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Industrial Extracts Factory, Toodyay

1952 - 1971

Monday, 5 July, 2021 - 14:28

In 1952 Industrial Extracts Ltd. established a factory at Toodyay. The company extracted tannin from wandoo (Eucalyptus wandoo) to be used for leather tanning, oil drilling and boiler compounds. The factory was expected to treat 120 tons of wandoo a day with an output of approx. 10 tons of tannin.

The factory, comprising several buildings and two 40 metre chimney stacks, was located near Millards Pool on the Avon River. A weir, later known as Extracts’ Weir, was built to provide cooling water for the boilers. The depth of the water behind the weir was measured at more than 9 metres.

The old Millar’s Sawmill (1942-1947), located beside the narrow gauge railway goods yard 4.5 km away, was taken over by Industrial Extracts and re-instated.

Industrial Extracts provided accommodation for its employees.

Married men and their families lived in one of the more than 20 new houses that were eventually built by the company in Toodyay.

Single men lived at a local boarding house purchased and renovated by the company. This was the two storey property originally used as a warehouse by John Henry Monger in the 1800s and located in what is now Duidgee Park. This building was demolished in 1968 to make way for the new Newcastle Bridge.

By 1964 the factory was producing a new product, a mud thinner used for deep well oil exploration. In that year Industrial Extracts Ltd was the only WA recipient of an Export Marketing Award from the Department of Trade.

In 1971, nearby timber had become difficult to obtain and the factory closed. Many of the 70 workers, along with their families, left Toodyay. Enrolments at local schools fell. The St Aloyisius Convent of Mercy Catholic School closed in early 1972.

By the early 1990s the depth of the water behind Extracts’ Weir on the Avon River was much reduced due to silt brought down by the river. The weir now consisted of a jagged pile of rocks with a pronounced chute down the middle. This proved a dangerous obstacle on the annual Avon Descent white water boat race. In the mid-1990s work was carried out to even out the weir after a near tragedy during the 1991 Avon Descent in full flood conditions.

Extracts Industrial Park, on the site of the old Industrial Extracts factory, currently accommodates various light industries. A number of the original factory buildings remain in use today.

A steam engine used at the Industrial Extracts factory is now on display at Toodyay’s Connor’s Mill museum.