23: Reid Bros. Chaff Mill


Reid Bros., Produce Merchants of Northcote developed their chaff mill, measuring 60 feet x 30 feet, in Learmonth in 1888 when the railway route to The Springs (now Waubra) was confirmed. They had a ready market, and goods could be carried directly to the ships. This mill served the farmers of the Learmonth district by cutting their crops into chaff at the mill. Prior to this the crops were cut by a travelling, steam driven, chaff cutter which went from farm to farm.

Tenders were called for on the 9th of June 1890 for the erection of a hay dock at the Learmonth Station. In August of 1900 a petition of ratepayers requested the Shire Council to move the weighbridge from its present site to another site on the main road opposite the chaff mill.

Reid Bros. wrote to the council in may of 1900 stating that they intended to raise the road level on the west side of their chaff mill, and asked the council for "a few loads of metal to raise the footpath and roadway to correspond".

On New Years Eve 1900, the steam whistle at the mill was blown at midnight to celebrate the beginning of "Federation".

Reid Bros. also had a private railway siding which was opened in 1902, located  about half a mile from the station. In 1915 the siding was renamed Wards Siding and was closed in 1920.

The mill was sold to Harold S K Ward Pty Ltd of 24 - 28 Spencer St. Melbourne, they continued to cut chaff until 1919 when the mill, "being in need of repairs ceased to function". Medwell's mill of Learmonth then cut chaff for H S K Ward Pty Ltd. The old Reid's Mill was used for storage in conjuction with the Medwell mill was dismantled in the 1930s.

H S K Ward had other mills around the Melton, Rockbank and Sydenham areas. All their mills were built beside railway lines, the fate of many former chaff mills was to be destroyed by fire. The last remaining structure of many of these mills is the weighbridge.

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