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Social Gatherings Organised by Sunshine Harvester Works

Photograph - H. V. McKay factory and/or equipment

Image: Photograph - H. V. McKay factory and/or equipment

Source: Museum Victoria

The Sunshine Harvester Works had a thriving social culture where various functions were organised for employees and their families. Company branches around Australia also organised their own social events. The firm's Social and Welfare Association organised many of these gatherings, as did individual departmental social clubs.

One of the company's first social gatherings was the staff picnic. Established in February 1909, the initial picnic was held at Mornington. Entertainment included a running race where athletes were instructed to maintain their modesty by dressing to the knee! Company picnics were halted in 1927 but returned to Frankston in 1948. The event was popular as ever with 1,600 picnickers in attendance. The event set a precedent for future annual picnics where guests were transported from Sunshine to Frankston on a specially arranged train for the occasion. Running races, beauty contests, music from the Sunshine District Band, tug-of-war competitions and children's games entertained employees and their families.

Employees and their loved ones danced the night away during company balls and dances. Such events were organised when normal operations at the company resumed following World War II. These annual events were popular, attracting hundreds of employees who flocked to various venues in Brunswick and St Kilda to socialise with their colleagues, friends and partners. Jazz bands consisting of talented employees entertained guests, as did well-known local musicians and singers.

Many company departments had their own social clubs. They organised Christmas gatherings, fundraising events, cabaret nights, car rallies, picnics, barbeques and tours of other company sites. Some of these events were held at Hampshire House, located across from the factory. Sunshine Harvester Works sometimes provided financial assistance to these clubs and would usually supply equipment for the events.

Long-term staff members were also awarded with special social functions to celebrate their achievements. In 1962, the Massey Ferguson Quarter Century Club was formed to honour long-standing employees. Gold badges would be distributed to staff members with over 25 years of service, while a Silver Tea Service was awarded to members with a 40 years association. At the club's inauguration, the group boasted 310 members who had accumulated a total of 10,310 years of service, with an average length of around 33 years. These members represented 13% of the company's workforce. The club organised dinners for its members which were usually held in Sunshine's staff canteen on the last Friday of each November. The dinner venue was later changed to nearby restaurants. The Club continues to hold lunches for its 120 members. The company also organised dinners for its foremen. 

Social events did not always occur outside the worksite - employees also organised their own lunchtime entertainment. Talent contests, quoits competitions, a game of draughts and Christmas parties provided amusement for workers during their break. During the 1960s, Radio station 3DB visited the factory canteen for its 'lunch time fun time' program where staff contributed songs and music.

References
Massey-Ferguson Outlook 1961, 'Club will be Formed for 25-year Men', vol. 1, no. 1, pp.3.
Massey Ferguson Outlook 1962, 'MF Quarter Century Club Launching a Success', vol. 1, no 4, pp 2.
Sunshine Review 1945, 'Factory Talent Quest', vol. 2, no.2, pp.8.
Sunshine Review 1949, 'Sunshine Harvester Works Picnic: A Notable Success', vol. 6, no.4, pp.4-5, 8-9.
Sunshine Review 1950, 'Do You Remember?' and 'Lunchtime Moods', no. 11, pp.3, 8-9.
Ray Browne, Norm Gooding and Ken Porter (former Sunshine Harvester Works employees), personal recollections held at Museum Victoria, September and November 2002, May and November 2003, October 2004.

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