Henry MacCabe & William McMurray (Mining Disaster Memorial) Print Page Print this page

The Mining Disaster Memorial commemorates Henry Osborne MacCabe and William McMurray who perished while attempting to rescue others in the Mount Kembla mining disaster of 1902. The memorial is also in the memory of the 94 others who perished in the disaster. 

At around 2.00 p.m. on 31 July 1902 a large volume of flame and smoke was seen to burst from the main tunnel of the Mount Kembla colliery near Wollongong. A massive explosion in the mine resulted in the tragic loss of 96 lives and many serious injuries. A royal commission was set up to investigate the disaster. The cause of the explosion was found to be the ignition of firedamp or methane gas supplying a miner`s light. The explosion generated a coal dust explosion that wrecked a large portion of the mine. The recommendations of the royal commission included more testing for gas, improvements in ventilation and shot-firing practices, and the use of safety lamps where gas was present. The miner`s safety lamp has now been replaced by modern, electric lamps and other safety equipment. 38 victims are buried in the Anglican Church grounds.

The memorial fountain erected in the main street of Wollongong by public subscription, and dedicated to the memory of Major McCabe and William McMurray (who lost their lives in endeavouring to save life) and the 74(sic) others who perished in the Mount Kembla disaster, was unveiled this afternoon by the Mayor of Wollongong (Alderman Beatson) in the presence of 5000 people. The oration was delivered by Mr. G. W. Fuller, M.P. Several leading townspeople, as well as the local clergymen, also spoke. Sub-inspector Banks, who was lately transferred from Wollongong to Orange, and who also distinguished himself for bravery at the time of the disaster, was presented with an illuminated address and a gold watch and chain by the townspeople of Wollongong.
Evening News (Sydney, NSW),12 August 1905.

The memorial was originally a fountain with two gas lamps which was unveiled in 1905 and stood originally near the intersection of Crown Street and Keira Street.  In July 1937, the memorial was relocated from the Crown Street site to the centre of Wollongong Rest Park which also contained other memorials. Wollongong Rest Park was developed to make way for the Gateway Shopping Centre and in 1973 the memorial was relocated to its present site. The fountain and gas lamps are no longer functioning. 


Address:Cordeaux Road, Mount Kembla Anglican Church, Mount Kembla, 2526
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.432411
Long: 150.819129
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:31-July-1902
Actual Event End Date:31-July-1902
Monument Manufacturer:F. W. Rose (Wollongong, NSW)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 12th August, 1905
Front Inscription

This memorial was erected by public subscription to commemorate the herosim and self-sacrifice of Henry Osborne MacCabe and William Murray who perished in the Mount Kembla Colliery disaster on 31st July 1902 while endeavouring to save life

Also in memory of the 94 others whose names are inscribed on the tablets and who lost their lives in the same calamitous occurance


Left Side Inscription
[ Names ]
Back Inscription
[ Names ]
Right Side Inscription
[ Names ]
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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