1807 Portland Cement Works
Portland Cement Works
Portland Cement Works was an important part of Australia’s industrial history. It is one of Australia’s first and most successful lime quarrying and cement manufacturing enterprises with quarrying operations commencing on the site from as far back as 1863.
The site of Portland Cement Works was initially chosen due to the abundance of limestone and coal in such close proximity.
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Cullen Bullen Lime and Cement Company was the first to manufacture cement on the site from the late 1800s until the company failed in 1895. The company was then taken over by brothers George and John Raffan, who renamed the business ‘Ivanhoe Lime & Cement Works & Colliery’.
Cement production on the site had been on and off from 1887, until 1901 when the ‘Commonwealth Portland Cement Company Limited’ (CPCC) was formed, and with the purchase of some older cement plant from Sydney , the existing works were built.
The distinctive power house, which remains on the site, was built between 1900 and 1903 to provide electricity for the cement manufacturing process. In 1910 the CPCC also began providing free electricity to light the main streets of Portland.
Initially, the Power House was two separate buildings: the main powerhouse which drove the raw mills and cement mills, and later, the electric power house. Eventually, the two buildings were joined in 1910 and not long after, the Power House was extended from the southern end of the existing building with a more grandly designed style of architecture featuring tall arched windows on the facade which can still be seen today.
A single cylinder 120 HP Tange engine was purchased with the property in 1900 and remained in operation up until about 1916. A variety of generation equipment was installed over the years and later removed or replaced due to updates in industrial technology or unsuitability for the site.
The works hit peak production in 1928 when the business was employing what was known as a ‘Dry Process’ to manufacture cement. During the 1940s, the site again changed ownership from CPCC to ‘Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers U.K’ (ACPM), and with that came a change of manufacturing to a ‘Wet Process’ to keep pace with the tech, requiring a significant portion of the plant to be either decommissioned or retrofitted to adapt.
During the 1960s ACPM developed a new rage of cement, marketed as Off White , a specially manufactured product to offer consistently coloured, high strength cement which was well suited to a variety of applications. Portland became known for the creation of this new product which is still referred to a Portland Cement today.
In 1974 APCM merged with BHP and formed ‘Blue Circle Southern Cement Ltd’.
The works began to decline over the next decade and a half, and in 1991, cement production ceased, although quarrying operations continued until 1998.
Much of the original site no longer exists, but significant buildings remain including the mechanical, electrical and blacksmith workshops, boiler house, power house, workers cottages, Raffan Mills and bottle kilns.
Today, the site is owned by AWJ Civil who have a proposal in place to sympathetically redevelop the site and restore several of the remaining buildings for adaptive reuse. Some of the buildings, such as the boiler house, are already utilised for events including The Foundations Monthly Market.
Renowned artist, Guido Van Helten , was recently commissioned by The Foundations Portland to paint the remaining cement silos with large murals depicting former workers of the Portland Cement Works.