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Ernest Arthur Chapman (1892–1935)

After a relapse of illness lasting several weeks, the death occurred yesterday at Wahroonga Sanitorium of Mr. E. A. Chapman, secretary of the NSW branch of the Australian Railways Union.

A vigorous fighter, accustomed to giving and taking hard knocks, the late Mr. Chapmam in his eleven years of office built up his organisation to become one of the strongest industrial units in the State.

Following a serious breakdown in health he went to England about 12 months ago and returned only last December. He resumed duty, but it was of short duration, his health failing to stand up to the strain.

The late Mr. Chapman commenced his career as an apprentice engineer and draughtsman at Lincoln, England, where he was born in 1887, and for many years he worked as an engineer in several large engineering firms.

He was an active force in the trades union movement in England, and was closely associated with such men as Kier Hardie, Tom Mann, Bob Williams and Rob Smillie, by whom he was held in high esteem. Prior to coming to Australia in 1923 he was secretary of the shop steward movement in England, and was sent by that organisation to Russia and Germany to investigate the standard of the working class.

Shortly after coming here, he was selected from 50 applicants for the secretaryship of the N.S.W. branch of the Australian Railways Union and built the organisation to its present position, raising the membership of the N.S.W. branch from 7000 to the large figure of 18,000. He had occupied the general presidency of the Federal body for the past five years.

The union publication, "The Railroad," is a monument of his organising ability and his literary genius, while another of his achievements was the erection in 1931 of "Transport House," the most up-to-date union office in N.S.W.

In addition to his many union duties he took on active part in the movement against war, and was general president of the Australian Council Against War.

The late secretary was regarded by railway men as an unrelenting fighter on their behalf, who never set out to placate individuals but maintained a militant attitude, with the interests of the members of the union at heart.

The funeral arrangements, which have been placed in the hands of Labor Motor Funerals, Ltd., will be preceded by a service at Transport House at 2 o'clock to-morrow, the cortege then leaving for Rookwood Cemetery at 2.30 p.m.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Labor Daily (Sydney), 23 February 1935, p 8

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

'Chapman, Ernest Arthur (1892–1935)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England


20 February, 1935 (aged ~ 43)
Wahroonga, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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