Flour mills were very important to the early growth of Tamworth, with the first one getting underway in 1859, the small Armstrong Mill in Marius Street, which operated for only a short period.
Following this Munro's Mill got underway in 1863, one of our oldest surviving buildings, now occupied by Tamworth Community College opposite Maguires Hotel in Peel Street.
Next came the 1867 Cohen & Levy Mill in Fitzroy Street, where our Tamworth Town Hall is now located.
Then in 1869 Patrick Coghlan, attempting to break the Cohen & Levy monopoly, initiated a small mill in White Street that grew into the substantial Phoenix Flour Mill, later renamed the Fielder & Son Flour Mill.
It was situated between Peel Street and Lower Street (Kable Avenue), eventually growing to a 101m White Street frontage, aligned with the present Northern Inland Credit Union.
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The Mill then had various owners over the years, including the Lewis Bros., C.J.Britten, George Fielder and Charles Regan.
The Lewis Bros. increased the Mill to a height of 4 storeys.
The Mill had then not operated for a number of years when purchased by George Fielder to be back in operation in 1900.
The pictured Mill was then capable of processing 10 bags of wheat per hour, 24 hours a day, six days a week.
Prominent Tamworth citizen C.J.Britten was associated with the Phoenix Flour Mill in his younger days, going on to play leading roles with local horse-racing, Tamworth Shows and the Royal Standard Brewery, as well as serving as Tamworth Mayor.
He first came to Tamworth in 1872 from Hertfordshire as a 19-y-o flour-maker, then becoming Chief Miller for the Lewis Bros.
Under Britten's service the Mill received First Prize for its flour at four different exhibitions - Sydney, Philadelphia, Melbourne and Paris.
Eventually Britten bought the Mill from the Lewis Bros. and continued its operation until 1884.
A powerfully built man, weighing around 155 kg, it is said that Britten could walk up a flight of stairs at the Mill carrying a 109 kg bag of wheat under each arm.
A perhaps less credible story concerning the Phoenix Flour Mill regards the supposed hitting of a huge six in a cricket match at the nearby Oval (now Bicentennial Park), which landed in an open bag of flour being filled at the Mill.
Several months later a surprised South African shopkeeper found a cricket ball in an imported bag of Australian flour. Certainly a big six!
Perhaps it was hit by Victor Trumper, who did play on the old Oval as a youngster (little known fact).
The disastrous 1910 flood saw water rise above 6 layers of wheat bags at the Mill, destroying about 13 000 bags of high grade milling wheat.
Some employees had to be rescued after trying to escape from the Mill in a boat.
The Mill was eventually demolished in 1924, having produced flour over a 55 year period, since its early establishment by Patrick Coghlan.
Bricks from the demolition were used in the construction of the original Capitol Theatre in Brisbane Street.
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Photo and caption submitted by Mike Cashman, from the Tamworth Historical Society.
If you have similar photos that you'd be willing to donate, or have them copied, contact 0407 789 894.
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