Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kapunda's Railway - Part 1:" Washed Away At Fords"

Kapunda's Railway 

Part 1
"Washed Away At Fords"
Allen Tiller
Kapunda Railway Station circa 1900

Some things get forgotten with the passing of time and the introduction of new technologies. It has been a long time since Kapunda last saw a train stop at it's station, and many more years have passed since a steam train has entered this town!

Photo by Allen Tiller
 The once bustling train station is now a Bed and Breakfast, and the old Goods shed is a crumbling piece of Kapunda's heritage going to waste. The Old Railway Hotel is now a private home, the old water filler a long forgotten rusty relic, and the train line through the town, a piece of unused land that could be better suited to something more modern like a bike track, but I digress, this blog isn't about the now, it is about the history that surrounds one of the most important train lines and destinations in South Australia's railways history - The Kapunda Railway.

 We are going to start this series with the story of an accident out near Fords, a long forgotten story, but an important part of this towns history. Also, I see this as a way to honour the Men and Women who spent their working lives, and some, their deaths, building this great town through their hard work on our railways. - Allen Tiller

In 1914 on Thursday the 13th of February, after a huge storm blew through the Light region, a goods train coming from Gawler to Kapunda came off the tracks near Fords. (just south of Kapunda)
The storm had brought with it a downpour that had washed away the lines near the 42J miles marker.

The accident had been witnessed by Mr Clancy and Mr Moore of Fords. The two men were out testing the line after the torrential downpour, and had reached the eastern side of where the water had been pouring over the line.
The two men, standing on the line, were pitched into knee deep water when the railway line gave way under the pressure of the torrent. As the two men recovered their footings and scrambled back onto the tracks, the goods train rounded the corner on the otherside of the broken line from where the men were standing, and before either could raise a warning signal, the train plummeted of the line into the nearby creek, landing on its side.
Clancy and Moore watched as the driver Mr W. Critchley and the Fireman Mr. A.H. Whaites climbed out of the engine and onto the side of the tipped over train.
 As the two men made their way over the locomotive, the water gushed and sent Mr Critchley into the seething torrent, where he was washed away with the current.

A message was telegraphed to the Kapunda Station and a party, including Dr Glynn, Station Master Mr A.S. Leach and Inspectors Gordon and Johnson was dispatched to head out to the train wreck.
The site was inspected by the light of the setting moon, but the reality of the disaster could not be fully comprehended until the light of the next day.
The engine was laying on its side in the now naturally flowing creek bed, awash with slime and mud, behind it lay carriages piled up on top of each other, all fully loaded with cargo, axles twisted and the wheels at right angles.
One wagon measuring at 22 feet long was standing straight in the air, supported by another 16 foot long carriage laying in a similar position, both being supported by the wagon with the trains water tanks. Only the last 5 wagons and the guards carriage remained intact upon the line.

 What caused such a massive pile up? The spot where this accident happened was not considered at the time to be one of danger. The sudden and extremely hard downpour of rain overfilled the small creek culvert on which the train tracks lay.
 The culvert could not take the extreme amounts of water being forced into it and caused a back wash of water to be accumulated, the water level rose until it washed over the lines.
 The track was built on a bank that sat between 6 feet and 8 feet high, with the culvert running underneath, with the water pressure cascading across the line, much of the supporting ballast had been washed away. And as the train hit the weakened structure, it gave away, plunging the train into the cold currents of the creek.

 The guard who was in the last carriage of the train suffered no injuries, and began walking back to Freeling to alert them of the accident before the passenger train made its way down the line, this was unneeded though as the storm had caused problems with lines in Smithfield and Gawler as well causing the passenger train to be delayed significantly

Fireman Whaites was interviewed by officials and his story is as follows;
“ The train left Freeling soon after 6 o'clock, not far from the station we ran through a body of water safely, when we soon passed a second body of water, we kept a lookout, but did not think it necessary to stop altogether.
Suddenly we felt the engine going and with only the width of the embankment we knew there was little hope, and in seconds we were in the water.
When she rested on her side I climbed out, and my mate followed me. The water was to my waste and when I got my footing I looked around for the driver to see if he was right.
As he got out he seemed to sink on his knees, and before it was possible to do anything the water carried him away.
One good Samaritan gave me a pair of dungarees and another coat, and I feel pretty right now, although it was a bad experience”

As for the driver, Mr Critchley, a search was carried out to find him, his water bag and tool box were found a quarter of a mile down the creek. Mr Critchley's body was found about seven miles further down the stream, hanging to a tree in the middle of the creek, his body was badly bruised and it was most probable that he died of what we now call hypothermia.  

Some images on this blog are borrowed from the State Library Of South Australia:
 There is currently no copyright laws attributed to these images
Researched and Written by Allen Tiller © 2012 

Friday, August 17, 2012

That Kapunda Crown

Whilst doing research for an investigation with another of our passions, Eidolon Paranormal, Karen and I stumbled across this piece of Kapunda's forgotten history.
  We printed what we had found and put it on the notice board in the front bar of the Clare Castle Hotel, hoping someone would come forward with some information, unfortunately, not even the long time regular's had seen the image before! 
We had another mystery to be solved in Kapunda!

Below is what we posted on the notice board in the Hotel:

"Kapunda Revelation"

"After many layers of paper in the quaint Clare Castle Hotel at the Adelaide end of Kapunda had been removed, this design, measuring three feet, was found painted on the wall above the mantelpiece in the front room: it is in gold, green and black."

Again we found ourselves researching, this time for another Kapunda location. We stumbled across the answer to the mystery of the Kapunda crown ourselves, thus unravelling another of Kapunda mysteries, and finding a great deal of local information in the process!
 The mystery of The Kapunda Crown was solved by this article in 1954.

The Advertiser  

Page 4
Tuesday 27 July 1954

That Kapunda Crown

With commendable promptitude Mrs. E. O'Neill, president of Glenelg Sun shine Club has explained from 'Carmel,' 3 College street, Glenelg. the origin of the Crown at the Clare Castle Hotel. Kapunda

'The picture in your column took my mind back to my childhood watching my father, the late Edward (Ned) Murphy drawing that crown. He was the licensee.

'I do not remember why, as I was only six. Father had a peculiar trait to paint and draw things like this. 'He was a very intelligent man; when he died 21 years ago. at 86. he had retained his remarkable mentality.

Did Other Drawings

'First, he was licensee of the North Kapunda hotel for three years, during which time he was a councillor. Sir Sidney Kidman and Mr. Charlie Coles were personal friends of his.

'When Queen Victoria died my parents draped the front of the Clare Castle in black. Father drew and painted a life-size picture of Queen Victoria for the centre.

'About this time, 1901. he drew the crown. I remember his doing the heart and saying to us children. 'The Throne and the Queen are the heart of the Empire.'

Many other hotels bear some drawing or inscription done by dad at Robe, on the window of a temperance hotel is something he did with a diamond ring.

'I unfortunately burnt the only photo of the Clare Castle after father's death.

'I enclose one of the North Kapunda, taken about 1898. My father is the young man in shirt sleeves. Mother is standing by myself, a little tot looking through the balcony bars. One of the maids holds my baby brother, later an original Anzac.'

Kept City Hotels

Mrs. O'Neill says her father (Edward Murphy) and mother had many guests at their Adelaide hotels. Most famous was Madame Sarah Bernhardt at the Metropolitan in Grote Street.

Mr. C. C. Kingston, who lived farther west on the West terrace corner, wanted her father to buy half of Kingston Park, Marino, for £10.

'My grandparents were among the first Port Adelaide hotelkeepers. Migrants stayed there until they got work or land,' she adds.|||l-title=The+Advertiser+%28Adelaide%2C...|titleid%3A44|||l-australian=y
 Another interesting piece of Kapunda's history thrust into the spotlight!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kapunda Locations: Copper Mines

The Kapunda Mines

Allen Tiller

The Copper in the Kapunda Mines was first discovered by Francis Dutton in 1842. He began a partnership with Captain Bagot (Captain was a traditional Cornish term used for a
manager).and together they purchased about 80 acres of land. They paid 1 pound per acre of land.
The pair set about taking samples from the numerous green rocks. The samples were then sent of to England for testing, this would take almost two years before results would return to Australia. Upon the results reaching Australia, the business partners were astonished to find the copper was 22.5 percent pure, which at the time was the richest deposit found anywhere in the world.
Clare Castle Hotel bottom left corner circa 1860

The mine began small with Bagot employing labourers to dig the copper of the surface with shovels and picks. In their first year alone they removed 600 tons or ore, valued at about 7000 pounds.
Around December 1844, Cornish miners began to arrive on-site, and tunnelling and underground mining began in earnest.
Francis Dutton decided to sell his 25% share in the mine in 1846, earning him the vast sum (at the time) of 16000 pounds, Captain Bagot now had the controlling 55% of ownership of the mine.

In its beginnings the mine would transport its ore via bullock dray to port Adelaide, a journey of about 6 days, where it would be loaded onto ships and transported by vessels to Swansea in Wales, where it was smelted by the Welsh. Loads were sent at 2 tonnes per load, by 1850, the mine was producing 100 tones of copper ore per month.

In the coming years the mine would expand significantly, and so would the town. Many jobs were created, and it seemed in this era that certain cultural backgrounds provided expertise in differing areas, with Welsh men coming to south Australia to operate smelters, the Cornish, who were expert miners, and the Germans who began to cut down trees needed to power the furnaces of the smelters, and began farms to feed the vast amount of workers. Then there were the Irish who began as labourers, and to drive the Bullock teams to Port Adelaide

Kapunda never had one distinct mine instead there were at least five or six
distinct copper lodes in close proximity, which were mined from as many as ten
separate shafts over time: Wheal Bagot, Wheal Charlotte, Wheal Truscott,
Wheal Lanyon, Wheal Harris, Wheal Major. There is no trace of any of them
today, as they have all been obliterated by later workings of the mine (wheal being a cornish mining term of phrase)

In 1849, Smelters made in Germany arrived in South Australia, reducing the need to ship ore overseas, however, the ships now brought back Coal from England for the smelters
by 1851, Kapunda had a population of over 2000 people

In 1850, the mines had reached about 80 feet down and had started to go below the water table, a steam engine was brought in to pump the water out of the mine. At its deepest point the mine reached about 480 feet, or 150 metres.

In 1852, the Goldrush in Victoria began, this had a huge effect on Kapunda and its surrounds, many men left to try their luck at finding a quick fortune. For almost three years the production rate at Kapunda dropped to a minimal amount, however by 1857, production was at full speed again producing upwards of 4104 tonnes of ore

A sign in the Bagot mining Museum in Kapunda states that in 1861 the mine employed
43 miners - mostly Cornish
106 pitmen
23 children - mostly Cornish
82 labourers - mainly Irish
13 boys - mainly Irish
36 smelters and furnacemen - mainly Welsh
The mine at this time was employing 302 men and 36 boys.
2nd draft house engine room

The Kapunda mines importance declined with the discovery of copper at Burra, with a lode four times greater than Kapunda, but even Burra couldn’t compete with Moonta, which had a lode almost 4 times greater than Burra's!

By 1863 the majority of the high grade ore had been mined out, the mine was now a low grade ore mine – soon it became an opencut mine.
The mine closed in 1878 and all the equipment was sold

However, it did reopen again and continued until 1912 on a smaller scale. During this time 12,800 tonns or copper ore were mined
Now, in 2012 the Copper mine stands as a tourist attraction at Kapunda Southern End dominated by the large stone chimney that was used to provide air for the engine boilers below. The mine is the favourite place of artists who love the deep green hues of the water that fills the open cut mine.

looking into one of the open shafts 2010

The mine has an appeal for Paranormal investigators in the area due to stories of a paranormal nature that have appeared on the internet and through the rumour of townsfolk, these include the sightings of a “hairy ape like man” thought to be the “Kapunda Yeti”, to sightings of strange “lamp” lights near the mine, disembodied voices, people being “slapped” across the face and full bodied apparitions of miners, wearing clothes from a different era, in the surrounding area.
Our research has uncovered a few deaths involving miners, a few grizzly events. Such as miners losing limbs, a boy almost drowning in a waste water tank, could these events have scared the interior of the mines with emotions that resonate today, or is it people reaching a state of hypersensitivity due to the scary desolate feeling of the mine interior, and thus scaring themselves into believing a ghost is present?
Whatever is happening within the mine, it still remains a place of historical significance and should be treated as such, this is also a terribly dangerous place to enter, with open mine shafts, large pieces of steel jutting out of rock formations and other unseen dangers, we do not recommend going into the mine at all to anyone as its pitfalls are numerous.

Time Line:

1842 Copper ore discovered
1844 Mine opened
1845 Horse whim installed
Mine Square Cottages built
1846 Dutton sold his share
Captain John Richards appointed
1848 Draft engine purchased
1849 Draft engine at work
Smelter built
1851 Buhl engine installed
Mine closed by Victorian gold rush
1855 Mine re-opened
1859 Captain Bagot retired
1860 Kapunda Mining Company formed in London
Subsidence in workings
Railway reached Kapunda
1861 Draft Engine re-located
1862 East Kapunda mines opened
1863 Mines operated at a loss
1865 Scottish company took over mines
1867 Henderson Plant in production
Captain Osborne appointed
Opencut extraction
1877 Crash in copper price
1879 Mines closed
1880 Hillside mine opened
1912 Tributers finished up
1938 Matthews Gravel Quarry on Block 19 opened
1949 Matthews Gravel Quarry on Block 19 closed
1962 Council acquired Block 24
1972 Council acquired Block 21
Plaque placed on smokestack
Charlotte opencut used as Council dump
1986 Jubilee 150 signage erected
1987 Site entered in SA Heritage Register
2008 Preparation of Conservation Management Plan for the site

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kapunda Biographies:Ellen Benham

Ellen Ida Benham

On March 12th 1871, just outside Kapunda, in the town of Allen's Creek, was born Ellen Ida Benham. The third of eleven children born to Aimie and William Huggins Benham (Solicitor).
Ellens father, William was a solicitor, and could afford a better than average education for his children. Ellen was sent to Kapunda Model School for her education, and later to The Adelaide Advanced School For Girls, where she was under the tutelage of headmistress, Rees George.
Ellen then went on to study at The University of Adelaide in 1889 and graduated with a B.Sc in 1892. Ellen then came back to Kapunda to teach, as headmistress for the Anglican Christ church Parish for two years, before removing herself to Europe in 1895 to continue studies.
Upon her return Ellen taught science at the Dryburgh House school from 1896 through until 1900, then at Tormore House school in North Adelaide.
In 1901 Ellen was approached by the University Of Adelaide Professor, Ralph Tate, to take over his botany lectures as he was unwell, later the same year he died. Ellen held the position of lecturer at the University from 1902 until 1911. She also, at times, held the roles of “Head Of Department”, “Sole Lecturer” and “Keeper Of the Herbarium
Ellen visited England in 1908 to attend Oxford and complete a Diploma of Education, returning the following year to Adelaide to continue at the University.

In 1906, The South Australian government appointed her to reorganise the the botany curriculum, and to classify a major collection of flora of fauna presented to the Herboruim
In 1912 Ellen bought Walford School in Malvern, a turned it into one of the most succesful schools in the state, the school thrived under her leadership and became the Walford Church Of England Girls Grammar School.
Her aim was to educate girls to “become a useful and effective woman in whatever position she may have to fill”. Ellen achieved this by offering a well balanced education that included hockey , tennis and cricket matches for the girls a prefect system, and the willingness to communicate with the parents of children into how to effectively teach each child using “the right adjustment of work to the physical and mental powers of the children”.
Ellen also gave the school it's motto “Virtute et veritate.” - “With Truth And Courage”

Ellens Achievements were vast indeed., helping to found “The Womens Student Club”, “The Womens Graduate Club”, Being the first recognised female Academic in South Australia and earning a Bachelor of Science degree.
She has been honoured by Adelaide University by the naming of the “Benham Building” which houses the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and with the Benham Lecture Theatre.
Also being honoured at the Walford Church of England Girls' Grammar School with the “Benham Wing”
Benham Building, University of Adelaide

Miss Ellen Benham died on April 27th 1917 of hepatic abscess (abdominal infection caused by appendicitis) in Adelaide, and was interred in Christ Church Cemetery Kapunda.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Karen

Happy Birthday to our own intrepid reporter and photographer

Karen Paynter!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kapunda Biographies: John Hill

Kapunda, A town of mystery, a town of history and town with a past like no we are starting a new edition to our blog highlighting some of the people who lived, worked, played, loved and built this town.

Some of the Ladies and Gentlemen we will profile over coming months have long left us, some are living in this town right now, you may have passed them in the street and not known what they achieved in their lives, right here in Kapunda, with this blog, we aim to change that!

To get us started we are going to profile a Gent who passed long ago, one who crossed the sea to play an important role in South Australia's History, who eventually would call Kapunda home, and be buried here in the Clare Road Methodist Cemetery.

John Hill 
Mr Hill served as boatswain ( The Foreman of the “unlicensed” crew) in His Majesty, King William's Ship, The Buffalo. [1]

John Hill was born on the 3rd of June 1808 in Cheshurst, Hertfordshire England. Mr Hill was a skilled thatcher before serving for his King in the English Navy.

John Hill's most notable mark in South Australian history, other than coming to our fine shores aboard the Buffalo, under the soon to be Governor of South Australia, Captain John Hindmarsh, was to unfurl the flag at proclamation day ceremonies at Glenelg.

As the proclamation, declaring South Australia a British colony was read aloud to the gathered sailors and dignitaries, John Hill raised the British Flag, thus marking his place in South Australian history for all time. He was aged 29 at the time.

Mr Hill was soon engaged to thatch roofs for the newly colonised State, the only skilled Roof thatcher available he was very busy and was summoned to thatch the roof of the Governors house.

Mr Hill lived much of his middle years in Wilpena before settling in Kapunda with his family, where he died at the age of 77, after fighting an illness for four months. Mr Hill died on the 2nd of April 1885 and was interred in The Clare Road Cemetery.

Mr Hill's Wife and Family were very proud of the fact that their Husband, and Father hoisted the flag on proclamation day and marked the significance upon his tombstone.

His grave also feature a very distinct and different marking. It features as the centre piece the “British Standard” with Gum tree carved into Headstone.

Mr Hills obituary appears in the South Australian Register on page 2, Aprill 11th 1885 and reads:

Deaths of Pioneers.— Our Kapunda correspondent mentions that bluff, hearty old John Hill the boatswain of the Buffalo,who hoisted the flag at Glenelg when the colony was proclaimed, died on Thursday evening, after an illness of four months. He was 77 years of age, and during his life enjoyed the very best of health until recently,when he was attacked by bronchitis. Daring his illness he suffered a great deal. He leaves  a widow, who is somewhat older than himself 

Researched and Written
Allen Tiller
Kapunda Community Link

[1] The “Buffalo” was originally named “The Hindostand” in 1813 when it was built it was sold in that same year to the United Kingdom Navy and renamed “The Buffalo” where it began to ship mast timbers across the globe. It eventually was used to ship English female prisoners to Sydney (187) then travelled to South Africa. The ship was recommissioned in 1835 where it was fitted to house emigrants for transport to Australian Colonies.


Welcome to our newest interaction with you, The Kapunda community Link Blog, where we will be disscussing goings on in and around Kapunda...
We welcome interaction with our community, and are happy to promote local events and business for free
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