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The old Holden factories.


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#1 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:03 PM

After Paul started the thread on the old Holden mosaic being uncovered, I spent a few days (on and off) researching the factories and found it quite amazing just how much GMH were producing in the '50's, '60's and '70's. I couldn't actually find anything on the net that showcased all of the factories together, so I thought a thread featuring all of them may be interesting to some people.

Having said that, this is only a very basic history with pages cut and pasted from the Holden Retirees Club website and photos found from all over. The Holden Retirees Club site has days worth of reading in there, although it can be a bit frustrating as pages found on google are impossible to find in the website itself and there is no search function. 

Someone really ought to write a book on the subject. (Calling Dr Terry)  :)

It will probably take me a couple of days to string all this together, so maybe leave comments until after the spiel on Acacia Ridge.

 

Holden and Frost.  Adelaide.

"J.A. Holden & Co" was first established in Australia in 1856 by James Holden as a leather and saddlery business. The Grenfell Street building was purchased in May 1879, and James's son Henry was made a partner at this time. Henry Frost joined as a business partner in 1885 and the company was renamed "Holden & Frost LTD". James died 1st June 1887.

 

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In 1899, the two Henry's won a contract to supply saddles and harnesses to the government for the Boer war. This marked a rapid period of growth for the company and they were quick to purchase new machinery and rent additional premises at Norwood.

 

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In 1905, Henry's son, Edward Holden was admitted to the company. He had completed a bachelor of engineering at Adelaide University and could see the demise of the horse for transportation and the rise of the motor car. He talked his father into travelling to America to see the manufacture of motor cars, and immediately started making fabric roofs and side curtains for the early models available in Australia.  Edward bought his own car in 1913. 

During WW1 the Australian government banned the importation of motorcars, but not the rolling chassis, so seeing an opportunity, what was by then "Holden's LTD"  started manufacturing bodies and by 1917 they had expanded by buying a near new state of the art factory on King William Street. This was a huge step, and after some modification, a huge building. In fact, they became the biggest manufacturer of motor bodies in the British Empire and the second biggest in the world.

 

Before expansion.

 

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After expansion.

 

 

 



#2 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:10 PM

After expansion.

 

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They also repaired and re-finished customer cars. 

 

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This building was sold around 1928 to Myer's and later parts of it became David Jones and REPCO.

 

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#3 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:17 PM

Today.

 

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Wallmans Lawyers is in the current building.

 

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#4 LXCHEV

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:23 PM

Very interesting, love the old photos.



#5 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:35 PM

By 1923, it was already obvious that the King Street factory could not keep up with demand, so 40 acres were bought at Woodville, approximately halfway between Adelaide City and Adelaide Port. The new factory was quickly built and with King William Street still operating they produced a record 22,060 bodies in 1924.

 

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#6 RallyRed

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:41 PM

Good stuff, very interesting



#7 Heath

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:43 PM

Thanks Laurie. This is fantastic stuff. Following with interest.



#8 308 Sunbird

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:53 PM

Good on you Laurie, being a one- eyed Holden fan l love this stuff too.

#9 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 01:56 PM

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1924 was also the year they started building tram cars for Melbourne and won a contract for building omnibus bodies to be placed on to imported Mack chassis.

In 1926, "Holden's Motor Body Builders" purchased the Whittingslow Engineering firm at Beverly which allowed them to produce their own drop forged, heat treated and machined components.

The Wall Street crash of October 1929 saw employees at Woodville drop from 4000 to just 1600 and the plant was closed more often than it was open. During this time, they became Australia's largest manufacturer of fruit cases, and they also delved into producing golf clubs and filing cabinets.

In 1931, "Holden's Motor Body Builders" was purchased by "General Motors (Australia)" and the company became "General Motors-Holden's Ltd"

From the mid 30's, memories of the depression were fading and production of car bodies ramped up once again. By the outbreak of WW2, they had purchased the largest press in the southern hemisphere and were churning out 30,000 bodies in 98 different styles. 

 

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#10 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:15 PM

Model of the Woodville plant.

 

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In 1944, the plant was pressed into producing all manner of items for the war effort. Guns, torpedos, aircraft components, aero and diesel engine parts, bombs and a multitude of war needs were manufactured under conditions which saw the importation of all materials and tools stopped.  The employees, typical of Aussies at the time, had the resourcefulness to create something out of nothing. an 1860 dated lathe was found at the Birkenhead dock, motorised, and modified with a boring bar. It was comparable to any modern (for the time) long hole drilling machine.

Another lathe was fished out of the Yarra, rebuilt, and used for final boring of 2 pounder shells.

In January 1946, developmental work on The All Australian Car had begun with plans to have Woodville produce most of the components, and final assembly at Fishermans Bend.

 

Attached File  1948 Nov First Holden Body small.jpg   221.86K   3 downloads



#11 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:28 PM

Vauxhalls and Chevrolets were still being produced there, and shipped off to assembly plants around the country.

In 1950, they also started building the Holden Ute bodies.

By 1954, the 175,000th body came off the line and Woodville employed 6000 people and had earned praise for employing people with disabilities, including several blind men.

In Sept 1957, the millionth Holden was produced. 

 

Attached File  1957 Millionth Holden Body.named.jpg   148.45K   7 downloads

Attached Files


Edited by Shiney005, 20 June 2022 - 02:29 PM.


#12 Indy Orange

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:29 PM

Good stuff finding all that Laurie,very interesting.

Edited by Indy Orange, 20 June 2022 - 02:30 PM.


#13 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:42 PM

By the late 1950's, the Woodville plant had become too small and work began at Elizabeth.  Work continued there alongside the Elizabeth operation until 1966, and in 1967 it had a major refurbishment and became the Trimatic gearbox plant. The Apprentice Training Centre also started there around this time.

In this pic you can see FB Holdens and Bedford truck cabs at Woodville in 1960.

 

Attached File  1960 FB on line Woodville small.JPG   251.78K   4 downloads

 

 

 

 

 



#14 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:55 PM

Trimatic transmissions were produced at Woodville from 1960 to 1984 when the building was sold.

 

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#15 Shiney005

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Posted 20 June 2022 - 02:57 PM

Green arrow is Woodville. Red arrow is Birkenhead. 180 Phillip Hwy is Elizabeth.   I will get onto the next plant tomorrow.

 

Attached File  Red arrow is Berkinhead. 180 Philip Hwy is Elizabeth. Green arrow is Woodville.png   861.53K   4 downloads


Edited by Shiney005, 20 June 2022 - 02:58 PM.


#16 Dr Terry

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 07:56 AM

Someone really ought to write a book on the subject. (Calling Dr Terry)  :)

It's already been done.

 

Neil Podgson, one of the guys on the Holden Retirees site has re-written the whole Holden family history, including every building that was occupied by them, both pre- & post-GM.

 

It features in the "Final Chapter". I'm not sure if it's still available. He might reprint it in another form, I'll see if I can find out.

 

Dr Terry



#17 S pack

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 08:05 AM

Neil Pogson has only yesterday joined the Forum.

http://www.gmh-toran...y/#entry1087371



#18 Shiney005

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 09:47 AM

Neil Podgson, one of the guys on the Holden Retirees site has re-written the whole Holden family history, including every building that was occupied by them, both pre- & post-GM.

 

Dr Terry

I guess what I am trying to achieve here is to create a small space with a condensed history of the more well known factory sites, not re-write the whole story. I will have to track down a copy of Neil's book so I can get a picture of the complete history.

 

Neil Pogson has only yesterday joined the Forum.

http://www.gmh-toran...y/#entry1087371

Well now I have to lift my game. I will do a bit more research before I continue this, but I am busy for today so I will get onto the Birkenhead plant tomorrow morning.

In the mean time, I found this photo which may have been taken of the crew from the Apprentice Training Centre at Woodville???

 

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#19 Statler

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 07:15 PM

Holden golf clubs?

Hole in every one  ?  :dontknow:



#20 Indy Orange

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 07:22 PM

Yeah pretty sure Greg Norman was in an advert that offered them with a Statesman .



#21 Indy Orange

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Posted 21 June 2022 - 07:55 PM

Here yar! https://m.youtube.co...h?v=HSqeggvvi0w

#22 Shiney005

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Posted 22 June 2022 - 11:32 AM

In June 1926, GMH leased land at Birkenhead from the South Australia Harbour Board for a new assembly plant. They never owned the land and continued the lease up until at least 1980.

 

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By March 1927 the employees had formed cricket, football, baseball, dance, and social clubs.

Up until after the war, Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Vauxhaul and the Oldsmobile Ace bodies were manufacturede there.

Amy trucks ready for delivery 1940.

 

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In 1947, it was decided to build complete cars there. Body and chassis components from Woodville, and engines and transmissions from Fishermans Bend would be sent to the various plants around the country for assembly. The South Australian cars were assembled at Birkenhead during this time. The 50,000th Holden (48-215) was assembled there in 1951.

In 1956 there were further extensions built on to the plant.

 

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#23 Shiney005

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Posted 22 June 2022 - 11:45 AM

Completed bodies 1952

 

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Engine installation into an EH in 1964.

 

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As the elizabeth plant came online, production of whole cars was wound down at Birkenhead and they started build CKD kits instead. The last car driven of the line was a Pontiac on the 13th August 1965.

It was an export boxing area and storage for NASCO bodies until the early 70's.

From 1969 to about 1975 they also assembled Terex earthmoving machines there. Terex was a division of General Motors. It was the last of the original GMH plants still operating at this time.

 

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#24 Shiney005

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Posted 22 June 2022 - 12:05 PM

In 1980 it was a parts warehouse with 51 people employed. Not long after, it was abandoned and derelict. A fire in 1989 gutted the internals of the building and in 1991 it was demolished.

This is the site of the tile mosaic which made the news in 2020, although most locals knew it was still there all along. Some kudos must be due to the demolition crew who managed to work around it without any damage in 1991.

The site is owned by Renewal SA, who have now removed it for preservation while a new residential community is built. It will feature in this estate in the future.

 

1972

 

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1991

 

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#25 Shiney005

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Posted 22 June 2022 - 12:33 PM

Fishermans bend tomorrow.






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