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Albion Explosives Factory

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Chronology

BACKGROUND
1875 Jones, Scott & Co. sign an agreement with Krebs of Cologne and seeks permission from Braybrook Shire Council to establish an explosives factory near Kororoit Creek
German experts set up factory to make explosives or ‘lithofracteur’
1876 Factory starts production and becomes Australia’s main local supplier of explosives
1882 52 people working at the lithofracteur factory (see Royal Commission on Tariffs)
1889 Township of ‘Kororoit Creek’ is re-named ‘Deer Park’ after local referendum
1897 Nobel-Dynamite Trust Ltd. buys Australian Explosives and Chemicals Company
1928 ICIANZ acquires Nobel factory at Deer Park
1935 Three black powder mills built at ICI’s Deer Park factory, south of Ballarat Road

 

WARTIME
1939 Outbreak of World War Two
Munitions factories in Melbourne’s west are the centre of national defence production.
ICI builds and operates a new explosives factory at Deer Park for the Commonwealth Government, north of Ballarat Road: ‘No. 5 Explosives Factory (Albion)’.
1942 Japanese bomb Darwin
ICI build Black Powder Mill (numbered ‘Z 9’, later ‘745’), one of 33 buildings in the Fuze Area of the new factory, to make the powder used in time fuzes, mainly for artillery ammunition.
1944 Explosion in ‘Gunpowder Mill House Z 9’ (18 May). Light wall is blown out. Roof collapses. Mill is not damaged. Robert Taylor has serious burns and dies in hospital on 21 May. Richard Mitchley has minor injuries. Steel scraper found in building.
1945 End of World War Two
Powder milling ceases at Albion Explosives Factory.

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POST-WAR
1948 ICIANZ transfers management of Albion factory to Commonwealth.
1954 Albion Explosives Factory expands
1957 220 people working at Albion factory. New plant, producing RDX-based high explosives
1960s-70s New plants for Nitroglycerine, DNT and TNT installed. Other upgrades implemented.
1986 Albion Explosives Factory closes. Production processes transferred to Mulwala (NSW)
1988 Decommissioning and demolition of factory buildings begins, and proceeds over
the next ten years. Plans begin for re-development of the site as a residential area.

 

DOCUMENTING, SAVING & PRESERVING THE MILL
1987-8 Albion Explosives Factory Heritage Study by Gary Vines and Andrew Ward
1988-9 Heritage Survey of Albion Explosives Factory by Sheryl Yelland
1997 Brimbank Heritage Study points out national significance of mill
1998 Albion Factory, including Black Powder Mill, placed on Register of the National Estate
1999 Black Powder Mill added to heritage overlay of Brimbank City Council planning scheme
2001 Partial demolition permit issued
‘Friends of the Black Powder Mill’ formed
National Trust of Australia (Victoria) classifies mill as of national significance
2002 Brimbank City Council invites views of local residents and interested parties on the future of the Black Powder Mill. Friends of the Black Powder Mill produce brochure.
2003 Mill included on Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria grants $11,000.
Brimbank City Council commissions new Conservation Management Plan for mill and contributes funding to mill’s restoration. Launch of restored building.
2004 Grant of $48, 840 from Department of Environment and Heritage
2005 ADI Limited donate motors & make tools. Restoration of machinery and shadow board.
Launch of restored machinery and new signs. The mill wheels turn again.

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This outline prepared by Olwen Ford, Friends of the Black Powder Mill Incorporated, June 2005