Arnott’s Biscuits Homebush

William Arnott 1926
William Arnott Ltd Letterhead 1926

The Arnotts Biscuit Factory operated at Homebush from 1908 to 1997, when it was relocated to Huntingwood.  However, the administrative offices of Arnotts are still located in Homebush.

Arnott’s Biscuits were originally established in Newcastle. The first Sydney factory was opened at Forest Lodge in 1894. In 1905, the Arnott family wanting to expand, decided that a larger factory was required. Requiring access to the railway for transportation, the Arnott’s purchased a six and half acre site at Homebush in 1906. The factory was designed by architect Charles Slatyer and built in 1907 at a cost of £10,400.

The purchase was known as ‘Arnott’s Folly’ as the site was considered too far from the City to attract workers. However, the Homebush factory which opened in 1908 was eventually the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and exported biscuits from Homebush to the rest of the world.

The Homebush factory had little difficulty in finding workers in the district and it has been commented that there were few families in Homebush who didn’t work for Arnott’s. The Arnott’s were regarded as good employers. During the economic Depression of the 1930s, Arnotts reduced the operational hours of the factory rather than dismissing their workers, which was the usual practice. Many members of the Arnott family lived in Strathfield, including the founder William Arnott.

“Arnotts rail bridge”, Parramatta Road Homebush

The original Homebush factory expanded with increased production, requiring a new building on the western side of George St. The two factories were connected by an overhead walkway, which is shown in the aerial photograph below. By 1933 the number of employees peaked at 2,500 and annual production exceeded 10,250 tons.

Deliveries were originally made by horse and buggy, but these made way for the famous red delivery vans in the late 1920s.

The Homebush factory covered three floors. The bottom level had an ingredients preparations section and processing department where icing, chocolate coating and cream filling were made. The middle level had a mixing room, Bakehouse and wafer and packaging department. The top floor had packaging facilities, office areas and workshops.

Arnott’s Biscuits were originally delivered in tins. Tins were returned and recycled. However, biscuit tins which were damaged or broken were crushed. Many were buried under the car park and Arnott’s Bowling Green (which is now part of the Powell’s Creek Corridor).

Some tins were melted and used for land reclamation in nearby Mason Park. Albert Mason was the Mayor of Homebush and Chief electrician of Arnott’s Biscuits. The park is named after him.

The Arnott’s factory was relocated to Huntingwood in 1997 and the Homebush factory was closed. The former factory has been readapted into the Bakehouse Quarter. This site provides many references to its Arnott’s history ranging from the SAO sign to small Arnott’s Parrot emblems woven into building facades. George St has been recast with a cobblestone road and Edwardian style-lighting harking back to the days in the early twentieth century when the Arnott factory was first built.

Written by Cathy Jones 2006.

Attachment

Arnotts End of Era at Homebush 1997 (article from Inner West Courier)

39 comments on “Arnott’s Biscuits Homebush

  1. GAIL TURNER

    As a young girl I used to visit friends in George Street, Homebush and walked past the Arnotts factory and smelling all those wonderful smells.
    I belong to a group called Friends over Fifty and we organise a quarterly programme for the group, such as tours, walks etc. Does your company organise tours of Arnotts Factory? If so, would you kindly advise me of day, times and costs for our consideration to place in the next programme. Many Thanks Gail Turner

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  2. GAIL TURNER

    As a young girl I used to visit friends in George Street, Homebush and walked past the Arnotts factory and smelling all those wonderful smells.
    I belong to a group called Friends over Fifty and we organise a quarterly programme for the group, such as tours, walks etc. Does your company organise tours of Arnotts Factory? If so, would you kindly advise me of day, times and costs for our consideration to place in the next programme. Many Thanks Gail Turner

    Like

    • Gail

      We don’t organise tours of Arnott’s Factory as the factory has been redeveloped into a shopping/restaurant/office district called the Bakehouse Quarter, which anyone can visit.

      Cathy

      Like

  3. My father in law was in the paper as a little 2 yr old as an advertisement for Arnotts years ago. The newspaper advert in the paper has been mislaid. Wld Arnotts still have any of these details so we can get a copy. His name was Harry Kiely. He lived around Forrest Lodge when Arnotts where open there and selected for the advert.Pls reply if we can get any information.

    Like

  4. Margaret McDowell

    Could you put me in touch with someone who could identify and old Arnotts biscuit tin I have.

    Like

    • Hi there. I collect Arnotts tins and might be able to help you to ID if you still have the tin. Cheers.

      Like

  5. gregory b-jones

    Dear managment of Arnotts biscuits please do something about bringing back the good old days of honey snap biscuits,as a young lad many years ago the times spent with family with a plate of honey snaps.i believe that there is a lot of aussies that feel the same way please do consider this request.or tell me were i can get the original arnotts recipe from.there is no substitute for a arnotts biscuit.

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    • Yes we want Honey Snaps’s back.

      Great idea or sell us the recipie

      John Peoples

      Like

  6. Hi,

    could you tell me what technolgy was used when the company first opened and how is it
    different from the technogy used today, and how does arnotts biscuits cater for australians today?

    Like

  7. Meg and Mads

    Hello,
    I just wanted to enquire about the modern Arnott’s Factory. Can one visit it? We are curious to find out about the different technologies used in the factory in order to compare them to how they were previously. We are also interested in finding about about the production methods.
    Thanks : )

    Like

  8. My nane is Frances Quayle( Maid names Stockton) I used to at Arnott’s from 1975 till 1981 Is there any one who work there it be great to here from you

    Thank you

    Frances

    Like

  9. Doug Dundas

    I served my apprenticeship as a plumber at Arnotts in the sixties. Just wondering if any other apprentices are still out there.

    Like

  10. Narelle Dark

    My father was the foreman plumber at Arnotts and worked there for 34 years. I have inherited an Arnotts mirror which he had framed when he retired in 1981. I am interested to find out how many mirrors were produced and if Arnotts themselves are interested in buying

    Like

    • Peter Gentz

      I am keen to buy your Arnotts mirror, as I collect Arnotts items. My name is Pete and number is 0400761801

      Like

  11. Leanne Brown

    I am currently compiling our family history and my mother (Patricia Dyason) said she worked at Arnotts Biscuits in Homebush as a young girl before she got married. It would have been about 1943-1945 after she left school. She said it was her favourite place to work. She had a lot of friends there and Arnotts was good work for. She also said she loved those pink VOVO biscuits!

    Like

  12. john ross

    my name is john from uk i worked at Arnotts in the 1980s,,a mixer loved it there ,and made good freinds there,,i now live in uk again !!

    Like

  13. Lyn Nunn

    My father told me that during the Depression men would sit outside the factory waiting to be given broken biscuits. While waiting they used to draw on the footpath with chalk and he said many were quite accomplished artists.

    Like

  14. I’m STILL waiting for Honey Snaps to be reintroduced! Pleeeease Arnotts!!

    Like

  15. Honey snaps are sorely missed ….!

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  16. Sharon

    I miss Honey Snaps. It was one of the best memories i have about going over to Grandmas place. She use to have packets waiting for us.

    Like

  17. Sharon smith

    Hi
    As Arnotts are not bringing Honey Snap biscuits back is it possible to get the recipe
    Thanks
    Sharon

    Like

    • You would have to contact Arnott’s directly. If they aren’t making the biscuit, maybe they should reveal the receipe for all the Honey Snap devotees out there!

      Like

  18. anthony

    hi is there a arnotts biscuit truck still in Australia for viewing,im rebuilding one 1925 model old crank start,

    Like

    • I don’t know. Maybe contact Arnott’s directly whether they have maintained one of the old trucks for viewing or promotion.

      Cathy

      Like

  19. Thanks cathy

    Like

  20. Robyn shean

    Does anyone know what happened to the clock that was on the factory building at Homebush. ?

    Like

  21. Jackie

    I was wondering if anyone knows about an arnotts tin of assorted ice wafers looks very old. Thanks in advance

    Like

  22. Grayeme

    I find it very depressing nowadays to stand in front of the Arnott’s Biscuit selection in the supermarket. Particularly the plain biscuit selection…it is so sad….no more than dozen varieties and swear half of those are made from the same mixture. As a kid in the 1940/50’s we had such a great variety of great biscuits. I loved Butter Oatcakes and Golden Rough and there was a round one like the sun that I can’t remember the name of and plenty more that have gone. Even the old Teacake seems to have disappeared now. Seems the only one’s that have survived are the one’s I don’t like. As a kid Mum would send me to the corner shop to get 2 shillings worth of “plain ordinary sweet mixed biscuits” ha ha….I will never forget that. The shopkeeper would go along opening about 10 Arnott’s biscuit tins and put a few of each in the bag. A large brown paper bag full……but never SAO’s…..you would always buy them separate…1 shilling would buy the same bag full of SAO,s.
    Of all the things that you could go back for a visit …I think I would choose to go to one more “playlunch” time with a bag of the “old time” Arnott’s Biscuits.
    Such a shame to think that all those wonderful biscuit recipes developed by the real Arnott’s are locked away somewhere by modern day greed. If they don’t want to use them they should sell the recipe’s to someone who will produce them once again and make a lot of older people very happy. Of course nowadays they would have to call them “Gourmet Biscuits”..!!!!….but to me they will always be “Arnott’s plain ordinary sweet mixed biscuits.

    Like

  23. Kylie Maher

    Please bring back the honey snaps there is nothing better than enjoying them with a cup of tea. My grandmother and I always did this and I would like to do it with my daughter too!

    Like

  24. Bev Paton

    My grandmother’s maiden name was Greenland and she grew up in Waratah, a suburb of Newcastle, in the late 1800s. Her brother, Harry Greenland, worked as an accountant for Arnotts in Newcastle and then in Homebush.

    My mother, who is in her mid 90’s, would love to hear any news about her uncle or that long lost branch of her family.

    Like

    • Helen Woodward

      Hello Bev, I’m researching GREENLAND (& my GLEN) family history to pass on to Cam Greenland. I have quite a lot to share and would appreciate contact from you so as we can share. Please either email me on ocean0446@gmail.com or tele. 9948 3176 (Manly NSW). Look forward to hearing from you
      Helen Woodward (nee Glen)
      Manly NSW

      Like

    • Helen Woodward

      Hi Bev, I’ve been researching Harry Greenland for my cousin Campbell Greenland. Please send me an email at ocean0446@gmail.com and we can share.
      Regards
      Helen Woodward (nee Glen)
      Manly NSW

      Like

      • Bev Paton

        Hi Helen, I received your message earlier in the week, thank you. Perhaps we can have a chat after the first week of January as we are in the Christmas invasion, lasting until 5/01/16. Best wishes to you and your family for Christmas and I look forward to talking in January. My mother also sends her best wishes to all Greenland descendants. Bev Paton

        >

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  25. Paul Morante

    Hi Grayeme,

    I believe the plain biscuit you described as “round one like the sun” was called Harvest Home and had stems of wheat radiating like sun-rays.

    Sadly our change in eating habits would not give Arnotts the justification to bring back all or some of the old favourites. It would be of interest if Arnotts were to produce a full list of their discontinued lines with some archived detail about each.

    Like

  26. john forbes

    I worked at arnotts in the mid sixties as a truck offsider [ wagon boy ] loved the place, it was tough even the girls could fight pretty wel

    Like

  27. David Moore

    I know its a long shot but I am looking for records of some employees of the Arnott’s factory in early 1926. The names I am after are the surname Cuneo and Anne Millard. I think Anne was employed as a packer. Does anyone know if there are records of the employee’s anywhere and if there is where I might find them.

    David Moore

    Like

  28. WHY HAVE THEY NEVER BOUGHT BACK THE LARGE TIN OF assorted biscuits from THE MID SIXTIES. They had a dome bicky with hundreds and 1000snds and iced bickies my favorite they were extremely popular. Can anybody name the other bickies in the tin.

    Like

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