FIRST CHILLED MEAT SENT FROM LITHGOW TO ENGLAND BY THOMAS MORT
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort (1816-1878) was a Lancashireman who arrived in Australia in 1838 and became enormously successful, with wide ranging interests as a pastoralist and dairy farmer, financier, horticulturalist, manufacturer, coal and copper mine owner and proprietor of the vast Mort’s Dock in Balmain, as well as the founder of the town of Bodalla. Mort Street in Lithgow and Mort’s Estate are named for him, but there are few tangible reminders as to why.
The story behind Mort’s involvement in Lithgow is his attempts to develop a refrigeration works for the export of meat. Mort developed a large abattoir where sheep and cattle were driven in from the west and were slaughtered and refrigerated for later transport. Surplus tallow from Mort's abattoirs was used to make soap in a soap factory in Soapy Gully, later to be known State Mine Gully. The New South Wales Fresh Food & Ice Co. was formed in 1875, and a refrigeration plant was developed in Inch Street.
In 1875, to mark his achievements in the refrigeration techniques, Mort arranged a picnic for 300 guests. He organised a special train from Sydney and fed his guests food that had been refrigerated at his plant for over 18 months, including beef, mutton, lamb, wonga pigeon pie and lobster, with jellies, tarts and creams. However it took five years for him to make the first successful shipment, and Lithgow soon proved to be too far from Sydney markets and ships.
As his biographer wrote:
Lithgow Tourism, Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and Refrigeration Works
Lithgow Primary School Centenary Committee, 1875-1975 : Lithgow P.S. : centenary, 1975