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The Grave Of Thomas Tame (Hightville, North West Queensland's Argylla Ranges)

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posted by Buddy Patrick alias Buddy Patrick on Sunday 17th of October 2021 02:10:00 PM

Hightville & the Wee MacGregor Mine: The discovery of the MacGregor ore body was credited to Jack White in 1904. A Victorian buyer, James Peberdy, bought a parcel of 7 leases; the Balaclava, Sabastapol, Greater Esmond, Inkerman, Grand Central, Wallaroo, and Wee MacGregor in 1905. James Peberdy then created the MacGregor Cloncurry Copper Mines Company. A company store was set up on the lease, managed by the mine accountant, Frank Knox. A small calico house on a wooden frame was built for the storekeeper, Reg Gyton. W. Hinkle of Cloncurry built for James Perberdy and his sister a large highest wooden home, overlooking the Wallaroo Mine. A haphazard collection of tents, galvinised iron and bough sheds appeared along the track connecting the leases. On an elevated area south of the leases, John Frost built the MacGregor Hotel in 1909. Towards the end of 1910, ore reserves were confirmed, finance raised, and deliberations began as to whether to build a smelter at the site or build a private rail line to transport the ore to the smelters at Friezland. During this time, Hampden and Mount Elliot mining companies were both trying to increase their ore reserves. The rich MacGregor ore had not gone unnoticed and both groups approached the lease holder, James Peberdy. In 1913, Perberdy's MacGregor Mining Company passed into the hands of Hampden Mining Company and Thomas Warrick took over management of the company. Hightville was surveyed in 1913 by the government surveyor E. Dighton and was so named for its location upon the high ridges. The MacGregor Hotel was taken over by Pierce Edwards. William Jones was postmaster and had a store from 1913 to 1916. The blacksmith from 1911 to 1912 was William Denison. The few families in the town were those of the min managers and publicans. Until it burn down in 1914, the MacGregor Hotel passed through the hands of Dora Power, Mrs O'Toole, and Jim Commerford. The miners then waited for the arrival of the Cosmopolitan Hotel which was being moved from Ravenswood. The Cosmopolitan was dragged into the area in time to hear that Highville was not a suitable location for a rail terminus. A request for another townsite was made and a government surveyor was recalled. As soon as the last peg was driven in December 1914, the exodus from Highville to the new town of Ballara began. The company store and post office remained at Highville. The Wee MacGregor mines opened a school at Hightville with Miss Case as the first teacher. Children came to school in Hightville from Ballara and more families moved in. Eventually, a public school was built. The Ballara school children sometimes stole a pump car to run down the two miles to Ballara, using a stick as a brake with occasionally near-tragic results. While the town was being relocated, the company 2' gauge rail line and tunnel began construction, and the government 3"6 gauge line approached Ballara from the MacGregor Junction just south of Malbon. The 3 shafts of Wallaroo, Grand Central, and Wee MacGregor had wooden head frames erected. The steam winders and boilers arrived, were installed, and tested. in July 1915, the mines were ready for protection and the rail had arrived at Ballara. A Krausse 0-6-0 locomotive with 50 tones of ore headed east for the first time from the mine to the rail terminus at Ballara. It stopped on the elevated ore ramp and tipped ore from the small 5 ton wagons into the large 20 ton wagons on the 3"6 government line below. The pilot trip of ore to the smelters at Kuridala ran without incident and so began the mining operations. On two occasions, the Hightville School and the Wallaroo Mine headframe were condemned because of termites, and a fire in the winderhouse of the MacGregor shaft compounded the problems when the winding engine was damaged beyond repair. An urgent telegram was sent to Earle Huntley at Kuridala, telling of the double failure. The answer was prompt, "Close Wallaroo, transport winder engine to MacGregor, resume production". The Wee MacGregor mine was considered the 'plumb' of the field. The mine had two shafts with three drives of over 6000 feet, providing ore from 3 to 18% copper. Monthly ore receipts of over 1200 tons were not uncommon. In November 1918, the Great War that supported the mineral field throughout its early prosperous years, came to an end and the price of copper dropped below production costs. Two weeks after the signing of the armistice, the Hampden Mining Company smelters were shut down for their annual maintenance, and this closure saw the end of production for the MacGregor mine area. During the three years of operation (July 1915 to November 1918), the area produced more the 44 000 tones of copper ore. The Hightville Cemetery: The cemetery at Hightville has six graves with 37 year old Tom Tame, the first, in 1912 (this is the only marked grave) and 60 year old Tom Price, the last, in 1918. Those recorded as being buried at the Highville Cemetery are: THOMAS TAME. Born in Wittenham, England. Died 15 Feb 1912. Aged 37 years. Asphyxia by powder fumes. Grand Central Mine. Carpenter. HAROLD VINCENT GORDON KNIGHT. Born in Picton, New Sotuh Wales. Died 24 Dec 1913. Aged 26 years. Accidentally drowned. Labourer HUGH WHITE. Died 26 Feb 1915. Aged 44 years. Heat stroke. Labourer. WILLIAM AHMOOK OR CONNORS. Born Gilbert, Queensland. Died 1 Dec 1915. Aged 44 years. Bucket fell down shaft. Greater Esmond Mine. THOMAS KEMPTON. Died 12 June 1916. Aged 35 years. Accidently drank ant poison. Miner. THOMAS PRICE. Died 16 June 1918. Aged 60 years. Broken neck, fractured skull. Miner. In memory of those who lay nearby: JAMES BRADY. Born Geelong, Victoria. Died 16 October 1909. Aged 51 years. Labourer. Stoppage of water. Buried Wee MacGregor. Ballara: Ballara was surveyed in 1913, after it was realised that Hightville was unsuitable for a rail terminus. It was to be named after the manager of the Wee MacGregor mine, Tom Warrick, who declined the honour but suggested it be named after a rich and famous town like Ballarat - - but the board they wrote the name on was not big enough so it became Ballara. The Cosmopolitan Hotel, renamed "the MacGregor" was the first building to make the move, followed by the establishment of smaller shops. Paddy Walsh and Ted Norton provided a general store and bakery, Percy House and Dan Parker a butchery, and Mrs Pat Sweeny built the first boarding house. The company store and post office was located at nearby Hightville. The town of thirty families and an equal number of single miners swelled to a population of over 1000 when the mines worked at their peak. The miners worked day shift only for six days a week. Leisure included drinking beer, betting on local horse races and playing billiards. In the afternoons, the patrons could hear the horns of milk goats raking the bearers as they walked under the hotel. Picnics south to Fountain Springs or east to the larger town of Kuridala were outings to remember. Before the arrival of the 3'6" gauge rail line, transport was provided by coach drivers Edwards and Lidster. Water for the town was sourced from Jimmie's Creek and transported to each house by horse and dray. There was no local saddler or blacksmith, so Hensley's Stables, the local Cobb and Co agents in Cloncurry, satisfied both demands. There was also no church, so either the congregations in Cloncurry or Kuridala serviced the town. News of the world arrived through the Cloncurry newspapers, the 'Advocate' and the 'News', and through the 'Sentinel' from Kuridala. Due to the uncertainty of the mineral field, buildings of the area were a unique type of demountable, with every part numbered to a code. The hotel, boarding house, and private homes were all bolted together in such a way as to allow them to be dismantled, transported by dray, and re-erected to another site. The Cosmopolitan Hotel, originally built in Ravenswood, resided in Highville, Ballara, and Cloncurry. Shutters replaced windows and mosquito nets on frames controlled pests. The Ballara Provisional School was opened on the 7th of July 1919, after the school teacher, Timothy Killeen, were moved from Hightville. Davis Arndt arrived in Ballara as a new teacher on the 3rd of May 1921 but was granted sick leave due to war wounds and later died in Stanthorpe. George Corboy and George Sargent followed as teachers until the school's closure on the 28th of February 1925. In 1921 and 1922, the Ballara police station was manned by Acting Sergeant John Gillick and Constable M. Kinnane. It was decided that the station was required in Mount Isa, so the buildings and cells were re-erected there on the 31st of July 1924. The Ballara District Hospital serviced small towns and mining operations of the area. In 1921, the matron of the hospital was SIster Mary Duncan, the medical practitioner was Doctor Rae, the accountant and secretary was Fraser Knox, and the cook was Selina Matthews. For many years, the undertaker, Bill Cocking, used the cemetery at Hightville. Funerals were sometimes delayed for days while relatives were informed and travelled. There was just no way to preserve the deceased in the coffin whilst the nearest source of ice was miles away in Kuridala. One day, the ultimate embarrassment occurred after a bumpy ride in a spring cart on a hot summer afternoon. As a result, the cemetery was established just to the north of Ballara. The Great War contributed to high copper prices, however, when the conflict ended in November 1918, the value of copper fell below production costs. The closure of the Hampden Cloncurry Copper Mines Limited smelter at Kuridala in 1920 saw the closure of mining production at the MacGregor mining fields. The company directors recommended all work cease and all equipment be dismantled and removed. The township then had no purpose and a large proportion of the demountable buildings were carefully removed to Cloncurry and the surrounding area. The local workforce was absorbed into the railways and pastoral industries. A few exceptions stayed and gouged on private mineral shows, hoping for the fickle minerals market to rebound. Source: Ballara Mining Heritage Trail, Blueprint for the Bush, Cloncurry and District Historical and Museum Society, Angor to Zillmanton by Colin Hooper, & the Mount Isa and Cloncurry Communities "In memory of those who came before us" July 2010



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