Peters Ice Cream 1960s Mulgrave HQ to be heritage listed

Peters Ice Cream 1960s Mulgrave HQ to be heritage listed
Peters Ice Cream 1960s Mulgrave HQ to be heritage listed

The former Peters Ice Cream HQ in Mulgrave is set to be heritage listed.

The classic 1960s office building, with its sinuous roofline and waffle-style facade, is hip enough decades on to warrant heritage listing.

It was May 1964 when the new factory was officially opened by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe.

The term Petersville had been coined during 1962 as a quasi-geographic label for the factory site on Wellington Road, and it subsequently became the moniker of the company.

The Petersville Factory Administration Building is one of the classic post-war factory administration buildings, associated with the development of manufacturing in the 1950s and 1960s, a phase of historical importance in Victoria. 

Overall, the Petersville Factory Administration Building remains in very good condition.

Externally, most of the brickwork, concrete columns, door frames and window frames show very few signs of deterioration. There are some areas of rust to metal elements and deterioration to eaves.

Peters Ice Cream 1960s Mulgrave HQ to be heritage listed

Internally, the foyer of the Administration Wing is in excellent condition with only minor defects to timber ceiling lining and area of damage to stair treads.

In April this year an Interim Protection Order was issued by the Victorian Heritage executive director who has now recommended permanent heritage listing.

The Petersville Factory Administration Building is located at 254–294 Wellington Road, Mulgrave.

It comprises a double-storey brick Administration Wing, attached single-storey Office Wing and Staff Amenities Wing to the rear.

The three wings form an asymmetrical H-plan.

The building is a freestanding element within a landscape setting that includes lawn, a row of flagpoles, paths and mature plantings.

The Administration wing’s arresting design, incorporating a full-length decorative screen and wave-form roof, presents a distinctive and highly visible street frontage. The interior of the Administration Wing has a double-height entry foyer that includes a floating staircase, terrazzo flooring, mezzanine gallery and timber-lined ceiling that reflects the wave-form roof shape. Office space lies to either side of the foyer on both levels. 

The Petersville Factory Administration Building was constructed as part of a large manufacturing complex built in 1962–63 for leading food manufacturers Peters Ice Cream (Vic) Ltd (later Petersville Australia Ltd).

The company developed the Mulgrave site, which became known as Petersville, to replace the Richmond premises that it had occupied since 1936.

During the early 1960s Peters Ice Cream had rapidly expanded to incorporate brands such as Four’n Twenty Pies, Edgell and Birdseye.

Designed by the architectural office of D Graeme Lumsden, the new complex included offices, amenities and extensive production areas.

Lumsden designed several interesting commercial and industrial buildings in Victoria, including the Nicholas Factory in Clayton (demolished) and Mitchelton Winery.

Although he and his firm contributed to the practice of architecture and commercial building design, Heritage Victoria conclude it could not be said to have made a strong or influential contribution to the course of Victoria’s history more broadly.

Architect D Graeme Lumsden had established his own practice in 1948 and was later joined by younger architects Ted Ashton and Bill Hale, who became key members of the office.

Although the office of D Graeme Lumsden (and its later incarnations) undertook a range of projects including houses, office buildings, banks and a winery, the firm’s main focus was industrial buildings. 

Factory projects were commissioned by such high-profile manufacturers as Nicholas Ltd, Volkswagen Australia, Glaxo, Patons Brakes, Leyland Motors, Speciality Press, Murfett Publishers and Smith & Nephew.

After Lumsden’s death in 1995, an obituary by Neil Clerehan described him as both ‘one of Australia’s most successful industrial architects’ and an ‘industrial design pioneer’.

In 1998, under the ownership of Nestle, the production areas of the site were substantially updated.

The Petersville Factory Administration Building was utilised until 2016 before Peters staff moved to a new administration building elsewhere on the site.

Production of Peters products continues to take place elsewhere on site in the new facilities. The Petersville Factory Administration Building is currently vacant.

In 2012, The Peters Ice Cream business, including its Mulgrave factory, was purchased by Pacific Equity Partners (PEP), with licence to produce sub-brands that were retained by Nestlé, e.g., Drumstick.

In May 2014, the European company R&R Ice Cream bought Peters.

It was the American expatriate Frederick Peters who founded the Peters American Delicacy Company in Australia in 1907.

First established in Paddington in Sydney, by 1929 subsidiaries had been set up in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.

The Victorian branch and was based in Meyers Place in central Melbourne, before moving to a refurbished former shoe factory in Richmond in 1936.

During 1957, Peters Ice Cream (Victoria) Ltd, took over two rival ice cream producers, and between 1960 and 1963 acquired a further 10 companies.

These acquisitions included other iconic brand names including Four’n Twenty Pies, Edgell and Birds Eye.

To accommodate this growth, in 1961 Peters acquired a 35-hectare site at the south-west corner of Wellington Road and Springvale Road in what was then known as Clayton (now Mulgrave).

The decision to relocate from Richmond reflected a post-war trend towards decentralisation of industry that saw many established Melbourne manufacturers move from the inner-city to developing suburban fringes.

In 1964, Peters Ice Cream (Victoria) Ltd took on the name of the new site and became known as Petersville Australia Ltd.

Peters Ice Cream 1960s Mulgrave HQ to be heritage listed

The company is notable for its high profile and longstanding promotional activities –including street signage, radio and television programs, branded small refrigerator cabinets and sponsorship of the Moomba parade.

Victoria experienced rapid industrial expansion after World War Two.

Major manufacturers developed substantial new facilities in suburban fringe locations such as Dandenong, Cheltenham and Clayton.

This form of decentralisation developed alongside the growth in car ownership and suburban housing estates.

Manufacturing facilities were built alongside major roads, often some distance from train stations, and car parking was provided for staff on site.

These new greenfields locations allowed for an expansive use of space, with administration buildings often set well in front of more utilitarian production facilities and complemented by landscaping and gardens.

Photos: Heritage Victoria 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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