Miners Memorial services touches the hearts of locals

Guest speakers at the Miners Memorial Service on Friday night: Kay Stingemore, Reverend Graham McLeod, Barry Knight, Peter Abbott, Barry Grant and Owen Potter.

A miners memorial service, held on Friday night as part of this year’s Festival of the Miner’s Ghost program, has been hailed as a great success and there are calls for it now to be an annual event.

The service was held at the Miners Memorial Park opposite the Great Cobar Heritage Centre with more than 200 locals and visitors in attendance.

Organiser Barry Knight said the event was better than he could have expected.

“It was great to see such a large cross section of people there, families, teenagers, representatives from the local mines, and a lot of people travelled from away to attend.

“Our guest speakers were the key and a big part of the success, as they were Cobar people,” Mr Knight said.

Among those guest speakers was deputy mayor Peter Abbott, who was a former mining engineer at CSA Mine, and paid tribute to the  170 men who lost their lives on the Cobar mining field.

“These men never had the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones and vice versa.

“The trauma involved in farewelling Dad, a brother, or son who is heading for work and never laying eyes on them again is horrendous to say the least,” Mr Abbott said.

Mr Abbott recalled personal accounts of the loss of a number of his workmates and friends.

“In the five and a half years I was at CSA 10 men perished with another two soon after,” he said.

“I have attended far too many funerals in the past of miners cut down in their prime, I hope never having to do so again.”

Another speaker, Barry Grant, who comes from a mining family tradition that spans six generations in Australia and who also worked at the CSA Mine, spoke about the evolution of mining processes on the Cobar mining field.

“Mining methods generally improve or innovate because of lack of profitability, often because of reducing head grades, or the need to improve safety,” he said.

“Community expectations have increased dramatically with regards to safety in mining.

“No longer do we accept fatalities, injuries or industrial illnesses as the cost of doing business.

“Memorials such as this one do not just celebrate the efforts of the mining community and those we have lost, but reinforces the need to continuously strive to reach the time when we are truly fatality free,” Mr Grant said.

Local history researcher Kay Stingemore has collected information about 170 men who were killed in Cobar mines, with 69 of those deaths recorded at the Great Cobar Mine.

The worst year was 1913 with 11 deaths and the youngest was 14 year old Charles Knight who was killed carting ore in 1902.