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Sidney James (Sid) Lake (1919–1999)

by Peter Sheldon

This article was published:

Sid Lake, with his wife, n.d.

Sid Lake, with his wife, n.d.

Sidney James Foch (Sid) Lake (1919-1999) rural worker, labourer, dump truck driver, carpenter and trade union official

Birth: 19 October 1919 at Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales, eldest child of native-born parents Sidney James McFarlane Lake (1894-1966), rockminer and trade union militant, and Hilda Irene Hough (1895-1966). Marriage: 17 June 1939 at the Presbyterian Church, Sydney to Mary Merle Mole (1918-2003). They had four daughters and five sons. Death: 17 January 1999 at Home, Indiana, Pennsylvania, United States of America. 

  • His father had served in the Royal Australian Navy aboard HMAS Sydney, and was wounded at Gallipoli and in France while serving in the Australian Imperial Force — the last given name of his eldest son and that of his second son Ernest John Joffre Lake (1922-1941) referenced French generals of World War I.
  • According to a family source on Ancestry, Sid spent his early days among horses and cattle and learning blacksmithing. He than worked on A. G. Hunter’s blood stock stud at Seymour, Victoria, became a stud groom for their Hereford cattle then engaged in share farming in dairy and pigs.
  • He then returned to NSW. He was employed by the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board in 1957 and from 1961 to 1970.
  • Lake was a rank and file activist (especially among non-English-speaking migrant workers) in Water Board construction from 1964 to 1970, and a major force in the development of job level organisation.
  • With John Glebe, he co-ordinated the defeat of George Brightman’s ruling group in the Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage Employees Association.
  • Sid Lake was organiser in the Water and Sewerage Employees’ Union from 1970 to 1975 and, defeating Glebe, secretary from 1975 to 1979.

Water Board staff records; Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board Minutes; Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage Employees Association Minutes; Sid Lake interview 22 February 1983, in Sydney; Michael Tubbs interview 27 January 1989 in Sydney; Peter Sheldon, Maintaining control: a history of unionism among employees of the Sydney Water Board, PhD thesis, University of Wollongong, 1989.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Peter Sheldon, 'Lake, Sidney James (Sid) (1919–1999)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012