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Ardrossan

The Hundred of Cunningham was proclaimed 18 June 1873 and the town of Ardrossan, near the northern end of St Vincent Gulf, on Yorke Peninsula, was proclaimed the following November. The name is derived from the Gaelic 'ard' a height, and 'ros' a prominent rock, alluding to the striking red cliffs that are a feature of the town, and was given by Governor Fergusson after a Scottish seaport.

The first families in the newly proclaimed town arrived on the ketch Fleetwing, crossing the Gulf while their furniture and stock came slowly overland around the head of the Gulf. Seven months later the residents petitioned for a jetty, and construction began in 1876. This was 420 feet (128 metres) but was extended in 1880 and again in 1883 to a final length of 433 metres. At the same time the jetty was widened to accommodate two sets of rails, and an approach to the jetty and goods shed was also constructed. Ardrossan was never connected to the state's rail network, and was serviced twice weekly by a steamer from Port Adelaide.

The Post Office was established in 1877 and the first church was built in 1878. Before this was completed the people gathered under a pepper tree on the property of George Webb or, if the weather was inclement, in Freeman's mill. That same year the Institute was built and the school. Otto Tepper was the first school master and discovered trilobite fossils from the Cambrian period in Ardrossan's cliffs.

A major boost to the town however, and one which turned it from a predominantly rural town to a manufacturing centre, was the invention and development by Richard Bowyer Smith of the stump jump plough between 1876 and 1880. He and his brother Clarence opened their foundry in 1880. Stump jump ploughs were exported interstate and the business expanded and diversified before it finally closed in the 1920s. At its peak it employed 70 men and produced 12-14 ploughs a week. A mural of the foundry is now a prominent feature in the town.

Grain exports rose from 52,254 bushels of wheat and 549 bushels of barley in 1880 to 243,840 bushels of wheat, 218,275 bushels of barley in 1950. Wheat and barley production have continued to grow.

In 1950 BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd) began mining a deposit of fine grade dolomite just south of Ardrossan, and applied to the South Australian government for the construction of a crushing plant, a jetty and conveyer belt facility at Ardrossan. Permission was granted subject to the conveyor and jetty being made available for the shipment of the wheat and barley from the region and salt from the nearby salt pans at Price. With agreement to this, work began on the grain silos and bulk handling facilities. The first shipment using these facilities was on 21 January 1953.

Ardrossan's bulk handling facilities were the first in South Australia and are now the third largest in the state. The jetty is 931 metres long with a 'T' head which provides berths 409 metres long. The grain elevator tower is 74 metres, the largest in the state, and the conveyor belt can load 2,400 tonnes of dolomite, 900 tonnes of grain or 750 tonnes of salt per hour. This new jetty was built several kilometres south of the old one, which continued to be used by fishermen and tourists. The Port of Ardrossan is operated by ABB Grain Ltd.  The BHP dolomite facilities and quarry are now operated by One Steel.

Ardrossan is administered by the District Council of Yorke Peninsula.

Further reading:

Sanders, ML. Ardrossan and Cunningham Ward Centenary Book, 1873-1973, Ardrossan, District Council of Yorke Peninsula, 1973?

Back to Ardrossan Easter Celebrations:  1873 to 1955.  Ardrossan, 1955

Ardrossan Grain Silos
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Ardrossan jetty
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Cliffs at Ardrossan
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Foundry, Ardrossan
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Grain ships at Ardrossan jetty
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RB Smith's 'Vixen' stump jump plough
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Working drawing of plough
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