Amcor - The Australian Paper Manufacturing Company
Cnr Upper Heidelberg Road and The Chandler Highway, Fairfield
Samuel Ramsden, a Yorkshire man, founded first paper mill in Victoria on the banks of the Yarra River. This was the Australian Paper and Pulp Company which for most of its history was called The Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. until it changed its name in 1986 to Amcor.
In 1919 the company opened its mill on the corner of Upper Heidelberg Road and The Chandler Highway in Fairfield and remains there today. The land was originally a large Yarra bank property named ‘Woodlands’ but it would soon become the largest industrial complex in the area but its fortunes over the years have been a rollercoaster ride.
The mill expanded during the 1930s with a 15-ton turbo electric generator bought in 1932 and transported in two halves from Victoria Dock to Fairfield. This was a huge technological advance for the mill as the generator was one of the first of its kind to be used in private industry in Australia. It also established an early form of household recycling with a call to households to sponsor charities to collect waste paper and sell it to the A.P.M. for recycling into cardboard. In 1937 the company floated £1,000,000 of shares to finance the mill extensions. The announcement made in the following year by the managing director Sir Herbert Gepp of the imminent closure of the Melbourne Mill near Princes Bridge, caused a sensation among employees facing dismissal.
Strikes in the 1940s and 50s caused disruption to business at the mill and coupled with imported paper from overseas after WWII the company downsized laying off 250 mill hands, 50 office staff and 23 chemists over one week period in 195?
The company takes pride in supporting staff innovation. In 1955 two employees Jack Simpson and William 'Jack' Illingworth received a cheque for £1000 for their innovation to prevent paper waste by creasing at the beginning of roll. This was the largest sum of incentive money awarded to staff.
A. P. M. Forests. Pty. Ltd (1993). Australian Paper Manufacturers. Melbourne (Vic.)
“The History of Amcor – Our Origins” [Online]. Amcor. WWW Resource, Retrieved 1/9/2006, at: http://www.amcor.com/Default.aspx?id=557
Lemon, Andrew. (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne (Vic.): Hargreen.
TUROB ELECTRIC GENERATOR FOR FAIRFIELD. (1932, January, 29). Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922-1939). P. 3.
IRONWORKERS’ CLAIMS: ROLLING MILLS MAY BE CLOSED IF DEMANDS NOT MET. (1941, March, 27). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860-1954), p.1.
POLICE SENT OUT TO PAPER MILL. (1953, August, 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p. 7.
BEHIND THE SCENES IN INDUSTRY NO. 65. (1939, November, 18). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956). P.15 supplement.
AN IDEA EARNED THEM 1000 POUNDS. (1955, May, 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p.9.
PAPER COMPANY REDUCING STAFF. (1952, November, 28). Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890-1954), p.4.
EMPLOYEES ALARMED. PAPER MILLS CLOSING. (1938, August, 25). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1956), p.3.
FINANCE FOR PAPER PULP INDUSTRY. (1937, April, 30). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933-1954), p. 6.
Sinclair, E. K., The Spreading Tree : a history of A. P. M. and Amcor 1844-1989.
Rupp, Otto. Reminiscences [unpublished manuscript MS BOX 2684/4]. State Library of Victoria (Melbourne).
Photographs held by Trove at the National Library of Australia