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Pipemakers Park

Pipemakers Park

The site that today comprises ‘Pipemakers Park’ is of very considerable significance in the industrial history of Australia, from its use as a large boiling-down works in Victoria’s early pastoral days, to its association with the makers of Australia’s first steam locomotive, its contribution to the world’s export meat trade as Australia’s leading meat cannery for a decade and as Australia’s first frozen meat export works, and its role as the principal Australian factory of the Hume firm which pioneered, and exported, the invention of centrifugally-spun steel-reinforced concrete pipes.

The Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works purchased the site in 1978 from Humes Ltd. for use as parkland at the request of the Sunshine City Council and subsequently carried out stabilisation and preservation works, as well as cleaning up the site, landscaping and providing visitor amenities as part of a $2 million Bicentennial development grant. As part of the development, one of the buildings was refurbished and leased to Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West for use as their offices and visitor centre.

The site, now known as Pipemakers Park, is located off Van Ness Avenue, Maribyrnong.

The park comprises approximately eight hectares, bounded on the west by Thompson Reserve, on the north by Van Ness Avenue, on the east by the Maribyrnong River and on the south by the former Commonwealth Defence Department land, now the Edgewater housing estate.

Pipemakers Park is owned and managed by Parks Victoria. The Park is in the City of Maribyrnong and the suburb of Maribyrnong (formerly part of the City of Sunshine).

Thompson Reserve is a council-owned park adjacent to Pipemakers Park, and along with other Council and Commonwealth-owned land adjoining the Parks Victoria land on the south side of the park, is managed by the City of Maribyrnong in co-operation with Parks Victoria.

Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West occupies the historic bluestone buildings for its office, resource centre and exhibition space. These buildings are leased from Parks Victoria.

The site is located on the flood plain and escarpment edge of the Maribyrnong River Valley, with some buildings coming within a few metres of the river bank. Several of the buildings have floor levels below the ‘one in a hundred year flood levels’. Entrance to the site is from Van Ness Avenue, at the junction with Gordon Street and Warr’s Road. This is also one of the entrances to Highpoint City Shopping centre, which is built in the former bluestone quarries at the top of the escarpment to the west of the park.

This site was the location of several significant historical industrial enterprises including an early boiling down works, railway engineering foundry, one of Australia’s earliest and largest meat canneries, the first meat freezing works in Australia, and one of the first reinforced concrete pipe works in Australia. Evidence of each of these stages can be found in documentary records, surviving structures and archaeological evidence. For more information about the history of Pipemakers Park go to park history in the exhibitions section.

Pipemakers Park Chronology

1803 Charles Grimes and James Fleming explore Maribyrnong River and pass the study area

1835 John Batman explores Maribyrnong river valley, draws map, records observations.

1836 First permanent white settlement on Maribyrnong River

1839 Subdivision of lands around Melbourne into parishes and numbered sections

1840 First detailed map of river ‘ Mariburnong’ and valley, including study area

1843 Joseph Raleigh, English merchant, arrives in Melbourne with his family

1845 James Johnston obtains annual occupation licence at auction for Section 21 (including study area)

1846 Joseph Raleigh operating salted meat works and boiling-down works at Yarraville.
Raleigh living at ‘Mona Vale, Moonee Ponds’

1847 Joseph Raleigh purchases 409 acres in Maribyrnong, including study area.

1848 Construction of Raleigh’s boiling down works on his land at Maribyrnong

1849-52 Growth in tallow exports from Port Phillip (re-named ‘Victoria’ in 1851)

1851 Onset of Victorian gold rushes

1852 Death of Joseph Raleigh

1853 Rachel and Sarah Raleigh, sisters of Joseph Raleigh, buy additional Maribyrnong land

1854 Establishment of Robertson, Martin & Smith’s Victoria Iron Works in study area

c1855 Water colour drawing of study area by Greeves, including large building by the river

1857-8 Sub-division of Portions 4, 5, 6 and 7, section 21, including study area

1858 Portions 6 and 7 bought by Henry William Dauglish, and mortgaged

1866-7 William Cameron leasing farm on Saltwater River, from ‘Raleigh’s trustees’

1867 Formation of Melbourne Meat Preserving Company, 30 December 1867

1868 Melbourne Meat Preserving Company leasing 174 acres of land and ‘premises’ from George Petty, adapting buildings, constructing new buildings

1870 Melbourne Meat Preserving Company purchases site from George Petty. Also leasing 2,919 acres of land in what is now West Sunshine (for grazing of stock)

1872 Extensions to works – new tinsmiths’ shop and machinery room

1873 Fire destroyed kitchen, preserving room and cooling room, 7 December 1873

1874 Repair and re-building of central portion of factory. Building enlarged

1876 Factory renovated. New boiler, additional preserving pans and tallow vats added

1877 Increase in productivity (262,532 sheep slaughtered October ‘76-April ‘77)

1878 Rise in price of sheep, overseas competition, decrease in demand
Introduction of square tins. Company won gold medal at Paris exhibition
Manager, S.S. Ritchie, invents new tin-filling process

1879 Death of S.S. Ritchie, company manager

1880 Commencement of operations on site by Australian Frozen Meat Export Company

1881 Melbourne Meat Preserving Company works almost idle April-October

1882 Freezing works transferred to Newport
Meat preserving operations suspended April- October

1885 Factory running at a loss

1886 Closure of works. Factory and company’s land put up for sale

1888 Thomas Warr, merchant, purchases study area. Maribyrnong quarry in operation

1896 Slaughterhouse operating in study area

1906 Presbyterian Church of Victoria purchases 170 acres, including study area

1908 Sub-division plan of land, including study area, showing ‘old stone buildings’

1910 Walter Hume’s invention of the centrifugally spun re-inforced concrete pipe, in S.A.

1912 Walter Hume and his brother begin operations in Maribyrnong, leasing study area from Presbyterian Church and using existing bluestone buildings

1913 Walter Hume on a world trip

1914 Melbourne Directory lists ‘Hume Bros. Cement Iron Works’ in Maribyrnong

1915 Hume Bros. purchase 34 acres (including study area) from Presbyterian Church

1916 Hume family living at Maribyrnong

1920 Formation of new company – Hume Pipe (Australia) Company Ltd.

1921 Two moulding machines in operation at Maribyrnong

1922 Machinery operated by electric motor, one and a half to eight horse power

1923 Factory producing concrete slabs. Influenced importance of other concrete products

1923 Walter Hume manufacturing arc-welded steel pipes at Footscray Hume Steel Ltd.

1920s Construction of building which later became known as the ‘Bottom Factory’

c1925 Construction of sub-station

1926 ‘Works’ owned by Hume Pipe Co. Ltd. listed in rate book as having NAV of £432

1920s Use of electrically-operated moving overhead lifting apparatus

1929 Hume Pipe Co. leases five acres of land from the Commonwealth for pipe storage

1940s Construction of ‘Top Factory’

1943 Death of W.R. Hume and also of his eldest son, Walter

1950 Hume Pipe Co re-named Humes Ltd.

1951 Humes firm‘ largest manufacturers of steel re-inforced concrete pipes in Australia’

1960 Humes Ltd. buys out W.R. Hume Pty. Ltd – rival firm established by Hume family

1974 Humes’ application for planning permit to develop plant refused

1974 Severe flood on Maribyrnong, halts production at Hume Pipes – 15 May

1976 Re-zoning of land from ‘General Industrial’ to ‘Proposed Public Open Space’

1977 Humes Ltd. purchases five acres of land from the Commonwealth for pipe storage

1978 Purchase of study area by Board of Works

1979 Transfer of operations to Laverton. Closure of factory at Maribyrnong

1980 Dispute between Board of Works and City of Sunshine about purchase of study area

1981 Proposed amendment 157 to Metropolitan Planning Scheme

1983 Demolition of Amenities Building

1984 Brief prepared for stabilisation work

1984-6 Demolition of various sheds including bottom factory

1985 Community consultation re future of study area

1986 Stabilisation and excavation works around bluestone buildings

1987 Bicentennial grant of $2 million for development of ‘Historic Parklands’,
later Pipemakers Park

1988 Opening of Pipemakers Park


Visitor Centre
Pipemakers Park, Van Ness Avenue, Maribyrnong. Melway Map 28 B10

    LMW is supported by Parks Victoria and the City of Maribyrnong

    Pipemakers Park is managed by the City of Maribyrnong.