Ice, cream, eggs, rabbits and butter as well as the cold storage of fruit seem an unlikely heritage for Horsham Table Tennis Association’s new home in Harriet Street.
Horsham Butter Factory Co Ltd was built in 1893 in Darlot Street near the Hamilton Street intersection, and for two or three years the business thrived, producing two to three tons of butter a week. The factory then declined due to the start of lamb exports and a decrease in dairy cattle herds. With the increase of hand-operated separators on farms, less milk and cream was brought into town, especially in hot weather.
The Horsham Times reported that during the 1897 cyclone the Lutheran Church in Darlot Street lost its roof but Mr Langland’s private home on one side of the church and the butter factory on the other escaped practically without injury.
By 1903 the factory was in liquidation and in 1904 the plant was sold by liquidators Messrs Young Bros. In 1906 the factory sold at a loss and A and J Perry kept it going. Their partnership dissolved in 1908 and Mr Abraham Perry became sole proprietor.
In 1911 the factory had a freezing chamber, was powered by steam and had a large pile of wood. The same year fire destroyed the building and despite the insurance payout of £1400 not compensating for the loss, the factory was rebuilt in Urquhart Street and tenders were called for extensive additions. Due to the demands of his growing business Mr Perry installed a larger plant in 1914 with a capacity of five tons of ice every 21 hours.
Three years later fruit growers in the area suggested asking the butter factory if they could install two pans, so the whole district’s apricot crop could be converted into pulp for jam production and exported to London.
Wheat growing was becoming unprofitable in the 1930s and butter production was seen as an alternative.
Mr Perry sold the business to William Angliss and Co Pty Ltd who built a new butter factory in 1932 near the ice works in Harriet Street, announcing that the public would be invited to see the building and machinery. A striking feature of the walls was a dark blue colouring which was claimed to discourage flies from entering the building.
The butter factory reported that 1935 was one of the busiest periods since its establishment. Eight tons of butter was manufactured and £1500 was paid to suppliers. The next year the butter factory bought a block of land adjoining their cottage at a price of £150 and in 1939 advertised that the present price offered for eggs delivered to the works was 1/4d per dozen.
By 1951 the factory was receiving cream from 1300 suppliers and, in 1954 they sought council permission to erect a veranda and raised platform to store cream cans. A 24-hour ‘Serve yourself Ice Shute’ (with money slots) was installed and a block of ice cost 1/3d.
In 1967 Murray Goulburn Co Ltd bought the factory and stopped making butter in 1968 after dry conditions. Cream delivered to the factory was then processed at Portland. When the factory closed the old weatherboard house which, prior to 1929, was owned by Phil and Gwladys Greenaway and had been used as the administration centre and office for the butter factory fell into disrepair and was removed.
The property was sold in 1977 for $27,000 before fire destroyed the ice works section of the property in 1979 and the old factory building fell into disrepair and became an eyesore.
The Italian Social Club announced in June 1986 it was considering a club in the old premises with a recreation area for bocce and a playground. After extensive renovations to the building the club opened its rooms in July 1988 and various successful events were held there over many years.
By April 2018 with many of the original 120 Italian families no longer involved, the Italian Club put the building up for auction. The property was purchased by The Horsham Table Tennis Association who will make their home there.
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