Monday, April 11, 2011

Bleak day - and tenuous link to the Beluga

Former Starch Factory, now Sandridge Bay Towers in the early eighties: image courtesy of PMHPS, used with permission
The area between Princes St and Pickles St is full of interest for its civic, naval and industrial heritage buildings. The former Starch Factory, now Sandridge Bay Towers is one such example. Another building, similar in scale and massing was the Victorian Sugar Works, which was extensively damaged following a spectacular fire on June 8, 1875. After the fire, the Victorian Sugar Works transferred its operations to Yarraville. This is where the Beluga had discharged its load of sugar before coming to Station Pier. Here is a a small extract of how the fire was reported at the time: 'The whole building was apparently blazing like a colossal beacon, shed a lurid glare over the whole of Sandridge and the shipping, turning the water of the bay, and the lagoon a blood red colour, while overhead streamed a vast broad banner of flying sparks and flakes of flame, now shining bright and clear, and anon obscured into the semblance of a gigantic floating wreath of smoke, bespangled with blazing stars.' [Argus June 8, 1875] To see a spectacular image which absolutely illustrates this word picture, click here and enter 1068 in the search box. 'Following the fire, Poolman was sent to Britiain to discover anything new about sugar refining with a view to re-building the works, but while he was still on the voyage the Sugar Works directors decided to buy Joshua Bros works at Yarraville for 500,000 pounds. By December 1875, the machinery and plant not totally burnt was taken to Yarraville.' [taken from Fire in the Borough by Shirley A Videion available from the Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society or from the Port Town Hall at 333 Bay St]

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