History: Looking Back

Looking Back history feature: James Cram, ‘The Father of Balgownie’

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(James Cram story below)


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Looking Back

Mt Pleasant Colliery, where James Cram worked as under manager. Mt Pleasant Colliery, where James Cram worked as under manager.


James Cram: The Father of Balgownie James Cram: The Father of Balgownie

Coal dust was said to be in James Cram’s blood.

The larger than life pioneer was more than qualified to hold the title of Father of Balgownie – a village established on coal.

From a humble immigrant coal miner, Cram became one of the Illawarra’s most powerful men – a civic leader, businessman, colliery under manager, property developer and landlord.

Born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, England in 1826, Cram entered the coal mines at the tender age of 10. He worked in the coal mines of Cramlington, Northumberland through his 20s until he decided to immigrate to the colony of NSW with his wife Sarah and three young boys in the late 1850s.

Cram first made his way to the northern coalfields in Newcastle – he was 34 – and by the…

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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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