Len Richardson, The Bitter Years: Wollongong during the Great Depression

Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1984

[Review by] Peter Love

Len Richardson’s account of Wollongong’s transition from a rural-mining district in the early 1920’s to an industrial city by the late thirties traces the emergence of a self-consciously militant working class community . He demonstrates how the tensions between old and new residents, miners and steelworkers, companies and unions, municipal authorities and the unemployed, political parties and the factions within them all shaped the particular social geography of Wollongong as it struggled through the great depression. The fusion of political, industrial and social protest in the pig iron dispute and the 1938 coal strike culminate an excellent study of how these complex processes led to collective militant action.