Plan of the Australian Cream Tartar Company, Grand Avenue Camelia, 1962, Parramatta City Council Archives

Plans of industrial buildings from the 1950s to the 1980s provide a glimpse into Parramatta’s manufacturing history. During this time established companies such as Australian Cream Tartar Company Pty Ltd, Reckitt & Colman Pty Ltd and Meggitt Limited were expanding their operations and diversifying into other production areas.

The Australian Cream Tartar company was formed in 1926 when the Stauffer Chemical Company (Aust) Pty Ltd formed a partnership with Kemball-Bishop Ltd of the UK and T.J. Edmonds Ltd of New Zealand. The new company established the factory in the suburb of Camellia the same year at a cost of £30,000. The factory was serviced by a private railway siding branching from the Sandown Line which provided rail transport for the factories established on the south bank of the Parramatta River.

Letterhead, Cream Tartar Company, Parramatta, 1941

Letterhead, Cream Tartar Company, Parramatta, 1941

Cream of tartar or potassium bitartrate is a by-product of the wine industry and prior to commencement of Australian production, the chemical was sourced from Europe. Apart from being an essential ingredient in baking powder, self-raising flour and a stabiliser for products such as egg whites and cream, the chemical when mixed with lemon juice or white vinegar may be used as a household cleaning agent.

Outbreak of war with Germany in 1939 restricted the availability of the imported product and therefore increasing the importance of a reliable, high quality Australian supply. Accordingly the company expanded production at the Grand Avenue Camellia site during this period producing a range of substances including citric acid, tartaric acid and Rochelle Salts. Sought after for its piezoelectric characteristics, demand for Rochelle Salts increased with the burgeoning manufacture of electronic devices in Australia.

The post war period saw further expansion of manufacturing in Australia. Australian Cream Tartar diversified its interests into the manufacture of products such as pharmaceuticals. The company became part of a larger group which included Wesco Paints Pty Ltd and Chrome Chemicals (Australia) Pty Ltd which produced substances used in the tanning and dyeing industry. In the late 1950s, Charles Pfizer & Company Inc of USA, acquired Kemball Bishop Holdings Ltd and finally in 1960-61, Pfizer purchased the Stauffer interest in the Australian Cream Tartar Company.

In later years the food technology sector of the company became part of AB Mauri specialising in yeast production for the brewing and bakery industries and continues manufacturing at the Grand Avenue Camellia site today.

by-saWritten by Cathy McHardy, Research Assistant, Parramatta City Council Heritage Visitor centre, 2015

References
Dictionary of Sydney – Camellia (John McClymont). ‘The Stauffer Chemical Company (Aust) Pty Ltd entered the Australian market in 1926 when it formed a partnership with Kemball-Bishop Ltd of the UK and TJ Edmonds Ltd of New Zealand. They formed the Australian Cream of Tartar Co Ltd and operated several other chemical companies, including Wesco Paints Pty Ltd, located in Camellia.’

Sydney Journal 2(1) June 2009 ISSN 1835-0151 http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/ojs/index.php/sydney_journal/index Sydney (Journal is part of the Dictionary of Sydney project 82 – Camellia – John McClymont). ‘Production of tartaric acid and ‘cream of tartar’ began in April 1928 at its plant in Grand Avenue spent £30,000. In the late 1950s, the Charles Pfizer & Co Inc. of USA, acquired Kemball Bishop Holdings Ltd and finally in 1960-61, Pfizer purchased the Stauffer interest in the Australian Cream of Tartar Company.[1] ‘Cream of tartar’ is a product used to make self raising flour for use in manufacturing bread. Apparently the company was taken over by Mauri Brothers Ltd. who specialise internationally in yeast production and products in this area of food technology.’ [1] This is Parramatta, Parramatta City Council (PCC), 1965, p. 62. (John McClymont Papers)

SMH 5 July 1928 p 10 – CREAM OF TARTAR ‘Within the last three weeks fair quantities of cream of tartar manufactured in Australia have been distributed among merchants throughout the, Commonwealth. It is now about two years since the Australian Cream of Tartar Co. was formed. It established a plant on the Parramatta River, near Sydney, and it has been successfully manufacturing a product which is generally acknowledged to be equal to the cream of tartar imported from Europe. The manufacture has been supervised by experts from the United Kingdom and from the United States, and the samples distributed are of excellent quality. It is expected that by next year the output of the factory will be sufficiently large to cope with all the demands of the Australian trade. Australian cream of tartar has the advantage of a protective tariff. of 2d. a lb. on British, and 4d. a lb. on French cream of tartar.’

SMH Tues 29 May 1934 p 3 https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Je5hAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5pEDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5078%2C6097491

Smith’s Weekly 28 Dec 1940 p 23, photocopy. Chrome Chemicals (Australia) Pty Ltd which produced substances used in the tanning and dyeing industry. This factory was constructed in 1940s on the southern side of Grand Avenue, Camellia.

Parramatta Building Plans, Australian Cream Tartar Company Pty Ltd – P1500 (1962), P1772 (1960)

Australian Business Name Register search (ASIC)

Wikipedia, Rochelle Salts, cream of tartar

A history of the extinct residential suburb of Camellia: as researched 2004, LS994.41 TUR

American Investment in Australian Industry/ Donald T. Brash (1966), https://books.google.com.au/books?id=revtcXHZbjkC&pg=PA312&lpg=PA312&dq=stauffer+pfizer&source=bl&ots=3L_vZ4PjRS&sig=P4ZOzK11gaJMdsn-iUnwsWcnTtI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=XbtnVavJGoOf8QWkioKoAw&ved=0CDIQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=stauffer%20pfizer&f=false