Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trove Tuesday - Fatal Accident at Callan Park

I have previously blogged about the death of 11 year old Rupert Dawson at Callan Park in 1898. This post detailed all the details that I knew.

The following details were based on family folklore.

In September 1898 a lot of construction work was going on at the hospital. Rupert and his friends were playing a game and jumping over an open sewer in the course of construction. He missed jumping over the gap and fell in the sewer.

A search on Trove now gives details from several newspapers including  The Australian Star and  The Goulburn Evening Penny Post. This confirms that Rupert was playing with other boys near the shaft before he fell. These papers have added to the known facts. Construction of the sewer was being carried out by Carter, Gummow & Co. James Hain went to the bottom of the 50ft shaft to recover Rupert's body and a boy by the name of Leonard Towns saw the accident.


The Australian Star, Monday 5th September 1898, p. 2



The Australian Star, Tuesday 6th September 1898, p. 3



The Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Tuesday 6th September 1898, p.  4


After reading these articles I want to know more about Leonard Towns, James Hain and Carter Gummow & Co.

Lawrence Leonard Towns was born in Balmain in 1889 (3834/1889). At the time of the accident he would have been 9 years old. It is highly likely that like Rupert he lived at Callan Park. When he enlisted in AIF in May 1916 his mother Sarah's address was Callan Park, Rozelle. Towns died in Randwick in 1926 (1729/1926).

James Hain, a sheet metal worker (from at least 1930) continued to live in the Rozelle district and died at Gladesville on 2nd August 1953.

Frank Gummow was an engineering graduate from the University of Melbourne. By 1998 he had fifteen years practical experience in the construction of water and sewerage works. His company had successfully tendered for much of the work to build the sewerage network in Sydney.

A 1993 submission for an Historic Engineering Marker from the Engineering Heritage Committee Sydney Commission provides information about Carter Gummow & Co.

An article written by Bob Jackson titled Sewage and heritage mix at Johnston's Creek from Engineers Australia (February 23 1990) is included in the submission and discusses the aqueducts that were built over Johnston's and Whites Creek and were the subject of the heritage committee.

The aqueducts were built as part of the extensions to Sydney's first major sewerage scheme which originally served the city, eastern and southern suburbs......The extensions westward of the Bondi Sewer completed in 1898 serviced the suburbs of Glebe, Annandale, Lilyfield and Balmain.

It would seem that Rupert Dawson fell down one the shafts being built as part of the extension to Sydney's sewerage scheme.

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