Wheatbins and Railways

The following collection of photos show the changing methods of wheat storage and handling at the Beacon Wheatbin from the very early days of bags through the various stages of bulk handling.  Temporary bins known as “pig pens” were used when harvest deliveries exceeded available storage space in the main bin.

c1930’s. A wagon being unloaded at the W.A.Farmers wheat stack in Beacon. Mr Herc Potts is the larger man who has driven his horse drawn wagon loaded with bags of wheat from his property south of Beacon.  Men employed as “lumpers” are helping him to unload. Les Blight is on the wagon and Bill Lawler is on the stack.

Photo courtesy Blight collection.

c1940. A full open bulk head of wheat at Beacon prepared ready for covering at the completion of harvest. Empty train carriages wait to be loaded to transport the grain to the port of Fremantle for export.

Photo courtesy Taylor collection.

A complete view of the “pig pen” and the elevators used to load the wheat in bulk rather than bag stacks as previously shown. A railway cottage can be seen obscured by bush at the front of the bin. The photo would have been taken from what is now known as Broadbent street.

A view looking towards the east showing the bin with early preparations for covering for protection from rain and birds.

c1950’s View of Beacon’s wheat storage bin from the corner of Hamilton and Lindsay Streets looking towards the north east. Foreground shows the stock watering trough serviced by the stand pipe. Water was piped in from the Beacon Rock water catchment north of the town. In the background of the photo to the right stand the huts used by railway workers at this period in time.

Photo courtesy Dave Allen, Head master at Beacon school in the 1950’s.

c1950’s View taken from the high water tank showing the unloading of a bulk truck of wheat into the “pig pen”. The building in the background is the main bin.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection

c1950’s This was a time of change from bagged wheat to bulk. Depicted in this photo are both methods of delivery.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection

c1950’s The side tipping bulk bin on the truck was the only one of its kind in the Beacon district at this time.

Photo courtesy Faulkner collection

c1960’s A good harvest means a busy bin. Trucks line up to wait their turn to unload. Time for a yarn and a catch up for the drivers. Bulk bins have become a necessity to save time and deliver larger loads.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection

c1960’s The fuel companies saw an opportunity now that larger areas of wheat were being grown and more land opening up for agriculture to the north of Beacon. Two companies set up depots. This photo was taken from the high water tank looking towards the west. The small cream coloured half circular object near the main bin is what was known as “the beetle” and was part of the equipment supplied for use as either accommodation or storage for the staff.  It is also interesting to note the method of roofing once employed on the “pig pen” where they pushed tin in along the edge of the top and then were able to roof the remainder, allowing water to run off.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection.

c1960’s View of bin filled with wheat while the trucks continue to roll in with their loads.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection

Early 1960’s aerial view of Beacon taken from the south. The school is in the foreground. The main wheat bin is the largest building almost central in the photo. The surrounding paddocks of green are where the wheat and other crops such as oats and barley are grown.

Photo courtesy Sally Shipway.

Early 1960’s aerial view of Beacon taken from the north. The main wheat bin is front and left and on the right hand side of the bin can be seen a set of sheep yards where farmers could yard their sheep ready to load on a train to send to market. The road heading straight south went to Calderwood’s property. In the late 1970’s a new sporting complex was built across that road requiring a deviation for the Calderwoods.

Beacon wheatbin 1960's by Betty Clayton-Smith

Notice in the background there is a truck coming in like a bat out of hell with dust rolling up behind it. This is coming from the direction of  where the new bin stands now, before the road was bitumen and before there were straight north-south roads and east-west streets. The track came in from the north-east and made a direct line to the bin.

Photo courtesy of Clayton-Smith collection

This photo, like the one above, was taken from the top of the fuel tanks mentioned earlier. This is a view looking north west showing the increasing need for extra pens to be built to accommodate the wheat deliveries. The little railway cottage in the centre of the picture is somewhat dwarfed by the surroundings.

Photo courtesy Clayton Smith collection.

This photo and the one below, of the fuel depots, were taken by a visitor to town in the 1960’s. They are wonderful records of the boom conditions that prevailed at the time with new land opening to the north of Beacon. Ampol and Caltex fuel companies built the large tanks while B.P. operated from the tin shed in the photographs.

Photos courtesy Job collection taken by Mervyn Prime

Another Mervyn Prime photo taken looking towards the north-west and showing the lone cottage with the wheat infrastructure surrounding it.

Crossing the line and looking back to the south west Mervyn captured the railway huts on the left, the pig pen and main wheat bin and various huts and humpies probably used for staff accommodation and storage.

c1969. The new wheat bin under construction in the back ground. Beacon Football team in yellow jumpers play Towns in the blue. The ground was hard dirt and a lot of skin was removed during the game. Number 20 for Beacon on the left was John Dunne and number 7 was Arthur Mather.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection.

Trucks lined up at sample hut, Beacon wheat bin 1995

1995 morning line up of the trucks at the new receival bin. Farmers would often bring their trucks in at the end of the day once their field bins and trucks were full in the paddocks. The trucks would be “in line” all night waiting for the bin to open in the morning to unload.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection.

1998. Once the trucks passed through the sampling and weighing process they lined up ready to unload. In this case, once again the main bin would have been full and this temporary ‘pig pen’ erected to take the overflow of what seems to have been a very successful harvest.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection.

This is the elevator used to unload the trucks and push great quantities of wheat up and onto the stack. Lyndon Redfern is attending to the elevator.

Photo courtesy Dunne collection.