Lake Macquarie History

Sulphide Corporation - Lake Macquarie's BHP

Type a name into the search box - you may discover a relative or acquaintance was an award winning apprentice, holidayed in exotic locations, played badminton or had a reputation as a larrikin. It is relatively easy to find family history information on the famous or the infamous, the digitised resources on this website provide a wealth of information about the lives of the ordinary workers employed at Sulphide.

photo: sulphide 1973

Sulphide Corporation was an important company in Lake Macquarie for over 100 years and was a major employer during that time. The closure of the Cockle Creek Industrial site on September 12th 2003 heralded the end of the Hunters Valleys first heavy industrial plant. Although it ceased production in 2003, the ongoing industrial, economic, environmental, and social significance of the Sulphide Corporation to Lake Macquarie is substantial.

The site has been through enormous change in its 106 year history - World Wars, the Great Depression, population growth, market fluctuations, changes in process, a myriad of different products, and more recently, community and environmental concerns. It grew to be one of the Hunter's largest employers - at one time employing more than 800 people - and an important economic contributor. In its last year of operation, it contributed more than $80 million to the local economy.

At the time of its closure, Lake Macquarie City Library was able to secure a large number of records relating to the Sulphide Corporation and make them available to the public. There are three major collections from Sulphide Corporation on this website, these are, employee photographs, the new employee engagement register and the Cockle Creek newsletter.

photo: sulphide workers

Photographs: With the help of the East Lake Macquarie Historical Society hundreds of employee photographs have been scanned and added to the website along with photographs of the plant and equipment.

Engagement book: The engagement book lists new employee details from 1921 up to 1970. Details include name and address, date of birth, marital status, nationality, and occupation for 5,000 employees. Digitising the engagement book involved library staff photographing 151 pages and typing up the 5001 employee names listed.

Cockle Creek Newsletter: These staff newsletters were produced from April 1951 until the early 1990s. They are a valuable source of information on the industrial processes carried out at the site and highlight the importance of Sulphide to the development of Lake Macquarie. Most importantly this data provides researchers with social context. Details of employees occupation, education, sporting interests, holidays and on occasion even the car they drove makes this a valuable tool for those researching their family history. The pages of this newsletter also provide a valuable insight on how society has changed over time, through the windows of fashion, sport, motor vehicles, honeymoon destinations and recreational pursuits. Digitising the newsletters involved library staff scanning 3,715 pages of the Cockle Creek Newsletter and typing approx. 74,300 names, places and events. This newsletter has been fully indexed. Please use the search box above to locate information for a specific person or event.