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History: Looking Back

Looking Back History Feature: The Hardie Girls (and boys)

Looking Back

Edith Robinson (left) and Elaine Broadhead with former employees of Hardies Rubber factory.  The site is now the Thirroul Plaza Shopping Plaza in 2003. The Hardie girls (and boys): Edith Robinson (left) and Elaine Broadhead with former employees of Hardies Rubber factory. The site is now the Thirroul Plaza Shopping Plaza in 2003.

By MICK ROBERTS ©

The "girls" working inside Hardie Rubber Factory 1949 The “girls” working inside Hardie Rubber Factory 1949

ALTHOUGH it is difficult to imagine today, Thirroul was once a thriving industrial centre with brickworks, railway yards and textile factories employing many hundreds of local men and women.

A major employer of women was Hardies Rubber Factory, located on the site of the Thirroul Village Shopping Plaza, where sandshoes and waterproof coats were manufactured.

Seventy-two-year-old, Elaine Broadhead, who lived most of her life overlooking the site of the long gone factory, was one of the company’s first employees and spent 16 years as a machinist. She talked to me about the old factory in 2003.

“When I first started there at 15 it was a 45 hour week, nine…

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About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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