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Friends of The Black Powder Mill


Introduction

Friends of the Black Powder Mill are a group of people committed to preserving the Black Powder Mill and linked to extensive community, state and overseas networks.

Aims
The aims of the Friends of the Black Powder Mill are :-
1. To work to preserve, safeguard and care for the Black Powder Mill, the only surviving building of the Albion Explosives Factory.

2. To interpret the Black Powder Mill, and to educate people in the history and importance of the Mill, the Albion Explosives Factory and the surrounding area.
Beginnings
Friends of the Black Powder Mill started in 2001, at a time when the mill was under threat - there were plans to demolish it. The people who made up the group included local residents, members of local history societies, a staff member of the National Trust, people who had been on the Albion Explosives Factory Development Committee (late 1980s-1990s) and former staff of the factory. Members of the group opposed the demolition of the mill and spoke out publicly, through submissions to a meeting of Brimbank Council and to a formal ‘community consultation’.

First project
The group began to work on a brochure about the mill and this project had financial support from Sunshine and District Historical Society, St Albans History Society, the National Trust and Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West. Kerrie Poliness, artist, designed the brochure, which had a big impact, changing people’s perceptions of the mill and its value. Professor Ian Rae launched the brochure on 6 August 2002.

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Activities 2002-2005
* ‘Blast from the past’ afternoon at the Hunt Club Community Centre
- reminiscences by former staff and employees, display of plans, video by Ron Doree, bus trips of
former factory site, now Cairnlea (courtesy of Deer Park Club) - well-attended, very successful
* Media coverage in local newspapers
* Support for nomination of BPM to Victorian Heritage Register (registered June 2003)
* Input to Conservation Management Plan for BPM and to specifications for restoration work
e.g. location of electrical fittings, etc.
* Article in National Trust journal re BPM
* Successful application to Burnside Community Fund for grant towards memorial plaque to munition workers
* Assistance to Council in preparing application for Commonwealth funding for signage & restoration of mill machinery and tool board
* Work on memorial plaque and plaque brochure. Additional grant obtained from ADI.
* Preparation of displays on the Black Powder Mill and the Albion Explosives Factory
* Launch of restored BPM and memorial plaque, in association with Brimbank Council
Speaker – Prof. Geoffrey Blainey
* End of year lunch at Deer Park Club
* Copying of factory plans (Dept of Defence archives and National Archives of Australia)
* Search for motors for the BPM
* Article in ETU journal about the search for motors for the BPM
* Research on ORICA photos of Albion factory – copies obtained
* Search for photos in National Archives of Australia
* Contact regarding donation of artefacts and photos
* Work towards production of a video – selection of photos, documentation of video footage,
writing of draft script, liaison
* Substantial in-kind contribution to signage and restoration project, including:-
archival research investigating design options for the interpretive signage
writing draft text and selecting graphics to be used on signage
involvement in consultation process re design, format and location of signage
contact with previous employees and other munitions industry sites
donation of tools
advice on tool design and material, design of replacement tools and new brackets
advice and contacts in relation to overhaul and repair of gearing and gear drive
This included advice from a mechanical engineer
* Assistance in organisation of launch of the new signage and restored machinery and tool board
– contacts, invitation list, format of invitation, speaker, display, etc
* Preparation of hand-out material for the launch, with cover designed by Kerrie Poliness, artist

 

(This summary prepared by Olwen Ford, 23 June 2005)

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Contacts

Olwen Ford
03 9312 2284

Jack Sheridan (President)
03 9366 0820

Meetings
Monthly for people on the committee and for general meetings 2-3 times a year.

Membership
Membership costs $10.00 a year and forms are available from Sunshine Library 301 Hampshire Rd Sunshine (melways reference 26 H12) or Melbournes Living Museum of the West Pipemakers Park Van Ness Ave PO Box 60, Highpoint City 3032 (Melway Reference 28 B10)

 


The Friends of The Black Powder Mill

Left to right: Don Webster, Roger Smart, Olwen Ford, Noel Tozer,
jack Sheridan, Tony Galea, Claire Brennan, Frank Ford
Front: Anne Best