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Robb Jetty Abattoir

Robb Jetty Abattoir

Above: Aerial picture of the Fremantle Freezing Works in the 1920s, with Cockburn Road running along the top right. The chimney is visible in the centre. Image © State Library Victoria.

The lone chimney that stands north of C.Y. O’Connor Reserve in North Coogee was once part of the Robb Jetty Abattoir.

The meatworks served Cockburn and international markets for nearly a century, employing locals and migrants, men and women, through several generations of slaughtermen.

Built in the 1870s, Robb Jetty was originally too short to offload cattle. The animals were pushed off ships that brought them down from the Kimberley and swum ashore with men in boats herding them onto the beach.

Several private abattoirs were served by the jetty and the cattle were pastured in vast paddocks stretching most of the way to Jandakot, as there were no cold storage facilities to keep slaughtered meat fresh.

This new abattoir was plagued with financial difficulties and government bailouts.

A freezing and chilling works was planned, and today’s chimney is a remnant of the original 1921 Fremantle Freezing Works. The State Government eventually took it over in 1942 to ensure meat was produced for soldiers in WWII.

The abattoir was expanded throughout the next decades but grew increasingly inefficient, and the decision was made to shut it down in 1992. All equipment was removed by 1994 and the building was demolished, with only the chimney left standing as a reminder.

Local history questions or anything to add? Please let us know by commenting below.

This article can also be seen on the Cockburn Libraries’ Local History blog.

Further reading: The Robb Jetty Abattoir site : archaeological report for the Heritage Council of Western Australia and the Department of Trade and Commerce held at Spearwood Library.

About The Author

Leah

Leah works as the Reader Services Librarian at Spearwood Public Library, where she orders the books, and takes requests for anything you can't find in the library! She also researches and writes local history articles for the Cockburn Soundings, and for anyone who has a local history question. Comment below to ask Leah a question.

4 Comments

  1. I was interested to see if there was a photographic history of the WAMEWorks. I worked there in the mid 1960’s. The office then was an old house.The fuel pump outside.
    My 18 months or so there were interesting from the point that it was my first full time employment after leaving Hamilton High School.
    I remember some of the names – I met many interesting people.

    Reply
    • Adrian

      Hey Neville,

      I will forward your details on to Leah, who wrote this article. Hopefully she can find some more information for you.

      Thanks.

      Reply
  2. In the late1960s I was involved with the penning and selling of the last cattle shipments sold at the robbs jetty yards. The cattle were large and swung their horns at our legs as we moved along the the auctioneer rail.
    We worked for Dalgety Co
    Auctioneer- E. Garside
    Stockmen- K. Edgar and G. Parslow

    Reply
  3. I worked at robb jetty meatworks in 1976 as a 17 year old.
    Various jobs including the ice works,sheep slaughter floor,in the freezers.
    It was a wild place back in those days,OHS did not exist.
    Best part of the job was the canteen,hot pies on a freezing winters day after being in a minus 30 freezer was heaven.

    Reply

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