Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Strike a light!

The historically significant Bryant & May industrial complex of Redhead® Matches fame is now a rather well converted group of offices, showrooms, car parking and other assorted paraphernalia including gyms (yuck). You will find it in Church Street in a HUGE block between Swan Street and the Yarra River surrounded by Balmain, Chestnut (I thought it was the next street - Walnut!) and the very well-named William (!) Streets.
The view from Church Street
The original factory was opened in December 1909 by Australia's second Prime Minister The Hon. Alfred Deakin (see earlier post 17 July 2012). The newly formed (1901) Federal Government wanted to encourage industry and pledged tariff protection. Sadly no amount of tariff protection or other government support could sustain the business and we lost the manufacturing in the early 1980's to a Swedish firm in Tidaholm who now ship our favourite 'Aussie brand matches' back home for us, so we can use 6 million Redheads® a day.
This is a seriously big building just to make matches!
Being the colour of danger - fire engine red - I think Redhead® is a great name for a match (certainly better than their blackhead once they have been lit!). When Googling for its history I was stunned to read that 'Redheads is an Australian Fireneeds brand'. What on earth does that mean - fireneeds. Of course a fire needs a match (or some other lighter) and if there is a fire it won't need a match! Is this a weasel word or perhaps the word of an overpaid marketing executive on fire!
The old (now non-polluting) chimney

The Bryant & May factory was run on model factory conditions. The amenities introduced in the 1920's included the first on-site industrial nurses, tennis and basketball courts and even a bowling green for the staff. Much of which can still be seen in the 'renovated' complex.
The new mod grass tennis court with the old clubhouse

Of course my favourite Richmond mural art wall (see earlier post 8 August 2012) must be included here as it features Miss Redhead.(There's not much it doesn't include)
Miss (or perhaps Ms!) Redhead amongst our history
 The original redhead was a rather glamorous gal in her day and many incarnations followed
A silver jubilee reincarnation (photobucket)
Her 'firey' reputation meant that she needed to keep 'sparking with the times' and she was continually updated!
Perhaps our most familiar image
I think you'll agree she does bear some slight resemblance to our (assisted) redhead Prime Minister!
The clever Illawarra Mercury Newspaper front cover

So next time you're in the supermarket buying 'Aussie' Redhead® Matches spare a thought for the workers of Sweden who are saving our heritage! (I wonder how many Swedes are redheads?). Take a walk down Church Street towards the Yarra - you won't miss it the site is enormous - and toast our Aussie Redhead® icon at either the trendy Royal Saxon Hotel or Pillar of Salt cafe opposite. And if you're a smoker then strike a light and pay homage to the Redhead® while overlooking the old factory site - before butting out!

No comments:

Post a Comment