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John Bower (1861–1940)

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John Bower, n.d.

John Bower, n.d.

John Bower (1861-1940) coalminer and trade union official 

Birth: 5 November 1861 in Minmi, New South Wales, son of William Bower or Bowers (1822-1886), born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, and Ellen, née Blair (1829-1883), born in Prestonpans, East Lothian, Scotland. Marriage: 30 March 1887 in Wallsend to NSW-born Susan Abell (1864-1917). They had one daughter and three sons. Death: 27 October 1940 in Wallsend Hospital, Newcastle, NSW. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • His father and mother arrived in Australia in 1859 and were among the early identities of the Minmi district, Colliery on the Northern NSW coalfields. They moved to Lambton, where John continued his education at Lambton Public School, then settled at Plattsburg.
  • Aged 15 he commenced work at the Co-operative Colliery, then worked at the Wallsend Colliery. During the 1892 strike he was secretary of the Wallsend lodge for five months, after which David Watkins took that office, while Bower was elected district auditor and held the post until 1900. He was delegate and lodge chairman for two years then lodge secretary for two years. Amongst other posts he was secretary of the accident committee of the Wallsend Colliery, auditor to Plattsburg Council and was for three years alderman of that council.
  • Succeeding his cousin William Bower, in December 1901 he was elected president of the Northern District’s Colliery Employees' Federation. In 1906 Peter Bowling defeated him for the presidency but he remained active in union affairs until at least 1915.
  • For a long period Bower was secretary of Wallsend and Plattsburg Cooperative Society.
  • A prominent figure in the friendly society movement, at his death he was amongst the oldest member of and a past officer in both the Court Friendship, No. 4584, Wallsend branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters, and the Miners’ Home Lodge, Wallsend branch of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows. He was, as well, a long-standing member and past officer in Lodge St James, No. 45, Wallsend, United Grand Lodge of NSW.
  • One son William died from war injuries in France in February 1917.

Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney], 1970). 

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Citation details

'Bower, John (1861–1940)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 31 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

John Bower, n.d.

John Bower, n.d.

Life Summary [details]


5 November, 1861
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia


27 October, 1940 (aged 78)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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