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.”
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.
This freestanding chimney was reduced in height by about 12 metres in the 1970’s.
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.
The old boiler house next joined to the conveyor, next to the chimney.
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.