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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : February 4th 2009
MB INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, February 5, 2009 3 NEWS www.innerwestweekly.com.au The flour mill at Summer Hill is grinding to a halt. Pictures: PHIL BLATCH Mill grinds down FIONA BRADY SUMMER Hill's historic flour mill will close next month after more than 80 years in business. Work is already winding up on the Allied Mills site, which is relocating to a new $85 million premises at Picton. Production of flour stopped at 9am on December 22 -- the day most of the workforce walked out the gates for the last time. Packing of flour will finish at the end of this week. The few remaining staff will then prepare the 2.5ha site for its new owners, EG Funds Manage- ment, which bought it for an undisclosed sum in September 2007. For the mill's staff, some of whom have worked there more than 30 years, its closure is an emotional occasion. Most of the 49 staff chose redun- dancy rather than apply for jobs at the Picton mill. ''It hasn't really sunk in yet because I've been milling all my life,'' said Alf Trumper, 60, of Summer Hill, who has worked there since 1991. ''It will be a big slice of life gone.'' EG Funds Management is in preliminary discussions with the State Planning Department and Ashfield and Marrickville coun- cils over planning options for the site, which will need to be rezoned. The company's vision is for a mix of apartments, townhouses and shops. Ashfield mayor Ted Cassidy said the new owners had told the council they would be sensitive to Summer Hill's village atmosphere and would not compete with the existing town centre -- a promise echoed by the company's associate director of planning, Mark Syke. ''The vision for the site is one that renews the precinct of Sum- mer Hill, ensuring that develop- ment complements and authenti- cally supports its neighbourhood setting,'' Mr Syke said. The firm is ''actively support- ing'' the conversion of the now disused freight rail track into light rail. EG Funds Management has promised to consult the com- munity during the concept devel- opment process. Door closes on working life Shift over for Joe Caspanello, Oskar Paltram, Alf Trumper and Odette Arraj. Picture: Phil Blatch ~PP240345 FIONA BRADY IT was their daily grind. For 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Summer Hill mill was kept going by a devoted workforce. For them its closure marks the end of an era, and for many, the end of their working life. Joe Caspanello, 61, arrived in Sydney from Sicily in October 1976 and got a job in the Summer Hill mill two weeks later. Unable to speak English, he started by stacking bags and cleaning toilets, but he has worked his way up to supervisor. He sees milling as a vocation and finds it hard to imagine doing anything else. ''When you come to my age, it would be hard to have another job because you'd have to start at the beginning,'' he said. His Austrian-born colleague Oskar Paltram, 66, is looking forward to his retirement. ''In one way it is sad that the place is closing up, but I think within a fortnight my psy- chology will rule all the nega- tives out and I will start to live my life.'' Odette Arraj, of Ashfield, has worked in stock control for 18 years and was a motherly figure to the ''boys''. ''Working in a flour mill was the perfect excuse to bake and I used to bring the baking to work which pleased everyone,'' she said. She isn't planning to put her feet up now either. ''When I got married I decided I was going to be a housewife and look after the children and cook and keep house,'' she said. ''I did not do any of this, I've worked all those years. ''So I'm now I'm going to be that housewife, except it will be the grandchildren I'll be looking after.'' As one of the few staff still working at the mill, she is struck by how quiet it has become. ''I expect to see tumbleweed rolling past,'' she said. Emily stores 103 years of memories Emily Brett is 103. Video Online Watch it now at www.innerwestweekly.com.au FIND it exhausting blowing out all your birthday cake candles? Im- agine having a crack at 103 of them. That's what great-great- grandmother Emily Brett, of Con- cord West, did when she turned 103 on Tuesday. Mrs Brett celebrated her special day among family and friends who flew down from Brisbane. ''The best thing about birthdays is having the people around. I feel really happy when they're with me,'' she said. She has lived in the same house for 95 years. It is full of treasured memories, including her sister's wedding reception which was held there back in December 1917. Mrs Brett has never left Aust- ralia and remembers her much- loved trips to Echo Point in Katoomba. ''I don't wish to go overseas for a holiday. As long as you can travel around Australia and see what Australia is like that is the main thing. If you don't know your own country how can you travel over- seas and appreciate others?'' she said. Mrs Brett is extremely proud of her grandchildren, who sent her beautiful flowers for her birthday. ''I've got a great grandson who has just won apprentice of the year for welding. I think it's lovely that he's only 21 and they're giving him a trip to Canada for it,'' Mrs Brett said. ''One of my happiest memor- ies was when my first great- granddaughter was born. My hus- band really doted on her. She lives in Concord West and I see her each day.'' Mrs Brett was never much of a smoker or drinker and says she would like to know herself how it is that she has lived such a long life. ''And another thing I would like to know is why I have still got the coloured hair I've got.'' 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