You are in site section: Exhibitions

Alfred Spain

The Home Front: Australia during the First World War

Alfred Spain, architect and army officer

Majory Alfred Spain, V.D. Senior Officer, Corps of Australian Engineers.
Alfred Spain, 1910. National Library of Australia, MFM NX 928.

In August 1917, Alfred Spain, a prominent architect and founding member of Sydney’s Taronga Zoo board, offered the zoo grounds as a campsite for strike-breakers. Known as volunteers or loyalists, they were recruited by the government to replace unionists during the Great Strike.

The strike began when Sydney railway workers walked off the job. After three years of diminishing wages and conditions, the introduction of a ‘card system’ to monitor productivity was the last straw.

The railwaymen were soon followed by almost 100,000 unionists from across eastern Australia.

The strike lasted six weeks but ultimately failed to achieve the unions’ demands.

More

Alfred Spain in the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Strike-breakers on Taronga Wharf, Sydney, during the Great Strike, 1917.
Strike-breakers on Taronga Wharf, Sydney, during the Great Strike, 1917. National Library of Australia, vn3068163.