‘A sodden expanse’ – Fishermans Bend

Rootes Factory in Salmon St. Harold Paynting Collection, State Library of Victoria

In the late 1930s Fishermans Bend was on the cusp of a major transformation to industrial development – a change that was anticipated with excitement and optimism.

Charles Daley in The History of South Melbourne says:

‘The once-despised Fishermen’s Bend – a no-man’s land – under the pressure of economic circumstance, has come into its own, and its sodden expanse bids fair, under the exercise of human knowledge, skill and labour, directed to its reclamation, to provide eventually scope for great projects and undertakings conducive to the advantage of the State.
In this long-neglected and unoccupied area of ‘Siberia,’ … great activity and interest have been aroused. On 5th November, 1936, occurred on, the north side of ‘The Bend,’ the opening of the great and extensive factory for motor construction of the noted firm of General Motors-Holden’s, whose enterprise has set the example for other leading industrial ventures and subsidiary factories.

The Aircraft Factory … in which the Broken Hill Proprietary, Imperial Chemical Industries and General Motors Companies are jointly concerned, has been established, and many applications have been made for leases on what must become a manufacturing area of great importance, giving employment to thousands of workmen’.

The photograph above shows what was to become the Rootes factory under construction. It was used to develop tanks during the war. The extensive plant covered almost an entire block and became the headquarters for manufacture of aircraft (principally the Beaufort bomber) by the Department of Aircraft Production during WWII.

It was leased to Rootes after the war.

More on this site

Trust Advocate Fisherman’s Bend: former Rootes car factory, and…tank research depot National Trust of Australia (Vic)

Demonstration of AFVs at Fisherman’s Bend  Australian War Memorial reference no F07029

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