 1938. The site was sold to television station GTV9 in 1955 for use as studios and offices. The complex is of importance for all these various uses, in particular its construction as a piano factory in the early twentieth century and its use by the American Heinz Company for a number of years.
Former Wertheim Piano factory, Richmond
Former Swallow and Ariel Factory, Port Melbourne
(from 1858, VHR H0567)
The Swallow & Ariell Biscuit Factory developed on a large site in Port Melbourne over a number of years. The Swallow & Ariell Steam Biscuit Manufactory was first established in 1854 and the complex was built in stages from 1858. Additions were made in the 1870s and 1880s and a second major building phase was undertaken in the early twentieth century. The complex is of importance as a largely externally intact and early industrial establishment in Victoria. The surviving buildings demonstrate an uninterrupted sequence of development in factory design to accommodate changing processes of production from 1858 to 1984. It has a strong association with the history of manufacturing in Victoria and the complex reflects the general development of manufacturing in Victoria and its eventual decline, particularly after the Second World War.
Former Swallow and Ariel buildings, Port Melbourne
Former Fuse Factory, Bendigo
(from 1870s, VHR H1680)
The Former Fuse Factory was the major nineteenth century manufacturer of safety fuses for the mining industry. The factory appears to have been established sometime prior to 1878 with extensions made to the building in 1883-85, 1889 and c1900. The Cornish fuse makers, Bickford, Smith and Company, bought the business in 1889 and ceased operations at the site in 1912. It was then used by a succession of textile manufacturers before activity ceased in 1977. The unusual incorporation of twin towers with distinctive mansard roofs architecturally distinguishes the external appearance of this small scale industrial complex.
Former Fuse Factory, Bendigo
Kinnears Ropeworks, Ballarat Rd, Footscray
(VHR H2067 1909)
Kinnears Ropeworks, Footscray, is a large industrial complex of buildings built between 1909-1969. A large range of rope and twine products for a variety of uses were produced by Kinnears over a long period of time. Rope making techniques are illustrated in the interiors of the buildings.
Kinnears Ropeworks, Footscray
Post-war Factory Buildings
In 2008 a number of 1950s and 1960s industrial buildings were identified as of potential state significance in the Survey of Post-War Built Heritage in Victoria: Stage One
. These included: H J Heinz Co Pty Ltd Factory, Dandenong South (1955); Tuftmaster Carpet mills, Dandenong South (1940s-50s); Ford Motor Company Factory, Campbellfield (administration building 1964); General-Motors Holden factory, Dandenong South (1956 onwards); Dulux Australia paint factory, Clayton and the Nestle-Peters Ice Cream Factory, Mulgrave (1964). The ETA Factory, Braybrook (VHR H1916, 1957) is included in the Victorian Heritage Register. These examples better demonstrate the post-war period of industrial growth that the former Nugget Polish Company Building. The latter was altered in the 1950s with the removal of the decorative elements from the front facade. This resulted in a plain facade with few distinguishing features. This may have resulted from a desire to modernise the appearance building at a time when new factories were being constructed in a more contemporary style.
Nestle-Peters, Mulgrave H J Heinz Co Pty Ltd Factory, Dandenong
There are a number of industrial buildings remaining from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century period in Victoria which demonstrate their original function and date of construction, and some are represented in the Victorian Heritage Register. The exteriors of these buildings demonstrate their former industrial use and period of construction in a much clearer manner than the former Nugget Polish Company Building. A number of these factory buildings are also of greater architectural interest and some retain intact interiors and/or equipment. Some also maintained a long association with a particular manufacturer, such as the Swallow and Ariel Factory, Kinnears Ropeworks and the Massey Ferguson Complex.
A number of industrial buildings remain from the post-war period in Victoria which also demonstrate their former, or continuing
, use. Constructed as new buildings, these display characteristics which are often innovative and of far greater architectural interest than the former Nugget Polish Company Building. That building was not designed in the 1950s but resulted from a stripping of decoration from the existing facade and the insertion of new windows in a gesture to architectural style at the time.
ASSESSMENT AGAINST CRITERIA
The former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown is significant for the following reasons, but not at the State level:
The former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown is historically significant at a local level as a surviving example of nineteenth century industrial fabric in Williamstown. The remaining fabric illustrates the once important industrial activity which occurred in this and surrounding suburbs. It has some local significance for its early and brief use as a steam laundry servicing the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, providing a link to Williamstown’s late nineteenth century maritime history.
The former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown is historically significant at a local level for its long association with the Nugget Polish Company. The production of the well known Nugget brand of polish took place on these premises from 1908 until 1976.
The former Nugget Polish Company Building, Williamstown is socially significant at a local level for its long and continuing provider of employment for local people.
KEY REFERENCES USED TO PREPARE ASSESSMENT
Lovell Chen, ‘Appraisal Report Former Williamstown Steam Laundry, Kanowna Street, Williamstown, prepared for Hobsons Bay City Council, December 2010
Lesley Alves & Associates,’ Heritage Report Former Nugget Factory, 16-20 Kanowna Street, Williamstown’, prepared for Hobsons Bay City Council, August 2012
Biosis, ‘Nugget Factory Kanowna Street Williamstown Heritage Assessment Report’, prepared for Hobsons Bay City Council, October 2013
Statements of Evidence to the VCAT from: Bryce Raworth, January 2014
Robyn Riddett, January 2014
Helen Lardner, January 2014
Gary Vines, Biosis, December 2013
J Edwards. Out of the Blue: a history of Reckitt and Colman in Australia, 1982
Kiwi Polish Company Pty Ltd. The Kiwi Story: the House of Ramsay, 1951
W Elsum. The History of Williamstown from its settlement to a city, 1834-1934
Various newspaper and journal entries eg Williamstown Chronicle, The Argus, Australian Builders and Contractors News, Building, Engineering and Mining Journal
Former Nugget Polish Company Building, original facade c1908
Former Nugget Polish Company Building Morris Street (later Kanowna Street) facade 2014
Kanowna Street facade, 1966, after removal of all original decoration
Kanowna Street facade 2014
Building from south west Building from south
Ground floor rooms, east side of building
South-east room on first floor, steel framed
Window and one of few remaining timber windows Staircase may be from original building