HILARIA BATHING SHIP SITE AND MOWLINGS SOAP AND CANDLE WORKS - History
Before 1895, young boys swam in two swamps on the river flat opposite Angliss Meatworks. These informal baths were called Bat and Bell swamps, and were safe swimming locations for boys too young to swim in the river. In 1895, an American sailing ship (the Hilaria) caught fire at the wharves and was later towed up on the riverbank near Mowling's Candle Works by William Philip, who converted it into a swimming baths. Mowling's Soap and Candle Works occupied the site from 1870 onwards, after the works was moved there when noxious trades were being discouraged in the Melbourne area. The works produced Gondolier brand candles and Empire Soap as well as refining oeleo, margarine and glycerine. It was one of the most up to date works of its kind in its day. Cheetham Salt company later used the site, which is currently occupied by the Saffcol Factory.
HILARIA BATHING SHIP SITE AND MOWLINGS SOAP AND CANDLE WORKS - Interpretation of Site
The bathing ship was one of three such facilities located in the study area, and was socially significant at its time. It was the only bathing ship known to exist in the Maribyrnong River. The candle works was an important contemporary employer, and hence of social significance to the area. It is possible that the candle industry used the former explosives store dock for its operations, which now likely lies either under, or incorporated into the current Saffcol wharf. Cultural deposits may lie on the seabed close inshore, but deposits further offshore have probably been removed during dredging operations.