Description of the Sunshine Harvester Works' Bolt Shop.

Year established: 1909

The Sunshine Harvester Works Bolt Shop manufactured a range of nuts, bolts, rivets and wheel spokes. These items were produced for the company and also sold to other firms. By 1926, the department was producing over 37 million nuts and bolts per annum. The shop also included a tool room which produced and maintained the necessary tools and equipment needed to manufacture nuts, bolts and rivets.

Around 40 to 50 people worked in the department, at least half of whom were women. Female workers began joining the Bolt Shop in the 1920s, where they were met with union resistance.

The work environment in the Bolt Shop was intense. Fumes, heat and smoke from the furnaces filled the shop. Jesse Smith joined the shop in 1930 and remained with the company until 1960. She recalls the difficult conditions in the department but still enjoyed her time there:

You'd get dirt up to your elbows sometimes. You put soap around your nails to keep the dirt from going under your nails and then your nails were worn right down. And then you tied paper around your feet like spats because the water from the machine used to splash on you. And we had to wear black or navy blue overalls and hair nets … All the same we enjoyed every minute of it. I loved my time in the Bolt Shop. [Faulkner, Duty Nobly Done, n.p]

Accidents also took place in the shop. On such incident involved shop employee Ernest Nicholls Snr who had his toe amputated after a large, hot rivet fell on it. Workers in the Bolt Shop included foremen, sub-foremen, threaders (who were mostly female), upsetters, furnacemen and labourers. Robert Klix, Ern Clifton and Bob Dodd worked as shop foremen. The Bolt Shop was located opposite the factory office on Devonshire Road. The shop closed following Massey-Ferguson's absorption of the Sunshine Harvester Works in 1955.

'Women at Harvester Works', 1927, The Argus, 9 February, p.16.
Faulkner, R (ed). 1986 Duty Nobly Done: Sunshine Harvester Diary, 1987. Melbourne's Living Museum of the West, Footscray.
H.V McKay, Factory Plan, 1909. Held in the H.V McKay Sunshine Collection, Museum Victoria, registration no. HT 9463.
H.V McKay Pty. Ltd. 1926 A Brief Description of the Manufacturing Departments and the Machine Tools in Use. Held in the H.V McKay Sunshine Collection, Museum Victoria, registration no. TL 038401.
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