This brick structure was at one stage the tallest building in Melbourne.
(The next port of call on this trip, in case you hadn’t worked it out..)
It’s a shot tower, which in the distant past – 1880s until the 1960s – was the hi-tech method for manufacturing lead shot for use in shotgun cartridges.
Now, it’s slap-bang in the middle of a retail complex with a small museum telling folk how it all works.
Not that I learned anything new, of course.
There won’t be many folk around who used to work in one.
But I did.
At the Colonial Ammunition Company in Auckland.
Between leaving school in September 1966 and starting an illustrious career in the RNZAF in January 1967, I earned some serious folding stuff by spending most of my working day loading lead ingots and scrap lead into the lift, riding up 30 metres, stacking it and feeding a cauldron of molten lead which fed into a perforated cast-iron pan (aka the pouring card) and fell in globules through the 30 metres, shock-cooling in a water bath to perfect spheres.
Not a lot of conversation up there, apart from Happy Cash calling “Whack the pan, Slim boy” occasionally when the quality started slipping.
And “slim” I was.
Started off in the low 70kg range and dropped a good 5kg in the first couple of weeks.
Well, so would you if you were wearing a balaclava, googles, scarf, overalls, leather gloves and heavy boots in a tin shed standing next to a vat of lead at around 350 degrees C.
Lead can get quite unfriendly when it spits…
Then the muscle tissue started building up (5 tons of lead a day triple-handled will do that..) and I was back to the low 70s in no time.
Where I’ve stayed ever since.
Give or take a couple of kg…..