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Olympic Tyre & Rubber Co.

Olympic Tyre & Rubber Co.

Image: Olympic Tyre & Rubber Co.

Source: Museum Victoria

Founded by Melbourne-born swimming champion and businessman (Sir) Frank Beaurepaire (1891-1956), the Olympic brand was one of the most successful Australian-made tyre products. After establishing a tyre retreading business, Advanx Tyre Repair Co. in William Street Sydney during 1920, Beaurepaire returned to Melbourne in late 1922 and opened a new business in Latrobe St; Beaurepaire Tyre Service, specialising in retreads. Finance was assisted by a large cash reward Beaurepaire received for his part in attempting to save the life of a shark attack victim at Coogee beach in February 1922. Later he also started to sell new tyres. Despite the Depression, Beaurepaire managed to stay in business and made plans to begin tyre manufacturing as newly merged company of Dunlop Perdriau / Barnet Glass were dominating the market and making it difficult for retailers to obtain cheap stock.

Beaurepaire established his new factory in Cross Street, West Footscray in 1933. Machinery was sourced from suppliers including Charles Ruwolt in Richmond who supplied presses and moulding machines. To capitalise on Beaurepaire's public image as an Olympic swimming hero, the firm was named the Olympic Tyre & Rubber Co. Production began in 1934 and the new firm survived despite fierce discounting by Dunlop and Goodyear as Olympic tyres soon gained a good reputation with motorists. Beaurepaire Tyre Service branches continued as a separate arm of the business. During the Second World War, manufacture of insulated electrical cables began and Olympic Cables Ltd was formed in 1946 as another branch of the business. By the 1950s the name of the parent firm was Olympic Consolidated Industries. Despite the sudden death of Sir Frank Beaurepaire in May 1956, OCI expanded under the chairmanship of Sir Frank's son Ian, acquiring the tyre factory at Somerton operated by B.F. Goodrich. Increased competition, and changes to tariff protection eventually led to the merger of Olympic and Dunlop in 1980. The new firm was named Dunlop Olympic Tyres Pty Ltd. The Olympic brand remained in place and manufacturing continued at West Footscray and Somerton while Dunlop's Montague plant in South Melbourne was closed in 1982. Later changed to South Pacific Tyres, the firm closed the West Footscray factory in 2001 and the site is now occupied by the Banbury Village residential development. The Somerton plant closed in 2008 bringing to an end all tyre manufacturing in Australia.

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