Shot down in flames

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…..

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2 Responses to Shot down in flames

  1. I like the structure around it.

  2. Kate Mura says:

    Well, Slim Boy, you certainly learned a thing or two as you began your many and varied careers.

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