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Last Updated on June 8, 2021

Frank Dawson’s Rainbow Manufacturing Company, the Butter Factory, and the 32VDC Power House.

Is this an investigative report, or a fishing expedition?

Not a great deal is known about Frank Dawson and his involvement in the early history of Rainbow. In fact, I had trouble initially determining where his main Manufacturing Company was. It was reported as being in Federal Street, when it was actually in Railway Street. I believe I have discovered why this was incorrectly reported. His commercial buildings started at Station Street, and finished in what is now Butter Factory Lane. He also owned the Rainbow Coffee Palace, right on the corner of Railway and Federal Street.

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Marc Dawson is also looking for any further info or photographs on his ancestors in Rainbow, however not even Diane Wall at the Rainbow Archives has anything she can assist him with.

Click on any image to see a bigger size. Right click on a PC, or hold the image on a phone, and you will presented with a new menu that will allow you to make further use of the image, such as grabbing a copy.

Image 1

The Rainbow Manufacturing Co. premises in Railway Street.

There are four spires. Three are in a group making a triangle and another is further up Railway Street above the main entry to the store.

This is the location of Ron Ismay's business today.

Image 2

As above, but with the sales tag removed so this image can be used as a feature image on this post.

Image 3

At the top middle of this photo you will see the Rainbow Manufacturing Co. premises in Railway Street. See the sign "Machinery Timber & Iron Yards".  There are four spires. Three are in a group making a triangle and another is further up Railway Street above the main entry to the store. This is the location of Ron Ismay's business today.

Image 4

Another flashing glimpse of the "RMC" viewed from the Railway Yards.

Spire is an architectural element to make the building look more appealing, and usually be used to increase the height of buildings, and can also function as a lightning rod, though it's not the main purpose.

Rainbow of  TO-DAY Page 35 

The Rainbow Manufacturing and Supply Coy.

One of the most flourishing and progressive general stores in the Wimmera is that of the Rainbow Manufacturing and Supply Co., Rainbow.

Six years ago. business was conducted in two small shops adjacent to the present spacious and commanding building, which is at once noticed by the observant critic on his entry to Rainbow, and is the forerunner of many other modern buildings in the main street. 

The business under review is a general store in the full meaning of the word, and the stock, which is a well selected and high-class quality one, comprises drapery, fancy goods, ironmongery, enamelware, crockery ware, and, in fact, all requisites for the home and the farm. 

A specialty is made of the furniture trade, and the showrooms upstairs carry many hundreds of pounds' worth of sound, solid furniture, also linoleum's, carpets, etc. 

The company manufacture a great deal of furniture on the premises, and are willing to give their business guarantee as to the quality of the material, workmanship, and exceeding durability of all articles manufactured by them. The timber yards are comprehensive ones, and large stocks of soft and hard woods of every kind are on-hand, and can be obtained at city prices, 

The Rainbow Manufacturing Co, have an extensive implement factory, and right throughout the latest machinery, comprising blowers, drills, emery wheels, band-saw circular saws, planing and boring machines, and iron cutting machines have been installed, and are kept fully employed with machinery repairing work of all kinds, and manufacture the various iron, steel Parts, etc., required in wagons, buggies and gigs turned out by the firm, whose business in this department is gradually extending, 

All vehicles are made from carefully selected material, and all wood is thoroughly dried before being used. The motive power is derived from a gasoline engine of considerable horse power. 

The Rainbow Manufacturing and Supply Co, are successful agents for the International Harvester Co.'s harvesters, ploughs, gasoline engines, binders, drills, rakes, harrows, etc. 

Mr. F. Dawson is proprietor of the business, and in the general excellent manner the business is conducted is ably assisted by his right-hand man, Mr. C. Roberts. A flour mill is about to be erected on the premises, for which purpose a suction gas engine has been ordered, and portion of the timber for the building is already on the ground.



SECOND-HAND MACHINES BOUGHT AND SOLD.
AGENTS FOR BEALE'S PIANOS.
THE UNIVERSAL PROVIDERS FOR ALL FARMERS'
REQUISITES.

The Rainbow Manufacturing & Supply Coy., Rainbow.

Quoted from the box above:

"Six years ago. business was conducted in two small shops adjacent to the present spacious and commanding building, which is at once noticed by the observant critic on his entry to Rainbow, and is the forerunner of many other modern buildings in the main street".

Don.
I believe the text in bold above has been misinterpreted by many readers to indicate that the main Rainbow Manufacturing Company was in Federal Street. What was on the corner in 1910 was the Rainbow Coffee Palace, which can be seen in many 1910 photos. In fact, it was there in 1901. Read on...


The Rainbow Coffee Palace

22-Feb-1901 The Horsham Times.
A Sure Fortune. Turn the coffee palace into a hotel, right opposite the railway station. Advertised by F. Dawson.
Now where would that be?

Click on any image to see a bigger size. Right click on a PC, or hold the image on a phone, and you will presented with a new menu that will allow you to make further use of the image, such as grabbing a copy.

Rainbow Jan 1926, The Coffee Palace.

It was Ryan's, later Dawson's Coffee Palace, and Mrs Keyte's boarding house, then it becomes the Railway Coffee Palace in 1926. I am betting it was built for accommodation initially because of its close proximity to the Station, and they sold coffee and other goods from there. A one stop shop for railway travellers.

Was opened in 1901 as Dawsons, and still going in Jan 1926.


The passing of Mrs Dawson's mother in 1917.


A Very Old Business  Envelope.


The Butter Factory and the 32VDC Power Plant.

Frank Dawson's commercial interests stretched from Railway Street all the way back to Butter Factory Lane.

The Butter Factory

Unfortunately what I know about the butter factory is that is was situated in Butter Factory Lane and operated by Frank Dawson and family for many years, is very scarce. Here are a few comments from the Rainbow group on the subject that I am sure will give a much better view than anything I can come up with:

Dianne Bett:
It was like Bourke street on a Friday, farmers wives dropping off their cream etc at the Butter factory.

Kate Hickey:
I remember going with mum to drop off milk there. Wasn't there a beautiful old pepper-tree along the lane near the factory?

Jan Edelsten:
Mum and Dad used to do the shopping with the proceeds on the produce they supplied to the butter factory. Selling cream that was collected and stored in the cellar, eggs which we collected , cleaned and placed in big square egg trays, also wool and pelts. A good payment which supplemented farming. Had to feed us kids somehow!!!!

The 32VDC Power Plant.

Ross Altmann:
Dawson's electricity supply to the town next to the butter factory.The thumping engines, they turned off about 11pm and restarted 6am. Pom Keeling was the mechanic in charge. Are there any pics of this ?

Unfortunately I have yet to see a single photo of the Butter Factory or the Power Plant. What we have left are just the memories from the older residents that still remember. Many of these are in the "Rainbow The Famous" Facebook threads.

PUBLIC SERVICES NOTICES
The State Electricity Commission took over the power supply to Rainbow on 29th November, 1962. Dawson's had supplied Rainbow with electrical power for 52 years.


The 1960s story of the Rainbow Electricians.

This seems like a good spot to slot in this little story before it gets lost.

The State Electricity Commission (SEC) was coming to town. A new power supply system was being installed right across Australia. Rainbow was in line to get the new 240VAC 50Hz which has so many advantages over the old DC system.

Edison Verses Tesla. The current wars. I knew the theory and the history very well. As I was part of the local history, I guess I should be qualified to tell this local tale.

The 1960s story of the sparkies when the SEC (State Electricity Commission) 240VAC electricity supply came to Rainbow.

Gordon Hallett was the sole Rainbow resident electrician when the SEC was about to be installed around town. There was massive amounts of work that had to be done. Basically every house, business, and farming property needed the new electricity supply installed to bring them into a new era. It would be called a viral development today.

Don Hope moved into Yurunga and set up shop there. He imported Brian Woodhall and Geoff Chapple, two A grade electricians, that he had working for him.

At the time, I was working for Dad and Uncle Colin McKenzie, and one of my many jobs was constructing TV antennas, and electricity poles for farming properties. These were for overhead cable runs to machinery and shearing sheds, etc. The electricity poles were manufactured from galvanized plumbers pipe, in a tripod shape. Rocker (Frank) Owen taught me welding when I worked for Uncle Joe McKenzie, the first time around.

Don Hope figured if he employed me directly, he would cut out the middle men, and make these poles cheaper. He knew I had a Radio and Electronics background with the PMG (now Telstra) and I would be able to assist in house and farm electrical wiring.

My dilemma was working for Dad and Colin, and being offered more money by Don Hope. I was just married. Dad told me to grab the money, it was a better life choice for my new family.


After a few months, Brian and Geoff decided to branch out on their own, and wanted me to join them. We became McKenzie, Woodhall and Chapple.


After a few years Geoff wanted out, as he had other interests, so we became McKenzie and Woodhall.

Eventually work was starting to run out for us. We were already chasing work as far as Netherby and Nhill, and driving backwards and forwards on a daily basis.

Uncle Joe wanted to get into domestic white goods sales, and he needed a qualified electrician to install stoves, hot water services etc, so he made us an offer for the business. The plan was he would buy us out, and employ both of us, but needed Brian to guarantee that he would work for him for 2 years I think it was. So we moved into Joe's camp. (again) 🙂

The drought of 1967 came along, and as my income was dramatically decreased, I decided to move back to Melbourne and seek further life adventures.

Don Hope, Brian, and Geoff, also moved on, and eventually it was left to Gordon Hallett, once again being the sole electrician of Rainbow.

Sadly, some years Later Gordon was killed in a car accident on the Rainbow Jeparit road.

PUBLIC SERVICES NOTICES:
The State Electricity Commission took over the power supply to Rainbow on 29th November, 1962. Dawson's had supplied Rainbow with electrical power for 52 years.

Another date to NOTE:
Sewerage works started at Rainbow in May 1974. The Dimboola Shire Council bought two shops owned by J. Wishart, and the sewerage Authority moved into the office in February 1978.

Last Updated on June 8, 2021

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