Reverend Brian Edward Heawood (c.1900-1986)

Methodist Minister, Kurri Kurri 1947 - 1951

Rev. Heawood arrived in Kurri Kurri, Easter, 1947 with wife Lilian and four of their children - Peter, Ruth, David and Judy. Joan, the eldest girl, had married Allan Saines in Young (Heawood's previous appointment) and remained on the farm.

Peter met and married Shirley Bray in October, 1951. Rev. Heawood had been appointed to Muswellbrook the previous Easter, but returned to Kurri Kurri to perform the marriage. He returned to Kurri many times over the years to visit family and friends. In February, 1972, he conducted the marriage of Peter and Shirley's eldest daughter, Christine, to Stephen Davies of Newcastle in Kurri Kurri Uniting Church.

In January, 1980, Rev. and Mrs Heawood visited their daughter in Young to celebrate Mrs Heawood's 75th birthday and their great granddaughter's birthday. After a very happy day, Mrs Heawood suffered a massive heart attack and died that night.

Rev. Heawood later moved to a retirement village at Young and died peacefully in his sleep on 25 June 1986.


First among equals : Kurri Kurri Methodist /​ Uniting Church centenary 1904 - 2004. [Kurri Kurri, NSW : Kurri Kurri Methodist /​ Uniting Church, 2004]  and the Ryerson Index

Reverend Heawood and the Coal Strike of 1949

ONE OF THE MOST VIVID MEMORIES from our term at Kurri (1947-1951) was the Coal Strike which lasted from June 27th to the beginning of August, 1949. This came as the result of a show-down between the C.M.U. Council and the Federal (Labor) Government, under the late Ben Chifley. After the strike had been going for about a fortnight, the Unions were evidently ready to call it off, but the Government ensured its continuance by summarily gaoling some of the leading Miners' Representatives. One of the most extraordinary occurrences was the sudden appearance in Lang St. of a formidable body of troops, ostensibly sent for the purpose of keeping law and order. I well remember who the then sergeant in charge of Kurri Police hit the roof:

"What on earth do they think we are?" he roared, "don't they know there's no more law-abiding people in Australia than the coalfields community?"
However, the Army departed as suddenly as it had arrived, having caused more amusement than anything else.

Strangely enough, the strike seemed to cause more alarm and despondency in Sydney than on the Coalfields. The then President of the Methodist Conference, the late Rev. R.B. Lew, summoned a meeting of Sydney Methodist ministers on Monday 11th July to discuss what the church ought to say and do about it. At the last moment, someone suggested that it might be a good idea to invite the men on the spot to join in the discussions, and Bill Bramford and I, together with the Chairmen of the Maitland and Newcastle districts, left by car in the early dawn. The meeting opened at 10 a.m. with fiery speeches by ministers who knew nothing whatever of the miners' point of view, and consequently talked a great deal of hot air. Bill and I were called upon to speak, and we did our best to explain the local situation. We were backed up by Alan Walker and Bill Hobbin, and as a result the whole attitude of the meeting changed; it was agreed that a deputation should go to Canberra to try to persuade the P.M. to call a conference at which the parties to the dispute might come together in a spirit of sweet reasonableness.

The deputation comprised the President, Alan Walker, Bill Robbin and myself. An appointment with the P.M. was made for the following morning; we knew that he must be extremely busy and did not expect an interview of more than 20 minutes. But when we were ushered into his office he was quite unhurried; he asked us to speak in turn, and sat smoking his pipe and listening attentively, while the late Doc. Evatt hovered like a guardian angel in the background. I couldn't see why he should be the only one to puff a pipe, so I asked "Do you mind if we smoke?" and he immediately handed round cigars with profuse apologies. However, no one took one. He gave us nearly an hour of his valuable time, and thanked us for our suggestions - but in the upshot nothing happened.

One of the funniest aspects of the situation was after I got home to Kurri. Early in the strike the Govt. had frozen the Co-op bank account, but it was found that someone with great foresight had withdrawn the whole of the balance, and no one knew where the money was. The day after I got home I had an anxious phone call from George Booth, M.L.A. asking me to come to see him. When I did so, he asked if I could tell him the object of our visit to Canberra; When I did so, he heaved a sigh of relief. "Ah", he said "I thought perhaps you'd found out where the cash was, and gone to tell Chifley". Naturally, I hadn't the remotest idea of the whereabouts of the missing money, so in confidence he told me - and I had one of the biggest laughs of my life. I don't know whether the secret ever became public, but I have no intention of putting anyone's pot on, even after a lapse of twenty-three years!


Chapter by the Reverend Brian Heawood in Worboys, June. (Ed.). (1964) Glimpses from the past .  Kurri Kurri: Kurri Kurri Methodist Church.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the meeting on 14 July 1949.

The Sydney Morning Herald also gives an account of this meeting - 


Talks With P.M. And Dr. Evatt

Four Methodist ministers flew to Canberra yesterday, and conferred with the Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, and the Attorney-General, Dr. H. V. Evatt, on the coal strike.

The president of the New South Wales Methodist conference, the Rev. R. B. Lew, led the delegation.

With him were the Rev. W. J. Hobbin, the Rev. B. E. Heawood, and the Rev. Alan Walker.

The step was a result of a meeting of 80 Methodist ministers in Sydney on Monday.

The talks in Canberra lasted for an hour and a half.

Mr. Lew said after the conference: "The visit was to try to discover whether, within the framework of the law, and adhering strictly to the principle of arbitration, the Church could make some contribution to the settlement of this disastrous strike, the effects of which are bearing so heavily upon all sections of the community.


"A crisis such as the present one calls for witness and wise united action by the Church.

"It also calls for earnest prayer by all Christian men and women for a speedy and peaceful settlement of the strike.

"The members of the delegation were most sympathetically received by the Prime Minister and Dr. Evatt. Further discussions with other interested parties in the industrial dispute will follow."

"METHODIST APPROACH." The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 14 Jul 1949: 3. Web. 19 Apr 2013

More information

Leffly, Len. ( 2013) The 1949 coal strike,  What's your story? ABC Open. Retrieved from
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