On Saturday 30 November 1918, hundreds of people gathered at Mitchells Island to witness the opening of the Manning River Cooperative Dairy Company’s butter factory. It was built on the site of the original butter factory established in 1892 (then called the Lower Manning Dairy Co).1 Located at the junction of the Manning River and Scotts Creek, visitors arrived by steamer to attend the opening. Local photographer Alfred Cavalchini was on hand to document the event.2
The factory was designed by the manager, Lionel M Stanley, who was a pioneer of the butter industry in Australia. The Mitchells Island factory was seen as the first modern butter factory in NSW and Stanley’s design became the blueprint for many subsequent Australian dairy factories.3
In 1920 Mr Booth was tasked with building three houses for factory employees. These houses still remain in the lane leading to the butter factory called Surbiton Place.4
In 1944 the company opened a new dairy factory at Chatham taking advantage of the railway and deep water access. The Mitchells Island factory continued operating for a couple of years afterwards before all works were consolidated at Chatham.5
Seed merchants, D K Hammond and Co, bought the factory in 1950 and by 1953 it was used as a corkwood (duboisia) factory.6 Many families were able to earn extra money by collecting the leaves of corkwood and red stringybark trees which were crushed at the factory and made into drugs such as hyoscine used for seasickness.7
Today the factory buildings have been renovated into a private home.
Author: Janine Roberts
Sponsored by the Old Bar Manning Point Business & Community Association and supported by Create NSW’s Cultural Grant Program, a devolved funding program administered by the Royal Australian Historical Society on behalf of the NSW Government.
1 Australian Town and Country, 25 June 1892, 17.
2 Sydney Mail, 18 December 1918, 16.
3 Manning River Times, 12 February 1941, 2.
4 Northern Champion, 2 October 1920, 8.
5Northern Champion, 9 June 1945, 4; MRT, 28 September 1946, 2.
6 MRT, 3 June 1950, 6.
7 Northern Champion, 9 October 1953, 5.