top of page

New Launceston mills a boon for 1923 wool sales

The Launceston wool sales of January 1923 were hailed as the most successful held with representatives from the city’s two new textile mills competing with buyers from around the world.

It was an exciting time with cloth and flannel producer Kelsall and Kemp at Invermay already operating and construction of the huge Patons and Baldwins yarn factory at Glen Dhu well underway.

The two new mills were expected to be a boon for Tasmanian wool producers as well as providing hundreds of new jobs in Launceston and giving the local economy a major boost.

George Cragg, chairman of the Launceston Wool Brokers' Association, told The Examiner that the number of buyers was probably a record, and the clip quality was better than recent sales.

“It might be said thankfully that it was the most successful wool sale held in Launceston. The representation of British, Continental, and Australian buyers was probably a record.”

He said buyers for Kelsall and Kemp and Patons and Baldwins were keen bidders and Waverley Woollen Mills, that had been operating for nearly 50 years before the big UK mills decided to establish factories in Launceston, was also represented.

Construction of the Patons and Baldwins mill had started nearly a year earlier, in March 1922, after the tender of Hinman, Wright and Manser had been accepted at a contract price of £90,000.

The Examiner of 23 March 1922 said it was probably the largest building tender ever let in Tasmania.

“The plans and specifications were executed at Launceston by a special staff, under the personal supervision of Mr F. J. Heyward (of North, Ricards and Heyward) and in order to expedite the work long hours were worked on several occasions.”

By April 1922 more than a hundred men were working at the site with 21 horses and carts and two teams of eight bullocks excavating the foundations and basements.

The mill buildings would cover nearly two hectares and consume 1,750,000 bricks made at the nearby Hutton’s Brickworks. Roof ironwork was being fabricated by the Salisbury Foundry.

The Examiner said there would be seven departments in the mill with the wool combing section expected to be operating before the premises were finished.

Most of the employees would be female, and young people, and special provision was to be made for their welfare. They would be trained by experienced staff from Patons and Baldwins UK mills.

The manager of the new mill, Mr McVann, was already in Launceston and machinery from the UK started arriving in September 1922.

When two large boilers were landed at Beauty Point, they were brought to the Launceston wharves by barge. Steam traction engines towed trailers with the boilers to the Glen Dhu site.

The factory was expected to be producing knitting yarns before the end of 1923.

IMAGES -- Top: Bales of wool in the new Patons and Baldwins mill. Picture: QVMAG 1991:P:1068. Middle: Machinery in the new Patons and Baldwins mill. Picture: QVMAG 1991:P:1070. Below: The Patons and Baldwins mill under construction surrounded by scaffolding. Picture: Weekly Courier, 5 April 1923. The completed mill at Glen Dhu. Picture: QVMAG 1991:P:1057.

Written for the Launceston Historical Society and published in The Sunday Examiner 5 February 2023.


Recent Posts
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page