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Research by Gordon Freegard





On June  4th 1932 a little case mill was started on Canning Road, by George Ashmore. Powered by a steam engine at his home near the border of Lesmurdie and Bickley. It was later moved to McClures in Walliston when the power lines came that far. An electric motor was much easier to use, but there were disadvantages. He had to walk from Bickley each day and his son Joe had to trot the distance after school to work until  dark when they would both walk home.

Years later Joe Ashmore was washed off rocks at Yallingup while fishing and drowned. At Joes funeral, Lloyd Dunn, a former worker at Ashmore's Case Mill, did not think he would know anybody.  He stood well back and then saw a little old man slowly walking up with the aid of a walking stick. He didn't recognise him immediately until he saw his hands. He knew instantly from the pattern of missing fingers that this was Syd Ashmore. It was then that the memories started flooding back. He went over an introduced himself. The old man leaned on his walking stick and looked hard at him. "I'm Lloyd Dunn. I used to work for you on your fruit case mill at Lesmurdie and used to live near the mill at the back of McClure's shed in Walliston. I remember you cutting fifty dozen cases a day. His face lit up and he said, "You remember that do you?" In the clear voice Lloyd had known so well so long ago. "So you're the son of Ted Dunn?" They then forgot about the funeral, walked a short distance, sat down and talked until some of the others came over and persuaded them it was time to leave.

The Mill was sold to D. W. Scherini in 1940.

Then Tony Brescacin and David Tognella bought the Case Mill in 1941. The Mill badly needed updating and they discovered that it could only support one person. So it was decided to end the partnership. This was done in a very novel way with a pack of cards.The first to draw a King put a price on the Mill, the second to draw a King decided if he wanted the mill or the money. Tony drew the first King and Tognella, the second. Tognella took the money. Tony then began updating the mill. In 1960 the mill closed and re-opened at Pickering Brook.

 WITH DANNY, MARY & STEVEN 1956     #1




The timber for fruit cases was cut into slats and ends and tops and formed into bundles, secured with wire and called "shooks". The fruit cases were cut in size to 1 bushel and 1/2 bushel dumps and 3/4 bushel flats. The dump cases were used for citrus, apples and pears, 1/2 dumps for large plums, and the flat cases for stone fruit. The reason for using different cases was that stone fruit bruised easily so pressure and weight had to be avoided and there was a division in the centre of the flat.  The fruit was able to be displayed in the markets when 2 or 3 of the slats were removed and the case laid flat - thus the name "flat".

The Shooks were made up into bundles sufficient for 12 cases. For 3/4 bushel - 36 ends and centres - 3 to a case, 72 sides - 6 per case, 24 tops and bottoms - 2 per case. For dumps - 24 ends - 2 per case, 72 sides - 6 per case. 24 tops and bottoms - 2 per case. A great amount of timber was used in case making. The nails were 3/4 inch for flats and 1 inch for dumps, all blunt ended as sharp split the timber.

Wooden fruit cases are no longer in use. Due to the need to conserve timber, they were replaced by cardboard cartons and plastic containers.   The Case Mill at Pickering Brook has now stopped manufacturing cases and only does firewood.

Reference:   Article:    Valleys of Solitude
                                Memories of Walliston

                  Image:   1    Valleys of Solitude
                               2    Gordon Freegard

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Copyright : Pickering Brook Heritage Group 2008-2016



Shown below is a collection of early advertisements taken from published issues of "THE FRUIT WORLD AND MARKET GROWER"  1959 to 1964, "THE JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURE (Western Australia)  1954 to 1967. "Work Safe" would have nightmares looking at the non-existent safety features of some of the equipment, that was available during this period. 




































Copyright: Pickering Brook Heritage Group Inc.  2008 - 2017