Geraldton Snapshot: Old tin shed had local perishables business in the can

Tony DevlinGeraldton Guardian
The Red Tail Cannery in the 1950s.
Camera IconThe Red Tail Cannery in the 1950s. Credit: Courtesy of Akerstrom Collection/Geraldton Regional Library

Geraldton’s old cannery was in Marine Terrace, just east of the railway spur line with the oil installations to the south and the Ice Works on the western side.

My dad, Arnold Phillips Devlin, was manager there from late 1947 until he was offered a position as managing secretary for the Geraldton Tomato Growers Association in about 1951.

Back then, the tomato growers association’s office was in Durlacher Street just along from the Freemasons Hote, on the corner with Marine Terrace.

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At the cannery, the work was seasonal, like with crayfish, so there was always the need to have other perishables to be canned to spread the work load and make the factory more profitable.

So other lines they trialled were rabbits, and various varieties of fish. One fish they tried was Albacore tuna, and to cook the tuna, the engineering section of the Geraldton Flour Mill manufactured a steam pressure cooker using a length of scrap torpedo tube fitted with sealing doors at each end, a narrow railway with lift-out sections to allow the doors to be swung open or closed, and a couple of wheeled carts to run on the rails to carry the very large Albacore tuna.

It did a brilliant job of cooking the tuna, but did not proceed. The cannery was sold to Tropical Traders who in turn moved their operations to what had been the Globe Brewery in Evans Street, now known as Cunningham Street.

Snapshots is an initiative of the Geraldton Regional Library. For more information, or to donate a historical photo or slide, contact Heritage Services at the Geraldton Regional Library on 9956 6659 or library@cgg.wa.gov.au

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