My grandfather Arthur Moline was supervisor of the Mount Lyell mines at Queenstown in the 1930s. In this extract Paul is reading about the fatalities in the mines at this time.
Next year, in March, Joseph Keating, aged sixty, labourer, is killed by a single falling rock at the Comstock mine; he dies in hospital that night. A witness “heard a stone whizzing through the air. The stone hit Keating on the head and he fell at witness’ feet. There was a large wound on the side of deceased’s head and blood was issuing freely.” The stone fell about two hundred feet, and “appeared to come from the top of the open cut”. In answer to a question from the jury: “Stones have fallen after barring-down, although this does not happen very often. There is always a ‘look-out’ man when rocks are falling badly.” Another witness, Thomas Bell, a labourer, “considered the quarry was reasonably safe”.
Paul turns the next few pages. For twelve months, no fatalities. Then in March last year, Marsilio Mioni dies in the district hospital from injuries received at the open cut, Prince Lyell. From the slope above him “a piece of stone became dislodged and fell, striking him on the head.” He dies three hours later in the District Hospital. A witness, Robert Shea, “considered the fall of stone was due to constant wearing of the scraper chains.” The deceased chose to stand below the chain which was “definitely dangerous.” He had done the same before. The victim was at fault for standing where he did. [RED, page 87]
A truck unloading into an ore bin, Mount Lyell, Queenstown, Tasmania, 1930s.
It’s a richly cultivated garden, and its impenetrable walls of living green force the eye inward to an amiable family of youthful, suited gentlemen, young ladies in rich prints and fur collars, and at their centre Marian holds a grandchild. [RED, page 90]
The Molines at Queenstown, c. 1935 (detail). Paul is at far left. His mother (Marian) holds a grandchild. His father (Arthur) is at far right, with his older brother (Geoffrey) in front of him. [Bill Moline collection; reproduced with permission]