HONOURED GUEST: Rotary Club of Toowoomba South president Bill Mason shows Governor Penelope Wensley around the refurbished Butter Factory.
HONOURED GUEST: Rotary Club of Toowoomba South president Bill Mason shows Governor Penelope Wensley around the refurbished Butter Factory. Tom Threadingham

Butter factory gains centre stage as activity centre

THE preservation of the Grantham Butter Factory as a regional activity centre has been hailed by Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones as a major boost to the local community.

The centre was officially opened on Sunday by Queensland Governor Penelope Wensley for its new purpose and Cr Jones said it would not have been possible without Rotary.

With the help of a donation, the Rotary Club of Toowoomba South bought the Grantham Butter Factory property in May 2011. A Rotary flood appeal then raised more than $1.5 million with numerous other donors contributing towards the community project.

The club engaged builders, engineers and the Lockyer Valley Regional Council who combined to turn the rundown building into an activity centre for the region.

Cr Jones told the QT why the Grantham Butter Factory held such a special place in the hearts of Lockyer Valley residents.

"The building has a lot of historic value to our shire," Cr Jones said.

"In the 1950s, 1960s and early part of the 1970s dairying was a really big thing in the Lockyer Valley. Up until 1971 all the dairy product, in the form of cream, came to that factory and that is where they made the butter to send elsewhere. There are a lot of families in the Lockyer Valley who had a connection with it because that is where they supplied the cream.

"When it closed in 1971 it sat idle for 40 years and nothing happened, and then it got a little bit of use through the floods. A lot of us were concerned because in other areas where they have had dairy factories they were knocked down. We didn't want to see that happen."

Cr Jones said the Rotary project was "an ideal way to restore the building and put it to good use".

"I would like to thank everyone who helped make this possible, in particular Rotary.

"Not only did they set up a flood appeal and raise funds for the refurbishment, but the members have given so much of their own time to bring the project to life.

"The centre has a good commercial kitchen and will have historic displays about the dairy industry and later on probably some historic information about the floods. It will be used for seminars and conferences and a number of groups want to run craft and educational projects. It will fulfil the function of a country hall, but to a much better standard."

Following the opening, members of the community inspected the building, while celebrity chef Ben O'Donoghue cooked for guests.



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