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Research Guides


Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Secondary industries

Image 23: An original brochure for a Holden car, 1948. After World War II, General Motors Holden established a major car-production plant at Elizabeth, South Australia

Image 23: An original brochure for a Holden car, 1948. After World War II, General Motors Holden established a major car-production plant at Elizabeth, South Australia
NAA: A705, 211/1/2057
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Early 20th-century manufacturing in South Australia included brewing, flour milling, and footwear and clothing production. Between the two world wars, the Holden Motor Body Building Company was arguably the most significant manufacturing firm in Adelaide. Other companies such as Perry Engineering and TJ Richards & Sons, an Adelaide-based vehicle body-building company which had been the main competitor for Holden's body builders since 1922, also contributed to the state's burgeoning manufacturing sector.

The Broken Hill Associated Smelters at Port Pirie became a major source of employment after its expansion in 1925. It became the largest smelter of its kind in the world, able to refine lead, zinc, silver and gold. Broken Hill Pty Ltd (BHP) also established a blast furnace and shipbuilding yard at Whyalla in the 1930s.

After the war ended in 1945, several factories that had been used for wartime production (such as munitions factories – see Chapter 6) were converted to peace-time purposes. General Motors Holden established a major car-production plant at Adelaide's new satellite city of Elizabeth, and Chrysler developed a site in the Adelaide suburb of Tonsley Park. BHP continued building ships at Whyalla and also established a rolling mill and steel plant. With the wartime effort as a foundation, Pope Industries, Kelvinators, Phillips Industries, Hills Industries (of the Hills Hoist) and many others established factories, many of which were supplied with workers from the inrush of immigrants on government-sponsored contracts. These 'directable' migrants made a major contribution to South Australia's manufacturing sector in the latter half of the 20th century (see Chapter 10).

Records held by the Archives relating to secondary industries in South Australia include correspondence, census data, photographs and project files.

Selected series relating to secondary industries in South Australia
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Supply, Regional Office, South Australia Department of Manufacturing Industry, Regional Office, South Australia Department of Industry and Commerce, Regional Office, South Australia
Project files, 1965–2000 D2044
Correspondence files, 1973–95 D687
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Overseas Trade Department of Secondary Industry, Regional Office, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1973–77 D5380
Correspondence files, 1973–84 D1966
Sydney
Recorded by: Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce, State Office, South Australia
Correspondence files, 'SA', 1984–86 D3101
Selected series that contain records relating to secondary industries in South Australia
Sydney
Recorded by: Statistical Department, South Australia
Census register (including dwellings, buildings, cargo, freight), 1932–39 AP1040/3
Register of tabulations of structural and commodity data – factories and works, 1933–58 AP907/2
Factory returns for South Australian statistics of various commodities, 1936–65 AP907/1
Commodity tabulations of materials used and articles produced in factories, 1943–58 AP907/5
Factories and works, 1947–60 AP907/3
Selected items relating to secondary industries in South Australia
Canberra
Glove industry for South Australia – Hungarian experts, 1940 A1539, 1940/W/1610
Perry Engineering Company Ltd (Adelaide) Golden Jubilee – souvenir booklet presented to the Hon Joseph Benedict Chifley, 1947 AA1975/34, 1
Communist Party of Australia – activity and interest in Chrysler (Australia) Ltd, 1956 A6122, 242
Aerial view of the Whyalla Shipbuilding and Engineering Works shipyard, 1965 A1200, L53149
Photograph of General Motors Holden car plant at Elizabeth, South Australia, 1969 A12111, 1/1969/16/12A
Adelaide
Footwear industry, South Australia, 1940 D358, 3011/6/1
Private industry – Chrysler Australia Ltd, 1942–55 D358, 3041/20/1 parts 1 to 2

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Chapter 16
Secondary industries and supply