Lysaght Wire Works, Parramatta River

Lysaght Wire Works on harbor front  On Fig Tree Bay (Abbotsford) east end.

Lysaght Wire Works on harbor front
On Fig Tree Bay (Abbotsford) east end.

This week, with the year just about to get under way in earnest, and children and parents returning to school and work, The Past Present decided to take a glimpse into what working Sydney looked like in 1936. The photo above, from a 1936 photo by an unknown photographer shows the Lysaght Bros Wire Mill on the Parramatta River.

Lysaght Bros and Co established the Sydney Wire Mill in 1884 on the Parramatta River. The rural, farming community of Australia created a huge demand for fencing, particularly for rabbit proof wire netting, and brothers Arthur and St John Lysaght, sons of the Bristol iron manufacturer and exporter John Lysaght, were soon producing not only these fencing materials, but other products.

With their own wharves, Lysaght Bros and Co imported the wire feed from Germany, unloading the steamships in Sydney and then using barges to carry the materials up the Parramatta River to the factory. Wire making looms, at first powered by steam and then by electricity, transformed the raw feed into a variety of wire products.

When BHP Steelworks opened in Newcastle in 1915 the mills changed to using Australian produced steel rods in their wire making and by 1925 the mills used a massive 35,000 tonnes of steel a year. During the 1930s, a time of depression and work shortages, the Lysaght Wire Mills provided jobs for over 1000 people.

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