Post by kenny on Jul 7, 2021 21:15:29 GMT 10
Manufactured by Chesney Caravan Co,
621-629 Gympie Road, Chermside, and later
Hayward Street, Stafford, and
Gympie Road, Lawnton, Qld
Later (1970's) produced by Caravan Industries Pty Ltd, Lawnton.
Extract from the Chermside & Districts Historical Society's website here.
The following are notes provided by Neil Chesney. The website provides some wonderful historical photos, many from the Chesney family.
"After Alex Chesney was discharged from the air force prior to the end of the Second World War he started a motor garage at Abbotsford Road Mayne called Mayne Motors. Ron Rankin from Carapark Pty Ltd approached him to buy that premises and for Alex to take over and manage Carapark Qld Pty Ltd.
This he did for about 4 or 5 years and in 1950 he paid Grenville Plucknett 2,500 pounds ($5,000 or $95,000 in 2005 values) for his blacksmith and carriage building property which was the third block on Gympie Road from Rode Road. He cleared the site and using it as a sales yard he started Chesney Caravans Pty Ltd.
He began the business buying and selling used caravans and adding new caravans bought from backyard manufacturers.
Alex erected a new building on this block using iron left behind, such as old cart axles, for reinforcement in the concrete floor and traded there till about 1960...
As the business grew he bought Ron Harbottle's bicycle shop which adjoined his business on Gympie Road. It was a small building in which Ron, who was a well know competitive cyclist in the area, manufactured and sold Lancer bicycles.
Sometime later Daybell's store, which stood on the corner of Rode and Gympie Roads, was bought by Alex. It was possibly built in the 1920s and had a succession of owners including a family named Green and another named Lusk but little is known about them...
The final purchase was the lot of the milkman, Charlie O'Brien, which fronted on to Rode Road and went behind the other three blocks thus completing the square shape of the Chesney property.
The Chermside business was a sales and service centre employing eleven people. Mr Arthur Doherty had another caravan building business a few doors along Pilba Street where he sold Trailer Home caravans.
The motor car, hauling a caravan, had finally displaced the corner store...
In approximately 1960 Neil Chesney, son of Alex started a factory to produce their own caravans on Hayward St Stafford. The original building was 100ft by 50ft (30.5m x 15.3m) and was purchased for 5000 pounds ($108,500 in 2005 values); it was extended twice until it was 200 ft. by 50 ft. (61m x 15.3m). The first caravan took 6 weeks to complete and at the time of opening the factory on Gympie Road, Lawnton the Stafford factory was producing approximately 3 to 4 caravans per week with a maximum of 60 employees.
The Stafford factory produced domestic caravans as well as busses, horse floats and commercial caravans for the mining companies, Rothmans, Australian Army, American Oil drillers, and exported a complete accommodation camp to New Guinea. Whilst at Stafford the factory completed the largest single caravan order, then or now, for the construction workers at the Gladstone alumina refinery. This order consisted of 500 caravans some of which were 15 ft. and others 18 ft. long, delivered them to Gladstone and set them up in a new caravan park...
In about 1960 the first Caravan Dealers conference was held by Chesney Caravans at 29 Murray Street, Wilston, a well-known Brisbane function centre. The attendees were mostly Queensland dealers plus representatives of insurance companies and suppliers.
The aim of the conference was to release new models and to show the dealers the new factory at Hayward Street, Stafford...
The third move was to larger premises on Gympie Road, Lawnton where over 450 workers were employed producing up to 22 caravans a day (110 per week). There were another 100 employees around Australia at wholesale yards etc., while approximately 80 dealers in every state of Australia sold Chesney Caravans.
At Lawnton the firm produced commercial caravans as well as domestic caravans. At that time it was the largest producer of fibreglass products in Queensland and the largest employer in the Pine Rivers Shire. The largest caravan produced at Lawnton was 50 ft. long by 10 ft. wide (30.5m x 3m).
Chesney Caravans was the biggest selling caravan brand in Queensland and the 3rd largest in Australia...
In about 1972 the Lawnton factory and Chesney's of Chermside were sold to Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd which ran it for about 4 years before closing it down.
The Chermside property was sold to Mr. J. Jeffries. Other owners were Brisbane Camperland and later, Boot's Camping. The latter put the big Boot on the roof which they obtained from a footwear factory in West End when it closed down."
Note: Chesney brochures from the mid-70's state that Chesney caravans were produced by Caravan Industries Pty Ltd, which may have been a subsidiary of Concrete Industries (Monier) Ltd.
Information from Paul Greig posted on the Classic Caravans Forum on 27 August 2013 here:
Hi All, I worked for Chesney caravans in their Lawnton, Queensland, factory for five years up until their demise, they were forced to close up shop primarily because of the fuel crisis of the late [?]. Chesneys were thrown a lifeline following the 1974 cyclone in Darwin, 100's of 'specials' were produced to serve as temporary housing for evacuees located in Darwin and around Australia, sadly this was not enough to keep the company operating viably and they closed down late in 1977...
I initially spent time on the production line but was promoted to the Service and Repair department in 1975. Chesney caravans were pretty much well built but the later models suffered from that now common endemic issue of being produced from imported materials, ie, the wall sheeting, once top quality laminex, was fabricated from Asian sheet ply with a paper based wood grain finish that could be rubbed of very easy, the poor quality cupboard catches were another let down.
Chesney caravans produced around 1974-5 were extremely well made albeit a little heavy by today's standards. The Regal models with their fibre-glass front, back and roof resist water entry best of course. Even after almost 40 years one will still see Chesney caravans getting around and I believe they will do so for some time yet. The Chesney family had little involvement in the company in its latter days. It was purchased by Monier in, I think around 1973 or 4. Not long before closing down over a million dollars was spent on an automated production line, prior to that all the vans were manually pulled through the factory.
7th July 2021
I read the above today and drove home via cnr Gympie and Rode Rd, Chermside.
The "Boot" was removed some months ago
Today the building had been demolished and construction workers were on site.
Below is an aerial view of the Chermside site in 1972
More info and photos of Chermiside here www.chermsidedistrict.org.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=303