Flour Mill

The Mount Pleasant Flour Mill was the last of the flour mills to be established in the valley of the Torrens.  Disease of the wheat crops in the early 1860s culminated in the great rust and smut plague of 1866-1867, which put a stop to wheatgrowing in the wetter parts of the hills.

Mount Pleasant residents felt disadvantaged by not having a local flour mill, and with the sale of the Weinert’s mill at Lobethal in 1862, after its owner, Gustav Hittmann declared bankruptcy, the forced-sale price of 500 pounds appealed to Henry Giles, and so he decided to establish a mill within the town.

…On Tuesday the 18th instant, the foundation-stone was laid, and it was thought an important event, many of the settlers were present to witness the ceremony.  The Rev. Mr Boake gave a very excellent and appropriate address for the occation.  The proprietor expects to have the mill in working order bythe latter end of March next…

In Feburary 1863 the Observer reported… Our mill is progressing rapidly and has now been covered in, while the machinery is being erected under the superintendence of Mr Godlee, who expects to have it in working condition  in about six weeks.  The building is a respectable piece of work, well and substantially built, and is a credit to the workmen engaged. … These (as well as a new room in the hotel opposite) additions to Mount Pleasant gives it decidedly the appearance of a place that is getting on. ….

On April 18, 1863 …On Thursday morning a considerable amount of haze lying about the township made me for a while apprehensive that a bushfire was close upon us, but I soon discovered that it was merely an obscuration which we hope will not prove permanent, viz., the smoke arising from the Mount Pleasant, or rather the Totness Mill, where steam was being got up preparatory to the public opening which was to take place that day. …

…As any as could get in pressed into the engine-room, where the engine was started by Mr Godlee, who has superintended its erection, and a bottle of wine having been broken upon it by Mr Phillis sen., it was set a-going on its useful and I hope continuous work, amidst the cheers of the company under the rather singular name of ‘Old Ned’. …

… After the conclusion of the proceedings the visitors employed themselves for some time in examining the several parts of the mill, and the process of grinding, etc., … … In the evenign the affair was wound up by a dinner of the most ample and varied ddescription, given by the proprietor, Mr Giles, to his numeroud friends, and well-wishers in the undertaking.  It was held, for convenience sake, in the new room of the Totness Hotel, where upwards of fifty guests were hospitably entertained….

In 1896 H. A. Giles (nephew to Henry Giles) opened a new cheese and butter factory, situated adjacent to his flour mill.  He had been producing cheese and butter on a small scale, and could see the possibility of producing greater quantities.

Mrs Frank Thomson started the engines and wished success to the Somerset Cheese and Butter Factory.  Specific facilities were constructed for the venture … The floors and walls of the building are of cement, and every care has been used to provide ample ventilation, and in order to prevent the sun striking the walls a wooden boarding has been erected which completely shades them; there is also an excellent suply of water laid on most conveniently….

A celebration was held after the official opening at the local Institute (situated in Showground Road).  A sumptious luncheon was enjoyed by the guests and various speeches and responses were held.  It was recognised that not enough cheese was produced in the colony and so the advent of the Somerset Butter and Cheese Factory was welcomed, particularly fromm a district which had a reputation for producing fine cheeses.



The Quiet Waters By, Reg Butler


Torrens Valley Historical Journal, Nov 1993, Bernard Arnold