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Paterson River history

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Great Northern Broom Factory

The Great Northern Broom Factory was established in the village of Bowthorne (now Wallalong) in 1888 by Mr Samuel Foster on land owned by James Stuart of Hinton. The factory was almost opposite the Bowthorne Butter Factory.

The Broom Factory started with just one person in 1888 but by 1893 it employed 11 men. In 1897 a new, two-storey brick factory building was constructed, the facade of which survives today at 44 McClymont's Swamp Road, Wallalong. It was converted to a house in the 1970s.

The factory operated until 1960.

Great Northern Broom Factory

Above: The Great Northern Broom Factory at Bowthorne (photo: Newcastle City Council Collection).

Here is an extract from Mike Scanlon's article on the broom factory in the Newcastle Herald 13 October 2012 p8:

For decades, Foster's landmark Bowthorne broom factory boomed, making millet-growing initially a very lucrative business for district farmers. Millet seed was even imported from Italy to improve crops.

At its peak, the Foster broom manufacturing business produced 130 dozen brooms a week. By 1952, a good year, millet growers at Raymond Terrace, Miller's Forest and Phoenix Park grew about 300 tonnes of millet, worth up to $200 a tonne then.

Pioneer Samuel Foster is credited with starting the broom industry in the Lower Hunter, and maybe even NSW, when he bought his first broom-making machine simply to use up surplus millet.

Today, a visitor to old Bowthorne drives out from Morpeth across the vast plain of Phoenix Park, which in times like in the 1949, 1955 and 1971 floods becomes a vast inland sea. Then drive across the 1904 Hinton bridge and turn left at the historic 1840 Victoria Hotel towards Wallalong where the sign reads: 25km to Clarence Town and 48km to Dungog.

Now you're on the old Bowthorne Road (renamed High Street) but might never know it. And then on McClymont's Swamp Road is the major hidden surprise. The old Foster broom factory, or at least its facade, somehow survives and it's immediately recognisable from the road. Very impressive 124 years on.

The two-storey white painted exterior stands out starkly against its rural surroundings with bold advertising emblazoned across its front in the afternoon light. [read full article]

Facade of the Great Northern Broom Factory

Above: The heritage-listed facade of the Great Northern Broom Factory at 44 McClymonts Swamp Road, Wallalong NSW. The small white building at front right was the Factory office.

See also

1893 article on the factory, (Maitland Mercury, 21 September 1893 p3).

1945 photo of factory staff.