Home' The Mt Barker Courier : The Courier - 2016-11-16 Contents PAGE 16 -- The Courier Wednesday, November 16, 2016
By Melissa Keogh
For long-time workmates Lyall
Strout and Malcolm May, the old
Chapman s Smallgoods factory in
Nairne bears the remnants of more
than 30 years of their working lives.
Every day the two locals clocked in and
off at the slaughterhouse which, during
its operation, was the lifeblood of Nairne.
But when the doors finally shut in
2002 the building fell into disrepair and
remained a constant reminder of the
town which once was.
Fourteen years later and the old factory
is set to be given a second chance at life,
with a $15m redevelopment expected to
unfold next year.
Before the plans are signed off and the
bulldozers rumble in, Mr Strout and Mr
May sat down to reminisce about the old
"We used to kill about 1500 pigs a day,
three days a week, and two days a week
we did about 220 head of cattle," Mr May
"Just about everybody worked at there
at some stage if they lived in Nairne. It
was the main source of employment."
Mr May left
school at the age
of 15 in 1958
and Mr Strout
aged 16 in 1960,
in their fathers
footsteps to work
at the abattoir
36 years at
Chapman s, Mr Strout went on to do just
about every job in the factory, working
his way up to be "the one that got pulled
out of bed in the morning if anything
Mr May s family also worked for the
company including his father, brother
"My father was one of the bosses there
for a long time," he said.
"I started as an all rounder and in my
early 20s I got trained up as one of the
During this time Chapman s
Smallgoods was run by Henry Harrison
and employment numbers would go on to
reach 400 people.
Not only pigs were killed, so too were
cattle and sheep.
The pigs were stunned, slaughtered
and dropped into a scald bath to allow
for easy removal of the hair from the
Sometimes steers tried to escape the
"knocking box" and ran loose through
the plant, while one particular beast
managed to escape the loading dock
and was on the run for two weeks before
Most workers were never fazed by the
goriness, but a select few couldn t handle
"I had a lot to do with hiring people and
quite often people came in and said I
want a job and they re gone by smoko,"
Mr Strout said.
In the late 1980s, Chapman s was
acquired by large multinational company,
George Weston Foods.
Mr Lyall waved goodbye to Chapman s
in 1996 when he believed the new
owners were treating employees less as
individuals and more as numbers.
"I got called in one morning and the
boss said someone s gotta go and it was
me," he said. "I put my hand out for a pay
out, it was a bit of a shock."
Mr Strout stayed at Chapman s until
2002, when the business relocated to
Since then the buildings have fallen in
disrepair and became an eyesore for the
Last month its current owner and
developer Lelio Bibbo revealed his $15m
plan for the old factory including a small
supermarket, shops, offices and a gym.
The Mt Barker Council will rezone the
site to allow for a retail precinct and even
housing, but the document is awaiting
final State Government approval.
Mr Strout said the development will
reawaken Nairne to its former glory.
"It s going to be good to see something
happen to the town again," he said.
Chapman's through the years
1899: Brothers George and Albert
Chapman start a bacon factory on the
banks of the Nairne creek, near the
factory's current location.
moves to the current factory site and
begins curing his own meat.
1912: George dies at the age of 53 and
the business is run by son Roy and Fred
1923: Chapman's factory is acquired by
the Harrison family.
1926: Nineteen people are employed.
1973: Southern Farmers closes its own
bacon factory in Woodside and most
staff and equipment are transferred to
1987: Chapman's is acquired by George
Weston Foods and employment reaches
2002: Chapman's is relocated to Murray
Bridge and the Nairne factory closes.
2016: Developer Lelio Bibbo announces
a $15m shopping precinct for the site.
Pigs are walked down
to the factory from the
Nairne railway station to
in the 1930s.
Pork is stacked away for
curing in the cellar.
New era for factory brings back old memories
Former Chapman s factory workers Malcolm May, left, and Lyall Strout spent more than
30 years working in the abattoir and smallgoods factory which is expected to undergo a
$15m redevelopment next year.
Peter Fairs OAM
February 18, 1923 --
October 23, 2016
Personable educator will be missed
LONGTIME educator and Crafers
resident Peter Fairs will be
remembered as a man who stopped
at nothing to ensure the best for his
students, family and friends.
Mr Fairs passed away last month,
aged 93, and will be sorely missed by
the lives he touched across his lengthy
career in education.
He has left behind his much-loved wife
Barbara who still lives in Crafers.
Mr Fairs leaves a legacy of kindness,
generosity and passion for helping
others, particularly through his
involvements in St Peter s College in
Mr Fairs was born in Wales in 1923
and spent his early childhood in Egypt
as his father, a Royal Air Force officer,
was posted there prior to WW2.
After completing his secondary
education in Wales, Mr Fairs was
commissioned in the Royal Marines in
1942, serving in India and the Malay
Inspired to make a change after the
destruction the war had wrought, Mr
Fairs left to study at the prestigious
Trinity College in Dublin with an
interest in youth education.
Like many young men post-war he
wondered what the future held and,
after looking for employment, made a
bold decision to move to Australia.
He became a member of the teaching
staff at St Peter s College in Adelaide
In 1956 he became the boarding
house master and in the same year
introduced another of his great
passions, rugby, to the school.
Mr Fairs was an inspiring classroom
teacher who won the respect of his
colleagues and students through his
It was at St Peter s that he would meet
his future wife Barbara, a matron in
the school s boarding house.
Together the pair went on to have four
children, and were joined by many
boarders aged from eight to 18 whom
they nurtured over many years.
Mr Fairs, a lover of entertainment and
making people laugh, also hosted a
number of National Music Camps at St
Peter s during the Christmas holidays.
His favorite party trick was the ability
to balance a full glass of beer on his
forehead without spilling a drop.
Mr Fairs was also passionate about
mental health and was one of the
earliest people involved in the
Schizophrenia Fellowship of SA.
Following his retirement, Mr Fairs
continued to serve the community and
became active in many groups in the
He worked at the Mt Barker Tourist
Bureau, was involved in the Probus
Gardening Club and ran poetry, play
reading and French classes for the
University of the Third Age.
In 2004 Mr Fairs was awarded an
Order of Australia Medal for his
community work and contributions
in education and mental health
Mr Fairs will be remembered by his
friends and past students for his
similarities to the fictional, beloved
schoolteacher Mr Chipping in the
1930s novel and film adaptation
Goodbye, Mr Chips.
Goodbye, Mr Fairs. You ll be sorely
Crafers man Peter Fairs will be
remembered for his unwavering
dedication to education and mental
(more details provided upon registration)
Saturday 26 November 2016
9.30 -- 11.30 am
light refreshments supplied
RSVP 22 November 2016
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