The Worst Accident in the history of Australian Gold Mining and The Nicholas Family

William Nicholas, was the manager of the Main Load GM in Burbanks. He had a long flowing white bear and was know for his eccentric behaviour. This earned him the nickname of ‘The Professor’. He married Alice FOWLER and they had two daughters, Alice May and Zoe Victoria and two sons Clive Lanyon and William. During the 1890’s the family migrated to Western Australia and Nicholas took up the management of Burbanks. His concern for mine safety no doubt owed a great deal to an incident near Bendigo VIC in the early 1880’s. At the time he was the manager of the North Creswick GM. Although a good manager he was not very good at sums. He made an error of 55ft when measuring the distance between an old flooded shaft and the new workings. When the water started to seep through he was not unduly concerned as the pumps in the main shaft were powerful. On Dec 12 1882 two miners were extending a drive by candle light. They heard a roar of water and saw slurry pour from the roof of their narrow tunnel. They ran 500 feet back to warn other miners that a wall of water was coming their way. They passed on the warning and then struggled back through the rising water towards the shaft that was the only exit. There were 29 men in the mine that day and only two managed to wade through the water to the main shaft and escape.

Miners of the North Creswick GM

Miners of the North Creswick GM

The other men were trapped at the end of the mine with water rising to their waists. They climbed up ladders to the main workings and hoped the water would not reach them. The water rose till it reached their necks, there was no light, the darkness was complete. Some started quietly singing hymns. Others hoped the pumps and bailing tanks would lower the water. The water ceased to rise but with the breathing of so many men the air soon became thin. Men one by one slumped down into the dark water and their mates did not have the strength to hold them up. Twenty two men were drowned. Five survivors waited two days and two nights for the rescuers to reach them. This is the worst accident in the history of Australian Gold Mining which impaled the imagination of a nation.

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George Gillespie – grave tales

Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 – 1950), Saturday 28 January 1911, page 4

George Gillespie - Kalgoorlie Cemetery

George Gillespie – Kalgoorlie Cemetery 1911

Funeral.— The remains of the late Mr. George Gillespie, late mill shift boss on the Chaffers gold mine, were interred in the Presbyterian portion of the Kalgoorlie Cemetery on Thursday afternoon, the burial service being conducted by the Rev. J. A. Agnew. Mr. Gillespie was only 24 years of age, but he had already obtained an important position on the Chaffers G.M., where his many good qualities endeared him to all with whom he came into contact. Deep regret is expressed &t Mr. Gillespie’ s sudden death from typhoid and pneumonia, after an illness of only a fortnight’s duration. The funeral arrangements were conducted by Messrs. D. and W. Kyle, and the pall-bearers were Messrs. C. O’Donnell, R. H. Parker, M. Kelly, G. F.- Hill, Leslie Nettle, and H. Corry. Wreaths were sent by the staff of Chaffers gold mine, the mill employees, Mr. H. Corry, Mr. M. Kelly, Mr. C. O’Donnell, the Australian Natives’ Association, Mr. W. A. Gillespie, Mr. L. Nettle, and others. Mr. Gillespie leaves a brother here and parents in County Tyrone, Ireland.

George Gillespie - Kalgoorlie Cemetery 2017

George Gillespie – Kalgoorlie Cemetery 2017

A Bush Christmas – C J Dennis

The sun burns hotly thro' the gums As down the road old Rogan comes The hatter from the lonely hut Beside the track to Woollybutt. He likes to spend his Christmas with us here. He says a man gets sort of strange Living alone without a … [Continue reading]

Whats New on the OFH Page –

Just to let everyone know about what's new on the Outback Family History Web site this week:- The headstone photographs have now been added to the Coolgardie Cemetery section C to F. New Photographs and biographies have been added to the … [Continue reading]

Mining Deaths – Lawlers Snapshot 3

In mining areas it was very common to have deaths occur from accidents and miners lung conditions, and Lawlers is no exception. In the Lawlers Cemetery there are 19 mining related deaths out of a total of 164 burials. It is sad that none of them … [Continue reading]