Monday, 8th October, 2018
By Michael Murphy
Christine Adams led a stirring commemoration of the men, women and children impacted by mining-related deaths in Broken Hill during yesterday’s Miners’ Memorial service on top of the Line of Lode.
The Heritage Committee secretary was standing in for CFMEU vice-president Greg Braes, who was away helping his daughter celebrate her marriage.
Christine told the small crowd that many in the city had personal links to tragedy on the mines, and she recalled her own experience growing up in Broken Hill.
“Just one month after my father died of a mining-related illness - there was a knock on the door,” she said.
“My father’s brothers were there to tell us our cousin Arbon Rivers had been killed on the mine.”
Arbon Francis “Darby” Rivers, 45, a timber-man, suffered severe internal injuries when he fell about 50 feet down the west skip compartment of the Zinc New Main Shaft (Freeman’s Shaft) onto a penthouse, just above No.19 level about 6.30pm on Saturday, October 22, 1955.
He was treated at the mine by a doctor, and rushed to the Broken Hill Hospital where he died about 5.30am the following day. Arbon was married with a son and a daughter.
About ten years later, Christine lost another cousin, the news delivered “with an almost identical knock on the door”.
Patrick Ernest Rivers, 50, a miner, was killed instantly when he was struck by a hoe blade, operated by an air-driven mechanical scraper winch, in the gangway of a timber stope at 3-4 South-East on No.16 level at the Zinc Mine on July 12, 1965.
There were no witnesses to the accident, according to Stan Goodman’s publication The Fatal Lodes.
But just before it happened, Patrick’s workmate, Leslie Dickerson, was operating the scraper winch, at which time Patrick was leaning against a timber set a few feet away.
A short time later Leslie noticed that Patrick was missing, but he thought that he had gone for a drink.
Soon after Leslie called out to Patrick. When he did not receive an answer, he looked up the gangway and saw Patrick lying at the far end with the hoe across his legs.
Patrick was married with four daughters.
Christine then recalled a time, in 1963, when she was a teenager working on the Zinc Corporation. Her boss Tom Slattery called her into his office, and told her to go home to her mother, her brother Des had fallen down a shaft.
“The stories coming up from underground varied from death to badly injured,” Christine said.
“It was the latter. He survived and is still alive today.
“Our family was one of the lucky ones that day - over 830 families weren’t.”
A perfect morning greeted those who made the effort to join the service yesterday, though the start was delayed for a few minutes when a passing train held back a small section of the crowd and a few of the participants.
Pastor Mark Curtis, Gary Radford, former BIC president Eddie Butcher, Sasha Cox, the Broken Hill Community Singers and City Council, among others, helped make the service a success.