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HISTORY

100 Years of Innovation at the Federal Mills

 

100 Years of Innovation at the Federal Mills 

 

The former Federal Woollen Mill – an icon of Geelong’s industrial past

 

For several decades, the imposing and iconic façade of the former mill has captured the interest of locals and visitors alike. What many people may not realise is that these buildings played an important role in the production of army uniforms and blankets for Australian soldiers during the First World War.

 

The mill was vital to the Geelong region by creating stable employment for many local residents. Production saw raw wool being scoured, carded, dyed, spun and woven into cloth, processes which were powered by the mills own power plant. This self-sufficient approach was a significant innovation of the times, enabling Australia to produce its own essential military equipment without relying on assistance from overseas.

 

The impressive brick structures of the former mill, completed in 1915 by Australia’s first Labor Government, heralded a time in Victoria’s history where there was a move away from traditional factories (dark, poorly ventilated & multi-storeyed), towards a new approach focused on improving the working conditions of employees. Welfare programs for workers were also introduced, which was of great social significance.

 

When the war ended in 1918, the factory switched to making cloth for a range of uses and by 1923 the whole enterprise was sold into private hands. Over the next two decades, new plant was installed and production increased dramatically. During WW2, the Federal Mill employed up to 875 people.

 

In 1968, the site became known as Classweave Industries, continuing to spin and weave fabric for a range of uses - including the fabric for the first Qantas 747s - until finally closing its doors in 2001, marking the end of an era for fabric production at the site.

 

 

Celebrating 100 years 1915 – 2015: the present and into the future

 

In 2013, David Hamilton Property Group (DHPG) purchased the Federal Woollen Mills in a derelict state. DHPG has a proud history of reinvigorating historic buildings around Geelong and repurposing under-utilised industrial sites; through adaptive re-use, DHPG is proud to be aiding in the preservation and reimagining of these historically significant buildings.

 
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THE FEDERAL WOOLLEN MILLS WAS OPENED BY THE PRIME MINISTER AND GOVERNOR-GENERAL ON THE 21ST OF DECEMBER 1915.

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THE MILLS WERE THE FIRST MAJOR MANUFACTURING OPERATION IN GEELONG.

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1915: GRAND OPENING
1972: MILL CLOSES AFTER 57 YEARS
2013: WORK BEGINS ON TECH PARK
2016: WINS HERITAGE RESTORATION AWARD

 

NATIONAL TRUST HERITAGE AWARD WINNING RESTORATION