William Watson arrived in Fremantle in the 1890s and quickly established a successful smallgoods business in the port city. In 1902 he opened a piggery where Davilak Reserve now stands and in 1909 he moved it to Hamilton Road in Spearwood. This meat processing plant supplied all his retail outlets and lunch rooms throughout Perth until he shifted his focus from retailing to production in the late 1910s.
Next to the Hamilton Road Factory was an old rundown house. Watson and his wife Eliza refurbished it, named it Woodlands and moved their residence from Fremantle to join the thriving market garden and dairy community in Cockburn. The name Watsonia was registered in the early 1920s as a brand name for a new butter-margarine product and became the name of the factory and business. By the time WWII arrived, Watsonia was in a position to supply meat and dairy products to the Australian Armed Forces and the ration-restricted UK.
The business was bought out in 1965 by a Canadian company and continued trading until 2009 under the Watsonia name. The old factory was demolished and is now the site for the new Eliza Ponds Estate housing development.
This article also appears in the December 2014 Cockburn Soundings
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