Jul 28, 2023 | Community

The Factory Next Door

Author: Barry York

Factory Next Door - Brunswick Daily

My parents and I resided at 87 Shamrock Street from 1956 to 1966 when we sold the house and moved two doors up to a newly built two-bedroom brick veneer house next to a red brick factory. Our new address was 83a Shamrock Street as the house had been built on a vacant paddock next to the factory, which was number 83. Cooper Street ran into the back of the factory.

I was there with my mother and father, next to the factory, for the next 17 years. During that time, the factory was sold (around 1983 perhaps) and demolished and townhouses built on the land. I always took the factory for granted and it was only years later, after its demolition, that I wondered more about it.

83 Shamrock Street - Brunswick Daily83 Shamrock Street on the map today. Source: Google maps.

In searching back through the directories, it became clear that after the Second World War, a new numbering system for houses was introduced to Shamrock Street. In 1945, the numbering ends with 57 and 58, 57 being at the Moreland Road end of the street. At that time, number 83 was 27. Interestingly, it was listed as a wire company, so I’m assuming it was the factory. The new numbering appears in the 1950 directory.

In 1940 and 1945, it appears as the Moreland Wire Co and in 1935 as ‘Taylor and Littlejohn – wire workers’.

Going back further, Shamrock Street was known as “Royal Crescent” and had few houses. ‘Drake H. & Co. Wire’ is listed as a ‘wire factory’ in 1925 and 1930, but not numbered. Presumably it is the factory. Not all the houses are listed by number in 1925.

There is no factory of any kind listed in the street in 1920 or earlier. Thus, the factory was probably built in the 1920s.

Factory next door - Brunswick Daily83 Shamrock Street circa 1978. Source: Author

The sign on the factory façade said “Bennett Engineering”. It was a working factory from the 1950s to the late 1970s or early 1980s, as far as I am aware, but it changed from engineering to carpet warehousing. This is what I heard over the years and have recently confirmed it by research into the Sands & McDougall directories.

The Directory for 1950 shows an Engineer named Walter Vears.

Vears - Brunswick DailyExtract from Sands & McDougall’s directory of Victoria: 1950

After that, in 1955, ‘W. J. Bennett Engineer’ reads right next to 83.

Bennett - Brunswick DailyExtract from Sands & McDougall’s directory of Victoria : 1955

The 1965 Directory shows ‘J. C. Bell, carpet layer’. The online directories end at 1974 so I could not do further research but Mr Bell was still there in 1974, according to the final directory available online. I know from personal experience that he was there later too.

Bell - Brunswick DailyExtract from Sands & McDougall’s directory of Victoria: 1965

I have vivid memories of Mr. Bell chatting in the street with my mother. He was a fitness fanatic, always in running shoes and track-suit. He admonished me on one occasion around 1972, when anti-Vietnam posters were pasted on the front of the factory. He knew it was me, even though I denied it. He said, “How would you like it if someone pasted up posters on the front of your house“?

Needless to say, I’m writing this in the hope that someone out there might have additional information about the factory at 83 Shamrock Street, West Brunswick, or even be related to Mr Bell or Mr Vear.

On that note, I’d also be interested to hear from anyone who knows about Claude Larsen – a very Norwegian name – who lived at 87 Shamrock Street in 1950. The 1955 directory shows Aubrey Romer as the owner of 87 in 1955 and I recall that my parents purchased the house from him. We remained friends after he and his wife and kids moved to Albion Street, up the road.

*Barry York’s facebook page is ‘Memories of living in Brunswick, Melbourne’. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

This article was written, edited, and published on the stolen lands of the Wurundjeri-woi wurrung People, whose sovereignty was never ceded

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Frank Besanko
Frank Besanko
31/07/2023 11:13 am

I lived in 19 Shamrock St from 1978 to 1983 & remember the factory at the Albion Street end that sold fishing gear/bait….the block of land at the back of the Shamrock Street lane was very long….about 20 house blocks….units were then built there. We moved to 18 Kendall Street Essendon, just down the road, still there.