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Wednesday, January 28, 2015


All employees who worked  underground in the Kolar Gold Mines, were fully aware of the dangers of their occupation. They were prepared for any eventuality. There were several instances of tragic and fatal accidents inside the mines that left many workers physically handicapped and incapacitated. Several times, there was loss of lives due to the Rock Bursts or Air Blasts. The Rock Bursts during the 1920s and 30s and the massive Rock Burst in 1952, claimed many lives as quite a few miners were buried alive.
Besides, the Rock Bursts and Air Blasts, there were also many fire accidents in the mines.
The smell of smoke or eucalyptus oil was a direct warning that there was a fire somewhere in the mine. The workers knew that their first priority was to immediately inform the Surface Banksman of the Shaft by telephone or other means about the fire and try to put it out themselves with the firefighting equipment underground.  The miners had to then evacuate the place and come up to safety immediately. As per procedure in the event of a fire breaking out underground, , 2 large bottles of Eucalyptus oil  were immediately poured into the two air mains, and also sprinkled into the downcast air by the Surface Banksman. The strong smell of eucalyptus would quickly spread through all the tunnels underground thereby warning  all the miners working in other tunnels to quickly rush to higher safety levels, from where they could come up to the surface safely. Once the fire warning was announced no one was allowed to enter the mine except the Fire Inspectors and the Rescue team. with their fire fighting apparatus to subdue the fire.. These men wore special masks known as Burrell Masks and other fire resistant gear to protect them from the flames.
I’m sharing below the first 3 pages of the Nundydroog Mines Limited, Underground Fire regulations (January 1950) that was my dad’s copy when he was an Agent in Henry Shaft, Nundydroog Mine.

Sunday, January 11, 2015



In the early days, whenever a new British Officer arrived at K.G.F, the established British families would send the new arrival an invitation through their Butler to visit them. This would read something like, 'Do call on us. We look forward to meeting you and your family. Next Tuesday at 4 p.m. will be fine'.  Social interaction in those days was a well mannered affair, and governed by many rules of etiquette. Social visits were only through invitation only.
 The new arrival /s would usually turn up at the time suggested, in the back of one of those horse drawn carts or 'Jatkas'. It was customary at the time for all the Britishers to have calling cards. Calling Cards streamlined introductions and it was also a way of showcasing the person’s social identity.
 Upon arrival, the Gentleman usually gave his calling card to the servant answering the door. The servant would be holding a silver try and the card would be placed upon it. The servant would then carry the card in the tray to the Host and only then the person would be welcomed into the home.

Calling Cards were then exchanged between the Host and the Visitor. If there was an eligible male in the family, the left top corner of the card would be turned down, and if a female the right. Nothing was ever said about the eligible person, but one would know the situation. Protocol had to be followed!! However, the problem arose when there were both eligible males and females in the same family.  Then both the right and the left corners were turned down!
After exchanging a few pleasantries, Afternoon Tea was served. A pretty little Afternoon Tea Service would be laid out on a small table with plates of dainty crust-less cucumber or tomato sandwiches, biscuits and cake. The guest/s would have to politely wait till the hostess poured him or her, a cup of tea and offered them the refreshments however, hungry or ravenous one was.
The visit would compulsorily come to an end within the hour and the visitor was expected to take his leave as early as possible.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I was pleasantly surprised to receive this email from Mr Hugh O’Donnell , the grandson of
Dr T. J. O’Donnell the first Chief Medical Officer of the Kolar Gold Field Hospital
Dear Bridget
I am the grandson of the famous Dr O'Donnell who founded the Kolar Hospital.  I am sending you a few photos and memorabilia in a download link. I have a copy of your book. If any of the photos are of interest you may use them on your website. One day I hope to visit Kolar myself and walk on O'Donnell Road, if it is still there.
I should explain that my father Godfrey O'Donnell, the second son of Thomas O'Donnell, had a second marriage later in his life (after the death of his first wife), and I was born when he was in his sixties!  Sadly I never knew the great Dr O'Donnell in person, but am thrilled to discover the contribution he made to the people of Kolar.
Best wishes
Hugh O'Donnell
Dr.. T J O’Donnell was born and educated in Ireland. He qualified as a surgeon from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland where he became a ‘Fellow’. He started working as a doctor at the Rhymney Iron Works in Wales and after a few years he joined the Consett Iron Works in Derbyshire. In 1885, he was contracted by the John Taylor and Sons Company to set up a health service in the Gold Fields. He was the only Medical Personnel at the time and a clinic was set up for him in a Bungalow near Marikuppam. He immediately went to work to set up a good health and sanitation system.  
In 1887 the John Taylor and Company established a small hospital to accommodate 48 patients initially . It was centrally located in Champion Reefs and Dr. T J O’Donnell was appointed as the Chief Medical Officer. He was later joined by his brother Dr.J D O’Donnell. More Medical staff were appointed and by the year 1900, this Mining Hospital became a well equipped hospital, to cater to the medical needs and emergencies of the miners and their families. He served as the Chief Medical Officer for more than 35 years and when he retired in 1911 to return to Ireland, he left behind a first class medical hospital service run by the 6 Irish Doctors specially trained by him. He was awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind Medal by the Maharaja of Mysore in recognition of his services in the medical field and especially during the severe Cholera and Plague outbreak in early 1900.
Dr. T J O’Donnell also served as a Surgeon Lieut. Colonel in the Kolar Gold Field Rifle Volunteers and held the Volunteers Service Decoration for ‘long and good service’ as Hon. Surgeon. He was a keen Cricket and Tennis Player as well. In appreciation of his long services in Kolar Gold Fields, the John Taylor and Sons Company named the road between Champion Reef and Andersonpet as O’Donnell Road,

He passed away at the age of 87 at his residence at Dublin Ireland.

Here are some photographs send to me by Hugh O'Donnell and with his permission I'm sharing it on my Blog