Exploring the abandoned Bradmill.

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I have always loved abandoned buildings and find them so fascinating. The abandoned buildings I enjoy reading about and looking at are ones with history. Most buildings have a history I guess but this Bradmill is especially intriguing.

Anyway, if you live in Melbourne and have been over the Westgate Bridge as many times as I have you probably would have noticed this old mill but not given it much thought. If you’re coming from Geelong way, it is just before the Bridge and you can take the Williamstown Road exit to get there.

I’ll try my best at writing a brief history below 😊

Bradmill are a fabrics company who still operate to this day. They started out in 1927 when the Bradford Cotton Mills opened up in Yarraville. They started off by making work wear in canvas and heavy duty cotton fabrics, when they branched out to denim in 1945. At this point they were Australia’s only denim manufacturer.

They continue to make denim including stretch denim in 1982 and two years before that they underwent a major upgrade of their mill with installation of new equipment.

In 2002 Bradmill closed its doors, but the De Lutis Group sets up Bradmill Pty Ltd to continue the Bradmill name and remain 100 per cent Australian owned. They still operate today but since 2007 have commissioned their fabric weaving offshore like a lot of other Australian companies because they can’t compete with prices.

I am not sure yet if it’s fortunate or unfortunate that the Bradmill land has been sold to property developers and there is already plans to turn it in to housing estate ‘Yarraville Gardens’. It is said it will be worth $2 billion and have about 1500 houses, two supermarkets, a petrol station, restaurant and medical centre. As far as I know the beautiful old mill will still stand in the corner of the large property where it is now. It is on the Vic Heritage list here which doesn’t mean an awful lot, but still I can’t see them demolishing the mill.

I don’t know much about mills or factories so forgive me for not knowing the names of all the buildings.

UPDATE: I have been pretty inactive on this blog as of late but got this wonderful comment from a lovely lady called Denise a while ago that I’ve just read & really wanted to share with everyone. For me abandoned buildings has always been about the history, memories and stories that have been created in a place so i’m stoked to hear from someone who actually worked at Bradmill in the 70’s.

“I worked for Bradmill, at Yarraville, for 2 years in the mid seventies. When I saw the photos, I was transported back to that time, as a first-year-out-of-uni and pretty green engineer, when I roamed around the site. I fortunately learnt what was going on from people on the floor who had much experience and expertise. Many of these people had come from Europe after WWII and many were later arrivals. The women in the knitting mill were very dexterous with handling the fragile threads that were transformed into robust T shirt fabrics on the machines they were responsible for. The men in the dye house manipulated vast lengths of fabric to produce fabulous colours and many hues of blue indigo denim. When I buy a new pair of jeans, I always smell them to see if they have been dyed with proper indigo. It was a very pleasant, almost fresh, smelling dye house because of the denim dyed there with indigo dyestuffs. It was also lovely and warm in winter! The big gaping holes in the photo that look like giant keyholes were used to hold the stainless steel jet dyeing machines. In the seventies, these were quite hi tech and only the most able operators could run them as they operated at high temperatures and pressures.”

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Photos of the large conveyor belt and the building below it. This conveyor as  far as I can tell was used to get the coal up to the North Western corner of the boiler house which used to have coal fired boiler equipment. It had been replaced at some stage by gas fired boilers but the conveyor thankfully still stands.

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This freestanding chimney was reduced in height by about 12 metres in the 1970’s.

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Photos showing the inside of the original Dye House and Proofing Plant. There is an intact tunnel system for liquid waste in the basement below this building which I’m guessing is blocked off pretty securely.

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The old boiler house next joined to the conveyor, next to the chimney.

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MARCH 2016

In March 2016 I went back to Bradmill for the 3rd or 4th time as I heard it was slowly starting to get harder to access. Boards had started to be put up to block doorways and they put in some rock boulders near the gate to stop cars from being able to access the factory. It was sad to see how much the buildings had been trashed over the last couple years with rubbish left everywhere and fires being lit.

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29 Comments

  1. Very nice (and informative) tour of this great old plant. The balloons were an interesting alternative to graffiti :-)

    1. Oh wow, thanks for the comment! :) I just saw Leanne’s post about your photography and it looks right up my alley so was just about to check out all your posts. Looks like you are in America & I am very jealous of all the beautiful old abandoned buildings you have shot. Very interesting and intriguing work that I’m looking forward to seeing more of :)

      1. Thank you Aimee, Yes, I do have quite a few abandoned spots on my blog mixed in with some IR work – and if I’m lucky, I get to combine the two as in my most recent set from Boyce Thompson. The USA is where I live and most of my abandoned sites are along the East coast. I hope you enjoy what you see.

  2. Nice shots :) I’ve gotten a few of Bradmill myself. Even inside the boiler house of the actual boilers. They’re still coal fired. Because the conveyor dropped coal into them and the chutes are still there.

    1. Your shots are awesome! Yes I will have to go back now through the other door as you say & get some better shots of the boiler room & boilers :) Thanks for your comment!

  3. Yoyo

    Hey, great blog! I like this post. Is the factory easy to get into?

    1. Hey, sorry for the super late reply! Yes very easy to get in to via an open gate. As far as I know it is still left open :)

  4. just imagine all the interesting stories that have been made and shared there over the years. I bet the balloons were for a photo shoot or scavenger hunt or something. lol. next time I’m in melbourne I want to go on one of these adventures.

    1. Thanks for your comment Nae! :) Yeah I always wish the walls could talk. They fascinate me and I wish I could find out all the memories that were created in the building. Yes we will definitely have to go on some cool adventures! :) xxxx

  5. Hey there! Nice write up! I love checking out abandonments, would like to check this out too :)
    I’ll be down in Melbourne again late October, just wondering if you can get a car up close to the building? I think it’d make a great back drop for shots of my car as well.

  6. kate

    Hi I went to this place yesterday because my partner always wanted to fly his dronecraft around there. Its a bit of a hazard because there is a lot of asbestos around from the roofing and also some loose insulation. Now you say there are holding tanks for the dye waste etc, and that explains the chemical smell.. Nevertheless I a beautiful place, I just have concerns for some of the people playing in there !

  7. kate

    its so easy to get in by the way…just dont disturb the dust or touch anything

  8. I was in there today (I have been in there many times over the past few years!)
    The boiler room is amazing, and is only dark on the lower floor. I would happily go with you if you aren’t 100% comfortable, as the first time I went in there, it scared the crap out of me… but once up the stairs, its such an amazing building! machinery, boilers, pipes and metal stairs leading to the very top. well worth it for photos!

    1. Oh wow, thank you heaps for the offer! :) Yes ha ha I don’t normally get too spooked about buildings, but when it’s dark or I can’t see it scares the hell out of me!

      1. well always happy to take people to these hidden gems! just say the word, and we can organise a day. feel free to bring others too if you like? :)

    2. michelle jones

      Wouldn’t enter the boiler room as it contains friable asbestos which wasn’t removed during the demolition.

      1. I went through the boiler room, but walked slowly and methodically, without kicking up any filth (the ground is mostly carpeted in pigeon crap now!)
        Did not touch anything with my hands, did not touch the ground or any surfaces with bare skin…

  9. Someone should buy this and turn it into a Berghain type situation

    1. YES. Although, you really couldn’t improve on Berghain…

  10. I know Im a bit late but Im a 19 year old resident of Melbourne and would love to get shown around wyattbeggwright@gmail.com

  11. If anyone would like to see how its changed over the years, here are my photos of the same site :) http://f13.tv/bradmill
    Hope you enjoy them. ~ Marty

  12. Brittany

    Hey just wondering if it’s still up??? :) me and my friends are planning to go this weekend

    1. It still is luckily :) Hope you get some great photos!

  13. Denise

    I worked for Bradmill, at Yarraville, for 2 years in the mid seventies. When I saw the photos, I was transported back to that time, as a first-year-out-of-uni and pretty green engineer, when I roamed around the site. I fortunately learnt what was going on from people on the floor who had much experience and expertise. Many of these people had come from Europe after WWII and many were later arrivals. The women in the knitting mill were very dexterous with handling the fragile threads that were transformed into robust T shirt fabrics on the machines they were responsible for. The men in the dye house manipulated vast lengths of fabric to produce fabulous colours and many hues of blue indigo denim. When I buy a new pair of jeans, I always smell them to see if they have been dyed with proper indigo. It was a very pleasant, almost fresh, smelling dye house because of the denim dyed there with indigo dyestuffs. It was also lovely and warm in winter! The big gaping holes in the photo that look like giant keyholes were used to hold the stainless steel jet dyeing machines. In the seventies, these were quite hi tech and only the most able operators could run them as they operated at high temperatures and pressures.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Denise! I am stoked to hear from someone who worked at Bradmill and so happy that you have shared your experience with us all to keep the memory of Bradmill alive. Reading your comment has given me goosebumps and I am so sorry it’s taken me so long to approve and read this comment! (I am not very active on wordpress anymore). Your memories transported me back in time too and others too I’m sure will love reading your comment. I hope it’s ok, but I have copied your comment to the top of my post so everyone can read about your time at Bradmill. Thanks so much again for sharing, it’s people like you who are willing to share their stories that keep the history of these beautiful places alive :)

  14. Avi

    Just been there today with my kids
    They love the place. So sorry to see all this great Australian industrials moving overseers.
    Good new that the main building will stay.
    Thank you for information and beautiful photo

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Avi! It is a wonderful place isn’t it, I am really happy that the main building will stay too :)

      1. Avi

        Hi a1meehall
        Thanks for your answer. Is been More then 20 years that I m driving on the highway and always look at the building of bradmill and wonder what this factory. For some reason I find it nice and special. It was last week that I told my kids lets drive there and see what this place and take photos. As we got there I was shocked to see it in this condition. I saw a guy there taking photos too and I ask him what happened. This guy say that he use to work there in 1996. We took photos and we left. and honestly I was sad to see it like that. I did a short movie with a bit of historic photo and a bit of information, Like to thank you again for your beautiful photos and great information, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ALGgYF0sav4

  15. Asbestosaurus

    The asbestos super 6 roofing sheet was removed from most of this building, however a decent amount of asbestos in friable and non-friable form still exist within this structure. I had dealings with the company and the personnel that were contracted to remove it. It wasn’t a total clean up.
    It is safe to explore if you limit your exposure, wear an asbestos rated mask for good protection.

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