Cement, Store, Miller
First Buildings We Saw on Maria Island, Tasmania
Arriving on Maria Island the first structure we saw was the 1922 Cement Works.
Sadly, the picture of how the Cement Works looked during the productive years has badly faded, but the information is still readable.
In February 1923, the S.S. Cooee [a vessel of 4,328 tonnes with a crew of 50] arrived from Copenhagen to dock at the new Darlington Pier. It carried on board 1,600 tonnes of machinery for installation in the National Portland Cement Works. A year later, the works opened with much celebration. The main works included a Raw Mill, where limestone transported from the quarries by rail, was ground by a series of rotary and jaw crushers, and fine rollers. It was then mixed to form a creamy slurry using one part clay to three part limestone.
The limestone was then fed into a long Ball Mill for further grinding by pebbles, before ending up in the large slurry pits, where it was stirred by rotary mixers for 4-5 hours. The slurry was then pumped into the Kiln House, and from there, fed into the long Rotary Kiln and subjected to intense heat generated by the pulverised coal from the Coal Mill. The coal supply was transported in small vessels from a Newcastle colliery. The resultant substance termed”clinker”, was held in the Clinker Storage until the final grinding process in the Cement Mill. At this point, a small amount of gypsum, from South Australia, was added to delay the hardening process. 500 tonnes of cement were produced each week – one ton is about the weight of an average family car. The cement was held in the hoppers of the Cement Silos, before being placed in jute bags for shipment. At the height of operations, the Maria Island population numbered about 500 people. Married employees were housed with their families in the Twelve Apostles, and single men, in the Old Penitentiary. Heavy financial losses, however, led to the company being taken over in 1930. Most of the plant machinery was reinstalled near Port Fairy, Victoria.
Searching the web, all we could find was this tiny picture of the Cement Works.........
1923. Picture on one of the information boards.
The Clinker Storage and Cement Mill were together. Other associated works still evident include a pumphouse and pit, large concrete tank etc. Coal was stored for use in the Coal Mill and Kiln House where the coal was pulverised to heat a 45 m long rotary kiln. An electrical power plant was nearby. In front, all that is left of where the boatshed stood.
Boatshed and Boat’s Crew Hut circa 1828. These were, at first, of log and bark construction with a brick and stone shed erected in a similar location in the second convict era.
A short distance up a slope, behind the Cement Works, stands the Barn. This large building was erected as a store for agricultural produce from the nearby farm, about the site of the present airstrip. There are two features unusual in a convict building: it was not white-washed internally, and it boasts a triple diamond pattern high on the external wall facing the . During the 1920’s it became a machine repair and carpenter's shop for the cement company's railway system.
Inside the barn, a time warp of farm equipment.
Bear on his ‘one careful owner’ ‘machine’. The Cement Works to the left.
Bear’s machine. The roof of the Commissariat visible and away to the far left, Darlington, the island’s main settlement.
The Miller’s Cottage with the stone circle where the windmill stood.
The main room.
Main room to second room doorway and fireplace on the far wall beyond. Built in 1846, the Miller’s Cottage comprising of two rooms and possibly a detached kitchen, provided ‘comfortable quarters for the Miller’. By 1847 the windmill was installed and said to be good for grinding corn.
This photograph shows the remains of the windmill. Termed a post mill, it was built to balance and turn on a single post, and could be rotated according to wind direction.
This sketch shows how the mill could be turned by hand, by first levering the steps clear of the ground, and then pushing the tail pole to rotate the mill, till the sails once again faced the wind.
During the probation period, the convict stations were primarily agricultural settlements, the prisoners being employed mainly in clearing and cultivating land. The construction of this windmill enabled wheat grown on the island to be ground on the spot, thus avoiding the transport costs to and from a mill on the Tasmanian mainland. In 1847, it was reported that there were three hundred acres, or more than a square kilometre of wheat under cultivation, and it was projected that this would yield enough wheat to supply the settlement for twelve months. However, when Colonel Mundy visited at the close of the Probation Station, he commented that “the windmill is without sail”, and by 1851 only a few convicts remained to bring in the harvest.
Standing at the front door, looking ahead - out over the stone turning circle.
Ahead and slightly left is Ile du Nord and the runway that can be used for little planes.
It’s not difficult to picture this large area covered in wheat. Next stop to our left – the cemetery.
ALL IN ALL LOVELY TO STEP BACK IN TIME
HISTORIC BUILDINGS SPANNING THE AGES