Breath of fresh air keeps icon alive

Breath of fresh air keeps icon alive

An iconic Mount Gambier brand that has helped shape the South Australian agricultural landscape for over 100 years is being revived by a local man on a mission.


Varcoe Windmills have been made in the Blue Lake City since 1911 but the future of the local name was up in the air when manufacturer Dean & McCabe closed last year citing a drop in demand.


Local Nathan Woodruff bought the name and manufacturing rights to Varcoe Windmills in an auction last May, despite only looking for machine tools and spare parts.


The agricultural mechanic by trade said he could not let the famous Mount Gambier name fall by the wayside.


“I could not stand to see something like Varcoes become something of the past,” he said.


“I think there is only four or five windmill manufacturers left in Australia now.


“It is a bit of a jewel in the crown for Mount Gambier when a lot of the industry of the past has gone.


“It is a good claim to fame for Mount Gambier because there is a little piece of Mount Gambier that pops up all over the country.


“I think it is a real privilege.”


Mr Woodruff said he has spare parts available for purchase and hopes to be able to sell brand new windmills by the later half of this year.


“Back in the hay day of Dean & McCabe, they were pumping out 200-250 new windmills a year so if you go for a drive around the area you will see a lot still out there and a lot of people are still wanting them serviced,” he said.


“The big initial push has been the spare parts that everyone would go through so that we can keep what is already out there still going.


“The biggest hold up on those (brand new windmills) is working through with the foundry.


“Foundries across the country have been closing so the foundries that are left are taking on their workload so they are just above and beyond their capacity so it has been a fairly big waiting time.


“The one that I found was in Ballarat and they are fairly confident now their moulding machines can mould my patterns.”


Mr Woodruff said the board and former employees of Dean & McCabe have been supportive of his venture.


“They have not wanted to see all their hard work of years gone by just disappear and just be another page in the history books.”

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