Historic McGrath Service Centre to be demolished

A MONUMENTAL part of Liverpool's history is to be demolished.

The historic McGrath Service Centre Building on Shepherd Street has been part of the development of local industry in Liverpool since 1850.

An unused industrial warehouse stands on the heritage site, which backs onto the Georges River.

Last month the Joint Regional Planning Panel approved its demolition for a $24 million development, of 102 units.

The site was the base for Australia's first paper mill, dating back as far as 1856.

In 1875 the land was sold and renamed the Liverpool Paper Mill. This stayed in operation until the early 20th century.

In 1909 Challenge Woollen Mills was opened at the site, manufacturing blankets, flannel and woven cloth.

The woollen mill was the largest local employer in the Liverpool district up until it was closed in 1975.

Judy Pack from the Liverpool Historical Society said nearly all the residents of Liverpool had at one stage or another worked at the mill.

"Back in those days it wasn't like today; if you wanted to work, you had to work locally: it wasn't as easy to travel around," she said.

"The Challenge Woollen Mills used only locally sourced labour. We have photographs that show the hundreds of men and women that were employed there over the years.

"If you weren't at home looking after the children you were working in the mill."

Mrs Pack said a spur railway line travelled through the property and its remnants were buried beneath the site.

"The spur railway line comes off the main Liverpool line. It was used to transfer paper during the [19th century] and wool in the [20th century], off the site for sale and distribution," she said.

"That line is just one part of the history of that site.

"On a historical, heritage site like that one, you can't even imagine how many things you will find buried.

"It's sad that more isn't being done to preserve the site and its historical significance — they were tremendous places."

Mrs Pack said the developer will use some of the arch walls as residential entry points.

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