Fitzroy Steam Brick Pipe Tile and Pottery Works

Collier Street, Preston

The Fitzroy Steam Brick Pipe Tile and Pottery Works was on Collier Street in Preston. The company was established in 1878 by Melbourne born F A Harris, then 25, who bought the land with its existing quarry from local man Gottileb Arndt, himself a pioneer of the Preston brick making industry. Harris ran the business with success for ten years, at which point he formed the Builders’ Brick and Tile Company to buy out his interest in the business for £20,000.

Sir Archibald Michie, a two-time attorney general of Victoria held an interest in the new company. Unfortunately the Maritime Strike of 1890, which greatly affected coal supplies, and the depression that followed it in the early 1890’s, put the new business on the back foot and led quickly to its demise. It was March 1893 when the Builders’ Brick and Tile Company was forced into liquidation. The hole and its four kilns remained abandoned and untouched on the site for many years, bordering South Preston Primary School. Eventually the land was bought by the Council and filled with garbage, then levelled, grassed and turned into a park, the T.A. Cochrane Reserve, named for Theodore Cochrane, a prominent local councillor and former mayor.