Who were the men and boys killed in the 1887 Bulli Mine Disaster of 1887 ?

We often hear that 81 men and boys were killed in the Bulli Mine Disaster of 1887 – but who were they – what were their stories ? and the stories of those they left behind ?

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The 130th Anniversary of the Disaster was commemorated on March 23 1887 and we hope to continue to collect their stories.

 Relatives of the following have been located and hopefully in time we may learn of the stories :

William Ottaway (Attaway) Bourne/Bouren  & 3 sons – Felix John, William & James. A fourth son, David Bouren,  died in the Old Bulli Mine due to natural causes about 40 years later  in 1928. A number of families lost more than one member in the disaster, however it was the Bourne family who in losing 4, lost the most of any family affected by the disaster.

Robert Browning – husband of Agnes Chilby, and son in law of Thomas and Agnes Chilby – later Agnes married Robert Newnham. Robert Browning’s children were Mary Ellen and Jessica Browning.

Greener Brodie & William Brodie – brothers – later Ellen Brodie nee Smith widow of Greener Brodie married John Barnes  Nicholson, a political figure. Apparently Greener had six children with Ellen, and then Ellen had four more with J B Nicholson, with 3 of those dying in infancy (1, ).

Cecil Cavill (Knight) – part of the Cavill and Knight families of Woonona, Bulli and Sherbrooke.

John Crane

Henry Greenslade Dean – part of the Downie family of Woonona and of Museum volunteer Graeme Stewart.

Thomas Harris Snr, and his 2 sons Thomas Harris Jnr and Francis Henry Harris

George Ralph – brother of Keen nee Ralph

John Ryan

William Schofer –  son of John and Maria Schofer, had married Charity Frances Grace Spinks (1865 – 1947) . He is buried at St Augustine’s Bulli Anglican Cemetery. Charity, widowed with two children, one who was born after William’s death, was outspoken on behalf of some of the Widows, who perceived they were being poorly treated by the Fund Raising Management Committee.

William Wade & son Richard Wade

Jeremiah Westwood

William Williams – information has been found on the Woonona Project Group on Facebook – a member of the group Dan Meehan has shared a photo of William’s youngest daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Williams – Knight who was adopted by Woonona Coalminer Edwin Knight (Note – not the Sherbrooke Edwin Knight!) – acknowledgement to Administrator of Woonona Project for his permission to use their photographs.

Lizzie Knight ( daughter of William Williams)  - front row with girl's arm on her shoulder

Lizzie Knight ( daughter of William Williams) – front row with girl’s arm on her shoulder

John Wynn, just 15 years old, was one of the younger victims – stories of John and his family have been shared by a niece Gail :  FROM-STAFFORDSHIRE-TO-BULLI

An eyewitness account from a survivor John Cavill, he lost a young relative Cecil Cavill Knight in the disaster.


5 Responses to Who were the men and boys killed in the 1887 Bulli Mine Disaster of 1887 ?

  1. Maree Langburne says:

    My Great Great Grandfather and his two sons were killed in the diaster. They were Thomas Harris, Thomas Harris Junior and Francis Henry Harris. I’ve never visited the memorial, as I’ve only discovered this site whilst researching my family tree.


  2. nell mckenna-bennett says:

    i am related to thomas harris snr, and two of his sons, thomas jnr and francis

  3. Sarah Bolton says:

    , I’m Sarah, wandering if you or others out there can help, I have just started my journey to help my mum find family, so far I know they come from the south coast, I’ll start with names,
    David. C. Bouren ( I believe killed in the mines) wife Martha Bouren,
    Children: Edith Bouren-married Sydney Walter John Booth, they had 2 daughters, Barbara and Gloria ( my mother)
    Jane Bouren-married William Booth, they had 2 boys William and Henry booth,
    Pearl bouren-married bob McInnes, they had possible 3 children, Robert and Ruth
    Martha (mattie) Bouren married eddy harriss, children were Edna who married into the Hammond and billy harriss
    Ruth Bouren married Amos Plummer had a son geffrey and 2 daughters I believe
    Emily Bouren married jack swan they had 3 children Lucy, ernie and florie
    David Bouren married lizzie and had a son billie
    Olive Bouren married bill? They had 2 daughters Donna and Denise
    Sydney Bouren married Sybill and had a son David
    Alice Bouren married James lay and had 2 daughters beryl and Norma.
    So that the information Iv collected so far, if anyone can help, I would appreciate it, feel free to comment or inbox
    Thank you all

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