United States Motor Transport Fuel Depot
Alba wool scour
- Supply facility
Alba Siding, Hughenden-Winton Road, Hughenden 4821
During World War II the 2/2 Australian General Hospital was formed nearby at Watten siding on the same rail line, before being abandoned due to flooding in December 1942. Sometime between the years 1942 and 1945, the Alba wool scour was taken over by a unit or units of the United States (US)Army for use as a motor transport fuel and maintenance depot, staffed predominately by African-American troops. However, details of its wartime use remain sketchy.
By the 1890s wool scours were beginning replace manual methods of washing grease, dust and burrs from the fleece and by the early 1900s large steam-driven scours had come to dominate the wool industry. These were usually located in urban centres. However, in western Queensland mechanical scouring plants were erected at towns and rail sidings in the grazing areas of Charleville, Barcaldine, Ilfracombe, Blackall, Longreach, Winton, Julia Creek, Richmond, Maxwelton and Alba near Hughenden.
Alba woolscour was owned by Andrew McMaster, a brother of Fergus McMaster the founding chairman of the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service (Qantas). The McMaster brothers controlled a string of grazing properties in the Winton and Longreach district. When Qantas was formed at Winton on 16 November 1920, Andrew McMaster provided the fledgling airline with the use of the wool store at Alba scour as the company’s first aircraft maintenance hangar.
The wool scour was a large two-storey building of corrugated iron and timber, located at Alba siding on the Hughenden-Winton rail line. The ground floor contained the scouring plant while the upper floor housed the wool room which also served as a community centre for dances during the 1920s and 1930s. A tall brick chimney and steam boilers stood alongside the wool scour. Other buildings included the wool store, and the barracks and kitchen.
After the war the building was still standing in 1947, but is thought to have been dismantled soon after this period. Today only the concrete footings of the scouring plant remain, together with rusted fuel drums and US manufactured kerosene tins.
Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, 1986.
Alba siding interpretive sign, 1995.