Historical information

Peter McGennan (1839-1920) arrived in Warrnambool in the 1870s and established a cooperage in Kepler Street and a boating business on the Hopkins River. He rebuilt the boating establishment after a fire in 1876. In 1896 McGennan established a Box and Case Factory in Davis Street (Merrivale Drive), importing timber from New Zealand, using chartered vessels and his own ships which included the ‘Speculant’. The box factory was a successful venture employing over 30 men until it was destroyed by fire in 1923. Peter McGennan was involved in the establishment of the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory at Allansford and the Warrnambool Woollen Mill. He was a Director of the latter company until his death. Members of the McGennan family were also important business people in Warrnambool, being involved in the hotel business and civic affairs for many years. The tin box may have been used to house family papers or business documents during Peter McGennan’s life and it was used to house his estate papers after his death. Many of these documents are in the collection of the Warrnambool &District Historical Society.


This box is of some importance as it belonged to a prominent Warrnambool businessman and his family. It has social significance as an example of the type of storage items used early in the 20th century to hold documents etc.

Physical description

This is a rectangular tin box with the black paint on the outside peeling and yellow paint inside. There is a metal lock which has no key. There is a small handle on the top added to the tin surface. The name ‘P.J.McGennan’ is painted on the front side in yellow paint.

Inscriptions & markings

A typed label on faded yellow adhesive tape ‘Estate P.J.McGennan’