DENNINGTON'S milk factory has supported south-west farmers and labourers for more than a century and this weekend doors will open to a little-known time capsule of that past.
Former factory worker of four decades David Kelson spent 25 years building a collection of the factory's memorabilia from both its Nestles and Fonterra ownership.
The collection, located in Nestles former "transport club rooms" for truck drivers, east of the factory buildings, will open to the community on Sunday.
"It has been a little bit restricted because the whole site is locked up. We have opened it on odd occasions but it should be open more often," Mr Kelson said.
On display are books recording early wages paid to workers with one from 1914 showing they worked six-day 48-hour weeks, which earned them between one and four pounds.
Other cabinets include the first milk ledger from 1909, when cheese, butter and skim products were divided among Nestles factories in Mailors Flat, Russells Creek and a Farnham Road factory on the west bank of the Merri River.
Also on display are glass negatives capturing construction in the early 1910s, when structures still standing at today's factory were built on the eastern river bank.
There are even lactogen tins from 1928 on display, as well as original coffee cans from when production started in 1948.
The factory shut under Fonterra in November this year and its future remains uncertain. The dairy giant told The Standard on Tuesday there were no updates on any future sale.
"It's timely because we aren't sure of the future of it," Mr Kelson said of the display, adding it would also include historic items from Dennington's earliest land sale.
The Dennington Community Association has committed to continue an 89-year tradition of factory workers delivering presents to Warrnambool Base Hospital patients at Christmas.
But association president John Harris said the charitable gesture would cost $1000 each year, with donations from visiting the memorabilia room this weekend to help deliver the event in December.
"We just felt this was something started in Dennington, and because we are the community association we thought we should carry it on," Mr Harris said of the tradition.
"Once you get started on something its hard to drop off."
He said few south-west residents had seen the collection.
"It's a hidden gem. We have this over 100 years of history sitting there and basically it's only been a privileged few who have seen it," Mr Harris said.
The memorabilia room will open at 10.30am until 3pm on Sunday and a gold coin donation is required for entry.
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