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2009/24/1-48 Photographic glass plate negative, Clyde Engineering workers in vote for H.M.S. Sydney, made by Clyde Engineering Company Limited, Granville, New South Wales, Australia, 1941-1942. Click to enlarge.

Clyde Engineering workers donate to the HMAS Sydney fund 1941

Made in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1941.
In late 1941, Clyde Engineering workers vote to donate one shilling a week for 20 weeks to the HMAS Sydney fund. The original HMAS Sydney was launched in 1934.

Almost all of the glass plate negatives in the Clyde photograph collection were taken at the Clyde works in Granville, and depict both the workers and the machinery they manufactured. Subjects covered include: railway locomotives and rolling stock; agricultural equipment; large engineering projects funded by Australian State and Federal governments; airplane maintenance and construction and Clyde's contribution to the first and second World Wars. Some photographs date back to the 1880s but most were taken between 1898 and 1945.

The origins of the collection can be dated back to 1855 when William Henry Hudson set up the firm of Hudson Brothers in a small shop in Redfern, Sydney. Initially the company specialised in woodworking and the first major contracts undertaken by the Hudson Brothers included woodwork for the 'Great Hall' at Sydney University and building the Sydney 'Garden Palace' in 1879.

In 1876 Hudson Brothers won a lucrative contract to build rolling stock for the New South Wales government and as a result the business began to move toward metal-work rather than wood-work. The business was a success and twenty five years later had expanded to such a degree that a new work shop was needed to accommodate staff and equipment. In 1881 Hudson Brothers moved onto two hundred acres of land at Granville in the Western suburbs of Sydney and the new factory opened two years later in July 1883.

Unfortunately the recession of the 1890s hit Hudson Brothers hard and by 1898 it was forced into receivership. It was then that the newly formed Clyde Engineering Company took over the Hudson Brothers, although William Hudson continued to remain a board member and motivating force behind Clyde Engineering. Given the new company arose out of the old Hudson Brothers it is not surprising to find Clyde Engineering adopted a phoenix as its logo. The choice was apt for the new company did rise out of the ashes of the old and by 1950 Clyde Engineering had become the largest engineering enterprise in New South Wales.

In 1901, soon after it had become Clyde Engineering Ltd., the company began making carriages for the Federal Government and in 1903 began making them for the West Australian Government as well. In 1905 Clyde won a major contract with the New South Wales State Government to make railway locomotives.

Clyde Engineering was a large operation and took on contract work for major state government projects, mainly in New South Wales. These included prefabricated steel work for the Hawkesbury Bridge and the northern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In 1932 the company also built and supplied steel work for the Clarence River Bridge at Grafton and the Manning River Bridge at Taree.

Clyde Engineering made agricultural equipment for many parts of New South Wales, continuing the work of Hudson Brothers who began to manufacture windmills and ploughs made to their own unique designs in 1884.

During the Second World War it was an integral part of 'Workshop Australia'. In this period Clyde Engineering took on a new field, the repair of Hudson and Wirraway aircraft. In addition it provided munitions; 25-pounder field gun parts; locomotives and rolling stock to the war effort.

This collection of photographs is an archive of national significance due to its unique relationship to the industrial technology, engineering and commerce of New South Wales. In Australia few collections of this nature have survived to the present day especially ones which cover one company's activities from the 1880s through to the 1950s in such depth.

The photographs are also significant in their illustration of the important contribution made by Clyde Engineering to the social fabric of New South Wales. By 1923 Clyde had 2,200 employees working round the clock on eight hour shifts. Some of these lived in houses specially built by the company in Granville and the works had its own fire brigade, ambulance service, gun club and was home to Australia's first soccer club.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, and James Graham, Museum Studies Intern, 2009

Murray, J., Phoenix to the World; the Story of Clyde Industries and Sir Raymond Purves, CBE, Playright Publishing Pty Ltd., 1992
The Clyde Engineering Company Limited, Visit to Clyde Works of the delegates of Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, 21 September 1909, Cumberland Argus Printing Works, 1909?
Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales Division, Steam Locomotives Built by the Clyde Engineering Co. Pty. Ltd., Granville, Australia, Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales,


The Sydney Morning Herald reported that 1,400 members of the staff of Clyde Engineering Co. Ltd voted at a mass meeting held on the 8th of December for a voluntary subscription be deducted from their wages weekly for 20 weeks as a donation to the New Sydney Fund [H.M.A.S. Sydney Replacement Fund]. It was estimated that the donations would total fifty pounds a week.

On 19 November 1941, HMAS Sydney (launched 1934), a light cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy with an impressive record of war service, was lost following a battle with the German raider HSK Kormoran in the Indian Ocean off the Western Australian coast. The loss of the Sydney with its full war complement of 645 remains Australia's worst naval disaster.

As early as 1 December, the lord mayors of Sydney and Melbourne contacted the Prime Minister suggesting a nationwide appeal for replacement of the Sydney.

K. Hackett 10 April 2018

' Wages for New Sydney: Employees' Gift', The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 December, 1941, p.4
The National Archives of Australia, Research Guides, Series 1608


"Employees of the Clyde Engineering Co have agreed to contribute weekly to a "bob in" for the New Sydney Fund for 20 weeks. In two weeks these employees have subscribed £128"
Reference: NEW SYDNEY FUND "Bob-in" Scheme, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 1942, p.4


Object No.


Object Statement

Photographic glass plate negative, Clyde Engineering workers in vote for H.M.S. Sydney, made by Clyde Engineering Company Limited, Granville, New South Wales, Australia, 1941-1942

Physical Description

Photographic glass plate negative, Clyde Engineering workers in vote for H.M.S. Sydney, made by Clyde Engineering Company Limited, Granville, New South Wales, Australia, 1941-1942
A rectangular black and white silver gelatin glass plate negative in landscape format. The image depicts Clyde Engineering workers voting to donate one shilling a week for 20 weeks to the HMAS Sydney fund.



164 mm


215 mm


1.5 mm



This collection consists of around 70 half-plate glass photographic negatives. Glass plates were first used to support photographic emulsions in the late 1840s and remained in continuous use right through until the middle of the twentieth century. While the earliest plates supported 'dry' and 'wet' collodion emulsions these were replaced with silver gelatin emulsions in the 1880s. Unlike earlier plates these were mass produced on a huge scale and were capable of fast speeds even at half and full plate sizes.

One drawback of this process was that larger plate sizes required a correspondingly large camera to fit the plate. These were relatively cumbersome and when you take into consideration the weight of the glass plates it is no surprise to find they were mainly used for studio and commercial work. However they were still favoured by many professionals for a long time after roll film was introduced by Kodak in the late 1880s. This was because the large plates could be more easily worked on for masking, and their contact prints provided better results than some of the early enlarging equipment.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, 2009



This collection of photographs complements another collection of photographs (88/289) acquired by the Powerhouse Museum in 1988. This collection of photographs was removed from Clyde Engineering when the offices were being relocated but the numbers on the glass plates and the sleeves make it clear that at some stage it was a part of a larger collection that included the 1300 half-plate glass negatives and approximately 4000 tri-acetate negatives which came to the Museum from Clyde Engineering in 1988. When this group of photographs was separated from the rest is unclear but it appears that some made their way into James Murray's 1992 publication on the history of Clyde Industries, 'Phoenix to the World' and thus may have been separated in preparation for that publication.

The subject matter contained in the half-plate glass negatives covers over 60 years of the Clyde Engineering Company's activities in New South Wales. It starts in the 1880s when the company was still called Hudson Brothers and goes through to the late 1940s. Most of these images were taken at the Clyde Works in Granville, Sydney, New South Wales and many include interior and exterior images of the people and workshops at Clyde Engineering and on the banks of the Duck River.

Some appear to have been commissioned to record the completion of particular Clyde projects such as locomotives, boilers and agricultural equipment at the Clyde works. A few have been photographed in other locations such as the aircraft photographs taken at Bankstown Airport and some works photographed after delivery.

A few photographs are copies of original photographic prints, blueprints and pages from books and these are hard to accurately date. As most of the original negatives were taken over a long time period it is almost certain the photographs are the work of numerous photographers, unfortunately their identity is at present unknown.

Some of the negatives have appeared in a Clyde booklet published for the delegates of the 'Seventh Congress of the Chamber of Commerce of the British Empire in 1909' and a Clyde booklet held by the Museum which was published around 1945. These publications and the fact that some of the negatives have been masked make it clear that the while the photographers were cataloguing the accomplishments of the company they were also creating content used to advertise and promote the company's products.

Two photographers who did photographic work for Clyde from the 1960s onwards were Charles French of 87 Yarram Street, Lidcombe in New South Wales and Jack Draper, an employee and photographer employed by Clyde Engineering around the same period.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, 2009

Cite this Object


Clyde Engineering workers donate to the HMAS Sydney fund 1941 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 15 August 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Clyde Engineering workers donate to the HMAS Sydney fund 1941 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=15 August 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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