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Factory Whistle at Sunshine Harvester Works

MEN LEAVING THE WORKS: MARCH 1939

Image: MEN LEAVING THE WORKS: MARCH 1939

Source: Museum Victoria

Work hours at the Sunshine Harvester Works factory were signalled by a steam whistle. The whistle blew a few times a day, indicating the start of the work day, lunchtime and finish time. Each sound would last half a minute. The factory watchman would also blow the whistle during an emergency, such as a fire.

The whistle could be heard throughout Sunshine. Outsiders visiting the area were startled by the whistle's high-pitched sound. However, for local residents it became an important form of time-keeping as their routines were timed by the whistle. For example, Ken Porter, company employee and Sunshine resident, remembers how his wife Wilma used the whistle to keep track of her children's movements during school hours. When the factory whistle blew at midday, Wilma knew that her son and daughter would be coming home for lunch. Ern Nicholls, a former Fitter and Turner for the company, described the whistle as 'the alarm clock for Sunshine'.

Sunshine residents were attached to the whistle. When the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) removed the whistle in the 1970s, locals petitioned for its return. Their demand was met.

In 2001, the whistle was refurbished and returned to its original place at the top of the factory Bulk Store. It was later removed and now belongs to the Sunshine and District Historical Society.

References
Interview with Ken Porter by Liza Dale-Hallett, 7 February 2006. Recording held at Museum Victoria, registration no. HT 33612.
Interview with Gerald Evans and Bill Dickie, 9 November 2005. Recording held at Museum Victoria, registration no. HT 33610.
Interview with Ern Nicholls, 21 November 2005. Recording held at Museum Victoria, registration no. HT 33611.
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First Aid Room at Sunshine Harvester Works
Industrial Chaplaincy at Sunshine Harvester Works
Quarry at Sunshine Harvester Works
Russell Street Gate at Sunshine Harvester Works
Woodmill at Sunshine Harvester Works

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