Soft, fluffy, probably pink or pale blue - ideal for the children's bedroom or mum's winter dressing gown - chenille was a popular innovation of the 1950s and 60s manufactured right here in Yass.
As an offshoot of the Pacific Chenille factory established at Goulburn, the Yass factory was officially opened September 3, 1948. It was a big event. Those present included Mr WF Sheahan, MLA, Minister for Lands, and Mr Howard Dunstan of the Department of Secondary Industries. The company was represented by Mr LP Keating, Managing Director, Mr J Buckle (Director) and Messrs Pengelly and JN Perry, managers of the Goulburn and Yass factories respectively. The Mayor of Yass, Alderman R Haddon, and the town clerk, Mr DC Tilghman were also present. The Hon William Dickson, Minister for Supplies and Building Materials, performed the official opening and a luncheon at the Australia Hotel followed.
Optimism was high. The Yasco building opposite the Court House "probably the most modern and commodious factory premises in Yass" had been leased for three years by Pacific Chenille. Minister Dickson stated: "70 new country textile and clothing factories had been established in country areas. It would be difficult to overestimate the contribution which the development of secondary industries had made to the prosperity of country towns, and in particular, in keeping their best assets - their young men and women - actively employed near their own homes."
The 50 local women employed enjoyed an up to date canteen, restrooms and a factory social club. To celebrate the factory's first birthday, the girls decorated the Memorial Hall for the Supertex Ball. Funds raised went to the local ambulance. The ball became an annual event. In 1951 the factory manager Mr Perry was thanked for allowing the girls to give blood to the Red Cross Blood Transfusion service when it visited Yass. The "happiness and contentment of Yass girls" was noted by management!
Ingenuity and determination were required during the coal miners' strike of 1951 when two days without power to industry were declared statewide. Auxiliary motors were installed with "mechanics working through the night stripping benches and connecting fittings" to keep the mills turning.
By January 1952 with the share price down 50 per cent, all was not well. The Yass factory had a four week holiday over Christmas but was then shut down for a further three months. It reopened in April 1952 with just 12 girls - "a loss of £300 to £400 to the town in wages". In the June flood of 1952 the factory floor was under 14 inches of water. The only way to get to the factory was by boat. Fortunately, "Mr E Brown had the stock lifted high, and all electric motors disconnected."
Despite all efforts, market forces prevailed. The factory closed. Yass, however, must have been expanding. In 1955 the building was hired to house the 100 student overflow from the Yass Central School.
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