Part One of a 4-part series
THE site chosen in 1899 for the establishment of a major malting works at Mittagong was on land that had formed part of Oaklands Estate.
This four-part series on the history of the Maltings commences with a description of the Estate that had also been known locally as Southey's.
On the large estate Henry Southey lived in Oaklands House, a former inn that was originally opened in 1836 and known by its first licensees, the Cutters, as Kangaroo Inn.
It was of Georgian design with an interior flagged courtyard.
Ownership passed to Bartholomew Rush and by 1853 it was known as the Fitz Roy Inn.
From the early 1870s Southey operated it as Oaklands Boarding School until selling the entire estate in 1887 to a Goulburn investment company which proceeded to dispose of it, section by section.
AT this time the estate was already assuming an industrial character as, at the opposite end from Southey's school, a brickworks and a milk factory were in operation.
The brickworks, one of several in Mittagong during the building boom of the 1880s, was owned by A Bennett and operated by T Dunn.
Little is known about it except that it was still in operation in the 1890s and most likely provided bricks for the construction of the Maltings in 1899.In the early 1880s a milk depot was opened on land leased from Southey and connected by a short rail siding with the main southern line.
It was established by the NSW Fresh Food and Ice Company (FF&I), located at Darling Harbour in Sydney and owned by Thomas Sutcliffe Mort.
In 1876 it began to receive milk by rail from farmers in the Berrima District and demand grew so quickly that a local milk depot was needed.
Thus at Mittagong the first butter factory in NSW was established with a cooling room and equipped with a newly invented Danish cream separator. Surplus milk was separated into cream and churned into butter.
By 1884 FF&I was railing local milk and butter to Sydney daily and it supplied the first butter to be exported from Australia - one ton was shipped to England. FF&I closed its Mittagong factory in the late 1880s but continued to rail milk from Bowral.
The factory was acquired by the Berrima District Farm & Dairy Company which operated it as the central butter factory for the district until 1924, when operations were moved to Bowral.
A large undeveloped portion of Oaklands Estate was acquired in 1898 by the Malting Company of NSW.
The following year an imposing yet dignified malthouse was constructed between the railway line and Nattai Creek, with the milk factory and brickworks at its town end and the old inn at the other.
Over the following 20 years, two additional malthouses, storage silos, workshops and a manager's house were constructed.Until the company residence was ready, the Maltings manager and family resided at the former Fitzroy Inn nearby.
Then in 1921 the old inn opened as the Oaklands Guest House and was operated by the Downs family.
Being close to the Mittagong sportsground, swimming pool and golf course, it proved most popular with visitors.
It is not difficult to visualise how, in the 1920s, the former Oaklands Estate site was a hive of activity with butter factory, malthouses and a popular guest house.
WHY was Mittagong chosen for the Maltings?In 1898 Arthur Tooth, head brewer at Tooth & Co's Sydney brewery, realised, along with other Sydney businessmen, the desirability of establishing a large-scale malting works to supply barley malt to breweries throughout the state.
In association with G S Lintott, a New Zealand maltster, they registered the Malting Company of NSW (Limited) for the purpose of carrying on the business of maltsters and as hop, barley and grain merchants.
They needed a suitable locality to treat the barley grain, as atmospheric conditions, moisture content and temperature are vital factors in malting.
Coastal areas did not supply these requirements, thus Mittagong was eventually chosen, being reasonably close to the largest market, conveniently situated for transport facilities and having a good water supply.
The Oaklands site was purchased because, being near the rail line, a short siding could be built for trucking barley and malt to and from the malthouse.
Close by also was Nattai Creek that could be dammed to provide a steady water supply for the malting process that required large volumes daily.
Taking eight months, Stuart Brothers of Sydney constructed the malthouse and it commenced operation in August 1899.To be continued
This article compiled by PHILIP MORTON is sourced from the archives of Berrima District Historical & Family History Society, Bowral Rd, Mittagong. Phone 4872 2169Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web: berrimadistricthistoricalsociety.org.au