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A changing workforce

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In the early 1950s labour shortages were affecting the progress of construction on the Lawson Syphons near Deniliquin.

A wave of immigrants from Britain and many other European countries at this time provided much needed manpower. At one stage more than 20 different nationalities were represented among those employed on the project.

Many of the workers lived in barracks at the syphon construction camp, near the Aljoes Creek. During the 16 years it took to complete the syphons thousands of people were involved in the project.

At the peak of construction there were more than 300 people on the payroll, with three shifts operating 24 hours a day.

Some workers were transient, others stayed to make their home in Deniliquin, contributing to the cultural diversity of the local community.

Former workers on the project have helped to compile the following list of those who helped to build the syphons, although this list is by no means complete. Several additions and corrections have been made since the original list was compiled in 2005.

Ken Armstead, Engineer
Norman Arnup, Store keeper
Wally Bartholomew, Foreman
Jack Bass, Senior Clerk
Stuart Bass, Clerk - district office
Ian Bolton, District Engineer (operations)
Jimmy Bonaddio, Labourer
Giuseppe Bonaddio
Jim Boucher
John Boyce, Labourer - concrete gang
Harry Bridge
Broom, Engineer
Jim Buchanan, Pile frame crew
Ron Butcher, Foreman syphon construction
Jack Canobi, Leading hand rigger - pile driving
Mick Caruso
Claude Cassidy, Ganger
Adrian Celli, Laborer
Ron Chivers
Tony Coombe, Plant operator
Tom Cooper, Ganger
CC Corbett, District Engineer (survey work)
Joe Damiania
Cas Damiania
Jim Danckert, Clerk
C Dandrea
Mac Darchy, Clerk
Gordon Denham, Clerk
Gordon Diamond, Clerk
Bill Dickens, Ganger
Adrian Douglas, Engineer
Rod Druitt, Plant operator
Reg Dunn, Carpenter
Peter Duyndam, Concrete gang
Stumpy Fields, Dragline operator
Russell Fisher
AC Fitznead, Engineer
Richard Foster, Engineer (cadet)
Max Fraser, Fitter
Vic Georgina
Stony Gercovich, Dragline operator
Jim Gleeson, Clerk
Noel Greaves, Chainman
Geoff Grimision, Clerk - district
Cyril (Mick) Hall, Timekeeper
Charlie Hall, Construction foreman/truck driver
Tom Hall, Ganger, pile frame
Ian Hamilton, Fitter
Dudley Hamilton, Store
Colin Harvey, Clerk
John Haynes Ganger, steel works
Rosemary Hely, Stenographer
Bruce Hely, Engineer (cadet)
Maurice Henderson, Clerk
Joe Hetherington, Time keeper
Brian Hetherington
Jack Holden, Store keeper
Bob Horn, Engineer - Wakool
Bob Horne, Engineer at Wakool
Jaraslav (Jerry) Hrasky, Concrete tester
Claude Hubbard, Chainman
Vic Hubbard, Dragline operator
Bert Hunter, Mechanic
Ray Hyland, Engineer
Harry James, Engineer channel construction 1954
Shirley Johnstone, Stenographer (married name Powell)
Graham Jones
Ray Jones
Barry Jones
Tom Kelly, Clerk
Hector King, Ganger 1945
RFR Kirby, Engineer
Fred Lance, Welder - workshop
Bill Laughlin
Bill Lawford, Foreman - mechanical workshop
Richard Leetham
Peter (Petrus) Leifting, Concrete gang
Arthur Locarnini
Peter Mancini, Mechanical engineer
Chris Manic, Plumber
Herbert Marion, Senior Clerk
Don Marr, Engineer
Merv Marshall
Italo Masolin, Plant operator bulldozer
Dorothy Matheson, Stenographer
S Mazzeo
Cornelius McAuliffe
Harry McCall, Labourer
Frank McLeod, Concrete gang
Eric Morgan
Herbert Mount, Clerk
Pat Murphy
JW Murray, Resident Engineer
Eric Nicholas, Resident Engineer
Harold Nightingale
Cliff Parker, Ganger
Steve Pascoe, Dragline operator
A Pasquetti
S Pasquetti
Neville (Toby) Patterson
Merv Peers, Perry dragline operator
Peter Peso, Ganger
John Pym, Engineer (cadet)
Walter Rayson, Clerk
Paddy Reid
Ashley Rosin
B Ruberto
Rupert Rundle, Labourer
Learco Salvatore
Joe Scott, Store keeper
Max Scott, Engineer
Robert Scott
Vincenzo Scutti
Claude Shand, Welder - workshop
Bill Shattoch, Resident Engineer 1949
Bill Shearer
Barney Shields
Bill Short, Fitter, workshop
B Simeoni
Victor Simic, Labourer
John Sinclair
Marty Sprong
Ron Stapleton, Engineer (cadet)
Stan Stonham, Truck driver
Clarence Stratton, Ganger
Tim Suttie, Mechanical engineer
Bob Sutton
Harry Symmons, Fitter
Tony Tarallo, Concrete gang
NG Thom, Engineer
Ross Thomson
Ellis Thornton
James Tobin
James Todd, Engineer
Peggy Triffitt, Stenographer
John Van De Walle, Labourer/concreter
Wilhelmus (Bill) van Niel, Leading hand - concrete gang
Tony Vidal, Engineer
Arthur Wadle
John Walker, Engineer (cadet)


Migrant workers at the Lawson Syphons construction site, near Deniliquin. Photo: Pasquetti family, Griffith.

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