When Singer came to Penrith: Sewing machine company’s Penrith gamble

The Singer factory on Station Street.
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Sewing machines were big business in Australia in the late 1950s, so it was no surprise that the company founded in the United States way back in 1851 opted to find itself a local home.

And that local home ended up being right here in Penrith.

Singer opened the doors on its Australian manufacturing facility on Station Street, near Jamison Road, in Penrith in 1959.

It was a huge gamble for the US based company but a necessary one given the increasing costs of international shipping on its products and the associated time lags.

The April 1, 1959 edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly reported that Sir Garfield Barwick, the Australian Attorney General at the time, officially opened the site.

The Singer factory in Penrith in 1959.

“More than a century of experience in engineering and design has been built into the new Singer factory in Station Street, Penrith,” the article said.

“Penrith Singer, through its subsidiary the Penrith Manufacturing Co Pty Ltd, will manufacture Australia’s most popular sewing machine, the Singer 201P.”

Models believed to have been manufactured at Penrith were the Singer 201P21, Singer 201P23, Singer 327P and Singer 328P.

Special machinery was sent from Connecticut in the United States to Penrith for the factory to be operational.

The 7.8 hectare site, located just outside of the Penrith CBD, would provide employment for hundreds of locals.

But the Singer dream would not last all that long in the big scheme of things.

After operating for eight years, the factory shut its doors in 1967.

The site became home to Panasonic from 1969 until 2006, before being left abandoned. The factory itself has now been demolished, with the land at the centre of numerous development plans over the years.

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