Broken Hill: an icon of industrial history in Australia

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Comments (9)

Ed. Rodríguez Prati on April 13, 2009

Spectral and fascinating, we're waiting for the story Ian....

jeff_msn123 on April 14, 2009

It should be a long story. Nice building and beautiful shot.

Cheers, Jeff

M and R on April 15, 2009

Majestic looking building. R

Ian Stehbens on April 20, 2009

Dear Edmundo, Jeff, Robyn and Paul,

I certainly enjoy my night photography. I went to Broken Hill on the train from Sydney, solo, just for a 30 hour visit. As soon as I was there, having travelled on the train for 13 hours that day, I was excited to walk about the town with the camera - no tripod - and use seats, signs, walls, trees or bins to rest the camera. This process dependent on available fixtures, often results in me seeing a building or scene from a surprisingly different angle - this low angle is such a result.

Broken Hill is highly significant in Australian history, economically, industrially, politically. And it sits in the desert, capital of the outback, and is therefore part of Australian iconic identity. It is a bit like "How the West was Won" in American identity.

There were bitter industrial strikes in the earlier years of mining at Broken Hill, and during the 1909 strike some of the most colourful incidents in our industrial history occurred. I think for example of Tom Mann who was charged and committed for trial because of his part in instigating a riot in early Jan 1909. On 31 January, a very long passenger train left Broken Hill for the South Australian border, where the crowd stood on the NSW side of the border and Tom Mann addressed them from the South Australian side of the border!

Throughout the history of mining in Broken Hill more than 800 men died from industrial accidents or work related disease. Men were entombed, crushed, gassed, etc. or died from diseases of the lungs.

So this Trades Hall is the iconic building that represents the workers and their families, that is identified with a range of political aberrations and conflicts, particularly to the left of the political possibilities.

Tom Mann, Harry Holland, and Michael Considine were three of the men who became known through their provocative contributions to the strike.

I hope that is enough story, Jeff and Edmundo. I am sure this subject of conversation brings back memories a la Billy Elliot, Paul.

Thanks for your comments.


pedrocut on April 22, 2009


Thanks for the insight into the Trades Hall.

I found an interesting history here

Lovely colours in the stone of the building.

Regards Peter

Ian Stehbens on April 22, 2009

Thanks Peter. I thought that this official history about the building and the committees needed the full-bodied story of the strikes especially 1909. On page 3 of the article to which you have provided a link, there is just a passing reference to the fact that it was the centre of union activity during the strikes.

I am sure that Edmundo will enjoy the architectural elements of this building, and Paul will appreciate the industrial history related to miners, albeit silver-lead-zinc miners in this case.

My warmest regards,


Dr. Walt on March 10, 2012

Ian, Greetings from Nevada, U.S.A. . Thanks for sharing your photo gallery - GREAT pics . I especially like the night shot of the Trades Hall , beautiful architecture . Here in the U.S. they would take a beautiful iconic structure such as that and destroy it just to put in a parking lot or some other worthless piece of "modern" crap that won't last 50 years , much less over 100 . Also like your "out back" photos ; very similar to where I live - about 50 miles east of Death Valley , California . Appreciate the histories that you give with your photos . Keep up the good work ; and again , THANK YOU ! Dr. Walt Cosdon - Pahrump , Nevada U.S.A.

Dr. Walt on March 10, 2012

Point of information : the towns name "Pahrump" is the Anglicised version of the Shoshone Indian words "Pah Rimpi" which mean "water rock" , as there was a lot of artesian springs here many years ago . Dr. Walt

Ian Stehbens on March 14, 2012

Greetings Dr Walt. Someone once said that USA was defined by its highways and parking lots! And I remember your countrymen singing "put up a parking lot"! We are pretty good at it too, but I think we learnt some lessons from the American experience and began to implement heritage legislation in time to protect a lot of our colonial architecture.

You are welcome in my gallery any time - and thanks for the encouragement.

Ian (in Brisbane)

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on April 13, 2009
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    by Ian Stehbens