The original factory was located very close to the site of today's building, and despite some early financial difficulties the business steadily grew. Adelaide Hills food was in strong demand, and the Nairne railway station made transport convenient.
It must have been far more cost effective than operating the factory in Adelaide. After George Chapman died in 1912 the factory was acquired by the Harrison family in 1923.
By 1926 Chapman's Bacon Factory employed 19 people and premises in Waymouth St Adelaide were used as the head office and distribution centre. Subsequently the head office moved to 63 Light Square in Adelaide.
There was a great deal of live-stock traffic to the Chapmans' Meat Works and from local farms, and we young boys used to earn a half-penny by driving sheep through the low roofed compartments of the double decked bogie sheep trucks. A ha'penny would buy a good sized lolly such as a 'Gob-stopper' then.
As children they earned 3 pence helping to drive cattle and pigs from the station to Chapman's factory. Sometimes, the animals were from remote parts of the state and were not used to people and towns, so it was often chaos in the main street. Residents soon learnt to anticipate the event and bolt their gates.
A large Shorthorn bull, when being driven along the main road from the station to Chapman's bacon factory, evidently decided to see the sights of the town on his last Journey. Every open gate was entered, and the drover experienced difficulty in driving the animal.
The school children were startled by pistol-like reports of a stockwhip just outside the school windows as the animal inspected the school yard. He then entered the next-door yard of Mr Hopkins and even poked his head into the kitchen door. The animal was evidently satisfied with what he saw, for no damage was done.
The flavor and nutritive value of Chapman's hams and bacons have been enhanced by the careful raising of pigs. Peas are used exclusively in feeding. This means that the quality, which is of most importance to the housewife, is all that can be desired, and the bacon does not sizzle.
During the twentieth century Chapman's had a dominant role in the town. The number of Nairne employees grew to 380, while a further 70 were employed elsewhere in SA and interstate. Around 30% of the employees were women, mainly performing lighter work in the slicing and packaging areas.
Depending upon what product was being produced, there were different methods for processing meat. Meat needing curing was passed through amulti-needle pumping machine, which saturates the meat with a brine pickling solution.
It was then left to mature in the curing cellar for four days. From there it was moved to the smoke houses, where the cuts are dried and smoked.
Of course sausages did not need curing - once the meat was boned and graded it was then minced and put through a Silent Cutter. The cutter converts the meat into a smallgoods mixture, to which is added the required spices and flavourings.
A friend of my parents and employee of Chapmans had his arm severed in a piece of machinery there. Chapmans kept Mr. Duffield on as an employee for the rest of his life and paid all his expenses That sort loyalty would be all too rare these days. Brendan McGuire