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The Black Powder Mill Significance

The following information is from 'Albion Explosives Factory' by G. Vines and A. Ward, wriiten in 1988.

The Black Powder Mill is of significance as potentially the only "accessible" example of a purpose built structure for the manufacture of gunpowder in Victoria. In 1984 there were several other mills of this type in Australia, including three almost identical buildings across the road at ICI, but these were demolished in the 1990s.

The reason the Black Powder Mill is still standing is because it is an important part of Australian history. It was once part of a large site with over 400 buildings. The Black Powder buildingwas one of these buildings. This large site was called the Albion Explosives Factory. It made chemicals and explosives for World War II. Without this building, Australia might not be where it is today. The Albion Explosives Factory has been knocked down and this is the only buiulding that is left. This building holds the memories for the people who once worked at the factory.

The Black Powder Mill is an important example of a building and plant specially designed for explosives production. The mill is now isolated from the process of which it formed a part, but part of its context remains- the Kororoit Creek nearby.

The Black Powder Mill Today

In this setting, the Black Powder Mill is a different type of reminder of the efforts to preserve our democratic way of life. The building is a monument to all who worked in the wartime munitions industries of Melbourne’s west, the heart of Australian defence production at that time, and to the munition workers after World War Two.

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The following text was provided by the Friends of the Black Powder Mill.

The Black Powder Mill must be preserved for the future as :

• It is unique in Australia and is of social, historic and scientific significance at a national level.
• No other 20th century gunpowder mill exists in Australia on its original site.
• It may be the last such gunpowder mill constructed for military purposes in the world and one of the few 20th century gunpowder-making buildings left in the world.
• It demonstrates the general design philosophy for explosives production in a dangerous industry. It features controlled destruction and safety zones, with reinforced concrete walls to direct any blast towards open space away from the remainder of the facility. It has frangible walls and roof to minimise fragment throw, with the electrical equipment located in a separate area to that in which the explosive compositions were processed.
• It is a symbol of the munitions industry in Melbourne’s west, and other parts of Australia, and the thousands of workers employed in that industry, especially in wartime and later as post-war migrants.
• It represents an important phase of industrial development in Melbourne’s western suburbs, which is fast disappearing.
• It represents other gunpowder facilities in the Deer Park area which were significant in the generation of Victoria’s wealth and prosperity in the mining, quarrying and construction industries.
• It represents an era when the now-suburban regions of Deer Park and St Albans were considered sufficiently remote from other residential areas to be able to have a potentially dangerous industry in their midst.
• It is the last remnant of the Albion Explosives Factory, which has been almost completely demolished since it ceased production in 1986.
• It is an added attraction to the area and in particular would be a point of interest on a heritage walk along Kororoit Creek.

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