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Adam Cook (1851–1920)

Mr. Adam Cook, town clerk of Wallsend, died yesterday, after a somewhat prolonged illness. He was in his sixty-ninth year, and for many years had been prominent in public movements and municipal circles in the Newcastle district. He was also in former years an active member of the Miners' Federation, in which he from time to time held various offices, including that of president.

Mr. Cook was born at Lockgelly, Fifeshire, Scotland, where his father, the late Mr. Henry Cook, was the first secretary to the miners' union. Not satisfied with conditions of life in Fifeshire, the late Mr. Cook left for New South Wales, arriving at Joadja Creek, in the Mittagong district, in 1879. There was a lack of organisation amongst the men employed at the shale mines, and through his efforts mainly a great improvement was effected in the working conditions. As a result of his activities he was discharged from the employ of the company, and he then went to Hartley Vale. Practically similar conditions prevailed there as at Joadja Creek, and Mr. Cook, with the late Mr. Laurie Anderson, initiated a checkweighman's fund, of which Mr. Cook was secretary. It had not the status of a union, but was a good substitute. Conditions of life were much more pleasant at Hartley Vale, but industrial and political activities again brought him trouble, and Mr. Cook and the late Mr. Anderson were informed that they either must desist in their organising work or leave the place. It was characteristic of both men that they went. In 1883 Mr. Cook, with his small family, arrived at Plattsburg, where he obtained employment at the old Co-operative Colliery. It was not long before he was taking an active interest in union matters. First as a member of the Co-operative Miners' Lodge committee, and as lodge chairman, delegate, and ultimately secretary. The management of the mine was at that time in the hands of the late Mr. J. Fletcher, senr. Strikes were just as numerous in those days as these seemingly, and possibly more bitter. The late Mr. Cook was always at the front of any such struggle, and at the termination of one protracted strike in the early nineties (memorable in the minds of the old hands yet, no doubt) he and other participants were cavelled out of the colliery.

It was some time before he was able to obtain work. However, he eventually secured employment at what was then known as Heaton Colliery, but after a few months he was given notice to quit. Mr. Cook at this time held office as miners' district president. He next obtained employment at Wallsend Colliery, where he remained until his appointment as town clerk of Wallsend in 1897. His municipal experience was lengthy and varied, and embraced terms as alderman and Mayor of the now defunct municipality of Plattsburg. When the amalgamation of the municipalities of Wallsend and Plattsburg was consummated he became the first town clerk. Apart from union and municipal experiences, Mr. Cook took an active part in all matters pertaining to the well-being of the public. He was one of the pioneers of the movement that brought the Wallsend Mining District Hospital into existence, and held the office of vice-president of that institution for a number of years. He also fought hard, though unsuccessfully, in an endeavour to establish a Friendly Societies' Dispensary in connection with the hospital. He was the main mover in the formation of the Wallsend and Plattsburg Co-operative Society, presiding at the inaugural meeting, and was president of the society for a period.

Sympathetic references were made at the Wickham Council last night to the death of Mr. A. Cook. and eulogies passed upon his service to Wallsend and Plattsburg and the district generally. The town clerk was ordered to forward a letter of sympathy to the widow and family.

The funeral is announced to take place this afternoon.

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Citation details

'Cook, Adam (1851–1920)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


14 June, 1851
Auchterderran, Fife, Scotland


27 October, 1920 (aged 69)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

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