Re: Pyrmont CSR

Bob Mcleod

I am interested in this CSR business, as my father served his apprenticeship there and went to sea on the CSR sugar ships in the 1930's. He spoke with reverence of CSR for the rest of his life. The Company had two ocean going steamships, the Rona, and the Fiona, built around the early years of the Century, triple expansion engines. They travelled to Fiji, New Zealand, and the Aust. east Coast, carrying sugar, copra, molasses and transferring machinery, 2ft. gauge rolling stock etc. It was usual for them to enter Northern Rivers, to load sugar, bagasse and carry bulk molasses, direct from the company mills. This was kept in steam heated tanks, and pumped aboard with steam pumps.  The molasses was largely used for distilling alcohol, and the resulting CO2 gas was compressed, also converted to dry ice. Pyrmont was a huge industrial complex, with a large range of by-products, and an engineering facility equal to anything in Australia.
  The company ships regularly berthed in Elizabeth Bay.  I have never heard of any rail connection, and if molasses was sent there by rail, I assume it was unloaded at Darling Harbour. If it was in bulk, then it must have been transferred to road tankers for the very short haul to the Refinery. This seems unlikely, due to the need to heat it somewhat to enable it to be freely pumped . It would almost have been worthwhile laying  a pipeline this short distance.
  Up until the end of WW2 , all products leaving Pyrmont were carted on 4 wheel horse drawn lorries, 4 or 6 horses, depending on load. The Company was very proud of its horses, (fed plenty of molasses?), and they were greatly loved. They were very intelligent, and would work from store to weighbridge, stables to office etc, without any driver, they were just told where to go. They would always carefully park the wagons on the weighbridge, regardless of how big the team. I include a photo of some of these horses at the Refinery. They would negotiate city traffic to their destination, whilst the driver read the daily paper.
  Incoming stores and goods were brought in by these teams, as well as by independent carriers, but I have not heard of horse drawn or motor molasses tankers. 
  The engineering works at Pyrmont  was much involved in maintenance of the extensive 2ft. gauge railway systems in Australia and Fiji, making most of their own rolling stock, and I remember seeing the massive forges and steam hammers there. The company bought in great quantities of old bones, which were used to make bone charcoal, for filtering sugar syrup. The oil driven off in charring the bones was used as fuel in all the furnaces in the workshops, and it sure did stink!
   There are many more stories of Pyrmont, in the 'good old days' but that is enough.  The map of Sydney is most fascinating.... look at all the names of landowners . All those big Australian companies that have disappeared! 
    Regards,   Bob McLeod

From: "Kevin Sewell kevinrsewell@... [LRRSA]"
To: LRRSA@...
Sent: Sunday, 4 March 2018, 12:14
Subject: Re: [LRRSA] Pyrmont CSR

This is only a puzzle piece, not an exhaustive solution to your question.

My father worked for CSR Chemicals at Lane Cove from about the mid 1950s to when the plant closed and merged with the much bigger CSRC plant at Rhodes. Up until about the mid to late 60s (unsure exactly) molasses was brought to CSRC Lane Cove by barge, up the Lane Cove river to CSRC's wharf, from where it was transferred for use in the plant. I only remember being taken down to see the wharf as a little kid, and didn't see the barges, but probably they only travelled weekdays and I was only there weekends with dad. I have no idea what the molasses was used for, or what process it went into. I think it extraordinarily unlikely to have been domestic/shop retail. It must have been some chemical process/product.
I have no idea how the molasses was transported on the barge - probably not bulk tanks, and certainly not ISO containers. It may have been barrels or casks. CSRC had an in-house cooper up until the late 60s.
Where the molasses came from, I don't know. Possibly from Pyrmont sugar refinery, or possibly off loaded at the refinery from ships directly onto barges for movement up the river to Lane Cove ... don't know. Whether it came from Condong, I don't know. (don't know much do I!!) CSRC would hardly be likely to be buying someone else's molasses so presumably it came from a CSR mill ... quite possibly Condong.
My father was an instrument technician (fancy F&T!!!) and was rostered once a month to go in for several hours Sat and Sun to walk around the entire factory changing and collecting the paper charts that recorded everything to do with the processes (they had to be changed every 24hours). I used to sometimes go with him, riding on his Vespa motor scooter from Lindfield to Lane Cove. I vividly remember the all-consuming overpowering smell of the molass walking around down in that part of the plant. If think very hard about it, I can still smell it - it has burned the smell-image into my brain forever. Even I as a child I could tell which part of the plant we were in from the chemical's smells.
The molasses was stored in huge tanks, maybe 20 or 30m high and about 10m diameter with rounded tops and bottoms. I think there was about 8 or 10 of them. As I said, I don't know how the molasses got from barge to tanks, but I very vaguely recall there being a pipeline, possibly also a steam line going down through the bush to the wharf, so maybe it was steam heated to make it more runny. Don't know ... much. It is possible that CSRC was the sole customer of Condong's molasses, in which case it might never have hit land until off-loaded at Lane Cove.
As I said puzzle piece, not solution.

On Sat, 3 Mar 2018 at 9:54 PM, 'Peter Cokley' yahoomail@... [LRRSA] <LRRSA@...> wrote:
Can those who knew Pyrmont in Sydney during the CSR refinery era please help (confirm yes or no) the results of  my following investigations. It is to do with an article on Condong in the CSR era. I live near Coolangatta Tweed Heads.
CSR was located with its own ocean going capable ship capable wharf at Pyrmont on the left hand side inbound as you crossed the Victoria Rd bridge, coming from Hunters Hill direction. (Yes or No)
The Metropolitan Goods Line, as shown on Hairylegs (Thanks John P.) did not provide a siding for CSR at Pyrmont and the closest siding would have been somewhere like Darling Harbour. (yes or No)
If both above are true, then any bagged sugar dispatched from Condong via the NSWGR needed transhipping at Darling Harbour or maybe Rozelle after that yard opened.
If above true, and no rail siding for CSR at Pyrmont, what happened with the molasses railed south from Condong? The 1961 NSWGR Local Appendix to the Northern Division Working Timetable P.330 reveals a molasses loading point with 6 outlets was provided at the Condong mill.. Things must have changed as photo from 1969 only shows four outlets.. The molasses was noted in the LA-WTT as being loaded into MX type Railway Tankers.
I have also consulted the Metropolitan Goods Line article and diagrams in ARH 2016.  
Peter Cokley
Don't just answer the question, question the answer.

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