Coordinated by Steve Wilson
On the 30th April 1997 BHP announced that the Newcastle Steelworks would close in 1999 reversing its previous decision to upgrade the steelworks and keep them open. Over 2500 direct and indirect jobs would be lost. People’s lives would be changed forever. A large piece of Newcastle’s identity would be gone. The town would never be the same again.
At Newcastle Trades Hall Council, the Workers Cultural Action Committee as it had done with Aftershocks, its award-winning production about the Newcastle earthquake, initiated an arts project through the unions and with the support of the company that would assist the workers to reconcile this moment in their lives. It was about telling stories and sharing experiences, of the good times, the camaraderie, the harshness and danger of the steelworks, the way it shaped the people and the way people responded to it, the unexpected beauty, the joys and the lifelong friends. “The Molten Arts Project” as it became known brought together artists and steelworkers at a unique time in a particular community to create a number of exceptional arts products.
One of these projects, the “In Our Time” exhibition, is the basis of the exhibition Last Days @ Big Harry’s Place. This is the steelworks through the eyes of the workers. This is the steelworks, the people and the place. This is the steelworks that we'll never see again.
View a selection of photographs by clicking on the thumbnails.
Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association