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.
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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.