A former Newcastle BHP worker says the diminishing manufacturing industry is a sad situation for the Hunter region.
It has been 14 years since the BHP steelworks closed and workers will gather for a reunion at the Newcastle District Tennis Club tomorrow from 12:30pm (AEST).
About 1,000 people were left without a job when the steelworks closed in 1999.
Aubrey Brooks says the steelworks is entrenched in his family's history.
"My grandfather started there in 1915 and he worked there for 37 years. Dad worked there for 42, I worked there for 38 and my brother worked there for 8 years, that's 125 years service with the company," he said.
Mr Brooks looks forward to the reunion each year.
"It's a chance to get together and it's marvellous the story that you hear, but one of the biggest starts to all the stories is remember when and that's really sad," he said.
Mr Brooks says the Hunter has lost many manufacturing businesses since BHP closed.
You know we've lost the Dockyard, the floating dock, the Sulphides, Stewart and Lloyds, Henry Lanes was another little business.
"It just goes on and on and on.
"Newcastle will never be the same and the biggest thing we've lost is the apprenticeships."
Mr Brooks says it is disappointing the former steelworks site remains vacant.
He says the steelworks provided thousands of families with employment.
Mr Brooks says industry needs to return to the site and provide more jobs for the region.
"That site is one of the best sites that you could have an industry on, with a big deep water port," he said.