Figure, dog, earthenware, made by New South Wales State Brickworks, Homebush, New South Wales, Australia, 1911-1914
This moulded figure of a popular breed of dog, made by an unknown worker early in the history of the New South Wales State Brickworks is an example both of the level of skill demonstrated by workers, and of the sort of attractive figurine popular in the early 20th Century. It was probably produced unofficially as a little bit of in-house creativity, rather than as part of the official production line. The dog was treasured by the same family for nearly 100 years until given to the Museum. The donor remembers it displayed on the family's radio during the war years when the family gathered round to listen to the news. In later years it was held in a glass fronted cupboard. If it was originally intended as a doorstop, it was certainly never used as one. The State Brickworks at Homebush Bay produced millions of bricks for public buildings, and later for private sale, from its establishment in 1911 to around 1988. Established by the State Government because of monopoly control and pricing of private manufacturers, it became an important example of a largely successful state enterprise, used both to provide for the needs of the State Public works department, and to generate competition in what had been a closed industry. Although the brickworks ceased trading in 1988, sandstone was still removed from the site until 1992. The site, adjacent to the Olympic Games venue, was mooted to become part of the Olympic site until the discovery of the Green and Golden Bell frog, and is now a water storage and frog habitat.
Produced by New South Wales State Brickworks in Homebush during 1911-1914.
The grandfather of the donor, Charles Ashton Gilbert, born 4 May 1866 in Middleton South Australia, had been a drover on the Kidman run from South Australia to Queensland, then an opal miner at Lightning Ridge, the Licensee of the Tibooburra Hotel (c. 1905) before becoming an orchardist at Parklea near Blacktown. He moved to Hornsey Road, Flemington in 1911 and found work at the State Brick Works at Homebush from 1911 to 1930s. A fellow worker at the Brick Works made this figure early in Charles' time at Homebush, and the figure sat on top of the radio in the Hornsey Road house for many years. The donor remembers it there when the family gathered around the radio during the war, to listen to the 6 o'clock news. The original Hornsey Road house was used as a private school before 1911, and was demolished when sold in 1978.
Extract from: Sydney Olympic Park: Industrial History. www.sydneyolympicpark.com.au/education_and_learning/history/industrial_history "In 1910, the Minister responsible for the Public Works, put forward a proposal to build a brickworks to supply the Department of Public Works. This had arisen from a monopoly control of brickyards by the Metropolitan Brick Company, which fixed prices and controlled distribution. The Minister's enquiry into the feasibility had found that the annual requirement for Public Works was 36,000,000 bricks ... and a saving of 50% on public construction costs could be made if the government set up their own brickworks.In 1911 ... land was resumed from the State Abattoir for the State Brickworks." From 1927 the profit margin declined and production decreased and the government sold the Brickworks to Brickworks Limited in 1936, but re-established it again after the War, and a peak in production was reached in 1969. During the 1970s it operated at a loss, and ceased trading as a government enterprise in June 1988.
The State Library of NSW holds 167 Government Printers Office photographs of the Brickworks, including a few black and white photos of men working at the site. The majority of of the photos were taken in colour in 1976 and are of samples of the bricks produced.