Have you found Millards Creek Weir, Ulladulla?
Have you seen a piece of Ulladulla’s history, existing since 1861, near a busy road, but only noticed by a few pedestrians? It is the weir over Millards Creek, 20 metres off St Vincent Street, looking west.
It was built by Richard Millard to supply water to his family’s tannery, which was built in 1854 on the north side of the creek, across Church Street from his home and store, the present Nirvana Real Estate building and formerly Millards Cottage, built in 1862.
Up until that time, the water supply to the tannery was obtained from a series of pits along Church Street. The tannery used wattle bark to tan the hides from the local farms, after which they were sent to Sydney by ship right up until the late 1930s, when the tannery ceased operating. Local wattle bark was still sent away to the Sydney tanneries as late as the 1980s.
The extensive tannery buildings were burnt down in the huge bushfires of 1939.
Richard Millard, founder of the present-day Millard family of Ulladulla died in 1873. In 1898 his heirs sold the business to EM Farleigh of Mascot, who installed leather-making expert Louis de Hoedel at the Ulladulla works,
His development of improved ways of tanning resulted in EM Farleigh securing defence contracts for special leathers and waterproof soles for army boots during World War 1.
One of the Farleigh daughters, Annie, and her husband Albert Howard, came to Ulladulla in 1900 to manage the store. In 1985 their son Alan wrote ‘Ulladulla before and as I knew it“, a fascinating account of his childhood in the tiny village that Ulladulla was then. His detailed account of the tannery and how it worked, the stories of the men who worked there and his amazingly clear memories of his school days in Ulladulla are well worth reading. (There is a copy in the Ulladulla Library).