Aubrey Brooks' BHP legacy lives in steel

MONUMENTAL: Aubrey Brooks with artist Julie Squires inside the Muster Point sculpture dedicated to the BHP workers.

MONUMENTAL: Aubrey Brooks with artist Julie Squires inside the Muster Point sculpture dedicated to the BHP workers.

THE legacy of BHP in Newcastle is set in steel largely thanks to the work of Aubrey Brooks.

Mr Brooks was awarded the 2014 NSW Government Heritage Volunteer of the Year at special ceremony last week at Muster Point, Mayfield, in recognition of his efforts.

Starting out as a rivet cook at BHP, Mr Brooks eventually ended up in middle management.

When he finally walked out on his last day in 1999, he had been there for 38 years.

After the gates closed, Mr Brooks stayed busy keeping the memory of BHP alive.

He organises the annual Men and Women of Steel reunions and has been part of the team that has raised more than $60,000 for a new BHP memorial.

To be unveiled in 2015, the memorial will commemorate the lives of those who died on site, estimated to be about 800.

Hamilton artist Julie Squires was the artist in residence when the BHP closed 15 years ago.

She worked with Mr Brooks and other workers to create the Muster Point sculpture.

Ms Squires helped celebrate Mr Brooks' volunteer work at the presentation held by Newcastle state MP Tim Owen at the memorial on Industrial Drive, which they helped create together.

"I wanted to pay my respects to Aubrey - he's been such a supporter of the monument," she said.

Mr Brooks gives free tours of Muster Point, giving a history of the plant and the memorial.

Mr Owen said he not only appreciated the amount of effort Mr Brooks put into the BHP legacy but also his friendship.

"I have a lot of respect for what he and [Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association president] Bob Cook do to keep the BHP memory alive," he said.

■ Go to newcastlestar.com.au to see more photos of Aubrey Brooks' volunteer work.

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