James SheehanPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Tom Bird

A sundial commemorates the work of James Michael Sheehan, who was a Senator in the Commonwealth Government, a councillor and Mayor of Castlemaine.

James Sheehan was a trade unionist and politician born in July 1885 at Castlemaine.   At the age of 13 he obtained a job with the Victorian Railways, and helped to establish the local branch of the Rural Workers' Union of Australia.

He was elected to the council of the Victorian Railways Union in 1915, and joining the Victorian Socialist Party, he moved in the same political and ideological circles as Frank Hyett, Robert Ross, John Curtin and John Cain. He was involved in the anti-conscription campaigns of 1916-17.

A vigorous advocate of industrial unionism, he played an important part in founding the Australian Railways Union in 1920. He retained his role in the State branch of the A.R.U. and was said to be 'the most travelled union organiser in Victoria'. In 1931 he stood unsuccessfully for the Senate as an Australian Labor Party candidate. On 12 July 1938 he achieved his long-cherished ambition when the Victorian parliament chose him to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate.

Defeated at the 1940 elections, he was returned to the Upper House in 1943 and was to serve continuously until his retirement on 30 June 1962. He led the Australian delegation to the first session of the International Labour Organization's inland transport committee, held in London in 1945. 

He was President of the A.L.P.'s Victorian branch and a member from time to time of the party's central executive, and maintained close links with the A.R.U. and the broader industrial labour movement. He was elected to the Castlemaine Town Council in 1951, joining his youngest sister Nellie who in 1942 had become the first woman to sit on the Castlemaine Borough Council.

Sheehan died on 10 April 1967 in his home at Clinkers Hill and was buried with Catholic rites in Castlemaine cemetery. 




Address:Downes Road, Botanic Gardens, Castlemaine, 3450
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.053782
Long: 144.215967
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - Federal


Front Inscription

To recognise the work and service rendered by James Michael Sheehan  a former Senator of the Commonwealth of Australia, councillor and Mayor of the City of Castlemaine

This sundial was erected through the generosity of his many friends and colleagues

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
Proudly sponsored by UBC Web Design