Wednesday, 20 February 2013

How did John Ebbott acquire this wealth of Mining knowledge?

John migrated to Australia when he was 11 years old and although his father may have dabbled as a Mine Manger on the side, essentially he was a farmer.  John eventually became a successful mine manager well respected amongst his peers and it would seem his reputation was known well enough that he was even able to secure a position later in life in India as a Mine manager for a couple of years.
So the question is how did he acquire this wealth of knowledge?  It would seem that his management style was adventurous, from reading the papers it seems that when he took charge of a mine things began to move, he would start to develop the mine, call for tenders, build a large water wheel he never seemed to shy away from the challenge.  So how did he learn the art of being a mine manager?

The possibilities:
  • School of mines
  • The Mine Managers Association
  • Mechanics institute
  • Learning from his father in law, John Thomas, who was a professional mine manager from Cornwall
  • Learning from Michael Thomas (brother of his wife Margaret) who also sits on various mine boards and is himself the son of a mine manager

We know that John thought that getting a qualification was important because he ensured that his son went off and got his technical certificate of mine managing from the School of Mines. His son is listed amongst the successful candidates for first class mining managers' certificates was" Mr. J. Ebbott. junr.. son of Mr. J. Ebbott, manager of the Forest Creek Gold Reefs mine, Castlemaine" 1905 'THE HIGH COMMISSIONER BILL.', Bendigo Advertiser(Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 10 November, p. 4, viewed 21 February, 2013, I have found no record of John getting a similar qualification, this could have been because the first school of mines was not established until after he was established as a mine manager.
My understanding also is that the mine managers association wasn't established early enough to give any initial grounding to John.  The Bendigo Mine Managers Association, a different entity, was a significant distance away from Chewton and didn't start till much later.. 
Post & Telegraph Offices & Mechanics Institute, Castlemaine Date(s)[1862] 
If he did any independent learning it was probably through the local Mechanics institute.  The importance of the  Mechanics Institute to the family can be seen by the later involvement of his younger brother Frederick who sat on the Board of California Gully Mechanics Institute (1890 'THE SCHOOL OF MINES AND THE DIRECTOR.', Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 21 April, p. 2, viewed 21 February, 2013,   There must have been prior involvement to Frederick sitting on the Board, he was nominated for a position in 1888, Michael Thomas was also a member at this time(1888 'EAGLEHAWK.', Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 21 January, p. 5, viewed 21 February, 2013,  The mechanics institute ran talks and seminars on topics of interest to the locals, this may have well have include various mining topics as this was a major gold-mining area.
His most likely source of professional support was from family and friends, networking as we know it today.  I found one reference to his father being a mine manager, but I believe that calling oneself a mining manager was common place and his father was probably predominately a farmer and as such most likely had no real contribution to his career.  On the other hand both his father in law and brother in law were successful mine managers.  

An interesting podcast on the history Mechanics Institutes in Australia  archived on  Local ABC radio 

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