James Curley (1846-1913)

James Curley was born in the County of Durham England in 1846.  He was 11 years old when he first worked down a mine in Northumberland England. He arrived in Victoria in 1873 and in 1875 was employed by the Australian Agricultural Co.’s Hamilton Pit.  In 1879 he became treasurer of the Coal-Miners’ Mutual Protective Association of the Hunter River district, and in 1880 became its secretary.   He held this position up until 1889, and continued after his political career from 1891, retiring the position in 1907.  He was the member for Newcastle in the NSW Parliament 1889 to 1891.  

The Barrier Miner stated that Curley’s greatest work was in connection with mine ventilation, as part of the royal commission into coal mining conditions.  For the draft of the Coalminers Regulation Bill, he drew up and insisted on the inclusion of a clause to provide air to the miners’ working place.  This act was passed in 1896.  He was also a member of the Royal Commission of Strikes 1890-1891 and a member of the board conducting the Tramway inquiry and the board investigating the use of electricity in mines.

James Curley defended miners in courts of arbitration and at conferences with mine employers. He was part of the 1888 agreement, and part of the conference that saw the abolition of the third shift in the Maitland district.  He strongly upheld the rights of the miners and was fearless in expressing his opinions in both miners’ meetings and in conferences with proprietors. 


http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/members.nsf/ , accessed 22 July 2013.

Robin Gollan, 'Curley, James (1846–1913)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/curley-james-3300/text5023, accessed 22 July 2013.

1913 'LATE MR. JAMES CURLEY.', Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), 7 April, p. 3, viewed 22 July, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45207230

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