The humble Gladstone bag would be a familiar sight to many Tasmanian families. Les Miller carried this one daily on his journey from his home in Bellerive, Hobart, to the Zinc Works at Lutana where he worked as a fitter and turner.. This bag was his ‘crib bag’ used to carry his crib (lunch). It was also used on weekend fishing trips or for carrying excess vegies to share with his work mates.
Les worked at the Zinc Works from the 1950’s till his retirement in the 1980’s. Les’ daughter Maggie Aird nominated the bag for the 100th object of Shaping Tasmania. She says of the bag:
"For as long as I can remember (as a child) it sat open on the floor just inside the back door from when he walked in at night until my mother closed it in the morning once she had made his lunch and placed it carefully in the bag. If it was closed, we were not allowed to open it as it might contain a surprise. And if it was ever there during a week day, then he was ill, or perhaps on holiday! There was a whole generation of blue collar workers who carried these.”
The Zinc Works, formerly the Electrolytic Zinc Company, commenced commercial production in 1921 and its operations have had a state-wide influence. It was a driving force in the hydro-industrialisation of the state and continues to be one of the state’s major employers.
The Gladstone bag was designed in the late 19th century by J. G. Beard and named after British Prime Minister William Gladstone. It is made with stiff leather on a distinctive rigid frame and opens into two equal sections.