Urban Exploration: Exploring The Chapmans Factory

For over five years the old Chapman’s factory in Nairne was my urbex playground.  There was something dark and sinister about the dark concrete passageways, the medieval-like meat racks and the smell of death and decay.  A combination of the quiet country location, fortified entrances and alarmed building sections, coupled with rumours regarding the buildings ownership, ensured that the site remained untouched by all but the most intrepid of explorers.  In an effort to protect the site for as long as possible, I deliberately kept the majority of my photographs of the site offline.  Over time, I introduced others to the labyrinth of dark passageways and together we returned on numerous occasions.

Alas, the site finally appears earmarked for demolition with internal dismantling works already well advanced.  This is the nature of abandoned photography.  Such spaces are in their final days.  Some linger longer than others but the inevitability is that everything dies.  Saying goodbye to this one is akin to saying goodbye to an old friend.  Chapman’s factory provided me with many great adventures and some great exploring stories.  I shall miss the place.

Established by George Chapman in 1899, Chapman’s Bacon Factory became the lifeblood of the small Adelaide Hills township of Nairne, with gradual expansion of the factory providing an increasing number of jobs to local hills residents.  At its peak, there were nearly 400 people employed at the Nairne site, with a further 70 employed both within South Australia and interstate.  In 1982, Chapman’s Smallgoods merged with Southern Farmers Group in 1982 before being acquired by George Weston’s foods in 1987.   However, aging infrastructure and internal company restructuring saw Chapman’s Smallgoods relocate from Nairne to Murray Bridge in 2002.  Consequently, the Nairne site closed and the site fell into disrepair.  Several attempts were made to adapt the space for other purposes.  A weekend market operated from the site for some time, as well as an a boutique smallgoods manufacturer but otherwise the site has been inactive for several years and an area of concern for Nairne residents.  Increasing copper theft and vandalism took their toll.  Demolition work now appears well advanced with plans for a supermarket on the site awaiting final Council approval.

I’d love to hear from ex-Chapman’s employees or those who remember the factory in its heyday before another chapter of SA history is completely erased.

Chapmans 2016 3
The offal tunnel
Chapmans 2016
The curing room
Chapmans 2016 7
Chapmans 2016 6
The kill floor
Chapmans 2016 5
Slaughterhouse blues
Goods lift
Office space
Meat hooks
Chapmans 2016 1
Kill floor sunrise
Chapmans 2016 4
Part of the kill floor.  Hair would be burned from a pig carcass in this area before proceeding to the next stage of meat processing.
Noughts and Crosses
The Sink
Goods Outward
Goods lift and HR office
chapmans 122
Kill Floor Office
chapmans 3000
Staff Only
chapmans 111
Follow the light
gauge 2
Smokehouse remnants
chapmans 133
chapmans 6000
The only part of the site with Local Heritage protection
chapmans 5000
End of days.  After over ten years of abandonment, this graffiti appeared over a period of just two weeks.
chapmans 4000
Mens Locker Room 1
chapmans 4000-2
chapmans 3000-2
chapmans 2000-2
chapmans 2000
Welcome to the boning room
chapmans 1000-2
Making Smallgoods Training Pay
chapmans 144
Engine room
chapmans 7000
The smell of death

16 thoughts on “Urban Exploration: Exploring The Chapmans Factory

  1. Hi. I passed the factory last weekend, April 2016, and thought I would like to take some internal pics. I have just recently decided to take pics of abandoned buildings. I was surprised to see you beat me to it. How do you get permission to get into these places and what equipment do use. I have just purchased a Canon 6D. Regards…..


    1. You would need to track down the owners or their agent to get permission.
      I also would like to look and collate pics.

      Will be doing some investigation into this.


      1. I worked there for quite a few years started on what was called the ham n bacon floor upstairs… Then finished up in there digo section…it was a excellent place to work those kinds of jobs don’t exist anymore

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Sam I am also a keen explorer and heard about this place from an ex resident and had planned a trip out to check it out.

    I would also be keen to find out if you get an opportunity to access and don’t mind sharing.



  3. How’d you get in man? The place looks completely totalled! Anyway, a great place for photography. I think I’ll film a doco there, maybe.


  4. Was a good place to work I spent many years there used to work making Virginia ham and things like that then worked in there waste section making blood and bone from left ova pigs and a machine called a blood decanter

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic pictures and post!
    My first job was at working atChapman’s office on Unley Road. I was just 15 years old and went for my interview in my Unley High uniform . I have such vivid memories of that time and continue to share them with my own employees.
    Although I never got to see the factory, it is familiar and somewhat haunting to see the pictures. I would love to get high res copies if you would be willing to share!


    1. i totally agree. heinous. i can’t even imagine a decent person getting pleasure from photographing a place where such cruelty took place. let alone working there.


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