||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I Technology Transported; 1788-1840
II Technology Established; 1840-1940
i Meat Preserving: Heat Processing Introduced
ii Horticultural Products: Heat, Sugar and Solar Drying
iii Refrigeration and the Export of Meat
iv Milling and Baking
v Dairy Products
vii Sugar: Supplying an Ingredient
III The Coming Of Science
IV From Science To Technology: The Post-war Years
V Products And Processes
Milling and Baking Flour
The expansion of flour milling mid-century is epitomized by the Victorian experience. The first commercial mill, Allison and Knight's, was not built until 1841; by 1864 there were 93 and by 1875, 161. 'Milling had become not only a major Victorian industry, but a very competitive one, in which only the most efficient would survive the swing from "village" to merchant milling which closed 100 mills by 1900'. Certainly, in the nineties there were poor crops which accelerated closures, but they were not the cause. What happened?
For thousands of years wheat was milled by grinding or crushing it between two surfaces in a horizontal plane from querns to water and windmills. Sieving of the crushed and ground grain was carried out in classical times and in the eighteenth century the first mechanized flour mill was set up in America. Rollers had been suggested in the seventeenth century and were developed in the early nineteenth. By the 1830s they were in use in several European cities and from about 1840 became identified with Hungary In the early 1860s, Friedrich Wegmann introduced porcelain rolls which gave flour of better colour than that from the more usual iron or steel equipment. They could not compete, however, with the grooved steel break rolls which, running at different speeds, in effect, 'peeled' the wheat kernel. Smooth steel and porcelain were then used for size reduction rolls. Rollers were mounted side by side or one above the other, but from about 1910, the axes were in an inclined plane.
British milling practice had not kept pace with the development on the Continent but a flood of excellent continental flour in the seventies resulted from the perfecting of a satisfactory system of roller milling and led to a study tour of Hungary in 1877. At the beginning of that year there had been one set of rollers in Britain, by the end there were three hundred and fifty. Within two years roller milling had come to Australia. In 1879, W. Duffield and Co., tested rollers in the Union mill at Gawler, South Australia, and by the beginning of 1880 had twelve sets of Wegmann's porcelain rollers in their Victoria mill, also at Gawler. In the same year iron rollers appeared in New South Wales. In 1881-2, David Gibson installed grooved iron rollers in his Carlton mill in Melbourne and by 1884, the Water Mill Company at Bridgewater-on-Loddon in Victoria and Thomas Brunton in Melbourne also had installed them. Gibson's was the first complete roller mill in Australia. He used Ganz's Hungarian equipment.
Inevitably, there was a period of transition. Not all mills switched immediately to the new system, and not all that did switched completely. There was for a time a number of 'transition' mills which used the traditional stones for primary crushing and rolls for the reduction of middlings to flour, but by 1890, in spite of some opposition, the new milling technology was widely accepted in this country.
Once the British milling industry had realized what was happening, it had acted with great speed in transferring the new technology, but the Hungarians were already interested in Australia. The Budapest firm of Ganz and Co., had an agent in Australia, Duffield, Gibson, and others tried Ganz equipment and an advertisement in the Australian Miller of August 1892 listed thirty-two complete Ganz roller plants and forty-two other millers using Ganz equipment. The speed of reaction of British engineering is shown by the claim by Henry Simon of Manchester in the same journal that they had '47 complete plants erected in the Colonies'.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Allison and Knight; W. Duffield & Co., Gawler; Water Mill Company, Bridgewater-on-Loddon
People in Bright Sparcs - Brunton, Thomas; Gibson, David
© 1988 Print Edition pages 96 - 97, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher