The Great Depression in Marrickville

Boots, shoes etc, the world-famed Marrickville tweeds, porcelain baths, basins, sinks… famous Marrickville blankets, rugs, clothes, motor bodies wonderfully constructed bodies of superfine grace, beautifully streamlined…furniture, hardwood, toys, machinery! Some marvelous machinery – made in Marrickville. That is the point sought to be driven home by the Marrickville manufacturers “Made in Marrickville” (Australian Made, Labor Daily, April 1930, p 7)

1930 began with a hope. Could the depression be avoided through the manufacturing excellence, showcased at Marrickville Town Hall?

But it was not long before factories slowed due to low sales. General Motors on Carrington Road Marrickville shut in 1931 as Australian car sales declined to just 5 per cent of the previous year. Unemployment in Marrickville reached 29 per cent. Other areas were worse-off (nearby Newtown reached an unemployment rate of 43 per cent).

The NSW Government scrambled to create Relief Schemes to provide work for the unemployed by fixing roads and drainage. A particular focus was to “improve” low lying land in Marrickville, Tempe, Wolli Creek and other parts of Sydney by filling and draining swamps (SMH, 28 July 1930). This included work on the Sydenham pit and drainage of the former Gumbramorra Swamp to the Cooks River.

Relief work was low paid and hard. Those who complained about the conditions were threatened with being cut out of food rations and further work. It is no surprise that strikes and industrial disputes became common. And Marrickville Town Hall once again became an important meeting place, this time for the Unemployed Workers’ Movement, Women’s Vanguard as well as hosting fundraising events to help the unemployed.Next time we’ll find out how General Motors survived the Great Depression.

You might also like to read about Made in Marrickville now.

 

Duly & Hansford: nuts and bolts to daredevil speedsters

Remember all those nuts and bolts General Motors used on Carrington Road Marrickville? These could have come straight from the Duly & Hansford factory two doors down.

Duly and Hansford opened its factory on 1 February 1927, when Mr Duly boasted the firm was “now in a position to supply the wants of the whole of Australia with bright nuts and bolts.” This impressed Federal Minister for Trade and Customs, Mr Herbert Pratten, who officially opened the factory. Pratten was a supporter of local industry and Australian-made products. He said, “if you buy the home-made article you keep both your goods and your money. If you buy outside all you get is the goods.”

Duly & Hansford soon expanded to springs and shock absorbers including Duofor and Personne-Reed brands. These were used by racing hero Wizard Smith in an attempt to break the land speed record according to an ad taken out by Duly & Hansford in the Sunday Times on 3 November 1929.

The Mystery Car (also known as ANZAC) was a 18.7 litre aircraft engine made by Rolls Royce mounted on a Cadillac limousine chassis with a streamlined racing car body (Eric North, 2004). Wizard Smith set the Australasian record at 90 Mile Beach near Auckland with a speed of 239 km per hour in January 1930. For more on Wizard Smith, see Clinton Walker (2012) Speed, Modernism and the Last Ride of Wizard Smith.

Duly & Hansford continued manufacturing automotive parts on Carrington Road Marrickville until 1968 when taken over by US automotive firm, TWR Inc, which operated the factory for another three decades. Duly & Hansford’s factory buildings are still used by the automotive industry today through repair and body shops.