Old Soap Factory Site Not Washed Up Just Yet

The Queensland Telegraph - June 22 2013

Old Soap Factory Site Not Washed Up Just Yet

ONE of Rockhampton’s oldest industrial sites is to be redeveloped as luxury units.

The Kele Property Group has already demolished the historic Boldeman soap factory in Upper Dawson Road and has plans for a $4.5 million redevelopment of the site. Work is expected to start early next year.

Boldeman Soaps was one of the city’s longest running manufacturing businesses. It started soap making there in 1867 and continued to make household soap on site for more than 100 years.

By the 1920s the factory was a major employer in the city, producing 60 per cent of Central Queensland’s soap supplies and its unique 2lb bars were claimed to be of superior quality to southern brands.

But demand was waning by the 1970s and the company switched from household soap to a range of laundry powders, liquid detergents and disinfectants. Although regular manufacturing ceased in 2005, some low level production of disinfectant continued until 2010.

John Kele, the former managing director of Kele Brothers which owned the site for 25 years, said while he was very sad to see a part of Rockhampton’s industrial history wiped out, the buildings had deteriorated to such an extent there was no alternative to demolition.

"It’s a great site," he said, "right at the base of the range and surrounded by houses so it’s not suited to industrial development.

"We had considered building a childcare centre or subdividing it for housing, but after taking advice from real estate experts we think units are the best option."

The company will build 12 two and three bedroom units aimed at the top of the market and will sell them through Pat O’Driscoll Real Estate.

"Our decision to build units was brought on by the rapid deterioration of the buildings on the site. The old factory and sheds were beyond repair and not only were deemed an "eye sore" for the local residents but also posed safety concerns due to their state," said Mr Kele.

"This is a great site, it’s on the Range, handy to Allenstown Square, Mater Hospital, Botanical Gardens and the Rockhampton Golf Club."

He said expected the units to be in demand locally from people looking to downsize from some of the larger family homes on The Range.

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