Guncotton Factory

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Contents

Background

Guncotton, or nitrocellulose (also: cellulose nitrate, flash paper, flash cotton, flash string), is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating cellulose through exposure to nitric acid or another powerful nitrating agent.[1] It is used as a propellant or low-order explosive.

History

The announcement by Prime Minister Robert Menzies in 1940 that the Commonwealth Government planned to build a gun cotton plant in Ballarat were considered so significant that they were reported in local newspapers across the nation – like the Launceston newspaper Examiner’s front page coverage[2]. The larger papers included greater detail of the Government's plans.[3] The Age reported that the design of the building and plant was to be overseen by Mr T. Donaldson, Director of Explosives Supply; and planned and implemented by the team of Mr R. J. Craig, works manager for Australian Fertilisers Ltd.


BALLARAT LIKELY SITE OF GUN COTTON FACTORY
'MELBOURNE, Thursday.-The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced to-day that plans were being consider ed for the establishment at Ballarat of a factory to manufacture gun cotton. "Provided that the state and local authorities are able to supply electric power, water. gas, roads, etc., and that adequate labour is available, it has been decided to establish the factory if Ballarat is found to be suitable," said the Prime Minister. "The factory will act as a feeder to the new Government explosives factory in South Australia. The chemical properties of the water supplied to the South Australian factory are also being examined to determined whether a second gun cotton factory can be estab lished there."' [4]


GUN-COTTON FACTORY
Plan for Ballarat
'Plans are being considered for the establishment at Ballarat as an important part of the extended munitions scheme of a gun-cotton factory.
Mr Menzies, Prime Minister, said last night that provided the State and local authorities were able to give the necessary co-operation in the supply of electric power, water, gas, and roads, and that adequate labour was available, it had been decided to establish the factory if, on further investigation, Ballarat was found to be a suitable locality.
The factory would act as a feeder to the new Government explosives factory in South Australia while examination was being made of the chemical properties of the water supplied to the South Australian factory to determine whether a second gun-cotton factory could be established there.
The area of the land required was expected to be about 80 acres. The factory would include equipment for the manufacture of oleum (fuming sulphuric acid) as one of the raw materials of gun-cotton.
A further discussion, which would be attended by Mr N. K. S. Brodribb, Assistant Director-General of Munitions, and Mr T. Donaldson, Director of Etplosives Supply, would take place at Ballarat next week.'
[5]


MUNITION FACTORY PROGRESS
'Under the direction of the city engineer (Mr. L. H. Finch) workmen have completed about three parts of the 10-chain bitumenised road which will link Sutton street with the new munition factory site to the south of Alfredton. Extensive drainage construction will follow and a later development will be the extension of the cattle yards railway line to provide a new siding for the factory. The road should be finished in about a fortnight's time.' [6]


In 1947 an announcement was expected concerning the legal negotiations regarding the sale of the Federal Gun-cotton Factory to the paper makers Thomas Owen and Co. Ltd.[7]


Work has begun in earnest with the construction of the first .groups of buildings at the site of the Government gun cotton factory to the south of Alfredton. In an 80-acre paddock amid gnarled old gum trees constituting a piece of characteristic bush land scape, many workmen are now en gaged erecting the brick buildings, lay ing the water reticulation service to link with the new £37,000 service main from the water reserves, and preparing the track for the railway siding. The railway is being extended from the cattle-yards line. A new bitumen road from Sulton-street already links the factory site with the city. The first unit in the first building group should be completed this month. When finished the factory will eventually employ 500 men, and the cost will run Into, about £250,000.[8]

Site

Innovations

Community Involvement

Works Produced

Workplace Relations

The People

Thomas Scott

Bob Monteith

George Lugg

Legacies

See also

Ballarat Paper Mills Pty Ltd

Recommended Reading

References

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Nitrocellulose," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nitrocellulose&oldid=588101886 (accessed January 17, 2014)
  2. Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900-1954) Friday 30 August 1940 page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  3. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954) Tuesday 26 August 1947 page 19. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  4. Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954) Friday 30 August 1940, page 1. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  5. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) Friday 30 August 1940, page 2. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  6. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) Wednesday 27 November 1940, page 10. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  7. The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : - ) 2 October 1940 page 5. Digital copy accessed via Trove.
  8. The Age, 20 January 1941.


Further Reading

External Links

Persistent link: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/156914



--Beth Kicinski 16:36, 23 November 2011 (EST);--Sallyanne Doyle 20:15, 21 September 2012 (EST)

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