The remains of the cement silos at Fyansford

Cement Works

History


Limestone was first discovered at Batesford in 1888 by Richard Taylor. Shale, another key ingredient of cement, was soon found at Fyansford. Cement production began at Fyansford in 1890 led by Peter McCann and a number of local and Melbourne builders, but transport difficulties forced the company into liquidation in 1902. In 1905 it reopened, with some of the former directors able to buy and reopen the plant. In 1911 an expansion program started with the old plant being replaced by a new rotary kiln.

In 1915 further plant expansion took capacity to 40,000 tonnes per year. The original plant was located at the foot of the Fyansford Hill between Deviation Road and Hyland Street. In 1926 the plant expanded across Hyland Street, which became the main production site in later years. During the 1960s the plant was expanded again taking capacity to 900,000 tonnes per year.

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The Quarry


The original limestone quarry was located in a hillside at Batesford 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometres) away from the Works. A ropeway was provided in 1912 to carry limestone from this original quarry, where from 1921 steam shovels were introduced, as well as a narrow gauge railway system on the quarry floor. The quarry was 4.6 metres below river level, and required a system of drainage tunnels to collect water seeping from the nearby river. In the 40 year life of the quarry it was only completely flooded once, taking it out of action for four weeks.

In 1926 the ropeway was replaced by a private 3"6' railway, but the working of the quarry had became difficult. The limestone deposit was located on a hillside, and was tilting down to the south, resulting in the ratio of overburden to limestone increasing. Boreholes were sunk downstream on the McCann family owned property of Dryden, where a massive deposit of limestone of 90 percent CaCo3 (calcium carbonate) was found

Work commenced on the new quarry in the late 1920s, with overburden removed from a large area to permit a 37 metre working floor, with a working face of 30 metres of limestone and six metres of overburden. The floor was 21 metres below sea level, resulting in the need for a pump system, as well as a drainage tunnel system to collect seepage from the riverbed.

Finally in 1931 the current open cut quarry commenced production, with the equipment at the old quarry either transferred to the new one, sold, or demolished. It was located 61 metres (200ft) below ground level and 24 metres (80ft) below the Moorabool River, and covered 50 acres in 1965. In 1966 the railway was replaced by an overhead conveyor belt, which remained in used until closure of the works.

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Today


The cement works were demolished in the 2000s after their closure, except for some silos atop the hill at the railway sidings. The quarry remains in use today.

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Photos


Nine of 45 images found displayed. Click them to enlarge.

Looking up Fyansford Yard

December 27, 2008

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Sources


  • VR General Appendix 1953
  • History of the Australian Portland Cement private railway from the ARHS 'Excursion to Fyansford - April 20th 1965' tour notes.
  • Additional details are from 'The Fyansford Cement Line' by John McNeill (Light Railways, April 1993)
  • Details of the cement works are from 'A Journey to Destiny - 100 Years of Cement Manufacturing at Fyansford by Australian Cement Limited' (1990) by the same author.