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William McFarlane Dale (1862–1928)

This entry is from Obituaries Australia

Mr. William McFarlane Dale, who was closely associated with Broken Hill unionism from its beginning, died in the Hospital this morning at 6 o'clock after a long illness.

Mr. Dale was born at Warcowie, in 1862, and went to Stirling North, about five miles from Port Augusta, with his parents when about eight years of age. After finishing at school he was apprenticed to the brickmaking trade at Greenbush, half way between Stirling North and Port Augusta, and after serving his time he continued at the trade until the gold rush to Teetulpa in 1886. He was on the gold field for a few months and then went to Peterborough (then Petersburg) where he assisted in the manufacture of most of the bricks for the culverts on the Peterborough-Cockburn line. Shortly before the line was laid to Cockburn he came to Broken Hill and began work in the smelters and immediately became deeply interested in union matters. As a member of the memorable defence committee during the '92 strike he became closely associated with Messrs. Sleath and Ferguson and other notable members of that strike committee. He found some difficulty in getting employment for a year or so after that strike. In 1895 he was secretary of the Eight Hours Day committee, and it was in that year that the effects of lead taken in while working at the smelters and under-ground began to show themselves, and he became subject to frequent lead fits. A year's holiday brought considerable improvement and he again returned to the mines. During the last 35 years, however, he had been a frequent patient at the Hospital on account of lead troubles. He was treasurer of the A.M.A. (now the W.I.U.) for 17 consecutive years, and became one of the best known characters of the city by his habit of attending the office on each Monday morning and carrying away in a leather handbag the moneys of the union for paying into a bank. When the office of treasurer was abolished he continued to serve the union as a member of the executive for a number of years. In 1915 he was elected to the Hospital Board of Management as a workers' representative and was a prominent member until the last election when the condition of his health prevented him from offering his services again. He was chairman of the board during the last two years of his term, when his courtesy to the officials won him the esteem of all. He left the mines over 20 years ago to enter the service of the Municipal Council where he was employed up till about two years ago, when he had to go into the Hospital. He was there for many months on account of heart trouble and rheumatism, but picked up sufficiently well to be able to leave the institution. He had a holiday of some months in Adelaide, but shortly after his return had to go into the Hospital again, and for the past six or eight months, it has been only a matter of waiting for the end. In 1888 he married at Railway Town Miss Annie Meadows, and their first home has been the only home for the whole of their married life. In addition to Mrs. Dale there are seven living children of the family—Messrs. W. and R. Dale, Queensland, Mr. Stan Dale, Adelaide; and Messrs. Fred and Walter Dale, of Broken Hill. Mrs. M. Millickin, of Adelaide, and Miss Dorrie Dale, of the Broken Hill Hospital staff. His brothers are Mr. George Dale, of Broken Hill, Mr. J. D. Dale, who is on the River Darling; and Mr. R.A. Dale, who is well known in union circles in Adelaide, and who was a candidate for Sturt at the last S.A. elections. His sisters are Mrs. J. G. Dow, Beltana, Mrs. S. T. Timms, Gawler; and Mrs. A. Bray, North Adelaide.

The remains of Mr. Dale will be buried in the Methodist portion of the Cemetery on Sunday afternoon, the funeral leaving his late residence in Railway Town under the direction of Tom J. Mallon at 3.30 p.m.

Original Publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW), 11 June 1928, p 3

Citation details

'Dale, William McFarlane (1862–1928)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


7 April, 1862
Hawker, South Australia, Australia


8 June, 1928 (aged 66)
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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