Springfield (Russell's) Sugar Mill


Howard Parish Map showing location of Russell's Springfield selection of portion 269 in the Parish of Howard. It was located on Broadsound Road just south of the Racecourse at Ooralea.

In 1868, William Russell selected 28 acres along Broadsound Road, south of the racecourse reserve, comprising of portion 269 in the Parish of Howard, which he named Springfield.  In mid 1869 he was growing maize. Within the year he had selected and bought 120 acres of land, and with the help of his sons, he had prepared forty acres for cultivation.  Beside the maize crop, 25 acres were planted with cane.

Rather than accept the usual terms for crushing cane, which were half the proceeds to the producer, the other half retained by the mill owner, Russell decided to import a small mill for his own use.  It commenced operations on Saturday 19th August 1871.  The mill had small wooden rollers sheeted with heavy iron, and held in position by a hardwood frame bolted together.  A horse was harnessed to a whim to turn the rollers and the mill crushed seven tonnes of cane a day.  Although he was soon making rich light brown sugar of excellent flavour, this ration grade sugar could not command the same high prices as the much lighter coloured purer sugar from the big mills.

Russell was unable to repay the cost of the mill from his first crop as he had hoped Unable to meet the repayments, he was declared insolvent at the end of the first season.  Russell died on 9 February 1872 of a fever aged 60 years , leaving his wife, Ellen, and their five sons and thee daughters.  As Russell died intestate, his wife unable to stop creditors from taking all assets except the land.  Being a selection and not freehold, the creditors were unable to take the land, and after paying rent for 10 years Ellen Russell received the title deed in 1879.

References -

Kerr, John. (1988). A Century of Sugar. Mackay, QLD:  Mackay Sugar Co-operative Association Limited. p. 13-14.

Kerr, John. (1980).  Pioneer Pageant. Mackay, QLD: Pioneer Shire Council. p. 44-45.

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