John Young NeilsonPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown
The marble plaque commemorates John Young Neilson, manager of the Wallsend Colliery for 28 years, who died at sea in 1889. 

The name of John Young Neilson is prominent in the annals of Wallsend, and there were few men who were better known during the years he controlled operations at Wallsend Colliery. He died at sea on May 27, 1889, at the age of 57 years. He was born in the mining district of Hepburn, near Newcastle-on Tyne, England, and at ten years of age commenced working in the mines.  In his 25th year he was attracted to Australia, and arrived in the Newcastle district in the later "fifties," becoming an operative in the A.A. Company's Mine. He had devoted his leisure to study while in England, and had qualified as a mining surveyor, besides acquiring other practical and theoretical mining knowledge.  After a brief period with the A.A. Company he was engaged as underground manager at the Wallsend Colliery, and twelve months later, when Mr. T. Brown retired from the management, Mr. Neilson succeeded him. For thirty years he directed operations at the colliery, and the mine ranked as one of the greatest in the southern hemisphere.

While developing the mine, and closely following every detail of the coal trade, Mr. Neilson found time to enter into movements for the welfare of the district. He was elected an alderman of the first council and held Mayoral positions in the town for several terms. He was one of the promoters of the Wallsend Gas Company, President of the Wallsend School of Arts and Horticultural Society and took leading parts in many other local movements. In 1889, by reason of failing health, he decided to take a long sea voyage. The Wallsend people however, did not allow him to go away without a tangible appreciation of their regard, and at a big representative public gathering held in the school of arts on April 21,1889, he was presented with a purse of £150 and an illuminated address.  A few weeks later, accompanied by his wife and son, Robert, Mr. Neilson sailed for China. When he reached Hongkong his health was worse, and after a stay of only ten days, by medical advice he resailed by the S.S. Taiyuan for Australia. When the vessel was off Port Darwin he passed away, and was given an ocean burial.
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW), 
22 April 1924.


Address:Metcalfe Street, St Luke`s Anglican Church, Wallsend, 2287
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -32.905299
Long: 151.670797
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:27-May-1899
Actual Event End Date:27-May-1899


Front Inscription

Sacred to the memory of John Young Neilson, for 28 years Manager of Wallsend Colliery, who died and was buried in the China Sea, May 27th, 1899, 

Aged 57 years. 

"There is in the deep deep sea a spot unmarked, yet holy."

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au