David James

  • location icon Mount Gipps Broken Hill NSW 2808


David James hailed from southern Wales, where he was born in 1854. A a youth he worked in the Welsh coal mines.


He arrived in South Australia with his mother and other members of his family in the ship Lochee in February 1877. The family settled in Kapunda, SA and James became a contractor for such works as the erection of fences, the sinking of wells and excavation of dams, which took him to main parts of the state.

He was engaged on a dam sinking contract with his partner, James Poole, at Mount Gipps statin, when Charles Rasp rode into their camp. Rasp told them of a gigantic black outcrop which appeared to resemble oxide of tin, and persuaded them to join him in a venture to investigate the mineral potential. The initial contribution to syndicate funds was fixed at 70 pounds each, which James and Poole drew from McCulloch against their contract.

In the months that followed, discouraged by lack of results, David James disposed of a one-fourteenth share to William Jamieson for 110 pounds. He also later sold a one twenty-eight share for 1800 pounds to Harvey Patterson, owner of Corona station.

Following the launching of the Proprietary company, David James returned to Kapunda where he purchased a farming property a few miles outside of the township. He interested himself in local affairs, occupying the office of Mayor of Kapunda for over seven years. He was chairman of directors at the Kapunda Herald, and president of both the Agricultural Society and the Racing Club; and for 34 years was a member of the local hospital board, holding the position of chairman on a number of occasions.

David James established a racing stud on his property, Coalbrook Vale, and many of his thoroughbreds distinguished themselves on South Australian and Victoria racetracks. His greatest achievement in racing circles was the winning of the Melbourne Cup by his filly, Auraria, in 1895.


1902 David James was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly, representing the district of Wooroora. During his 16 years as a Member of Parliament, David James was an active supporter of all legislation affecting pastoral and agricultural reforms, including the introduction of the Warren Water Scheme.


An unobtrusive backbencher, David James was firmly opposed to extremes. He died in Adelaide on July 21, 1926, at the age of 72 years.

Excerpt from: Broken Hill 1883-1893 Discovery and Development. R.H.B. Kearns, Reprinted August, 1977, Broken Hill Historical Society.


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