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The colossal Queensland cheese (1923)

By Myles Sinnamon, Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland | 5 June 2015

Pittsworth cheese display in the Australian Pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition 1924. Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 63272

In October 1923, the Pittsworth Dairy Company proudly announced their triumph in making a colossal cheese to be displayed at the British Empire Exhibition in Wembley, Middlesex, England. The cheese was purported to be the largest ever made in the Commonwealth. The Pittsworth Sentinel newspaper proudly proclaimed that the gigantic cheese weighed over 1.5 tons, stood 2 feet 6 inch tall (76.2 cm) and measured 5 feet 6 inches (167.6 cm) in diameter. The wholesale value was estimated at approaching £200 pounds (over $14,000 today). To produce the cheese 3,445 gallons of milk was used, an entire day’s supply at the Pittsworth factory.

Aerial view of the British Empire Exhibition, 1924

The logistics in transporting the huge cheese from Pittsworth to England should not be underestimated.   The precious cargo was carefully loaded onto a wagon drawn by tractor, which conveyed it to the train station, as a curious crowd of locals gathered along the route to watch. The Pittsworth Sentinel reported that “numerous photos and snaps were taken as it passed along or stopped for the convenience of those desiring to secure suitable views”. The cheese then travelled by rail to Brisbane where it was kept in cold storage until 7 February 1924, when it was shipped from the New Farm Wharf destined for the exhibition in England. After being displayed for several months, the cheese was eventually cut and sold.

Australian Dairy Pavilion with the Pittsworth cheese (left)

Cutting the Queensland made cheese at the British Empire Exhibition 1924. Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201453

Not content with their mammoth success, the Pittsworth Dairy Company dreamed of an even bigger cheese, which they produced in 1925, again to be exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition. This one weighed 4,000 pounds (1.8 tons) and was made from 3,670 gallons of pasteurised milk.

If you would like to discover more about the 1924/5 British Empire Exhibition and the Australian Pavilion, State Library of Queensland holds several informative booklets -

Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland


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