Port Pirie Grain Silos

This photograph, taken from the top of the bulk-loading gantry of the wharf, shows the last-minute preparations that are being made prior to the commencement of the “big pour” on Monday.

This week I’ve been trying to find out the history of the Port Pirie, South Australia grain silos.  I found the above newspaper cutting in with my Dad’s photos and it was Mum who identified where it was and what was happening.  Dad was a builders’ labourer, a brickie and also did concreting and other building work and he was part of building these silos.  From what I have been able to gather the main part of the work took place between 1957 and 1962.  I haven’t been able to find much online about it at all.  At first I thought this was rather unusual however then I thought it may be too recent to be considered “history” or it simply hasn’t been added to any South Australian industrial heritage websites yet.

“Country silos spread outwards along the railways from Ardrossan; the first local silo in the State was built at Paskeville and opened in January 1956. Bute followed a few months later. They took two forms: horizontal silos were built at Balaklava, Snowtown, Blyth, Hoyleton and Brinkworth, and vertical concrete elevators at Nantawarra, Redhill and Gulnare; the tall white cylinders were towering landmarks that could be seen from every farm in the Hundred and beyond. This first generation of silos all fed the Ardrossan terminal. With the construction of bulk handling terminals at Wallaroo in 1956 and Port Pirie in 1957, the way was open for silos throughout the region.”1

“Port Pirie1” by Fairv8 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Port_Pirie1.JPG#/media/File:Port_Pirie1.JPG

The town’s lead smelter certainly takes the spotlight as it is the world’s largest.  It also produces refined silver, zinc, copper and gold.2


  1. Steve

    Hi Kylie, I wondered when these silos were built, to date some Super 8mm film my Uncle Syd shot in Pirie, I thought it was about 1962 also as the film had Pirie’s main street featured in it and it looked early 60’s to me.. There’s a shot of the silos under construction at 41 secs in this trailer for the documentary I used this bit of film for https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oqYbevoG9qI

    Best wishes, Steve

  2. Richard Karlsson

    My Grandpa, Uncle and father constructed the formwork pictured. They were carpenters from Sweden. I’ve seen photos in my dads photo album taken when he was 16 or 17, I think it was mid 60’s. I’ve seen those silos when I was working on the ships. Interesting to see something my Swedish family helped build!

    • kira0030

      Hi Richard, thanks for commenting, it’s interesting to hear who worked on the project. Please feel free to copy the photo and screenshot the blog entry for your own records. Regards, Kylie

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