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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Binnie, William More (1874–1954)

by Ruth S. Kerr and Raymond L. Whitmore

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

William More Binnie (1874-1954), mine-manager and company director, was born on 3 July 1874 at Menteith, Perthshire, Scotland, son of 16-year-old Margaret Jane More, a farmer's daughter. After his mother married coalminer Archibald Binnie in 1878, William took his stepfather's surname. Educated at Bathgate Academy, West Lothian, in 1889 William came to Queensland with his family in the Jumna. He learned coalmining skills while prospecting with Archibald on the West Moreton field, won prizes at Ipswich Technical College and in 1906 gained a mine-manager's certificate (first class). On 7 July that year he married Scottish-born Agnes Tait at Ipswich with Presbyterian forms; they settled at East Ipswich and were to have three children.

H. G. Noble employed Binnie to manage the Denham Colliery at Swanbank where coal quality and production gradually improved. In 1908 Binnie became secretary of the West Moreton Colliery Owners' Association and moved to W. R. Black's Blackheath Colliery as manager; due to his abrasiveness with unionists and his employment of day-labourers on jobs previously done by miners, he was less successful there. Appointed manager of Noble's Wattle Creek Colliery in 1909, he supervised its expansion into the company's premier operation, Noblevale No.1. He left in 1912 for a holiday in Scotland. On his return, he spent a year in North Queensland: he discovered the 'Bowen Seam' (which led to the opening of the Collinsville coalfield) and named a local hill 'Binnie's Knob'. Back at Ipswich in 1915, Binnie was reappointed manager of Noblevale No.1 and four years later became Noble's mine superintendent.

He branched out independently in 1922, opening the old Aberdare Colliery, a small pit at Blackstone. In partnership with the Hart brothers, in 1927 Binnie worked the Aberdare seam. He was at his best in running small-scale, short-term underground ventures and in 1938 formed United Collieries Pty Ltd which operated in the Ipswich and Rosewood region. A board-member of several colliery companies and managing director of Maranoa Collieries Ltd, he was chairman of the West Moreton District Coal Board before it was taken over by Queensland Coal Board. Binnie expanded his business interests into sawmilling, pottery and the production of fertilisers. Energetic, technically efficient, blunt but humorous, he had a tough, driving nature which made him one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Ipswich area. He was particularly noted for the keen business sense that enabled him to operate marginal coalmines profitably.

Binnie retired to Indooroopilly with shareholding interests in Aberdare collieries, Bowen Consolidated Coal Mines Ltd, Tannymorel Coal Mining Co. Ltd, Dinmore Pottery Ltd, General Fertilisers Ltd, Queensland Machinery Co. Ltd and Mathers Pty Ltd. Survived by his wife, daughter and a son, he died on 5 April 1954 at Indooroopilly and was buried in Toowong cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • R. L. Whitmore, Coal in Queensland, vol 2 (Brisb, 1991)
  • Queensland Government Mining Journal, 9, 1908, pp 5, 376, 10, 1909, p 543, 11, 1910, pp 142, 170, 55, 1954, p 453
  • Brisbane Courier, 29 May 1908, p 3
  • Queensland Times, 22 Apr 1919, 13 May 1925
  • Z1965 IMM/123 and A/44280 (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

Ruth S. Kerr and Raymond L. Whitmore, 'Binnie, William More (1874–1954)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 26 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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