Westall’s claim to fame was a UFO sighting in 1966 witnessed by around 200 students and teachers at the local primary and secondary schools. A high number of observers attest to a disc shaped craft landing in a paddock within sight of the school which then returned to the air and took off at great speed.
Of all the places for an alien aircraft to choose to study the planet, a rough parcel of Westall grass would seem to be a rather bad navigational move. And no doubt the sight of 100 Australian teenagers climbing out of classroom windows and running toward you would absolutely warrant a warp speed retreat.
Although the sightings have never been explained and the sadly i-phone-less observers have had to wear the derision and skepticism of the authorities, at least the incident can now lay claim to an entry in wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westall_UFO
It’s a fascinating piece of suburban history, a strange happening at a time when life in the Australian suburbs was as dull as watching paint dry and then some.
Given that fact, the same rough domain between Clayton and Westall was clearly the ideal location for the PPG paint factory – the largest in Australia and part of a global empire now with net sales of around $15bill pa.
The company started its life 130 years ago in Pittsburgh when Capt. John B. Ford and John Pitcairn started the Pittsburgh Plate Glass factory which steadily grew as they acquired other businesses to also encompass the production of paints and coatings.
While PPG’s claim on their website to ‘Protect and Beautify the World’ might be a bit of a stretch – the light and colour play looking at the plant this evening did give it a positive glow. I’ve always found the plant strangely visually interesting (although obviously no industrialist is in going to build a beautiful factory whatever their website might say).
These photos of light through glass seem an apt combination of Westall UFO strangeness and attest to some of what PPG has been about in creating glass and layers and coatings for everything from cars to household paints to aircraft glass.
Although we card carrying green folk may wish we lived in a world free of manmade chemicals, the innovations of PPG through our industrial fellowmen and women include pioneering heat absorbing and laminated glass, making the first flat plate solar collector in the 1970s and producing protective marine coatings for wind turbines. And those cards we carry – such as passports and IDs – are also coated in PPG invented materials that make them more durable.
These achievements should at least make us mindful of the role technology has in how we inhabit the planet today. And if we could just work out what it was that really landed in Westall that day in 1966 we might be on the brink of inhabiting other planets as well.
PPG’s Company History page is here >>
I don’t think humans inhabiting another planet is a good idea at all but I have a few
people politicians in mind to send to another planet if the option presents itself.