Peg factory poser

The peg factory chimney tonight.

THE chimney at the old peg factory off Hamilton Rd burst into life this evening, causing much speculation as smoke soared into the sky at New Norfolk. Flames were seen rising from the stack at around 7.30pm, followed by a massive plume of thick black smoke. This gave way to grey smoke (pictured) which soon petered out.

The factory was opened by the Pioneer Woodware Company in 1926, manufacturing dolly pegs from sassafras harvested from forests near Maydena. Some 1.4 million pegs were turned out every week.

When the original factory was destroyed by fire in March 1948, the brick chimney stack was practically all that was left standing. The damage bill (40,000 Pounds) was equal to about $2.1 million in today’s terms. The factory was Australia’s main supplier of clothes pegs and the fire made headlines around the country. An emergency peg-making factory was quickly turning out sufficient supplies to avoid a national shortage. A completely new factory opened in June 1949. Spring pegs were introduced alongside the traditional dolly pegs in the late 1950s.  

Disasters of a different kind struck in April 1960 when the River Derwent flooded the factory, ruining stock and causing much damage to machinery. In the same year, the Federal Government lifted import restrictions and the market was flooded with cheap pegs from overseas. The Pioneer Woodware Company faced a financial crisis that culminated in Australian Newsprint Mills (now Norske Skog Boyer) buying the business in 1962.

After some years of profitable operation as part of ANM, equal wages for women and increased imports from China were blamed for the final closure of the peg factory at Christmas 1975. The Warden of New Norfolk, Clyde Fitzgerald, was outraged. The owner of three small supermarkets in the town, Cr Fitzgerald said housewives could still afford to buy Australian pegs even if the price was doubled. “Most housewives spend about $1 a year on pegs … I can’t see another dollar a year making any difference,” Cr Fitzgerald told the Derwent Valley Gazette.

Do you know what was going on at the peg factory tonight? Please share the details with the New Norfolk News by posting a comment or emailing 

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