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The photographers stamp on the photograph reads HALL & CO., Commercial Photographers, 20 HUNTER STREET, SYDNEY.
In the machine rooms of my time each machine had its own electric motor. These old machine rooms had ceiling mounted drive shafts with pulleys and belts connecting to each individual machine. Although at the time of this photograph the drive shafts were probably driven by electric motors, I think this concept stems from a time when the main drive shafts in factories were driven by steam engines. I do not mean to suggest that this post dates the steam era as steam technology was still very much alive and well at this time, particularly on the railways and no doubt still powering many factories. I suppose it is not beyond the realms of possibility that this factory was still powered by steam. I think that had this drive method endured to the modern day the OH&S staff would have done a lot to ensure no one could accidentally get any body parts jammed between any belt and pulley. Something that appears prevalent in these sorts of photographs is the need for a ladder. One can be seen in the centre of the upper half of this image, leaning against the wall, to the right of the clock and pillar. I suspect that this is to rearrange the belts on the drive pulleys or to replace a belt that has separated from the pulley or perform maintenance work on this ceiling equipment.