Tuesday 13 February 2024

Murrumbidgee Milling Company Limited

 

Murrumbidgee Milling Company.

 

The largest structure I plan to build for the Wagga Wagga layout is the Murrumbidgee Milling Company.  The building dominated the eastern end of the Wagga Wagga railway yard, and was a both a destination and source for freight movements.

I was able to find some information using Trove.  Two articles from the Daily Advertiser in May 1883, and March 1895, as well as Wikipedia.


Murrumbidgee Milling Company is directly behind 3801 in my picture, converted from slide.


History

The Murrumbidgee Cooperative Milling Company commenced operations in Edward Street Wagga 28th June 1890.  The Milling Co-operative was the second largest flour milling company in New South Wales outside Sydney

The Co-operative was formed in August 1889, and a contract was placed with Messrs. Thos. Robinson and Sons Limited mill on 18th November, 1889.  By the middle of June 1890 the mill was completed.  The capacity of the plant was to clean not less than 100 bushels of wheat, and make not less than 13 sacks of flour per hour.  The plant actually produced 16 bags per hour.

The Mill in 1890, before expansion. This is the view from Edward street


By 1896, capacity had grown to produce 2160 bags of flour and by 1910 it was capable of producing over fifty tons of flour per day.

Original track arrangement for the Mill sidings.


A 1910 image showing grain delivery by dray.  Note the wall of bagged wheat on the LHS of the picture.  Image from the A. Brunskill archive held by CSU


Operation of the mill.

They were using the Rochdale system of milling   The Daily Advertiser article of May 1883, describes this process in detail, but in summary,

1)      The wheat is taken to the top of the building

2)     Passed over indented cylinders to take out the impurities of oats, cockle, barley

3)     Passed over a machine with sieves, and a large fan blows away larger impurities

4)     Passed to a scourer, that removes the smut, and much of the “germ”

5)     Passes to a brush machine that gives the remaining berry a final polish, before

6)     At the bottom of the building, it is then taken up an elevator to a holding cleaned wheat bin

Converting the polished berry into flour

1)     The berry is passed between 2 rollers, and split down the middle, releasing the dirt contained therein, that being removed by suction

2)     The split berry then gets sent to the next set of rollers, and crushed. 

3)     The powder then passed over a sieve which separates the semolina and flour

4)     The coarse flour is then rolled 6 more times.  Any remaining husks are separated from the flour using a centrifugal dressing machine

5)     The flour is then dressed in a reel with silk fabric, before being ready for the cloth sacks.

- In addition, there was a magnetic separator, to capture any metallic impurities

Some of the byproducts also got processed, with a separate set of rollers. 

Steam Engine

The plant is run by a 56 tube multitube  boiler, 14 foot long, by 6 feet in diameter., producing a steam pressure of 100 lb/sq inch, producing around 100 horse power.  The engine was a compound Tandem – with high and low pressure cylinders 14” and 24” respectively.  Stroke was 30”.  The engine drove a 12’,6” diameter flywheel, and ropes were used to drive the various rollers, and equipment.

Expansion

By 1895, new buildings had been added.  The flour store, 80’x50’x19; high on the eastern side, and the wheat store 150’x50’x32’ high on the eastern side. An additional grain shed, 80’x50’x 27’ high   A duplicate railway line had been laid, so trucks can be shunted as they are emptied.  Doors are built at convenient distances apart at each of the shed, thus facilitating the labour of loading, unloading and stacking from either railway trucks, or wagons and drays on the other.  A screw conveyor is also used between the buildings.

Additional 2 boilers installed.  The whole complex consumed 35 cords of 5’. 6” wood per week.  At the peak, the mill employed 37 persons 

Steam power was still in use in the 1960s, as my uncle, who was a boiler inspector in the 1960s-70s told me about the wooden stairways being a bit frightening.  I regret not being old enough to really appreciate my opportunity missed to quiz him on other aspects of the mill, like fuel source for the steam engine.

A image stolen from Lost Wagga Wagga facebook: Aerial view of Wagga yard around 1940. The mill is prominent 



Final Track arrangement of the Mill siding.  The plan of the mill gives a rough idea of the size, and shapes of the various sheds associated with the Mill.  Thanks to Bob S for supplying these trackplans


Closure

The Co-operative closed its operation in the 1980s the site was sold in 1987 to Goodman-Fielder, operating for approximately a decade before ceasing its operation in December 2000.

There are plans to convert the building into a shopping precinct, with possibly hotel accomodaton, but whilst some work has commenced, and some retailers have come, (and gone) the building is currently not used.

A more recent article in the Daily Advertiser provides more information on the mills construction


Photos

Most of the pictures here are mine, unless otherwise attributed.  I was able to wander around the railway side around 2004, after closure, and record what I could. So much had already been erased by this stage.  Many of the lean-to sheds had been removed – their ghost image still on the brickwork of the main building.   I hope I have  enough for modelling purposes.  The set of 4 silos, appeared to be used for advertising purposes.  I have found “Allied” and “Max McLachlan” painted over the cupola in my pictures.   There was a separate rail unloading shed, where the other unloading points at the mill were hidden under the large shed rooves.

Mill and sheds in the background.  Note "Allied" painted on the cupola of the grain storage silos. Picture taken from Railway Street

Grain unloading shed on siding



Ghost images of the sheds that covered the siding closest to the mill's brick building.  This brick wall was part of the original 1890 construction





Sunicrust Bakery was established just east of the Mill in the 1970s.  Whilst not directly connected to the railway, its presence should warrant its appearance on the future layout



Aerial view around 2014 - the site was pretty much cleared of all infrastructure apart from the mill.

The only advantage of the removal of the smaller structures, was that the full size of the mill could be photographed. Edward Street (Sturt Hwy) in the foreground


Painted signs left no doubt as to what the building was used for


 

 

Modelling notes

A quick glance at the aerial view will show a massive size, which if scaled to HO, would be around 2 metres wide .  As the building will be on an aisle, there will need to be much compression to fit it into position.  The sheds over the siding closest to the mill would save a lot of time guessing and modelling the loading docks.  The silos on the other siding though would need to be made, although I may not have enough room for the siding along with the unloading shed.  

I guess this is an aspect for a future Blog post.....

Wagga Council intramaps website has dimensioned aerial pictures.  The mill's size is substantial. The storage silos at the Edward Street side are partially demolished. 2012 image

The Mill building is represented on this trackplan as a red rectangle #33 

Sunicrust Bread also set up a bakery next to the mill.  This was not rail connected, but as Sunicrust was the bread I ate in Wagga in the 1970s, I hope to include a model of the bakery too.  For a bit of fun.....

Sunicrust Bread featured collector cards.  Here are just a few from my own accumulations.  Weg's cartoons of VFL players, and supporters were funny.  I was never able to complete The Space 1999 set - and as this program has now attracted a cult following, the cards may actually be worth something


 

That’s your lot for now.  In the meantime, build a model or two

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