Digging up Broken Hill’s mining and union history which tells of life and death underground – by Gayle Ball (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – April 25, 2019)


For mine workers in Broken Hill buried in the city’s cemetery, “accidentally killed” was an all-too-frequent epitaph. The headstones at Broken Hill’s cemetery tell the story not only of the city’s colourful history, but the progression of workers’ rights.

Broken Hill’s union movement is widely celebrated as playing a pivotal role in securing better working conditions, as well as the eight-hour working day.

Local historian Christine Adams led a tour during this year’s Broken Hill Heritage Festival focusing on graves which highlighted the city’s union and mining past. More than 800 men were killed on silver, lead and zinc mines in the city.

Most of the graves included the term “accidentally killed” which reflected a lack of responsibility for worker safety at the time, Ms Adams said. “You can see where in the early days the owners certainly didn’t want to take responsibility for deaths and it was only after the Barrier Industrial Council was officially formed that all of these rules and conditions came in,” Ms Adams said.

“So now it’s a very sad and very unusual situation for someone to die on our mines, and that was by the effort of unionism.” Broken Hill man Alan Waldron attended the tour, which visited the grave of his great-grandfather James Waldron, who died from injuries he received on a local BHP mine in 1903.

For the rest of this article: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-26/life-death-underground-broken-hill-cemetery-history/11039564