Deposit 142 - CSR Limited Head Office deposit

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Reference code



CSR Limited Head Office deposit


  • 1847 - 1970 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

144 m

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Name of creator

(1855 -)

Administrative history

The Colonial Sugar Refining Company was founded on 1 January 1855 by Sir Edward Knox. It was formed in Sydney as a partnership of unlimited liability which took over some of the assets of the Australasian Sugar Company and Robey and Company including sugar stocks and the Brisbane House refinery and distillery. On 1 June 1857 the Colonial Sugar Refining Company shareholders and Victorian business interests formed an associate company – the Victorian Sugar Company – to establish a refinery and distillery in Melbourne. From 1869-70, three large sugar mills were built and operated on the Macleay and Clarence rivers, New South Wales. A new sugar refinery opened in Pyrmont, Sydney, and from 16 February 1878 Pyrmont became the New South Wales refinery. In 1880 Knox handed over the general management of the company to his second son Edward William.

In 1882 the company began sugar production in Fiji with crushing at the Nausori mill. The company also introduced a system of chemical control of processes in its mills. In 1886, Rarawai mill in Fiji , built by CSR for the New Zealand Sugar Company, began crushing. From 1885-88, Dr G Knottman, CSR chemist, developed the POCS formula determining the “pure obtainable cane sugar” in cane. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the Victoria Sugar Company were amalgamated in 1887. The company was incorporated as a limited liability company in New South Wales on 1 July 1887 changing its name to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. The New Farm refinery opened in Brisbane in 1893 and in 1894, CSR’s Lambasa mill in Fiji began crushing. Crushing began at CSR’s Childers mill, near Bundaberg, Queensland, in 1895 and at the Lautoka mill in Fiji in 1903. In 1906 the remaining Kanaka workforce were deported.

In 1915 the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (Fiji and New Zealand) Limited was formed to take over the assets of the company outside Australia. This subsidiary was liquidated in 1923 and the assets returned to CSR Co Limited. I the same year, the Queensland state government signed an agreement with CSR to refine all of that state's sugar production. In 1920 the indentured labour of Indians in Fiji was cancelled on Government decree. CSR introduced a tenant-farming system in Fiji in 1924 as a possible solution to its labour problems. The company bought the Penang mill, Fiji, in 1926.

From around 1939, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Ltd expanded into manufacturing industrial chemicals through its Industrial Chemicals Division, and building materials as early as 1942 with the construction of a plaster mill in Sydney and manufacturing plasterboard. In 1948 CSR Chemicals Limited was formed, later changing its name to CSR Chemicals Pty Ltd in January 1952. In 1959, CSR acquired an interest in Bradford Insulation. In 1973 the company name changed to CSR Limited. CSR Limited took over Australian Estates Co Ltd in 1975.

Name of creator

(1842 - 1854)

Administrative history

On 13 March 1842 the Australasian Sugar Company was formed in Sydney to take over the assets of the Australian Sugar Company (1839 - 1842). The company operated the Canterbury Refinery from September 1842 processing raw sugar imported from Manila and producing the first locally refined sugar in Australia. Three directors of the company, Edward Knox, Clarke Irving and Ralph Mayer Robey purchased Bowden’s sugar works (the Sydney House) at the corner of Pitt and Liverpool Streets in 1849, and in 1852, Cooper’s refinery in Parramatta Street (the Brisbane House). Knox was the company’s manager and director from August 1843 to 1854 when the company went into liquidation.

Name of creator

(1853 - 1855)

Administrative history

Robey and Co was formed by the three directors of the Australasian Sugar Company: Edward Knox, Clarke Irving and Ralph Mayer Robey. The company operated the Brisbane House Refinery (Cooper’s refinery in Parramatta Street) and distillery works from 1853-55. The company was acquired by the Colonial Sugar Refining (CSR) Company in 1855.

Name of creator

(1883 - 1888)

Administrative history

The New Zealand Sugar Company Limited was formed on 23 June 1883 and operated Chelsea Refinery in Auckland from September 1884. Equal shares were held by the Colonial Sugar Refining (CSR) Company, Victoria Sugar Co, and New Zealand business interests. The first manager was J E Brewster until 1887. His successor W W Philson continued as Auckland Manager for CSR Co Limited after the company was amalgamated with CSR Co Limited in 1888.

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Scope and content

The bulk of these records consist of Head Office correspondence between 1855 and 1947. Until 1947, Head Office outward letters were copied in press copy letter books. Most have detailed indexes, including the inward letters received from 1903. Where gaps exist in the Head Office series, or the material is damaged or fragile it is sometimes possible to locate the same content in the Branch or Mill end of the correspondence.

The deposit also consists of annual reports, share records, New Zealand Sugar Company Limited board minutes, legal documents re lands in Fiji (1885-1970), chemical records, technical reports and data re sugar production, circulars, price lists, photographs (1868-1961) and press cuttings. Items 3619-4100 consist of photographs, series of photographs and albums.

These records contain information on CSR refineries in Australia and New Zealand, raw sugar mills in Australia and Fiji, sugar marketing, distilleries, ocean vessels, pineapple canning in Fiji, the beginnings of the divisions of building materials and industrial chemicals, mining, and defence projects 1939-1945. Also includes correspondence and records of the Australasian Sugar Company, and Robey and Company.


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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Archives staff will need to request permission from the owner of the records before access can be given. Items 2171-2173; 2432; 2512; 2513 are restricted and have been returned to CSR Ltd until further notice.

Photograph entitled "Mummy of aboriginal chief 1901" in 142/3861 (Album 3) is restricted. Viewing and access is only available to bona fide researchers and aboriginal people from Mulgrave district, Queensland.

142/3861-3862 are albums of photographs with restricted access for some photographs of aboriginal people from Mulgrave district, Queensland. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers may wish to know that these items may contain images of deceased persons.

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142/3501 are a set of 34 photographic printing blocks of servicemen's photographs in 142/3499;
142/3658 number not used;
142/3660, 142/3723-3725 are albums of photographs not found

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Entered from deposit description on 21 May 2012. Revised by Phuong Dang on 18 August 2016




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