Noxious industries were relegated to land below the breakwater to prevent Geelong's water supply on the town side from becoming contaminated. The trades involved were tanneries, fellmongeries, boiling down works, glue factories and bone mills. The area both sides of the river was once called Breakwater. Now only the north side of the river is called Breakwater. The south side is now called Belmont and Marshall. Unlike the north side of the river these factories have been demolished.
A fellmonger is a dealer in fells or sheepskins, who separates the wool from the pelts. He is the person who prepares the skin prior to leather making. The wool was then scoured. A wool scouring factory might have bought fleeces and then scoured the wool.
A tanner is the person who processes the skins to produce leather.
A currier applies the dressing, and colouring to the tanned hide to make it strong, flexible and waterproof.
Boiling down is the process of rendering fat from animal carcasses to produce tallow. Tallow was used for making soap and candles. It brought the price of old animals up considerably and was a boost to the farmer when animal prices were low.
Glue is produced by the boiling of animal connective tissue.
Bone mills produce fertiliser and glue by processing animal bones.
These industries were an important part of Geelong's economy. Hundreds of men were employed at these factories. At first the river was used to wash the skins. Later they were washed in vats. The area probably smelled like the abattoirs and sale yards at Newmarket in Melbourne which I remember well from my childhood. Maybe it was worse.
A number of streets have names that reflect the activities carried on in the area:
Tanner Street, Leather Street, Currier Street and Fellmongers Road in Breakwater
Woolscour Lane and Tannery Road in Marshall
Some of the owners of factories on the south and west side of the Barwon were (from North):
Charles John Dennys, sold to Samuel Bradley Corrigan
Patrick McDonald and Lawrence Webster, later leased by George Kingsbury and George Connor, later became Corrigans
Charles Frederick Palmer
Joseph and Sharp Brearley