A heritage of strength

Proudly Australian made for more than 100 years, the steel building products manufacturer Lysaght ensures that homes are strong, safe and sleek. HOUSING explores its past, present and formidable future.

Author

Anne-Maree Brown

Imagine an Australian summer. An outback skyline. The seemingly endless Matisse blue expanse is suddenly broken by the rumbling sound of green-grey clouds heavy with rain. The cockatoos shriek and rush to find shelter. The showers hit like a thankful whip of sweet relief. You are inside, safe. 

Now what do you hear? For anyone growing up in this country, the sound of rain on a corrugated steel roof is intrinsically linked to the comfort of the break in the weather. From pitter patter to rhythmic heavy beats, it’s an iconically Australian sound. And likewise, its steel building producer, Lysaght, is as Aussie as the sound itself.

What you may not know is that Lysaght’s history in this country is a long one – 100 years strong in fact. 

 

Revolutionary beginnings

For any lover of history, the 1850s was a pivotal and powerful decade. From a manufacturing perspective, the era marked the end of the industrial revolution, where production methods changed from man-made to mechanised, and mass production.

With this insurgency came innovation and visionaries. One of these was a 25-year-old ardent Irishman by the name of John Lysaght. As demands for factory and warehousing needs grew in England, he developed his expertise in galvanising and corrugating iron sheeting. Durable, versatile, lustrous and resistant to rust, the product was trademarked as ORB.

At the same time, Australian immigration boomed due to the gold rush era. The influx of people hoping to find their luck as prospectors created the beginnings of modern cities and a need for construction – both residential and commercial. That’s why John Lysaght chose Australia for his export endeavours, a colony heavy with opportunity.

Initially ORB was sold across Australia through independent merchants until John established his own distribution company, the Victorian Galvanised Iron and Wire Company. By 1913, some 80,000 tonnes of ORB found its way across the Equator to our shores from Bristol, England.

 

Birth of a local hero

As the Great War began in Europe in 1914, steel manufacturing capability was re-directed to assist the war effort. This impacted the Australian supply, which highlighted the need to manufacture locally.

With that in mind, John’s nephew, Herbert Royse Lysaght, purchased 24 acres of land in Newcastle, NSW, adjacent to a new BHP steelworks site. 

By April 1921, John Lysaght (Australia) Pty Ltd was producing ORB corrugated steel out of the flourishing port city, and from that date, it was intrinsically Australian-made.

Before long, the quality steel product, with its fluted hills and troughs, made its way into the rural and urban landscape of Australia. Strong enough to withstand hail storms, heat waves, fires and floods, it was used on roofs, shearing sheds, water tanks and, yes, even the outdoor dunny. On a larger scale, the product was universally popular for commercial and industrial projects, further cementing its popularity and purpose.

By the mid-1960s, the silver sheets were accompanied by splashes of colour, with the introduction of COLORBOND® pre-painted steel, a revolutionary innovation at the time. Starting with six colours, this range grew to more than 20, and became another part of the ingenuity for which the company would become known.

Now 100 years on, the company is diverse in product range, and holds an outstanding reputation architecturally and commercially, with their ability to produce products that are structurally strong and design-led.

 

Today’s strength

Now with breakthroughs, such as CUSTOM ORB®, KLIP-LOK® and BONDEK® as part of their portfolio, Lysaght works hard to maintain innovation and quality. Equally important is its safety, compliance and community, paying homage to John Lysaght himself who insisted on high standards and integrity coupled with respectful consideration for staff and customers alike.

Reflecting on the century of Australian manufacturing, Lysaght National Manager, Sales, Marketing and Innovation, Matt Lloyde says, ‘For the company to have reached 100 years of manufacturing in Australia is an extremely satisfying achievement.

‘We have worked hard to develop new product lines, to innovate and to make manufacturing processes as efficient as possible while still providing quality products and offering superior support.

‘Of course, this achievement would not have been possible without the dedication of Lysaght employees and the ongoing support of our business partners and clients. So, to all of you, we say thank you and look forward to the future.’

And if the Irish-born wunderkind was here today to witness the achievements grown from his ingenuity and foresight, John would be proudly sipping tea under a bullnose roof listening to the sweet drumming of the rain above.

 

Lysaght leading products

CUSTOM ORB®

The original Australian corrugated roof sheeting and wall cladding ideal for modern and traditional architecture in residential and commercial applications.

  • A lightweight yet strong roofing and walling material.
  • Versatile – can be laid flat or sprung curved.
  • Nominal cover width: 762mm.
  • Minimum roof slope: 5°.

KLIP-LOK®

An advancement of the original concealed fixed roof cladding with bold ribs making a strong visual statement rising from flat pans. 

  • Concealed fixed offering supreme watertightness.
  • Onsite manufacturing available via mobile roll forming capability.
  • Can be used with LOK-KLIP® end and expansion joint system.
  • Nominal cover width: 700mm.
  • Minimum roof slope: 1° (subject to design provisions being met).

BONDEK®

This is an efficient, versatile and robust structural decking and ceiling system for concrete slabs. It is a highly regarded steel formwork product offering efficiency and speed of construction.

  • Excellent spanning capacities for greater strength and less deflection.
  • Acts as a permanent formwork.
  • Works as composite slab saving on concrete and reinforcement costs.
  • Features slip-free embossments and ribs at 200mm centres, meaning a safe work platform.
  • In NSW/ACT, QLD and NT BONDEK PLUS® is supplied.
 

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