I called this site Autopsy Of Adelaide as I wanted to document the forgotten history of Adelaide and the fleeting nature of things as Adelaide transitions to a modern and bustling city. But of course abandonment, loss of history and the demise of manufacturing are not limited to South Australia. And so last year we packed the car and headed the 750 kilometres across the border to Melbourne. I had a few locations listed that I wanted to visit. We were fortunate that some contacts in Melbourne made us aware of a massive site that was in the advanced stages of demolition.
Amcor paper manufacturing had operated from a 16 hectare site in suburban Melbourne for nearly 100 years. But, with ever increasing environmental demands, ageing infrastructure and a desperate need for development land for housing, the factory closed in 2013. By the time we arrived only the large machine house and turbine house remained standing.
Samuel Ramsden, a Yorkshire man, founded the first paper mill in Victoria on the banks of the Yarra River. This was the Australian Paper and Pulp Company which for most of its history was called The Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. until it changed its name in 1986 to Amcor. In 1918 the company opened its mill in the suburb of Fairfield where it remained until it’s 2013 closure. The land was originally a large Yarra bank property named ‘Woodlands’ but soon became the largest industrial complex in the area.
The mill expanded during the 1930s with a 15-ton turbo electric generator bought in 1932 and transported in two halves from Victoria Dock to Fairfield. This was a huge technological advance for the mill as the generator was one of the first of its kind to be used in private industry in Australia. It also established an early form of household recycling with a call to households to sponsor charities to collect waste paper and sell it to the A.P.M. for recycling into cardboard. Further expansions in the post-war boom of the 1950s saw the construction of a new boiler house, pump house and machine rooms.
In 2013, the company, now known was Amcor, opted to consolidate operations to Botany in New South Wales and close the Fairfield site.
I hope you enjoy this look inside.