The first Warrnambool to Melbourne cycling race was held in October 1895. 24 riders started with only 7 finishing the race. W. Nicol was the winner of the inaugural race. Two months later on 14/12/1895 the race was run in reverse. For the ensuing 43 years it was mainly Melbourne to Warrnambool. Since 1939 it has been run mainly Melbourne to Warrnambool. The prize of this blanket was 2nd prize to E. Ion of Tasmania in October 1949. The prize itself, A Warrnambool Blankets Tartan rug was made at the Warrnambool Woollen Mill in Harris St Warrnambool
Early efforts to establish a woollen Mill in Warrnambool commenced with an early mill on the Merri at Woodford in 1874 but the site proved unsuitable and was financially struggling. The decision was made to move plant and and machinery to the old meat preserving factory in South Warrnambool The plant and equipment was sold to Mr Robert Hood of Sherwood on the Hopkins River East Warrnambool who carried on the venture until fire destroyed the building in 1882, The site lay idle until a group of local businessmen raised 40000 pounds to establish the mill in 1910. It continued to trade well through the early and mid 20th century. Dunlop brought the mill in 1968 and there was a slow downturn with numerous owners until it closed in 2000. The site passed into private hands in 2003.
Both the Warrnambool Woollen Mill and the Melbourne to Warrnambool Road Race are a significant part of local history.
The Melbourne to Warrnambool Cycling road race remains one of the premier sporting events in Australia. It commenced in 1895
Maroon and red block check with black and white check lines on front with plain maroon back. Fringed on two sides.
Inscriptions & markings
Grey cotton label with The Warrnambool Woollen Mill Co Limited in top Left hand side of label, Victory Rug diagonally in blue Guaranteed All WOOL Made in Australia in bottom RH corner of label. Owner M bottom of label. 1949 Mr. Ernie Ion” handwritten in black pen.