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A look back at working life

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CSR Chemicals Limited commenced manufacturing operations at Rhodes in 1953. The site near Rhodes railway station had previously been occupied by Hoskins pipeworks.

A wide range of chemicals and associated products were produced at the plant, ranging from cellulose acetate to ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The first cellulose acetate, used in acetate rayon and plastics, to be manufactured in Australia was produced at the Rhodes plant in September 1953.

Recently, the Birkett family donated digital copies of photographs of CSR taken in the 1950s by John Birkett, to Local Studies. John Birkett worked as an industrial chemist at CSR. The images provide a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day workings of an industrial plant in the 1950s.

The photograph, above, shows a worker at the sorbose grinder which was part of the process of ascorbic acid production. Other photographs may be seen on Canada Bay Connections (simply type ‘CSR’ in the search box).

The CSR site has since been redeveloped.