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THE FACTORIES OP SOUTH AUSTRATiTA.
NO. 3. THE TANNERIES.— (Fiast Abticm).
in a colony ooasting its millions ot sheep and its hundreds of thousands of horse3 and cattle, it is natural to suppose we should find tanning and feUmongering carried on to a con
siderable extent; more especially should we look for the practice of the former, when it is considered how much leather is required for use among a great part of the population, to whom an English boot would be about as un suitable as a kid-glove for a hedger, where good sound harness is a desideratum, and where the mimosa bark, about the best agent in the world for tanning purposes, can be brought in from our forests ata reasonable rate, and in almost un limited quantities. Well, tanneries we have,
and it is our object to give a lew particulars in relation to them. Proceeding to the lower end of Grenfell-street we were courteously welcomed to an inspection of the premises and establishment of Messrs. Peacock and Son. But as in skinning an ox, a difficulty naturally arises with the uninitiated &s to the most advantageous point of commencement, in the same manner a difficulty presented itself in attempting a delineation of a tannery, more especially one so extensive as that in question. Howerer, taking it as an indisputable fact that without bark the whole process could not be commenced, we entered the premises, which extend over an area of two acres of land, by the bark yard. Tbe first object which pre sented itself was a private weighbridge, ca pable of weighing up to eight tons, and con structed almost exclusively for the convenience of those who bring in bark for sale. Passing onwards, we paced along the sides of two im mense stacks of bark built during the present season, containing from 250 to 300 ton3. At the end of them was part of a similar stack, which had been built the year before, and was being lessened day by day for purposes and in a mode hereafter to* be described. Close by the bark-stacks is a building of considerable dimensions, within which is a steam-engine of eight horse-power, horizontal action, the piston nine inches in diameter, with a 21-inch stroke. This engine drives the bark-mill, the duty of which is to grind the bundles of bark into pieces from an inch to two inches in length, and even smaller, with the view of its being more easily employed in forming a liquor for tho hides, and for more easy storage in case of its shipment for England. The mill ia contrived for partially crushing the long bark in tho first instance, with the view of preparing it for a further reduction in size by a second process. The preparatory crushing power of the mill is, however, not equally proportioned to its grinding and finishing power, and, in consequence, two or three men are kept cutting the bark into its prepared form, by laying it across a framework of blunted knives at two or three inch intervals, upon which is brought down another frame with knives at the places where
tho intervals in the lower lrame occur, by which the bark is snapped into short lengths, so as to be ready for the lower hopper in the mill. The bark when ground is bagged, so far as it is intended to be exported, each bag being about four feet long and holding about 2^ cwt. The mill room where the bark is ground is a scene of continual racket and perpetual dust, the tonic quality of which ia very perceptible to the taste, and may be as good as a dose of quiniue. Indeed the men can only work by keeping their mouths and noses, indeed their whole faces, covered up to the eyes, after the manner of veiled nuns, but not so interesting. In addition to the bark -mill, the engine is con nected with a double-action foree-pump, ca pable of lifting 1,800 gallons of water per hour. The water is raised from a well, about 50 feet deep, and is stored in three 1,500-gallon tanks, ready for dispersion through the yard*. In addition to this the engine move3 a recently invented machine for splitting hides, which, however, was not in action. The waste steam is carried away in pipes towards the tanpits, and made the medium of heating the liquor there, so as to extract the tanning properties from the bark more rapidly than would bo the case by an infusion of cold water. The en gineer reports having discovered a process by which the alkaline accretion which accumulates on the interior of the boiler may be removed without the tedious process of hammering. The felloiongering part of Messrs. Peacock's establishment is carried on at Hindmarsh, and will not ia consequence come under this description. The hides, when they are brought from the butchers, are first washed, and then placed in vats filled with a solution of lime, increasing in strength from vat to vat. The time occupied in this maceration is about three weeks, when they are taken out and placed upon beams, and all the hair remaining upon them and any other undesirable matter is scraped off them. This completes the process of cleansing. They are then taken to the tanpits.
ot which there are ironi yu to 109, and are steeped in an infusion of bark, of milder strength in the first instance, but of in creasing tonic or tannic force a3 the process
i^ui-a um, wiuuii, in uic uaau ui mucs iiiicuui*u 1'or uppers and harness, lasts about seven weeks, and in the case of sole leather is protracted to five months. The requisite tanning having been given, the hides are taken out and hung up in a shady warehouse to dry-. When suffi ciently dried they are placed upon beams, and the unevenncsscs are struck out by an instru ment suited to the purpose. They are then placed upon a lcrcl hard surface of wood, and rolled with a heavy roller, consisting of a brass cylinder, with weights placed ad libitum in a box above it. The leather intended for uppers, meaning upper leather for boots, and for har ness also, is scoured and placed in stulf com posed of tallow and oil, by which it is finished for the manufacturer. At the lower part of the yard i3 a deep well for the waste liquor, which is pumped into a covered square water cart, capable of containing about a ton and a half, and is carted across the Park Lands to some sagacious farmer who ia glad of it as a liquid manure. There is a large shed in the yard, where the process of salting hides for export goes on. Six hundred hides thus cured were recently sent away from the premises for shipment at the Port. In this shed the trimmings of the hides, called glue pieces, were being collected. These, with the horn s, bones and hoofs, are also sent to England for various uses. Close at hand is an old bark-mill, formerly worked by horse-power, which has been knocked out of time by the new mill driven by steam, but which might be serviceable if any accident were to befall its vapouring rival. In the centre of the yard are a very superior drying-room and show-room, both under one roof, the dimensions of which are little short of 70 feet by 30 feet. This building is of recent erection, and is fitted round with Venetian blinds, by which air can be admitted or excluded at pleasure. From our cicerone we learned that the hide of the toughest ox, although it has been six months in the bark liquor, is injured by the peculiar zephyrs which play in South Australia on a hot-wind day. The Iadie3 may take a hint therefrom as to the care they should bestow on their complexion when such questionable breezes are abroad. On one part of the pre mises is a screw-press packing-machine, in which the hides are compressed into bales, weighing 4 cwt. or 5 cwt. each, ready for shipment. In another part is a carpen ter's shop, where all work and repairs coming under that department of labour are effected. In another part is a portable blacksmith's forge, by means of which damage to machinery and implements, &:., is remedied. Indeed, it cannot be often tha* the premises are left for any work which requires to be done in order to keep the whole machinery on the premises in healthy and efficient operation. Some idea of the size of this establishment may be formed when it ia stated that the various buildings in which the business is carried on possess a roofing of over 20,000 square feet, equal to nearly half an acre. Some idea of its activity may be gained when it is understood that the number of men employed is about 60, and of horses 12, in the busiest time of the year. A further ides of its effectiveness may be obtained from the circumstance that the number of hides con verted into leather on the premises, in addition to those salted for export, averages from 150 to 170 per week all- through the year. As the space occupied in describing Messrs. Peacock's establishment is equal to what can be spared for the present week in describing our factories, a notice of other important tan neries and fellmongeries must be deferred till the next week. ?