We are greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Coalfields historian and a good friend, Brian John Andrews OAM on 10 September 2019 at the Kurri Kurri Masonic Village.
Brian was born in Moree on 6 July 1943, and in his youth was a sportsman. He played rugby league in the Balmain Junior League and gained representative honours in 1962 as centre in the President’s Cup. Cricket was another love of his life, and in 1977 he toured New Zealand with a Sydney team.
Brian was active member of the Catholic Church and was member of the Pastoral Council for 11 years. He was the author/compiler of Hunter Valley Catholic History and was working on a revised edition when he passed away. This year, Brian is listed in the most recent book released by the Catholic Church that the Museum only received on Friday 6th September.
By 1996 Brian had moved to Kurri Kurri and was a foundation member of the Coalfields Heritage Group and managed The Sir Edgeworth David Memorial Museum for the past 22 years. He was also their historian, secretary and treasurer. Prior to this he was secretary of the Cessnock History Society
In 1998 at the age of 50 Brian joined Kurri Kurri Probus Club and became their President in 2001.
In 2002 he was chosen as Citizen of the Year for Kurri Kurri.
In 2003 Brian was awarded the NSW. State Heritage Volunteers’ Award at State Parliament.
Brian, when he was able, conducted Old North Road excursions and history walks, then, with less walking being involved, he became Mural Tour Guide in his home town of Kurri Kurri.
UON’s Cultural Collections worked closely with Brian and his colleagues on several major projects such as the People and Place | Coal and Community and the Voices of the Hunter. Brian was always ready to give sage advice and information on the history of the coalfields, about which he was passionate.
In 2009 Brian was awarded the accolade of the OAM for his community service and writing history of the Hunter Valley and surrounding area. Governor Marie Bashir pinned the medal on Brian’s lapel.
Joel Fitzgibbon MP awarded Brian a certificate of appreciation for volunteers in 2015.
On Monday 9 September 2019 Brian was made the lnaugural Life Member of the Coalfields Heritage Group, a fitting honour as Brian was their first member.
Local history has lost a great advocate and expert with Brian’s passing, and the Coalfields community is much the poorer for the loss of a man who promoted and worked for it for so many years.
Our condolences to Brian’s family and friends.
Our thanks to Lexie Matthews of the Coalfields Heritage Group who kindly provided this biography.