Hat Mills on Heidelberg Road

The McCrohan Hat Factory first opened in 1906 on the current site of 159-79 Heidelberg Rd Northcote. They specialised in felt and fur hats. It was opened by Thomas John McCrohan. The factory was renamed Fairfield Hat Mills when Thomas John McCrohan had joined with Thomas Bardsley to form the company McCrohan & Bardsley Pty Ltd. 

In 1919 the hat mills was nearly destroyed by a fire that broke out in the drying and engine room. 1920 was a difficult year for the Fairfield Hat Mills as well. In August of 1920, 14 year old Edward Corneille died in an accident at the mills. In September of the same year, the female workers in mills across the state were disputing their low wages by stopping work. In a dispute between the Federated Felt Hatting Employes' Union and the felt hat manufacturers, the issue of imported hats competing with locally produced hats and tariffs was given as a reason for not increasing wages. 

By 1923, Thomas Bardsley had left the factory and it was owned by McCrohan & Sons Pty Ltd. In 1925 Fairfield Hat Mills joined with eleven other felt hat mill companies to form the United Felt Hats Pty Ltd in a way to combate competition from Italy. This proved effective as in 1929 members of the Victorian Provincial Press Association praised the 'superior product' of the Fayrefield fur hat produced in the Fairfield mill. 
By 1935 the United Felt Hats Pty Ltd company moved to Abbotsford and the Fink Brothers took over the building and began manufacturing “worsted mills” which is a way to make wool. In 1940, the factory bid farewell to its textile past and became Spry’s corn flakes factory. 

Find out about how the factory was used in the Second World War here http://heritage.darebinlibraries.vic.gov.au/article/1001

Advertising (1914, March 26). Labor Call , p. 7
Advertising (1929, January 28). Northern Star, p. 9 
A Great Australian Industry (1929, December 31). Camperdown Chronicle, p. 4
Boy caught in belting (1920, August 23). The Herald, p. 8
Brigade Saves Hat Mills (1919, August 29). The Herald, p. 5
Dispute at Hat Mills (1920, September 27), The Herald, p. 9
Fairfield Hat Mills Pty Ltd. (2016). In Trove. Retrieved July 16, 2020, from https://nla.gov.au/nla.party-1681843
Fatality at Hat Mills (1920, August 16). The Age, p. 8
Felt Hatter's Dispute (1921, March 23). The Age, P. 11 
Hat Manufacturers' Combine (1925, May 29). The Daily Telegraph, p. 1.  
United Felt Hats Pty. Ltd. Manufacturers factory warehouse complex. Retrieved July 16, 2020, from https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/93568
Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory 1864- 1974. [Microfiche]. (1974). Melbourne, Australia: Sands & McDougall.