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Walter Brown (c. 1874–1939)

by Peter D. Gardner

This article was published:

Walter Brown (c1874-1939) mine worker, trade union leader

Birth: about 1874 at Costerfield, Victoria, son of Tasmanian-born John Brown (1849-1921), railway employee and miner, and Sarah Jane, née Birch (1851-1928), who was born in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, England. Marriage: 1903 in Victoria to Florence Rebecca Jane Norris. They had eight sons and three daughters. Death: 16 December 1939 at Allambee, Victoria. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Worked in mines in Korumburra district. Employed at Outtrim prior to Victorian coal strike of 1903. During strike, was Victorian Coal Miners' Association (VCMA) delegate.
  • Co-founder of Silkstone Co-operative colliery (one of several co-operatives which gave employment to miners during strike, contributed to strike fund and provided coal for strikers' families during winters of 1903 & 1904). His younger brother William was accidentally killed at the Silkstone Co-operative mine in August 1903. After disbandment of VCMA in 1904, co-operatives remained a safe harbour against victimisation, focal point of union sympathy and clandestine union organisation, with Walter Brown and John Connolly being key figures in the survival of the spirit of unionism.
  • In evidence to 1906 Royal Commission he emphasised that co-operatives gave miners more 'liberty'.
  • In 1907, was first Secretary of new VCMA. He was instrumental in setting up the 1907 Parliamentary Inquiry into wages and conditions at non-union mines and gave evidence at that inquiry.
  • Was a miner at Wonthaggi from about 1912, then was a farmer at Allambee from 1920 until his death from pernicious anaemia.

Outtrim News
; Korumburra Times; Tocsin; 1906 Victorian Royal Commission into Coal Industry; 1907 Parliament Inquiry.

Citation details

Peter D. Gardner, 'Brown, Walter (c. 1874–1939)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


c. 1874
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia


16 December, 1939 (aged ~ 65)
Allambee, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death


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