Explosion at Brunner Mine
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A raw interview with Frank Bourke, who was a young child at the time of the Brunner Mine disaster, in which 67 men were killed in 1896.
It took five days to bring all the bodies out, and all the families in the district were affected. Frank Bourke's father was in the relief team which brought out the last man, Teddy Kent.
He believes the Brunner District never recovered from the disaster - men were afraid to go underground, and the mining industry went into decline. Thousands attended the mass funeral - the attendees were brought in by a special free train service. Seven brass bands played in the funeral cortege which went from Brunner to Stillwater.
He recalls the welfare fund set up for the families of the dead men, which ran through until the 1950s when the last widow passed away. He gives some details of the men on the relief teams (including his father) and the dangers they experienced with gas.
Several mine ponies were outside the mine on the morning of the disaster; they bolted before the explosion. The ponies couldn't be controlled until their heads were covered. Frank Bourke believes the horses sensed there was danger in the mine.