Miners’ Memorial service special
Saturday, 3rd October, 2020
By Craig Brealey
The ceremony to remember the hundreds of workers who lost their lives in the local mines will have greater significance when it is held next week.
The service at the Miners’ Memorial on the Line of Lode traditionally took place on the Sunday closest to October 8.
That date was chosen because it was when in 1902 two young men were killed in a rock fall underground at the Central Mine.
Nineteen-year-old Thomas Jordan and Leopold Campbell (21) were buried alive and their bodies were never recovered.
The added significance to the ceremony on Thursday is because this is the centenary year of the longest strike in Australia’s history.
The Big Strike started in 1919 and lasted for 18 months.
The battle against BHP, the other companies and the NSW Government ended in victory for the Broken Hill unions in November 1920 when they won safer working conditions underground, better pay, and compensation for widows and injured miners.
Next week’s memorial service is being organised by the CFMEU and City Council’s Heritage Committee.
More than 800 mine workers have died from their work on the mines but the Big Strike was a success even before it ended, said Councillor Christine Adams.
“No-one was killed on the mines a hundred years ago because everyone was on strike,” said Clr Adams.
She said the change of date to the day of the young men’s death might attract more people to the memorial service.
“When it was held on a Sunday at 10am there were probably people going to church, and by holding it at 5pm there might be people there who couldn’t come before.”
The restrictions in place due to the coronavirus should not affect it much, said Clr Adams.
“It will be a simple ceremony but we are asking people to bring their own chair and to observe social distancing. We will provide the hand sanitizer.”
The vice president of the CFMEU, Greg Braes, said three flags on top of the Line of Lode would be flown at half mast on the day.
They are the national flag and the two that used to be raised over the Trades Hall to signal an accident or worse on the mines.
“The red flag meant an accident had happened, and the black meant a fatality,” said Mr Braes.
The young men killed on October 8, 1902 where among 11 who died on the mines that year alone.
Leopold Campbell and Thomas Jordan had one of the hardest jobs on the mines. They shifted the heavy ore with a shovel, and were called “mullockers”.
“These mullockers had climbed up the stope to shovel the ore into the chute when the fall happened.
“Their mate below was blown into the drive but he survived.”
The youngest mine worker killed in Broken Hill was only 14.