Tremain’s Victoria Mill in Keppel Street is an impressive surviving example of a mid 19th century flour mill.
Built of local brick in 1857 by the Chapman brothers, it was three storeys high with a prominent brick chimney and powered by a steam engine. An extensive Tremain family archive includes the original receipt for its purchase by William Tremain in 1874 for £1,600 ($3,200). Inside can be found much of its equipment which still operates today.
The Tremain family has a reputation as leading-edge innovators and early adopters.
This attitude to life kept the locals of Bathurst employed for over 100 years in the grain milling business, through thick and thin, through wars and depression, and today their legacy of industrial heritage architecture remains as a gift to the oldest inland European settlement in Australia, Bathurst.
William was the founder of a dynasty that was to continue for over 100 years until the business closed its doors around 1980. Over and over again the Tremain family were to be at the leading edge in Australia’s flour milling industry.
The Mill is a large complex which evolved to meet new challenges and opportunities over time. So its structures have been added piecemeal as the business expanded, and as new technologies were adopted by successive Tremain family generations.
In 1884 the Victoria Stores building fronting Keppel Street was built, and by 1900 this had evolved into a two storey building, including an upstairs verandah (later demolished).
In 1901 fire, the end of many flour mills, destroyed much of the brick building’s interior. But, unlike others, the progressive Tremain family saw this as an opportunity to again modernise and extend the mill and the machinery. Later a fourth storey was added to the brick mill building as can be seen in the brickwork at the side.
The focus on continual improvement saw the Tremains build the first silo on the site in 1932. It comprised nine stacked oregon timber bins encased in corrugated iron. In the early 1940s two more similar silos were erected, and with the end of WWII the buildings and capacity were again extended. In 1953 operations were converted to electricity and so the chimney was removed, and in 1956 the twin concrete silos were built.
The combination of the buildings, the machinery and the historical archive make Victoria Mills unique, and so a very important part of Australia’s industrial heritage.
Tremain’s Flour Mill, its silos and historic buildings, are heritage listed, and will remain an iconic Bathurst landmark for future generations to admire.