Founded in Melbourne in 1918 by Otto Yuncken and Lauritz Hansen, Hansen Yuncken has grown steadily in stature as a respected builder of major construction projects.
The company has retained the tradition of quality and business integrity established by the founding partners, although the faces and methods have changed over the years.
8 Ballarat Street, Yarraville, VIC
Tom Duckworth was the General Foreman on the Bank of New South Wales building at 360 Collins Street, Melbourne, which commenced in May 1933. The 11-storey steel-framed building boasted an impressive entrance with two bronze doors that were 8.3 metres high and weighed nearly seven tons, framed by highly polished granite. Inside, it featured a 12-metre square column-free banking chamber which was unprecedented in Melbourne at the time.
The chamber was supported by four steel-plate girders that were over 19 metres long and weighed up to 60 tons each. Manufactured by Johns and Waygood in South Melbourne, they were the longest girders constructed in Victoria at the time and required a specially designed 14-wheeled, 28 horsepower truck for transport to the site.
In those days, steam boilers were used to power the derrick cranes that lifted the girders into place, which occurred in a smooth operation early one morning. A crowd of onlookers gathered to observe the marvellous feat, despite the 2am start.
The company's founders, Lauritz Hansen and Otto Yuncken, considered the Port Authority Building in Melbourne, completed in December 1931, to be the company's finest achievement. Alf Ludlow, who joined as Hansen Yuncken's first apprentice in 1921, recalled its construction: "The first time I saw piles put down was at the Harbour Trust (Port Authority) Building in 1929. They were timber piles, not concrete, and were driven by a weight carried up an erected gantry with guides on it. The pile was strapped with a ring around the top to stop it from splitting. They drove it until it didn't move after so many drives. If it refused to move, they considered that it had reached the bottom.
"The gantry for hoisting materials had two wheels right at the top, which had to be greased every day. That was a job for the rigger, to climb up and grease the wheels over which a rope ran down through a snatch block and back to an electric winch. The bell, which was a triangle rung by a piece of cord, would be heard by the winch driver and he would lower the skip. There used to be a man travelling on the skip, but that was later stopped.
"After 1925, Hansen Yuncken would have been the leading builder in Melbourne and we kept pace in all our multi-storey jobs with new machinery. From that point, we increased our capacity with a bigger mixer. We got what they call a bag mixer and there were usually two bag mixers on the city jobs. We were able to put that in the basement in the early stages and we built hoppers for the trucks to bring in the sand, the screening and the cement. They would be shot down a chute to the lower floor and Darkie Austin, who was our main concrete man, and Bill Alley, would be in these pits, and they'd lift the lid of the bin and shoot the sand and the screenings into the hoppers that had levels marked on them. If it was a two-bag batch, you'd put your two bags in and pull the level and it would shoot into the mixed, be mixed and then it would tip into another hopper that had a trap door on it.
"That was opened to fill a rickshaw, which had two wheels and a steel structure that held approximately three barrows. You could wheel the rickshaw along runs to tip it where you were concreting. In the rickshaw, the batch stayed more constant whereas with chutes the concrete tended to separate, as they made the concrete a bit too wet in those days. The standard way of mixing concrete now, using pumps and vibration, that didn't exist in my day".