The White City
The MacRobertson business quickly outgrew the humble bathroom beginnings depicted in ‘The Young Man and the Nail Can’ and the family home was quickly swallowed up by the rapidly expanding premises.
By 1896 the factory already covered three acres of land in Fitzroy and employed 260 workers. Each building was painted a fresh white to contrast with the grimy industrial streets of Fitzroy.
To perpetuate the image of cleanliness and wholesomeness, all factory staff wore white uniforms and MacRobertson himself became an iconic figure in a white suit and hat. Mac often adopted a white suit as his own clothing both at work and in public, conscientiously aligning himself with his brand.
In 1928 Mac was described in an article for The Brisbane Courier (16th January) as “an athletic young man of 68 – white of hair, erect, kindly and brimful of energy. He is a democrat to the finger tips and takes a personal interest in his staff that is good to see.” This portrait is supported by his behaviour towards his staff. As thanks for the loyalty shown to him by a family who had worked for the factory for three generations, MacRobertson rewarded them with the gift of a house. He established an ‘Employees’ Sick and Accident Fund’ and supported the union movement and the eight hour day. However not all staff were content with the MacRobertson employee regulations. A letter to the local newspaper from an employee with the pseudonym ‘Disinterested’ complained about the strict standards of uniform. At the factory an inspector measured the width of hair ribbons and forbade the girls for wearing jewellery during working hours.
Most of the MacRobertson factory buildings still stand today, although many have been converted into residential apartments. The factory clock is still set into the front of the original office and some white walls remain, while others have been sandblasted back to their original red brick. The distinctive maroon MacRobertson signature is still visible on many of these buildings and a lane way has been named after the founder.
Confectionery: Past and Present
The White City
Walking the White City video
The Marketing Man
The Marketing Man Video
MacRobertson's Horses Video
The Cycling Craze
The Cycling Craze Video
MacRobertson and the Motor Car
The MacRobertson Legacy
Mac.Robertson Girls' High School video
MacRobertson Land, Antarctica
Old Gold Airplane
Story education resources
Education MacRobertson's Confectionery Factory - Education Kit
The MacRobertson's Confectionery Factory education kit has been designed for grades 2 and 3 and looks at themes such as 'the past in the present' and 'community history'.
Key themes include:
1. Historical buildings and monuments
2. Victorian industry and the workforce
3. Technology and transport
4. Advertising and design
5. Local history
Teachers and students use the kit in conjunction with the MacRobertson videos, images and stories available on Culture Victoria to complete a range of activities aligning with key historical skills such as:
1. Distinguishing between the past, present and future
2. Posing questions about the past using sources provided
3. Exploring a range of sources about the past
4. Identifying and comparing features of objects from the past and present
5. Exploring a point of view
6. Developing a narrative about the past
7. Using a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written, role play) and digital technologies