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2 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections

Sudden Death Of Mr E. J. Horwood


WITH more than half a century of association with

Broken Hill behind him, Mr. E. J. Horwood, super- intendent of mines and works for the Broken Hill Proprie- tary Company, died suddenly in Melbourne yesterday. He is reported to have collapsed while playing tennis.

The late Mr. Horwood was 76 years of age and resided at 2 Howard Street, Kew. He is survived by a widow and grown-up family.

He can claim to have mining in his blood. In the early 'seventies, when it was discovered that famous Gar- den Gully reef passed under his father's property at Bendigo, he got the mining urge. As a boy he re- called lying in bed feeling the vibra- tions as the miners blasted out the quartz, or peering into the laden trucks as they came to the surface, looking for specimens of gold.

"Times have changed since I first went to Broken Hill," said Mr. Hor- wood, in a recent interview in Mel- bourne, as he pocketed an envelope of airline tickets. "It used to be a wearisome journey of 36 hours by way of Adelaide. Now I can do it in three hours. In the air I always experience a thrill looking down on Bendigo and Bridgewater Park, where I spent my boyhood. But the chief reason that I go by plane is because I like to get to my work quickly.

"A chance occurrence sometimes affects a man's whole career. In 1886, after completing 12 months' service as assistant engineer with Thornton Bros., contractors for the Heyfield to Bairnsdale railway, I re- ceived an appointment with C. and E. Millar. This was my second engage- ment after taking my degree. I was to take a month's holiday and then be sent either to Western Australia or the Northern Territory.

"A few days after my interview I received a wire at Wagga, where I was breaking my journey to Sydney, asking whether I was willing to go at once to South Australia, where the firm had a contract with the Govern- ment for building the railway to the State border from Petersburg (as it was called before the war changed it to Peterborough).

"I agreed to the change at once, and soon afterwards was duly in- stalled in my first camp at Manna- hill, more than 100 miles from Bro- ken Hill.

"Before this work was finished the firm obtained the contract for carry- ing on the railway to Broken Hill, now the 33-mile Silverton Tramway (the word "railway" being a Govern- ment prerogative), and early the next year my camping place was near Sil- verton, then a thriving town, with several thousand inhabitants, com- pared with the mere handful living there today.


"On a Saturday night the main street was as crowded as Bourke Street, Melbourne; there was a daily paper-the 'Silver Age'-published by the late J. S. Reid, who afterwards moved to Broken Hill. The main   hotel was a stone two-storied build- ing, run by the late John de Baun, whose son was recently appointed a judge in New South Wales. This was the scene of a famous banquet, after which little that was breakable had not been broken. The warden

and magistrate, Wyman Brown, had a substantial stone office, with the courthouse and gaol on the opposite side of the street.

"It was at the 'Silver Age' office that the prospectus of the Broken Hill Proprietary was published hur- riedly overnight. Copies were en- trusted to Mr. Jamieson, who caught the coach to Adelaide early next morning.

"Among the personalities connect- ed with those railway contracts I have vivid recollections of the late Abra- ham Baxter, the officer in charge, who had a marvellous memory. He never took notes, but on the daily material train he gave and received details of the daily requirements, and was never known to forget an item.

"My first view of Broken Hill was from about halfway on the road from Silverton, when the smelter smoke first became visible. It was a town of wood and corrugated iron, with un- made roads six inches deep in dust, clustered around the broken-backed ironstone hill amid the sun-scorched sagebush plains. Dust and the lack of water, which cost 10/- a 100 gal- lons when carted from soakages at Stephens Creek, were the main draw- backs until the Stephens Creek reser- voir was completed in 1892. For re- creation there was some football and tennis, but the main hobby of the town was following the wild-cat schemes of prospectors and syndicates from day to day. It was a perpetual gamble. Sensing, an opening at Broken Hill for a civil engineer and surveyor, I joined in the firm of Hor- wood and Crewsell, my partner hav- ing been a Government surveyor and


"My closer association with B.H.P. began when I approached the Ameri- can, W. H. Patton, who had recently been appointed general manager, for a contract to make new surveys and plans of the surface and underground workings of the Proprietary mine. When we were discussing terms he reminded me that 'it would be a splendid advertisement for a young man,' a remark which was justified by my success in obtaining similar contracts for all the Broken Hill mines.

"When quarrying began to re- place mining the ore, the open-cut work required so much extra super- vision that I was offered, and I ac- cepted, a position with the company, without the right of private prac- tice, in 1891.


"A critical period in the history of Broken Hill arose when the more easily smelted oxidised ores were ap- proaching exhaustion, but a method was found which made possible the recovery of a sufficient proportion of lead and silver contents to make   operations profitable.

"After seven years of this work millions of tons of zinc tailings had accumulated. On a trip abroad I call- ed on Thomas Edison and discussed the problem of treating the tailings with him, but he had other things on his hands and was not inclined to tackle the problem. After several methods had been attempted, a process was found in 1902, and before long more than 10,000 tons were being treated weekly.

"Having been appointed mining manager in 1896, and manager at Broken Hill three years later, the task of preparing the mine to in- crease the output from 5,000 tons to over 12,000 tons weekly devolved largely on me and presented many interesting problems.  

"The most exciting event affecting me personally was when I hit upon the pioneer method of separating lead from zinc, when in a very fine con- dition, as in the hundreds of thou- sands of tons of slimes at Broken Hill, and also the many millions of tons of fine-grained ores such as those at Rosebery, Tasmania.

"World-wide patents were taken out, the process was proved in a small plant at the Bendigo School of Mines, and it seemed that my fortune was made. I was approached by leading German buyers and had the temerity to name a six-figure price. It did no lead to business, but through the late George Klug a plant was in- stalled at the Zinc Corporation with satisfactory results.

"The outbreak of the war and the discovery of cheaper methods later led to the abandonment of my pro- cess. Here again developments of far-reaching importance resulted from the work of the company's research officers-the world - wide Bradford process of selectively separating metallic sulphides, and the Hender- son process for recovering oxidised lead from our huge residue dumps.

"These reminiscences may sound like a swan song in view of the re- cent cessation of mining owing to the practical exhaustion of the known ore bodies, but who can say that there is no possibility of the old mine ob- taining a new lease of life as the result of the recently inaugurated scheme of deep boring?"

Mr. Horwood was a most reserved man, and during his long association with the Big mine was a popular figure about the workings. Up till a few years ago he frequently went on underground inspections.