Preserving stories of Warrnambool's Fletcher Jones factory, before it's too late

THE stories and memories of former Fletcher Jones factory workers are to be collected as part of a push to preserve and honour the legacy of the much-loved Warrnambool businessman.

Sir Fletcher Jones: inspiration and icon.

Sir Fletcher Jones: inspiration and icon.

A number of local community and heritage groups will meet within weeks to discuss ways of collecting information on the history behind the textiles plant, its employees and founder.

The moves follow a community event last weekend at the Pleasant Hill Gardens surrounding the old factory  which attracted more than 1500 people.

Warrnambool City councillor Jacinta Ermacora said the reflections of former staff and citizens associated with Fletcher Jones needed to be retained for future generations.

She said no particular format had been chosen to showcase the material with a decision likely to be made by interested groups over the coming months.

The compendium of information could take a number of possible forms, including a website, a book or some form of other publication or a potential exhibition.

“It’s my view that there’s a lot of enthusiasm for protecting the legacy of Fletcher Jones and that was strengthened by the fact that 1500 people took part in the weekend garden party,” Cr Ermacora said.

“I think it’s time to tell the Fletcher Jones story, to make sure it’s preserved and available into the future. 

“Some people may have memories pre-dating the factory, of Fletcher Jones with his cart. 

“Others will tell us about the factory days, of its impact on the community as well as the corporate-social responsibility of Fletcher Jones and the success of that business model in Warrnambool.”

Cr Ermacora said once a full investigation into the social history of Fletcher Jones was complete, the associated groups would examine the possibility of a permanent memorial — perhaps a statue.

Warrnambool Planning and Heritage Group leader Julie Eagles said a statue of the textiles baron was laudable but further work was needed in order to maintain existing infrastructure.

She said last weekend’s community event highlighted enthusiasm for the restoration of the Fletcher Jones site.

“Community support for protecting the Fletcher Jones legacy is really strong at the moment and the recent purchase of the site and the changes that have taken place since then have really given us confidence that we can achieve this,” she said.

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