The long awaited Opening and Unveiling of the Ipswich Rosewood Coalminers Memorial took place on Saturday 17th. October 2015 before a gathering of almost 600 people at Limestone Park.
The opening was performed jointly by the Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale and the Member for Ipswich Hon. Jennifer Howard MP.
The Ceremony commence with the singing of the National Anthem led by Lauren Roche.
The MC for the Opening was Deputy Chairman of the Trust Paul Casos. After acknowledging the Traditional Owners, he welcomed everyone including Hon. Jennifer Howard and Mayor Paul Pisasale and the many special guests in attendance.
MC. Paul Ready to Take Off.
He spoke about what coalmining meant to the communities of Ipswich and Rosewood, and how it was instrumental to the development of Queensland, and of the number of mines and the miners who worked in the local mines. He then spoke about the names on the wall from the first being a Welshman who was killed by an explosive blast at Moggill Mine in 1858, to the last, Trevor Dromrow, who died at New Hill Mine in 1997. He remembered miners such as August Stephan who fought in the First World War with the Light Horse in Palestine and Syria, only to return and in 1930 killed in a fall of roof at Harts Aberdare. He quotes the QT who reported his funeral and identified the mourners including R. Binnie, G. Turner, A. Perry and C. Yeoman who were all killed six years later in the Harts Aberdare Disaster. He spoke of the number of relatives including a number of fathers and sons, and brothers. He spoke of the multiply fatalities, Eclipse - 7 lives lost in 1893, Harts Aberdare -4 lives lost in 1936, Ebbw Vale No. 3 at Woodend 4 lives lost in 1945, and the Box Flat in 1972, 17 lives lost in the explosion and another succumbing to his injuries some time later.
Paul then introduced the following speaker, Trust Chairman Beres Evans. In doing so he thanked Beres for his leadership and commitment in leading the Trust through many difficult times to reach the position of where we were today.
Chairman Beres thanked all present for attending and said that the Dedication today had been only made possible for the generosity and support of our donors and sponsors. He thanked Secretary John Walker and Researcher Geoff Nimmo for their contribution. He also thanked the Ipswich District Rotary Clubs, Architect Liam Proberts, and builder Robert Turner and his team. He expressed special thanks to the Mayor of Ipswich Paul Pisasale for his support and encouragement, particularly for him securing the prominent site where the Memorial is located and leading the way in fundraising.
Trust Chairman Beres Evans Speaking.
Beres extended the thanks of the Trust for all of the contributors and individuals in the Order of Service. After recounting the history of the Memorial since it commenced eight years earlier, he spoke of the wall being a place of reflection and reverence. He explained the concept of the different coloured lights next to each name on the wall. Regarding the raising of the money, $830,000 to date, he expressed the Trust’s gratitude to the Foundation Donors, Mineworkers Trust, New Hope Group, Ipswich City Council, and Willis Haenke Foundation. He told the gathering that the journey to build the Memorial was not over, as the Ipswich and Rosewood Columns were still to be built and funds need to be raised to accomplish that. It will only be then that our vision of the Memorial being not only a place of reverence and reflection, but also a place of remembrance and learning will be achieved.
Following the Chairman’s address, the Member for Ipswich Hon. Jennifer Howard MP spoke on behalf of the Premier who was unable to attend. She congratulated the Trust and Coal Miners Committee for their achievement. She mentioned two relatives in attendance, Bill Perry and KeithTurner, whose fathers were killed in the Harts Aberdare Disaster.
Left: Hon. Jennifer Howard. Right: Keith Turner & Bill Perry
Mayor Paul Pisasale then spoke firstly about the early mines in Ipswich, starting in 1843 at Redbank, and how the Ipswich and West Moreton District played a critical role in the development of Queensland. He said there was no doubt it contributed to the decision to build the first railway from Ipswich to Grandchester. He spoke of the families who had devoted their entire working lives to the mines, fathers, uncles, brothers and sons. He said we were here today to pause, remember and show our respect for those who lost their lives on the job.
The Mayor acknowledged that the Community, businesses, the five Ipswich based Rotary Clubs, residents and families of coalminers all had rallied to support the establishment of the Memorial. On behalf of the City he paid tribute to Beres Evans and the Committee for their drive and commitment.
He also said he would continue to assist the Committee in raising the funds to complete the Memorial. He finished by saying that today we remember the 186 Ipswich and Rosewood Coalminers who lost their lives and we give thanks for their labour and sacrifice. The Commemorative Plaque was then unveiled by Mayor Paul Pisasale and Hon Jennifer Howard.
Member for Ipswich Hon. Jennifer Howard, Mayor Paul Pisasale and Chairman Beres Evans.
Rev. Kath Hobson then delivered the Homily and Blessing of the wall. Her very meaningful and comforting address was based on Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 - Everything on earth has its own time. At the conclusion of the Blessing, the Cambrian Choir sang the Welsh Hymn “Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer”.
The Ipswich and Rosewood coalminers then laid roses on the wall. While this was being done, the band Life of Riley performed “A Working Man I Am”, and a song written especially for the occasion, “Underground Miner”.
Dr. Rod Perry, a grandson of a miner who died in the Harts Aberdare Disaster, then spoke on behalf of the relatives. MC Paul then closed the ceremony, thanking all concerned, and invited relatives of those miners who lost their lives to lay floral tributes on the Wall. During this part of the Ceremony, the Cambrian Choir sang “You Raise Me Up” and the Welsh National Anthem led by Adam French.