FROM THE NEWSPAPERS - 1952 - SEC Sells the Yallourn Butchery - Wilson & Stevenson


The following brief newspaper article was found in ‘The Age’ in July 1952; and reports on the decision of the State Electricity Commission to sell its butcher shop at Yallourn to Mr Henry Wilson, of Sorrento, for £8000 (pounds). In retrospect, it was an important chapter in the story of Yallourn as the sale marked the beginning of the end for the SEC’s ownership of its business interests in the township.

Many readers will remember the Wilson family of Yallourn (Henry and June and their four children: Pam, Peter, Diana and Patricia). Not only was Henry a very friendly and popular butcher in the town but the family was actively involved in the township’s sporting clubs and organisations.
The footnotes which accompany this story try to highlight the history of the Yallourn butchery since the ‘birth’ of the town. Readers may also remember some of the names of the town’s butchers mentioned in the footnotes below.

A former resident of Yallourn - Dianne Stevenson, whose father, Andy, is mentioned in the footnotes, has kindly provided Virtual Yallourn with a set of enlightening photographs regarding the shop, members of staff, abattoirs and other aspects of the Yallourn Butchery.

JULY 4th 1952 ‘THE AGE’ PAGE: 4


£8000 for Yallourn Shop…The State Electricity Commission has sold its butcher shop in Yallourn for £8000 to the firm of H. W. Wilson of Sorrento. One of the first improvements to be introduced by the/new proprietor will be a delivery service to outer areas, of the town.
The sale covered goodwill and shop fittings. It is part of a move by the S.E.C. to withdraw from business activities in Yallourn. Tenders have been called for the sale of the 12-department general store and the newspaper "Live Wire."
Mr. Wilson has taken a seven years' lease of the shop in the town shopping centre, with option of a three years' renewal.

1. Note: £8000 (pounds) is approximately equivalent to $290,400 in 2018.

2. The issue of the sale of the SEC’s butchery was front page news of the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ that week in 1952; and the matter was discussed in great length at the Yallourn Advisory Council meeting in February 1952. At that meeting, it was clarified that abattoir was not included in the sale….
“The Yallourn Advisory Council was informed at its meeting on Friday night last, that the State Electricity Commission had decided to dispose of the Yallourn Butchery. This information was conveyed in a letter from the General Superintendent, Yallourn, who revealed that tenders for the purchase of the butchery would be called at an early date. The Commission's abattoir at Yallourn would not be included …” “Morwell Advertiser’ February 7th 1952 Page: 1.

3. In a story about Yallourn for this website, Jean Hattam (1925-2017), who lived at 11 Hillside in the formative years of the township, recalled that meat was delivered to the homes of Yallourn by horse and cart.

4. Further to Jean’s recollections of the travelling butcher, Prue McGoldrick wrote…
In the early days the butcher was Mr Moore, who drove into town from Moe. Miss Pat Grant recorded: “My little job was to wave a gum tree branch around to stop flies striking while Mr Moore cut meat on the back of a spring cart.” Page: 50.

5. Throughout the early years of the township, the establishment of a butchery was regarded as a high priority. ‘The Argus’ (December’ 11th 1923), under a heading of ‘Items of Interest’, carried the following brief report regarding the SEC plans to open a butcher shop in Yallourn…
“The Electricity Commission intends to open a butcher’s shop at Yallourn. A bakers shop will be established later. It is not the intention of the commission to encourage private enterprise at Yallourn…” Page: 12.

6. It is known that there was butchery at the Brown Coal Mine township in 1926. The shop was owned by Mr E.C. Savige; and appears to have been a weatherboard timber shed with a corrugated iron roof. A photograph of Mr Savige’s establishment, which is part of the JP Campbell’s famous photographic collection, can be found at the following link…

7. With legions of workers involved in the Yallourn Project and the expanding township, the supply of fresh meat was a constant and critical issue for the SEC. It is known that abattoirs were under construction by July 1926.

8. The slaughter-yard was situated on the outskirts of Yallourn (along the road leading from Yallourn Hospital to Hernes Oak). In several photographic resources provided by former Yallourn resident Dianne Stevenson it is stated that…
“The abattoirs are ideally situated in an elevated position well away from the town, enabling slaughtering, dressing and other operations to be carried out in perfect cleanliness and free from any possible contamination. The equipment throughout is of the latest type and includes a battery of powerful lights under which the stock is slaughtered at night during hot weather, thus insuring against contact with flies.”

9. Furthermore, it is written ….
“…No factor is more important than that of cooling the meat after slaughter. At the Yallourn Butchery all freshly slaughtered meat is placed in an ante-chamber, where it is cooled before removal to the refrigerator”

10. In July 1928, ‘The Gippsland Times’ reported on a court case, at the Morwell Court of Petty Sessions, regarding charges brought about by breaches of the Health Act in relation to the sale of sausage meat at the commission’s butcher shop in Yallourn. The case centred about the level of preservatives used in the locally produced sausage meat.

11. Issues related to the slaughter of livestock were prominent in the newspapers throughout 1936; and it is reported that representatives from the Morwell and Narracan Shire Council(s), SECV, the Master Butchers Association met to ‘thrash out’ the various trading and inspection practices at the abattoirs.

12. It is also documented, that in 1936 marauding wild dogs killed 13 sheep that were yarded, ready for slaughter, in the paddock next to the Yallourn abattoirs.

13. In February 1940, Morwell Shire Councillor, Mr Auchterloni, ‘hit the headlines’ when he remarked upon the procedures for buying cattle to be slaughtered at the Yallourn abattoirs…

“YALLOURN BUTCHERY Cr. Auchterlonie drew attention to the large number of cattle and sheep slaughtered at Yallourn abattoirs and stated that, although Yallourn was in the Morwell Shire, the stock was practically all bought at Trafalgar through Campbell and Watson, Auctioneers. He thought it only fair that some of the stock should be purchased in the Morwell yards” ‘Morwell Advertiser’ February 29th 1940 Page: 1.

14. In 1940, a Yallourn butcher, James Hudson, was involved in serious mishap. Note: The accident occurred at Mr Hudson’s home and not at work (i.e. in the butchery) …
YALLOURN. - When cutting wood at his home James Hudson, of the Yallourn butchery, cut two toes severely with an axe. Fourteen stitches were inserted to close the wound. ‘The Argus’ August 27th 1940 Page: 2

15. An horrific accident occurred at the Yallourn butchery, in November 1940, when a sixteen-year-old old workman severed his hand in a meat cutter…
HAND CUT OFF YALLOURN, Sunday. - When Jack *Frost (perhaps Foster) 16, was operating a meat-cutting machine in the Yallourn butchery, where he is employed, his hand came in contact with the blades, and was cleanly severed at the wrist. He was admitted to the Yallourn Hospital. ‘The Argus’ November 11th 1940 Page: 5.
Understandably, the accident received wide publicity in metropolitan and country newspapers.

16. In August 1940, Mr Curl, the trading manager, forwarded a letter to the ‘housewives’ of Yallourn regarding the excellent service available at the Yallourn General Store and Butchery. The opening stanza of the letter stated…
“Dear Madam,
We have great pleasure in presenting to you this souvenir booklet which shows by picture and words our Butchery. Service to you from the paddock to your oven. Also this booklet contains useful many hints and recipes that will appeal to every housewife.”
A copy of the letter from Mr Curl can be found on this website at:

17. In 1944, an unknown correspondent laid a series of complaints, regarding the poor service tendered to Yallourn residents, in regard to purchasing meat supplies. For younger readers, the letter was written during World War: 2 and may partially explain the difficulties encountered by local customers….
“Six thousand people are expected to get meat from one butcher's shop with a counter space of about 12 feet. Sometimes one can be served in reasonable time, but an average wait at a busy period is an hour or more, and then itis unusual to get what is wanted…” ‘Morwell Advertiser’ April 6th 1944 Page: 5.

18. In August 1945, The Hon. Mr Trevor Harvey MP (Legislative Council -Gippsland Province) highlighted the overcrowding at the Yallourn State School and other inadequacies, including the lack of butcher shops, in the township…
"I desire to bring under notice the unsatisfactory school facilities at Yallourn. The township is under the control of the State Electricity Commission, and practically nothing has been done to reduce the overcrowding of the school. No provision is made for children of kindergarten age. The shopping centre is owned by the Commission, and there is only one butcher's shop and one grocer's shop…” ‘Morwell Advertiser’ August 16 1945 Page: 5.
Note: Mr Harvey (1885-1952) was the Member for Gippsland Province from 1943-52; and served as the Minister for Labour from 1950-52.

19. In 1949 the ‘Morwell Advertiser’ carried an article regarding the sale of bullocks for the Yallourn abattoir…
“Bullocks to £26…. A feature of the yarding at McLean & Hill's sale on Tuesday last, was a draft of medium and well-finished lightweight Black Poll bullocks, bred and offered by Mr. John Ronald. Nine of the tops made £26 and were purchased by Yallourn Butchery…” June 23rd 1949.

20. On page: 77 of Prue McGoldrick’s book ‘Yallourn Was’ there is a photograph of a range of the meats available at the Yallourn Butcher shop. The photograph also gives the prices for various cuts of meat. (It is difficult to tell what year the photograph was taken).

21. Following the end of World War: II, the township of Yallourn developed to the point where it regarded as the ‘boom town’ of the region; and, by the mid 1950’s, there were two butcher shops in Yallourn and one delicatessen…
“In the fifties and sixties two separate butcher shops under the proprietors Wilson and Budge. N. Byrne ran a delicatessen.”

Wilson’s Butchers shop was situated at 33 Centreway; while the ‘Latrobe Meat Supply’ was at 49 Centreway. Norm Byrne’s delicatessen was situated across the road from Rockman’s (i.e. newsagency department).

22. With the sale of the Yallourn Butchery to Henry Wilson, one of the town’s identities, Mr Andy Stevenson, stepped down from the key position of buyer for the SEC butchery; however it is known that Mr Stevenson stayed on with Wilson’s as is outlined below…
“Cattle Buyer Honored. A party of friends of Mr. A. Stevenson, formerly manager of the Yallourn Butchery while under S.E.C. control, met at McKay's Hotel on Tuesday of last week to tender their good wishes and expressions of regard to him for the happy ' business relations which existed in their dealings over the many years during which he was the buyer for the Yallourn Butchery. 'Following the sale of the butchery to Wilson Bros. of Sorrento, Mr. Stevenson will continue in the capacity of manager of that firm, but will not d act at present as its local buyer, as all supplies are now being bought outside the Central Gippsland area...” ‘Morwell Advertiser’ September 18th 1952 Page: 5.

23. In searching the newspapers of that period, three job vacancies were found relating to employment in the town’s butcher shops.
• A job vacancy column in ‘The Age’ in November 1941, two butchers were required in Yallourn…
“Butchers (2) Apply to Manager. Yallourn Butchery. Yallourn.”
• In 1953 the following advertisement appeared …
“Wanted two competent general butchers. Apply Latrobe Meat Supply.”
• In the same year (1953), another advertisement for a butcher was inserted in the newspaper by Mr Wilson and read…
“Situation Vacant…Butcher required, must be good, House or Board available, references required. - Wilson Yallourn Butchery Phone 235.”

24. Former North Melbourne captain and Yallourn FC coach in 1955-56, Gerald Marchesi, worked at Wilson’s Butchery during his time in Yallourn. In his story for this website, Yallourn FC ruckman and regional tennis champion, Murray French, recalled…
“My father (Bill) and I lived at the football club. We idolized every one of the players. One of our greatest moments was when we picked up Gerald Marchesi (YFC Coach 1955-56) from ‘Wilson’s Butchers’ and took him to training. ..” Source: Virtual Yallourn website
Henry Wilson was a strong supporter of the football club; and following each round of football, during the season, his shop window the highlighted the name of the club’s weekly winner of the ‘Wilson Butchery Award.’

25. According to the recollections of Dianne Stevenson, the manager of the Yallourn abattoirs, in later years, was Mr Duddington…
“The man who managed it was Mr Duddington. I was given the choice on Sunday morning of going to the abattoir with dad or going to Sunday school….From what I remember there were two big brick cool rooms, a slaughter room, pig pens, cattle yards and sheep yards. We always had morning tea with Mr and Mrs Duddington and she would cook scones on a wood stove. Happy memories.”
Other known butchers throughout the years at Yallourn included: Mr J. Gardiner (1931), Mr A. Ridgway, S. Gardner (1938), J.A. Flett, James Hudson, Jack Frost (1940), Yallourn Cricket Club personality Bert Harvey and Andy Stevenson as mentioned above. A photograph provided by Dianne Stevenson also lists other staff including: Mr Talbot-Wilson, Jean Cook, Pat O’Neil, Frank Penticost, Reg Neville, Bob Ramage, Wendy Patching and Peter Hansen. YFC footballer Tony Radford was also a well-known local butcher. A most comprehensive story about Tony Radford and his family is attached from the Churchill District News, November 2007.
As referred to in the attachment, in 1953 the SEC sold the Yallourn General Store to Rockmans (Vic.) Pty Ltd for £60.000 (pounds); and, in so doing, ushered in a new era of commerce for the town of Yallourn.

26. The ‘company store’ that had served the township for more than three decades, under the ownership of the SECV, ceased trading on July 1st 1953. After that point in time, all businesses in Yallourn were owned or managed by private operators.
“…The commission owned butchery and the general store were sold to private interests with a lease of the land on which the buildings stood.” Source: ‘Yallourn Was’ Page: 136.

1. ‘Thank you’ to Dianne Stevenson (Goulding), the daughter of Andy Stevenson as mentioned above, for her kind assistance with the story and provision of a series of photographs for this website. Dianne’s photographs are most informative resources regarding this era of the town’s history and add much to the understanding of this aspect of Yallourn’s history.
2. Thank you to Dr Kay Steel, Federation University (Library Services), for her assistance with aspects of this article.

The above story is part of an on-going project regarding the history of Yallourn. The story was researched and written by Roger Spaull and presented and posted by Julie George for the Virtual Yallourn website in May 2018.
The above article from ‘The Age’ newspaper has been faithfully reproduced. The only amendments to the original copy are the font style, font size and spacing, so as to enhance the article for purposes of posting on the Virtual Yallourn website.