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THOMAS BROWNE - Monumental Mason
THOMAS BROWNE, the eldest son of THOMAS and ELIZABETH LAIDLAW BROWNE was born on th 20th September 1854 at Springburn (Glasgow) Scotland. The family arrived at Sydney aboard the 'Nabob' on 2nd February 1855, in a record time of six months.
First coming to East Maitland and six years later moved to 'Ravensfield' On leaving school he was apprenticed in the stone trade and he established his own business in 1875. One employee from this date was WILLIAM HENRY BARTROP. In 1878 THOMAS BROWNE opened a branch of his stone and marble yard in Singleton and WILLIAM HENRY BARTROP then came to Singleton to manage the business at the corner of George and Campbell Streets. THOMAS BROWNE'S work can be found in almost every state in Australia and even as far away as Thursday Island. One of his first important contracts was the building of St Marys Tower, Church Street, West Maitland.
He was also responsible for the stone and marble work of the Technical College, built in High St, West Maitland. In 1877 he married ADA DEAN whose father was a compositor at the Maitland Mercury office. They had six sons and three daughters. Together with JOHN PENDER, the well known Maitland Architect, he visited th "Auld Country", the Continent and the U.S.A. in 1893. At the Chicago Exhibition he had the honour of winning the first prize for sandstone quarried from his famous Ravensfield Sandstone Quarries near West Maitland. Much of his work is evident with graves and headstones still in good condition in the cemeteries throughout the Singleton district.He formed his business into a liability company in 1920 with himself as governing director.As an employer he won the respect of his men.He was not an easy man,requiring a high standard of efficiency,but he was just and generous.
Essentially a worker and not a talker he took an interest in public affairs but no active part in public life.However,he was ever ready to assist the needy and unostentatiously championed many a worthy cause.By his devotion to his life's work he contributed to the true welware of the people. At the time of his passing he was the eldest member and the oldest Past Master of the Masonic Lodge Unity No 4 West Maitland,having joined on 20th June 1878.For about the same period he was a member of M.U.I.O.O.F. THOMAS BROWNE died at his residence,"Springburn",Regent St,West Maitland at 2.30am on 20th August 1929,a month before his 75th birthday.He was survived by his wife,six sons and three daughters,also nine sisters.
The monumental works,THOMAS BROWNE PTY LIMITED continued until November 1981 when the youngest and only son to take an interest in the business,ROBERT BROWNE,aged 85 years decided to close,as his son did not wish to enter the stonemasonry business.It was the longest continuous running monumental works in NSW.