The Returned Soldiers and Sailors Mills was located near the Barwon river on Pakington Street, Geelong, where its building still stands. The mill was established in October 1922 with capital acquired from War Gratuity Bonds. The mill produced fine grade woollen products with its speciality being ‘Retsol’ travelling rugs.
The mill first began to run into financial troubles with the ‘Credit Squeeze’ or the ‘Holt Jolt’ of the early 1960s. This saw import restrictions lifted which triggered the start of a minor recession and a rise in unemployment. Included in these troubles was the RS&S Mill which saw the number of employees gradually decrease and business declining with cheaper imports beginning to grab an expanding part of the market share. The mill was eventually purchased by Godfrey Hirst in 1973 who tried to continue operations without success and in June 1975 textile production at the site ceased.
Outside of financial considerations contributing to the closure of Woollen Mills in this period was the declining need for heavier fabrics as in-home heating and insulation improved. This need had been replaced for a demand for ever softer, finer and lighter worsted fabrics for more casual clothing. Modern day textile production requires fewer steps in the processing of materials for this use. This meant large factory complexes such as early woollen mills like the RS&S mills were no longer required. Compared to modern textile production which can spin a fine yarn out of synthetic fibre or imported cotton easily, spinning fine yarn from medium quality wool at a textile factory was cumbersome and no longer financially viable to suit new consumer demands.
This rug provides context to this statement. It was gifted to Shirley and Gordon Green as a wedding present in November 1963 by one of Gordon's colleagues in the wool industry. Living in areas such as Neutral Bay, the Hornsby area and later in life retiring to the Central Coast, the blanket was too heavy for use in these weather conditions and hence it stayed in its original box for nearly 60 years.
Top and bottom of rug has frilled edges. Pattern is titled the 'Clan Cameron' and is repeated in a 7x7 grid. Front of rug has a red background with 4 vertical and horizontal lines. All is surrounded by a yellow boarder. Label is stitched into the bottom right corner. Reverse of rug also has a repeating 7x7 grid. Blue background with thick green horizontal stripe. Yellow and red boarder to the grid with 4 red vertical and horizontal lines making up the interior.
Rug measure 1550 x 2040mm, approximately the same size as a queen size mattress.
Inscriptions & markings
Wording, Bottom right corner.
THE GEELONG R.S&S. WOOLEN MILLS/
The John Monash Rug (cursive)/
The Clan Cameron (cursive)