7 November 2023

Riverina Rewind: The final days of the Murrumbidgee Mill

| Michelle Maddison
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An aerial view of the mill from Edward Street, sometime in the 1990s. Photo: Museum of the Riverina.

With the Murrumbidgee Milling Company building once again in the news, this pic from the Museum of the Riverina‘s collection takes us back to a time when the site was still intact.

In this fantastic aerial photo from the 1990s, we can clearly see how much the site has changed and the structures that once occupied the space between the original buildings and the road.

The Murrumbidgee Co-operative Milling Company was founded by Messrs J J Peadon, J P Wilson, J D Norman, R Cox and R Dunn in 1899.

The flour mill was built by Charles Hardy and was opened on 28 June, 1890, with an initial 12-sack-capacity plant.

The first manager, Mr J P Adkins, and his brother, Mr C W Adkins, members of a well-established English milling family, expanded the business rapidly and within 20 years the mill was exporting flour to the Continent, South Africa, Egypt and other countries.

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The mill was producing 12,000 to 13,000 tons of flour a year by 1913, during which year a Wolfe compound condensing superheating steam engine was installed at a cost of £4000.

In 1918, four concrete grain silos were built near the railway line, and another 10 silos were built in 1927. In 1927, the plant was producing 20,000 to 22,000 tons a year, and the steam engine was replaced by electric power from the municipal supply.

The mill ceased operation in August 1978. The former flour mill was listed by the National Trust in 1981.

After the co-operative ceased operating, the site was sold to Goodman Fielder in 1987 and operated for a little over a decade before ceasing its operation in December 2000.

The site covers about five acres (two hectares) between the Sturt Highway and the Main Southern Railway Line. Most of the original buildings remain, although surrounded by additions and extensions.

For almost two decades, developers have promised renovation and redevelopment of the heritage-listed site, with construction always “about to begin”.

By 2023, the development was mired in legal limbo as local developers and multinational investors hashed things out.

The Old Mill is currently back on the market, with a price tag thought to be between $8 million and $11 million.

IHG Hotels and Resorts had been due to begin work on a 148-room Holiday Inn in 2021, and confirmed in August that the project is currently on hold.

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