Marian Sugar Mill

1883 - 1891, 1895-

View of Marian Mill from the Pioneer River. c. 1907

The Marian plantation was established on the southern bank of the Pioneer River in the early 1880's.

The first Marian Mill was built by David McEachran in 1883.  The mill was apparently named after George Smith's daughter, Marian, who had done secretarial work during the construction period.  George Smith was a Mackay Commission agent who was also the agent for McEachran.  The mill plant was from the old Balmoral Mill in Mackay that was left unused after W.H. Hyne bought the nearby Meadowlands Mill in 1878. The mill handled cane from the 2000 acre plantation as well as neighbouring selectors.

Charles Nisbet Armstrong was the first Manager of the mill.  A Melbourne builder named Mitchell came to build the Marian Mill and he had a daughter Helen (Nellie) Porter Mitchell who became acquainted with Armstrong. They were married in Brisbane and took up residence in Marian.  Armstrong left the mill and his wife and George Smith then managed the mill for two years.  Nellie Armstrong returned to Melbourne with her young son George.  Nellie Armstrong later became the renowned operatic and stage artist "Nellie Melba".  "Melba House" , the original mill managers house were Nellie stayed for less than 18 months was relocated in the 1990's to a location further east of Marian and now serves as a tourist information centre and a small museum devoted to the life and times of Nellie Melba.

The problems with inadequate and irregular cane supply and the establishment of the North Eton Central Mill in 1888 led to the closure of the Marian Mill due to the Marian growers accepting higher prices to supply their cane to North Eton.

A new company, The Marian Central Mill Company, was formed to take over the old mill in 1894.  David Coyne became the first chairman.  His son, A. J. (Tony) Coyne, later became a director of the mill for a record 44 years and chairman for 35 years from 1924 to 1959.  The Marian plantation was subdivided and sold as small farms. By March 1894 plans had been made for the construction of a new mill on the old site and tenders were called to construct a mill of three to four thousand ton annual capacity.

The machinery was purchased from Walkers of Maryborough. It consisted of 54 inch wide rollers, 28 inches in diameter.

The mill was opened on 26 July 1895.  The first crushing was marred by faulty machinery but shortly resumed.

The mill serviced areas north of the Pioneer River and a low level bridge was built for a tramway to bring ane from the northern areas.

The mill was able to pay off its debt to the Queensland Government in 1909.

Another important development in the progress of the mill was the construction of the Marian Weir which was opened on 2nd August 1952. This provided a guaranteed water supply to the mill.

The Marian Central Mill Company Limited was dissolved and a new entity called the Marian Mill Co-operative Society Limited was formed on 3 August 1966.

The Mill became part of the Mackay Sugar Co-operative Ltd in 1988.

Expansion in the 1990's saw the Marian Mill become a "Super Mill" and is currently  the largest mill in the Mackay district.

References -

Kerr, John. (1980). Pioneer Pageant. Mackay, QLD: Pioneer Shire Council.

Lees, Wm. (1907). Mackay Illustrated, Special Issue of Queensland Country Life. Brisbane, QLD: Outridge Printing Co. Ltd.  p. 40

Moore, H.A. (1980). The Marian Story. Marian, QLD: The Marian Mill Co-operative Society Ltd.   

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Glen Hall

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created 18 November 2003.
last updated 18 July 2017 .
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