The Meadow Lea brand was founded by Oliver Triggs in 1932, in Enmore, Sydney, but had its origins about four years earlier in Richmond, Melbourne, where Triggs owned a small grocery store. In about 1934 Triggs hired James (Jim) Armstrong as a sales manager, on commission, for country regions in New South Wales. In 1941 Triggs and Armstrong reached an agreement whereby Armstrong would sell his roughly 25% sales commission share in the Meadow Lea Margarine Company to Triggs' son Kenneth (Ken) when he turned 21 in 1945.
Accordingly, Armstrong sold his commission interests in Meadow Lea to Ken Triggs in 1945, and retired from the company. In about 1956, Oliver and Ken Triggs sold the Meadow Lea Margarine Company to Vegetable Oils Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the publicly listed company Allied Mills Ltd.
On 30 April 1986 Allied Mills was taken over by Fielder Gillespie Davis Limited, part of the Goodman Group Ltd (New Zealand), to create Goodman Fielder Ltd. In 1987 Goodman Fielder purchased Wattie Industries Ltd (New Zealand), becoming Goodman Fielder Wattie Ltd, only to divest Wattie Foods to H. J. Heinz Company in 1992 and return to being called Goodman Fielder Ltd. In 2003 Goodman Fielder was acquired by Burns, Philp & Company Limited, being relisted again in 2005.
In 2010 the MeadowLea product range consisted of six varieties:
Oliver Francis Triggs (1895–1962) founded the Meadow Lea table margarine brand by 1932 and was the first person in Australia to manufacture table margarine, finally selling Meadow Lea to Allied Mills in about 1956. Triggs was born in Melbourne on a small farm, fought with the Light Horse in World War I, then trained as a tailor, before opening a corner grocery shop and making copha butter. After copha butter was banned in Victoria to support the butter industry and pure butter sales, Triggs moved to Sydney in about 1931. He was married to Nita Alice Bek (1895–1974) and had four children, Kenneth, Audray and Marian (twins), and Jill.
From about 1935 until 1975, the family home was Edgewater, 3 Sutherland Crescent, Darling Point, bought from the Wirth Bros Circus family. Its water front gardens (including a tennis court and swimming pool) were sold to the neighbouring Carthona in the 1950s, when Edgewater was divided into three homes (one on each floor) with Triggs retaining the top floor.
In about 1939–45 Triggs owned the 2,000-acre Kyalla Park sheep farm and horse stud near Orange, which had the first electrified sheep-shearing shed in Australia (built in about 1910 by the previous owners, the Stuart family). The property was slowly subdivided and sold off by its subsequent owner, so that it is now around 150 acres, and has been owned since about 1980 by the Napier family.
Kenneth Oliver Triggs OAM (1924 – ), the only son of Oliver Triggs, was a director and 25% shareholder in Meadow Lea from 1945 until the company's sale to Vegetable Oils Pty Ltd in about 1956. He subsequently became a farmer and Chairman of the NSW Egg Board, a manufacturer of polystyrene containers, Chairman of Mutual Home Loans Fund of Australia Limited and Information Electronics Limited. In 2003 he became the Secretary of the Auburn sub-Branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL), and was made a Life Member of the RSL in 2008. He received the Order of Australia Medal in 2011 for service to veterans and their families. He married Ruth Donnison in 1950 and they had two sons, David and Andrew. The couple divorced in about 1976, and in about 1985 Triggs married Lesley-Anne Woodward.
Meadow Lea house
The Art Deco heritage listed residential home named Meadow Lea at 22 Sydney Road, East Lindfield, Sydney, was built on four housing lots and completed in about 1941 for James Armstrong, at the time the sales manager of the Meadow Lea Margarine Company. It was sold in 1948 for £17,000 to Azzalin Romano, of the nightclub restaurant Romanos, who had sold his racehorse Bernborough in 1946 to Louis B. Mayer for £93,000. In 1955 the house was sold for £25,000. In 1996 it was purchased by Daniel Kalanderian, the co-founder of the large Sydney store, Victoria's Basement, who added a new wing and put it on the market in September 2010 for $7.5 million.
- Sydney Morning Herald obituary, 1962 (and other press articles).
- "Search Australian Honours, Name: TRIGGS, Kenneth Oliver, Award: Medal of the Order of Australia", itsanhonour.gov.au, Australian Government, archived from the original on 29 April 2014
- Bartok, Di (26 January 2011). "Australia Day honours". Parramatta Advertiser. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012.
- Chancellor, Jonathan (5 September 2010). "Trophy estate with trimmings". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014.
- Belle Property website listing, September 2010. Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine