Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ebenezer Russell's Branding Iron

Walking around regional museums in the Illawarra one will often come across a collection of branding irons that are reminders of the pastoral heritage of the area. More often than not their original user is not well known, even though the owner's initials may be clearly seen.

At Tongarra Bicentennial Museum there are a collection of three branding irons, one of which can be identified as belonging to a prominent dairyfarmer and pioneer of the local area.

Ebenezer Russell purchased a property in present day Croome in 1840. The property was bought for five shillings an acre. After clearning the land in anticipation for cultivation, it was used by Russell for growing wheat and potatoes. It was only later that Mr. Russell turned to dairying and decided to subdivide his property to establish tenant farming.

In the present day Ebenezer Russell's original homestead may be seen in its original place in the Croome area. Farm buildings also at the property include a stables, dairy and wheat mill. The property is also noted for the use of a hall at the property in 1860 as a polling place for the second Shellharbour Municipal Council elections. Ebenezer is the father of John Russell, another leading historical figure in the area.

Want to read more?

Want to see more?

Why not visit a museum which has Ebenezer Russell's branding iron in their collection? The item may be viewed at the Tongarra Bicentennial Museum.

The museum is located at Russell St, Albion Park NSW 2527, and may be contacted by calling 4256 6698.

Opening Hours are Wednesday 10am - 4pm & Saturday 9am to 12pm

We all scream for ice cream

It may look like a strange oak bucket salvaged from a well, but this intriguing object collected by the Berrima Museum is in fact an early model of an ice cream maker. It had been in use before the turn of the 20th century, but remained in popularity for some time. Manufactured in the United States, the machine was worked by the manual rotation of a side handle-an effort that for those versed in the process would be well aware- took considerable time. Perhaps the model name "Lightning" may have been a little generous.

Advertisement for the Shepard's "Lightning Ice Cream Freezer" from 1911. Source: Anthony Horden & Sons, 1911, p.600

The manual process of preparing ice-cream has attracted interest from many in the community that are attracted by the homemade method and taste. The 'return to basics' movement has captivated more than a niche circle, and is likely to continue to rise in popularity into the future. Making ice-cream from scratch is not difficult, and more importantly it doesn't even require the use of a ice-cream maker.

I remember as a child preparing ice cream in a can with ice, salt and a good dose of elbow greese. Perched over the can, the ice cream was made by rolling the can up and down an incline which in my case happened to be a driveway.

With this in mind, seeing the Shepards' Lightning Ice Cream maker at the Berrima Museum was a cruel reminder that even back so far as 1890 they had access to more sophisticated technology than what was available to me.

Berrima Museum is located southwest of Bowral in Market Place, Berrima. Its opening hours are listed below:

Saturdays and Sundays
10am - 4pm Public Holidays
10am - 4pm School Holidays daily
10am - 4pm

Closed Good Friday
Closed Christmas Day

Phone: (02) 4877 1130

For those that are interested, the Internet is a treasure trove for advice on making homemade ice-cream. A good place to start is:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The cream of the coast

What do the Paddle Pop, the Cornetto and the Golden Gaytime share in common, other than the fact they are all ice cream and delicious? It's a question I would have been stumped by a few months ago. The answer? These products are all sold by the Streets Ice Cream company. I became interested in the two main Australian ice-cream producers (Peters and Streets) after starting a project on the history of the local dairy industry. I wanted to know if there may have been any factories local to the Illawarra, but what I found out was so much more significant. The first ever ice creams under the company name of Streets were in fact sold in Corrimal, N.S.W. [located north of Wollongong City]. To sweeten the deal, the company's creator had been a local.

The history of the company reveals a humble beginning. It was first established in 1920 in the small suburb of Corrimal. The first Street ice creams were sold by Edwin (Ted) Street [left], the company's namesake, and his wife who together owned a fruit shop. The first customer was a Corrimal native, Mr. Pop Winks. Before owning the fruit shop, Ted Streets had sold buttons, needles and cotton in the area.

The ice-cream was prepared with a small churn attached to a motor, and after the Depression Streets began selling them in his milk bar. The ice-cream was popular amongst locals and soon enough other businesses in the region began stocking the ice creams.

In 1932 Streets most popular ice-cream was known as the ‘Penny Pinky’. It was a strawberry ice cream offered in a cone which sold at the time for a penny. The Peters Ice Cream company was a long-standing competitor of the company, particularly in the Sydney market.

The history of individual products of the Streets brand is interesting, with the first of its stick line, the "heart" dating back to 1947. In 1950 the paddle pop was developed, and in this year a second factory was opened in River Street, Moruya. The factory would ultimately have only a brief history, having been closed in April 1954 when the collapse of a local bridge cut the factory off from its main suppliers [the Tuross bridge]. The paddle pop line was followed in 1962 by the "Splice" and then in 1963 the "Gaytime". Though like the Bubble O'Bill these products were developed after the sale of the company to Unilever in 1960, the ice creams continue to be sold under the company name "Streets".

Paddle Pops and Polar Bear
The works located in Corrimal boasts the first moving neon sign displayed in Wollongong. It was an iconic sign which featured a polar bear licking an ice cream with the slogan "Bear in mind Streets Ice Cream" [left]. The factory sat vacant for many years until it was demolished to make way for the Illawarra Retirement Village opened in April 1994.

In his later years Mr. Edwin Streets was awarded an OBE but not wanting to be called Sir Ted politely declined the offer. He passed away at the age of 85 in 1975.

[Above] IMB Star for Edwin Streets
[Right] The boulevard of local stars- located at the entrance of the IPAC; the back of Wollongong Town Hall in shot.

Want to see more?

Image Sources: The historic images have been accessed through the local history section of Wollongong Library. The searchable collection 'Illawarra Images' may be accessed online by the link below:

The first image was taken at the Illawarra Museum located at 11 Market Street, Wollongong. The image depicts a Streets sign hung in Corrimal. The museum has a large collection of items related to the dairy industry, including a horse-drawn farm cart and large cheese press. The museum also has collections of war propaganda, a blacksmiths workshop, stockman's hut and a historic schoolroom. The museum has an interesting history of its own, being used as a post and telegraph office dating back to 1882.

[Above and Left] Illawarra Museum, 20th July 2010

[Below] Sidewalk fronting Illawarra Museum, 20th July 2010

Phone/Fax: 02 4228 7770

Museum Inquiries: 02 4283 2854

Museum Bookings: 02 4228 0158

Illawarra Central Co-operative Dairy Factory

The South Coast of NSW is credited with being the birthplace of co-operative enterprise in Australia. These early dairy co-operatives took advantage of their collective power to counter the market domination of the commercial vendors based in Sussex Street, Sydney. With the extension of the Illawarra railway and the introduction of mechanical cream separation the scene was set for the unity of dairy farmers through the co-operative initiative. This period would see market power shift back to the farmers who were increasingly coordinating themselves along the co-operative line.

The Illawarra Central Co-operative Dairy [ICCD] factory was an influential co-operative with strong linkages to the extension of the south coast railway line. Formed in 1898 at the Commercial Hotel in Albion Park, the Illawarra central co-operative commenced work on the construction of the factory in the following year on land donated by G. L. Fuller. The factory was designed by C. D. Meares, a leading figure in the development of the early dairy industry in NSW who would later become a government dairy adviser.

In 1903 the factory became the first industry in the region to generate its own electricity. Over time modifications were made to the factory to adhere to stricter hygienic regulations. In 1912 this saw the installation of a Babcock and Wilcox boiler and chimney stack to enable testing of the milk fat standard. The factory was closed in 1985 and all machinery was removed, however the building continued to be used for dairy related purposes having been purchased by the Australian Country Farmers for use as a supplies store. Since the factory's closure in 1985 the site has been administered by Railcorp. In this time the external site fabric has been significantly restored however the internal structure possesses significant interpretive value having been left largely intact.

The former ICCD factory is located on land owned by the State Rail Authority that fronts Creamery Road, Albion Park Rail. The complex is bordered along its western perimeter by the rail line, and on this side of the building the rail siding is still extant. The factory is of local and state significance for its social record of the lives of local farmers and factory staff who rallied together against great hardship over the extended period of its operation. A number of prominent advocates of co-operative enterprise in the early dairy indstry served as chairmen or directors of the factory, including J. Fraser, A. H. Weston, M. J. Hindmarsh and George Couch. The factory also has strong associations with G L Fuller, an early settler of the area, who had offered his land to be the site for the construction of the factory.

For interested persons there are a number of collecting bodies with artefacts and photos associated with the factory over its extended history. The Tongarra Bicentennial Museum has in its collection a pair of Avery platform scales used at the factory, as well as a butter roller and wrapper of the "Warilla" brand of butter that was manufactured at the factory after c.1956. In addition to these items, a number of historical photographs may be accessed through the Wollongong Library's local studies collection. These images are electronically available through their website, [].

Want to know more?

An introduction to the Company is available on the companion wikispace, by following this link. In this resource, one may discover the related records to objects related to the factory in the collection of regional museums in New South Wales and also a link to information about the company's building in Albion Park, New South Wales.

An interview with John Charlton Graham, Manager of the Illawarra Central Cooperative Dairy Co. Ltd is available by following this link.

Also on the site is an interview with Michael John Hindmarsh, a dairy farmer from Ivy Mount, Gerringong who was a supplier to the ICCD factory. Follow this link.

Image Credit: The image depicts the processing of butter at the ICCD factory in 1950. The individual on the right is Kevin Raftery and to his left is Brian Walsh. The author of the photograph is unknown, and it is available online through the above link.

The first image was taken by Carly Todhunter on 11/12/2009.