tottenham air force base demolition
The broad grassland suburbs west of Footscray have a history that defines a fundamental part of our national character of the mid-twentieth century. The RAAF Tottenham airbase was built in 1949 - a time when industry was long-established around Sunshine. The district supported boot and textile factories, quarries and flour mills. Strategic industries located here in the war years joining the Maribyrnong munitions plant and the explosives plant at Deer Park. The Sunshine Harvester-Massey plant switched from agricultural implements to a war-footing - radar units and parts for armoured vehicles.
Vile smells from the Monsanto plant at Brooklyn were a common source of complaint for Sunshine residents, as well as for personnel living at the RAAF huts in Ashley Street and workers arriving by train at Tottenham station. Despite the inevitable downsides to life near heavy industries, there was a high tolerance for these inconveniences in the community. This district had suffered unemployment rates of 30% during the Great Depression 15 years earlier. Closures of textiles mills and boot factories were widespread. Men and their families eked out an existence by way of the 'suss', as the sustenance ration was known. As late as the 1950s, Ukrainian and other migrants washed dishes in Kororoit Creek and lived in tents on grassy house blocks they had purchased cheaply in Ardeer and Braybrook.
Much of the industrial landscape has disappeared. Always a matter of some regret. I wouldn't mind having seen the Harvester works before it disappeared. It played such an important part in the district and the national history. The Massey Ferguson factory - on the original McKay's Sunshine Harvester site - was redeveloped as Sunshine Plaza. Spaldings and Nettlefolds are now the site of Big Box outlets adjacent to the old RAAF base - which itself has undergone gradual transformation into an industrial park.
The original post-war RAAF Stores buildings were solid and weatherproof, but lacked the
clear-span open floor required by modern warehousing. Trucks, forklifts and their loads are notorious for colliding with structural uprights located beyond perimeter walls. It is usually just a question of time before these buildings are pulled down
- or re-roofed with clear-span trusses.
The last old RAAF Stores warehouse fronting Ashley Street was recently demolished and over 50 cubic metres of dry, seasoned hardwoods have found their way to the mill at
Timberzoo. These are Messmates and other similar
Stringybarks. Pale cinnamon and tawny tones in dressed board
- a deeper hue of old growth timber than is found in new forest regrowth. The purlins will supply
140 x 19mm floorboards, and the 200 x 200mm posts look good enough to sell in original state, with dark sawn upper faces and industrial striped base of black and gold safety paint. Other sizes available, including a smaller
150 x 150mm post.
recent stock arrivals
Nothing glamorous about these sticks. Unable to pull many of the nails, we ground them to flush and it has left a rusty flourish.
Barwon Bridge Deck 200 x 100mm...in Landscape Grade...$30.00/m
We have a lot of timber arriving this month and the Barwon batch
- although selling well per stick - is taking up space.
Bridge Bearers 220 x 170mm...in Landscape Grade...$30.00/m
I'm a bit challenged on the grade boundaries with the Barwon lot.
off the profile moulder...recent production