Racecourse Sugar Mill

1888 - 


Racecourse Sugar Mill (Mackay Historical Society Archive No. 85-318b)

The idea of Central Sugar Mills to help the sugar industry survive and grow came about after a letter was sent by William George Hodges who later became Mayor of Mackay to the Queensland Premier, Samuel Griffith on 20 July 1885.  He proposed that the Queensland Government advanced 20,000 to enable farmers to erect their own mills.  Small farmers at that time had to rely on the proprietry owned plantation mills to crush their crop.  This meant their crop was not a high priority for the millers and the prices paid for their crop was too low. The Queensland Premier at the time, Samuel Griffith, asked W.O. Hodgkinson to investigate the feasibilty of applications to create Central Mills in the Mackay district.  Hodgkinson recomended that 20,000 be advanced to construct a mill at North Eton and 12,000 to construct a mill at Racecourse, however he had reservations due to the fact the Meadowlands Mill was nearby. 

The Racecourse Central Sugar Company Limited was registered on 14 October 1886.

The signatories to the articles of association were John W. Cowley of Grange, Herbert Josling of Moorlands, Charles Kemp of Kempsey, William Landells, Thomas Pearce and Cornwallis Wade-Browne of Pennleigh. Thomas Pearce was the first chairman of directors. 

The directors of the company decided to order new machinery from A. & W. Smith of Glasgow, Scotland to arrive in time to start crushing in 1888. The mill plant cost 9892.

15 acres of land was purchased from Robert Fleming beside the lagoons and next to the Railway line.

The machinery arrived in February 1888 and construction began under the mill's Engineer, John Dow.  The mill was not a large scale one when compared to some of the other mills in the district

The new mill only had 20 shareholders who could supply cane however arrangements were to buy the Pleystowe cane which was railed to Racecourse to be crushed.

After a precarious start the mill soon expanded and improvements were made.

The Racecourse Mill was the first Central Mill to repay its debt to the Queensland Government in 1907.  

In 1904 the Racecourse company expanded its tramway to reach to Finch Hatton area so it could be railed to Racecourse for crushing.  The opening of the Cattle Creek Mill in 1906 ceased this arrangement.

In 1914 the smaller Meadowlands mill only located less than a mile away to the east was purchased by the Racecourse mill allowing the mill to expand its number of suppliers.

In 1927 the Racecourse Mill became a co-operative mill.

 

References -

Kerr, John. (1988). A Century of Sugar. Mackay, QLD:  Mackay Sugar Co-operative Association Limited.

Kerr, John. (1980).  Pioneer Pageant. Mackay, QLD: Pioneer Shire Council. p. 96-98, 140, 158, 169.


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