Cream Separator, ball bearing, cast iron and tin, made by R. A. Lister & Co. Ltd...


Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Park Museum


Cream Separator, ball bearing, cast iron and tin, made by R. A. Lister & Co. Ltd., Dursley; Lister Separator Co. (N.Z.) Ltd.

About this object

History Notes

The introduction of the cream separator into Australian in the 1880s was an event which dramatically shifted farm and factory methods of producing cream, improved hygienic standards and raised the productive capacity of the dairy industry. The first two separators brought to the country were manufactured by the Alpha Laval Separator Co. from Sweden. This company is credited with being the first to manufacture and make commercially available the continuous cream separator. The inventor of this machine was Gustav De Laval, but he was not the first to have experimented with centrifugal separation as an alternative to the gravity method.

The first cream separators used in Australia are believed to have been brought to the country on board the S.S. Chimbarazo in 1883. They were acquired by Mr. David Lindsay Dymock on behalf of the Fresh Food and Ice Company located in Mittagong and Sydney. The Pioneer Dairy Company, as it was known, was erected in 1883 and opened the following year. A separator was installed at both of the factories operated by the company. D. L. Dymock was also responsible for an early public demonstration of the separator staged at Blow Hole Point in Kiama. This machine was capable of a speed of 750 revolutions a minute. The separator was understandably met by the wonder and curiosity of persons in attendance, but for some the machine invoked alarm. These farmers considered the separator to be far too dangerous machine to view up-close and were reluctant to approach it while in motion.

The earliest cream separators were worked with a hand crank to initiate the centrifugal process. This source of power was later replaced with the installation of steam turbine engines connected to the separators by a belt drive and later still with the widespread availability of electricity. For a period of time the separators were powered by horses who walked on a treadmill.

Production Notes

R. A. Lister & Company was established by Sir Robert Ashton Lister at Dursley, Glouchestershire in 1867. Initially the company manufactured agricultural equipment, but the firm’s repertoire expanded through its history to incorporate cream separators, milk coolers, milk testers, lighting plants and oil engines, amongst other lines.

Lister’s youngest son, Robert Ashton acquired the UK sales agency for the “Alexandra” cream separator (invented in 1889 by a Danish engineer, Mikael Pedersen). For a period of time the Dursley works was only used for assembling the separators, but in 1892 the company began to manufacture the model. After 1903 the company began production of self-designed separators. In 1965 the firm was taken over by the Hawker Siddeley Group.

Medium and Materials

The cream separator is constructed from cast iron with tinplated metal parts. The bowl consists of an outer shell that inside holds a series of conical shaped tinplated discs with an inner cylinder known as the distributor which surrounded a central feed shaft. The distributor was the component of the separator that forced the cream downwards into an outlet that drained it away. The cream was delivered near the bottom of the bowl and gradually passed upward from the inner ends of the discs nearest to the cream outlet. The skim milk was similarly passed upwards during centrifugal motion, but due to its density was forced to the outer ends of the discs which pushed it towards the skim-milk outlets to be drained away into another vat or can.

Object Type

Cream Separator

Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved


bill maddy 19 Mar 2012 13:28 PM,UTC

I have a very old printing plate for a mccormick cream separator. I'm interested in selling it to someone that has one to put with it please email me if interested and I will send pic or you can call me at 304 5205540 thank you!

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