One of the most preserved historical buildings on the historical Kinley site (ex. Cave Hill Quarry) is the bacon and dairy factories.
During the 1890s the factory supplied local butter markets and also shipped to London because of the high quality product that was produced. From early 1893, cheese production commenced at Cave Hill, and was quickly established as a profitable enterprise. The Cave Hill Mitchell dairy was the first farm utilised by the Pure Milk and Dairy Company Ltd for the production of pasteurised milk in Victoria. In 1901 Mitchell introduced four Bartram and Son Lawrence Kennedy mechanical milking machines which revolutionised the industry. The machines milked 25 cows per hour halving the time and labour to milk the cows by hand.
In 1893, Mitchell constructed a bacon factory building to the north of the butter factory. It comprised a ‘cutting down room’, which was provided with a ‘patent floor of cement and granite chips’, and a double-storey smoking room with a 12 metre tall tower.
Each room of the factory could process hundreds of sides of bacon at a time. In adjacent buildings in the farm complex, sheep and cattle were killed to supply local butchers, and animal bones were steamed and ground to produce soil fertiliser. The products of the factory were sold in butcher shops across Melbourne, and interstate.
Bacon continued to be produced into the early part of the twentieth century. By the early 1900s, the farm complex had expanded eastwards. A 1907 panoramic photograph of the Cave Hill Estate indicates a densely developed collection of buildings around the butter and bacon factories. A soap and candle factory was also established at the property in c.1900. The farming operations demonstrate Mitchell’s emphasis on efficient and economic industrial production, and avoidance of waste. The leftovers from the butchering were in turn boiled down and the fat used in soap.
Following the end of the farming production, the factories were used to support the quarry activities and in 1977 was transformed into an office for the quarry engineers.
In May, 2019 the current owners stripped away the 1970’s office fitout to reveal some of the original production stories from a century ago complete with rows of “S” shaped hooks in the Bacon Factory and a nostalgic smokey aroma from the bacon curing room.
The Bacon & Dairy buildings will eventually be restored and transformed into community-focused facilities such as a paddock to plate restaurant, café or gallery and incorporated into Kinley’s masterplan welcoming visitors with a fascination for their historic past.