Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Burnie Paper Mill - 57 Industrial Buildings at risk of Demolition

Upon entering the township of Burnie, there is a sense that you've been taken back to a time when industry was king. Before you even get close to the vast complex as you snake your way along highway by the ocean, the immense size of some of its buildings loom large, including the chimney stack that keeps a watchful eye over the entire site.

Often when I document buildings photographically, it's with the knowledge that I am capturing their history, their style and their character. Sometimes it's to capture what may be at risk and lost forever. When I took many of the photos for the project it was 1 year to the day that the Mill closed down. I had many people talk to me about how they used to work at the Mill and that they thought it would be their employment for life. One elderly man who had worked on the site for 35 years told me stories of times gone by and pointed out what the uses of the buildings were for, and then as he was about to carry on with his walk, he said "better get those photos before it all goes"

It was a sombre feeling I had when I was photographing, attempting to portray and capture such a massive complex, with the knowledge that only photos may be the only reminders of what once stood as a major industry legacy of Burnie.

The Burnie Mill begun operations in 1936, and in its prime the Mill employed some 4000 people, with the mill closing down in 2010. There are many excellent examples of Industrial Art Deco and Modernist buildings on site, and sadly this rich Industrial heritage is at risk of demolition. The Application for Land Use permit on the Burnie City Council Public Notices section states:

"A notice of Application for Land Use permit (DA 2010/165) has been lodged with the Burnie City Council to demolish 57 buildings on the site.

Site: Land forming the western part of the site known as the Burnie Pulp and Paper Mill – Marine Terrace and Reeves Street, Burnie and comprising land in CT 122875/1, CT 122875/2, CT 122875/3 and CT 198316/1


The removal of 57 individual buildings to floor-slab level, being all of the buildings on the described portion of the land with the exception of the buildings at the corner of Marine Terrace and Reeve Street known as Administration Office Building and Services Building, to provide a cleared and open site.

Restructuring of internal land boundaries for CT 122875/1 and CT 122875/2 to create a new lot containing approximately 3.5ha with frontage to both Reeves Street and Marine Terrace, and a balance area"

The vast number of Industrial heritage buildings need to be protected as they serve as a visual reminder to Burnie's and Tasmania's industrial heritage. When these industries wind up, jobs lost, and buildings demolished a part of our collective history is lost forever.The protection of the buildings and adaptive reuse is essential if we are to not repeat the same mistakes of the past.I urge all who have an interest and passion in this wonderful historic site to write to the General Manager of the Burnie City Council in protest of the application.

Representations regarding the proposal can be addressed to the General Manager, Burnie City Council, PO Box 973, Burnie 7320 or and MUST BE RECEIVED BEFORE 5.00pm, 11 July 2011.

To view photographs of the Burnie Paper Mill check out my photographic project here


  1. It would be really awful if the Mill buildings were demolished Thomas, I hope they can be saved and will forward my protest (for what it's worth coming from a girl in the West...)to the council.
    Good to see you back, great pics, especially the last one against that dark grey sky.

  2. Thanks for the show of support Kylie and comments!

  3. "The Pulp" is such a strong feature of my memory - my great uncle was there before the doors open to train apprentices, my grandfather worked there for 45 years, and a whole gaggle of other family members also worked there. Visiting dad's family, we always knew we were in Burnie when we saw "the cloud factory". I did school reports & assignments on paper my uncle gave to me when the paper mill was operating. Hell, our garage was even "carpeted" with reams of orange felt that came from The Pulp!

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  5. Hey Smudgeon, thanks for the post, great to get some personal accounts of the Burnie Paper Mill


About the project

Join me (Thomas Ryan Photography) on a photographic project documenting Tasmanian 20th Century Modernism from the 1930's to the 1980's. The entire project gallery of 1000+ images and counting can be viewed on my website under art projects. I have been undertaking this project for over a decade.

My portfolio of commercial and art projects can be seen on my website and I can be contacted here as well. All photographs are copyright of Thomas Ryan Photography. Unauthorised use is prohibited. Contact me for all enquires

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