Most days I drive past the site where a magnificent butter factory once stood tall. Entering the Martin Bridge from the Glenthorne side it would have been located on my right. It was a wooden building with a gravel road leading up to it. I now think about how many people worked there and how useful it was for the district.
The Purfleet Butter Factory was opened on 14 December 1897 by the Australian Dairying Company.1 Just nine years later in 1906 it re-opened under the name of the ‘Upper Manning Cooperative Company’.2 The Manning region was well-known for its dairy industry. There were already two other butter factories at Mitchells Island and Wingham.3 The Purfleet and Mitchells Island butter factories were right on the Manning River and had easy access to the main form of transport at the time – boats.
In 1913 the railway came to Taree. Trains were a more convenient, quicker and cheaper way of transporting goods.4 The Purfleet Butter Factory was far away from the railway, on the other side of the river, so a new factory was proposed. It was decided to build a new central factory at Chatham that was close to the railway and the river.5 In 1919, the Chatham Butter Factory began construction and the Purfleet Butter Factory was dismantled and the machinery moved to Chatham.6 Today there is no sign of the Purfleet Butter Factory.
In its heyday, the factory turned out 52 boxes (over 1 ton) of butter per day.7 It was also a major employer for the growing town of Taree. The Purfleet Butter Factory was useful for the district because people could have a good job and earn money from it.
Authors: Sam Tingle Year 6 and Connor Neal Year 5, Taree West Public School.
1 Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 18 December 1897.
2 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 4 July 1906.
3 Sydney Morning Herald, 18 August 1911.
4 Sydney Morning Herald, 21 March 1913, 5.
5 Sydney Stock and Station Journal, 15 August 1913.
6 Northern Champion, 5 February 1919.
7 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 12 November 1898, 4.