Friday, January 21, 2011

International Harvestor Factory & GMH Factory at Dandenong

I love aerial photographs. If you are interested in where International trucks and Holden cars were made then these photographs may interest you. They were taken in 1963, back in the olden days when Australia used to produce things rather than import things.

This was taken December 27, 1963. The Princes Highway moves across this picture from left to right, just below centre. The first intersection, on the left, is Frankston Road. The South Gippsland Highway then forks off. Running below and almost parallel to the left of this fork is the Gippsland Railway line to Sale, where it meets the Great Southern Line, as the rail to Cranbourne, Leongatha and beyond was called. In the V that is made by the Princes Highway and the Gippsland Railway line is the International Harvestor Factory. This was built on 56 acres of land, which cost them £16, 800 pounds. The building cost £686, 900 and commenced construction in August 1950. Production began in February 1952. International Harvestor was the first of the Big Three. Next to IH is Heinz. They built on a 75 acre site and opened in 1955. The factory and equipment cost £3,500,000.
The housing to the north is the suburb of Doveton, established specifically by the Victorian Housing Commission to provide employees for the Big Three. The 660 acres of land for the new suburb was purchased in September 1954 and the first houses were occupied in December 1955.
The houses in the top left, surrounded by the meandering Dandenong Creek are part of Dandenong. In the bottom right is the Eumemmerring Creek.

In this photo, also taken December 27, 1963, is the other Big Three Factory, General Motors-Holden. GMH had purchased 153 acres in 1954 and it later expanded to 318 acres. The factory cost £9 million and commenced in March 1955 and opened soon after. As well as making Holdens, the Factory also assembled Bedford trucks, which came to Australia CKD - Completely Knocked Down. GMH had it's own Railway Station, no longer used and now in a state of disrepair. As you can see the South Eastern Freeway wasn't constructed in 1963. The area to the north is the suburb of Eumemmerring (known as Doveton until May 1981) and in the top left, on the other side of the Eumemmerring Creek is Doveton.

Fleetways TK Bedford, with a Perkins diesel and a load of Holdens. Taken in Harold Road, Noble Park around 1967.

John worked for Fleetways from around 1964 to 1969 and Fleetways had the Holden contract, so he has been in and out of the GMH Factory at Dandenong many times. Fleetways also carted the CKD Bedford crates from the wharf to Dandenong, as well as carting the Holden engines, made at Fisherman's Bend, to Dandenong. Fleetways had the Ford, Chrysler and BMC/Austin transport contracts for Victoria and Southern New South Wales, as well. This was back in the days when every country town had a car dealership of some sort, generally either Holden and Ford, so the job involved a lot of country work where you might have six cars on the trailer for six different towns.

D-series Ford, with a load of Holdens. Also taken in Harold Road, Noble Park around 1967.

John also delivered the Monaro, when it first came out and the Falcon GTS - in some towns a crowd of people turned up just to get a look at the cars, when they were being unloaded. He occasionally took new models 'underwraps' out for a promotional photo shoot, one trip involving a week's stay at Pine Plains near Patchewollock.


  1. The D series Ford looks very good and nice.Good update here with all the facts and information of the trucks.

  2. Hello Heather
    Great posts - Do you have anymore
    NEW Holdens or fords being transported like the ones previously posted Quite amazing ! Thankyou !

  3. Hi heather.
    I am the designer of the 5 car carrier and the designer and past Director of the construction company which built the 6 car carrier back in the mid/late '60's..
    Just a bit of background... (John would know.)

    The 5 car carrier was originally a Freighter gooseneck trailer with a removable pipe frame structure. The capacity was 4 vehicles. My brief was to put aboard the fifth vehicle. This was done by fitting a cab-over frame at The Fleet Forge Pty Ltd. (An associated company.) The car was driven onto the cab-over through the pipe frame structure. When needed for general freight the pipe frame structure was lifted off by two fork lifts, and the rear portion of the cab-over was folded up and forward leaving the entire deck of the trailer free for cargo. (Not all of the cab-overs were able to be folded up.) The first units built were from memory, fitted to BMC vehicles. When the company transferred a cab-over to the TK Bedford, some structural alterations had to be made due to the deeper cab. One did not have to be Hercules to wield the loading ramps of these units, but it helped. I admired the drivers who so ably loaded the vehicles suspended on two 9 inch steel tracks some 9 Ft up in the air.

    The 6 car carrier is about the 8TH unit built (Of about 28 units.). The first 4 units did not have the fixed drive-over ramps between the top decks, just visible in the photo. Also, the trailer is fitted with a wide track axle assy. This feature for added stability was incorporated on the fifth built unit onwards. And a canvas sleeve fitted over the trailer rams on the early units has been deleted. The constructors name FLEETMASTER is just visible as an aluminum plate fixed to the front lower right hand corner of the prime mover body, facing to the side, also on the trailer. Yards of loading ramps were now replaced by 2 six foot ramps. The first four units were fitted with a newly designed (by others) style of trailer attachment coupling which proved unsuitable in service and the original four units and all following units were fitted with an underslung grease plate turntable coupling.

    I am delighted that there are some stills of these early vehicles and you have posted same.. Have you any more?? I have an 8MM home movie of a BMC 6 car unit driven by the son of the then Managing Director of Fleetways, Captain Sir John Williams. And a half dozen or so stills of various carriers of 1968 - 9 vintage..

    Since those early days I went on to design dozens and dozens of car carriers. Finished the last one 4 years ago. Now retired.

    Barry Hargreaves <