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Robert (Bob) Cameron (1863–1932)

The death occurred at 7.45 a.m. yesterday, in a bed in the institution of which he has been the chief administrator for some years, of Mr. Robert Cameron, senior, Secretary of Wallsend Mining District Hospital. The occurrence aroused deep feelings of sorrow among the whole of the staff of the hospital, as well as among a wide circle of friends in Wallsend and district.

Mr. Cameron was 69 years of age, and for almost 11 years was Secretary of the hospital. He became ill at his home in Bousfield-street, Wallsend, on Saturday, and, following a diagnosis of the trouble, his medical adviser on Monday gave the family to understand that in an immediate operation lay the only hope for recovery. This was performed at the hospital on Monday night, three of the institution's medical officers having part in it. Following the operation, Mr. Cameron's condition was reported to be satisfactory, and he passed a good night. But shortly before 7 o'clock yesterday he manifested signs of reaction, and within an hour he sank into unconsciousness, and died shortly afterward. The only member of the family present was his eldest son, Mr. Robert Cameron, M.L.A.

Thus closed a life noteworthy not only in hospital administration, but in friendly society movement, and, at one time, in the affairs of the Miners' Federation. From a large number of applicants for the position, Mr. Cameron was appointed to the hospital secretaryship in October, 1921. He succeeded Mr. E. Dumaresq. Mr. Dumaresq followed the institutions first, Secretary Mr. Thomas Abel, whose death occurred in 1920. Gifted as a debater, with a style peculiar to himself, Mr. Cameron, at all times with the general welfare of the hospital in the forefront of his thoughts, has on many occasions fearlessly expressed his opinion, very often with telling effect on members of the board of management. The recently-elected President (Ald. W. Timmins), who for many years was Vice-president, said yesterday that not only had the Board lost an efficient officer, who went about his duties with the enthusiasm suggestive of a religionist, but the hospital had suffered the loss of one of its firmest friends.

"He will be greatly missed by the staff and myself. He was like a good father to us, and he was loved by all of us," said the Matron (Miss I. E. Lovell). The veteran Treasurer of the hospital (Mr. Caleb Firkin), referring to his cooperation with Mr. Cameron on the financial side of the administration, said that the association between them had been of a most harmonious character, "Mr. Cameron frequently had to come to me concerning matters of a ticklish nature, but never did a difference come between us," he added. The recently-retired President of the Board (M. T. Wylie) said: "My association with Mr. Cameron during the past six years was very happy indeed. It was particularly so during the two terms that I was President. At all times Mr. Cameron's word was his bond, and his one desire was to do something in the interests of others. He was the type of friend one does appreciate, being with one in his sorrows as well as his joys. While he was well up in years he had the ideas of a young and progressive mind. By his passing, I have lost a very dear friend, but I have a certain amount of consolation in sweet memories of him."

A warm tribute was paid to the deep interest of Mr. Cameron in hospital affairs when on Saturday, delegates to the Hunter District Hospital Group's conference in Newcastle, on being informed of the illness of Mr. Cameron, remarked: "It is not a hospital conference without Bob Cameron."

Among the numerous expressions of regret at his death, received yesterday, was one from the Secretary to the Hospitals Commission (Mr. D. K. Otton), who said the members of the Commission held Mr. Cameron in the very highest esteem.

In the opinion of many of Mr. Cameron's associates, he did not fully recover from the assault perpetrated on him in his office at the hospital some months ago. Adopting the role of a hospital patient, an intruder whose identity has not been solved, struck him forcibly on the head with a piece of iron, but was then disturbed by the hospital's masseuse, who happened to be at work in the adjoining room.

Prior to taking over the hospital secretaryship, Mr. Cameron was secretary of the Wallsend Miners' Lodge for 14 years. With a greater number of employees at the colliery, the lodge membership was considerably larger then than it is to-day, Mr. Cameron's moderate counsel on many occasions when there was strong talk in the lodge of direct action before conciliation over a matter in dispute, almost invariably won the day. Thus he saved many stoppages at the mine.

In the more stirring days of the Miners' Federation, during what has come to be known as the Peter Bowling of "leg-iron" strike, in 1909-1910, Mr. Cameron was Vice-president of the northern branch of the federation, and on the District President (Mr. Bowling) and other leaders being imprisoned under the Wade Government Coercion Act, the guiding of the federation's destinies at the time devolved upon Mr. Cameron, who played a prominent part in the settlement of the trouble.

Mr. Cameron was also widely known and esteemed in the Friendly Society movement. After filling the various lodge and district chairs of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows, he was elected in 1920 to the highest position in the Order, that of Grand Master. He filled the office with distinction. His term was marked by a progressive move by the Order in the building of its new headquarters in Sydney. The foundation-stone of the building was laid by him. The juvenile lodge of the Order at Broadmeadow was designated the "Loyal Bob Cameron Lodge" as in compliment to his successful term as Grand Master. His death creates a gap in the Loyal Prince of Wales Lodge, Wallsend, of which he has been Secretary continuously for about 30 years.

Other Wallsend organisations in which Mr. Cameron interested himself were the Citizens' Relief Committee of former days, of which he Secretary for some time, and the Wallsend and Plattsburg Caledonian Society, of which he was Chief for several terms. He was also an enthusiastic member of the E (Wallsend) Company of the old 4th Regiment, in which he held the rank of sergeant.

Mr. Cameron was born in Glasgow in 1863, and at an early age started work in a coalmine. An only child, he migrated to Australia 48 years ago, and going to Minmi, worked in the mine there for a few years. He then moved to Wallsend, and, having secured employment in the Wallsend Colliery settled there. His mother, who died 20 years ago, followed him to Australia after the death of his father, who was killed in a mining accident.

When he was 23, Mr. Cameron was married at Wallsend, to Miss Isabel Bower, a daughter of the late James Bower. Mrs. Cameron, with family of six sons and three daughters, survives. The sons are Mr. R. Cameron, M.L.A., and Messrs, James Cameron (Sydney), William Cameron (Wallsend), Thomas Cameron (Catherine Hill Bay), Kenneth Cameron (Sydney), and Alan Cameron (Wallsend), and the daughters, Mrs. A. J. Young, Mrs. A. Young, and Miss Nellie Cameron, all of Wallsend.

The funeral will take place this afternoon from Mr. Cameron's late residence to the Presbyterian cemetery at Wallsend.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Cameron, Robert (Bob) (1863–1932)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland


20 September, 1932 (aged ~ 69)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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