Walking the White City video
Running time 4.24
Filmed and edited by Jo Clyne, 2015
History Teachers' Association of VictoriaContributors
Contact the History Teachers' Association of VictoriaCopyright
History Teachers' Association of Victoria Original footage courtesy of David Robertson (private collection)
Doug Loveless, a former employee of MacRobertson's takes us on a tour of the old factory buildings and surrounding streets in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
My name is Doug Loveless, I was employed here at the MacRobertson’s factory in Fitzroy in 1965, as the employment and safety officer.
The site is five city blocks. It employed about twelve hundred people and it manufactured chocolate and sugar confectionary such as Old Gold, Cherry Ripe, Freddo Frog.
MacRobertson was a very benevolent employer and he was a great supporter of the eight-hour-day. There was no retirement age they worked here while they were physically capable to work.
He died in 1945. His two sons, Norman and Eric whose offices were behind me here, took over the running of the business. This was the entrance to the main office, which, behind me, was a wonderful reception area, beautifully decked out in antique furniture.
On my first day of work I turned up in this street, Argyle Street where my office was, at seven o’clock, only to find there was approximately a hundred women in the street waiting to be interviewed and employed, because Christmas time was coming up and they had to pack all the Old Gold chocolates for Christmas. I well remember the first morning and the smell of cocoa and chocolate permeating right through the streets.
This was my office in Argyle Street, this was where I hired all the employees.
[Looking at album] This is a view of Argyle Street and that is my office door on the left-hand side there.
The majority of the employees here were women, mainly because of the packing jobs. They all were dressed in white uniforms and white scarves. They weren’t allowed to wear any rings or jewellery. The whole place was called the White City because all the buildings were white-washed.
In Argyle Street here we had the sugar factory where all the toffees and boiled lollies were made. Over the road here was where we stored the cocoa beans, which came in mainly from West Africa. Around the corner here was the warehouse where every morning about twenty-five trucks would pull up. On the back of the orange delivery trucks was painted a big Freddo Frog and when you opened the door it looked like Freddo Frog was waving to you!
The building at 369 Gore Street was the garage. MacRobertson was renowned for the love of his cars, and when I arrived here in ’65, Norman and Eric between them had about nine cars over there including a couple of Rolls Royces and a beautiful big Bentley.
The building behind me on my right housed a company called Colourprint, which was a printing works owned by MacRobertson’s. MacRobertson wanted to ensure that he had his own designers, artists and printers to print all his labels and packaging for his confectionary. Amazing to see today that it’s still a printing press.
We talked about the number one factory, which made all the sugar and boiled lollies. Behind me here is what we called the number two factory in Kerr Street. The bottom floor at Kerr Street was where the chocolate was made and distributed throughout the factory. The floor above it was the Old Gold packing room where girls would sit at assembly lines placing pieces of chocolate into chocolate boxes.
For me coming back here after 50 years has been somewhat nostalgic because I really enjoyed the couple of years that I had here, mainly because I could talk to all the old employees who told me of the early days of MacRobertson’s and there were some great stories of what went on in the factories.
Confectionery: Past and Present
The White City
Walking the White City video
The Marketing Man
The Marketing Man Video
MacRobertson's Horses Video
The Cycling Craze
The Cycling Craze Video
MacRobertson and the Motor Car
The MacRobertson Legacy
Mac.Robertson Girls' High School video
MacRobertson Land, Antarctica
Old Gold Airplane
Story education resources
Education MacRobertson's Confectionery Factory - Education Kit
The MacRobertson's Confectionery Factory education kit has been designed for grades 2 and 3 and looks at themes such as 'the past in the present' and 'community history'.
Key themes include:
1. Historical buildings and monuments
2. Victorian industry and the workforce
3. Technology and transport
4. Advertising and design
5. Local history
Teachers and students use the kit in conjunction with the MacRobertson videos, images and stories available on Culture Victoria to complete a range of activities aligning with key historical skills such as:
1. Distinguishing between the past, present and future
2. Posing questions about the past using sources provided
3. Exploring a range of sources about the past
4. Identifying and comparing features of objects from the past and present
5. Exploring a point of view
6. Developing a narrative about the past
7. Using a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies