George McCulloch (mine owner)

George McCulloch (mine owner)

George McCulloch (born Glasgow,Scotland 23 April 1848, died London, England 12 December 1907) was the mastermind behind the formation of the Broken Hill Mining Company, a precursor of BHP Billiton (Curtis, 1908 and Camilleri, 2006).

George's father died when he was one year old. As a young man George went to South America where his brother John was a stockman and then to Australia in 1872, where his cousin Sir James McCulloch was a prosperous merchant and politician (Camilleri, 2006).

About 1875, his cousin gave him a job as Manager and one eighth share of the Mount Gipps Sheep Station in New South Wales (Oxford DNB). By chance, in 1883 one of his boundary riders, Charles Rasp, discovered mineral samples on the property and pegged out a claim. George McCulloch immediately held a meeting with the station hands and it was agreed to form a Syndicate of Seven pegging out a further six blocks which were amalgamated to form the privately owned 'Broken Hill Mining Company'. In 1885 this was floated into the Broken Hill Proprietary Mining Company Ltd (Camilleri, 2006 and Curtis 1908).

George McCulloch retired to the UK a rich man about 1891. He married Mary Mayger, the widow of an employee at Mount Gipps, in 1893 and they went to live at 184 Queens Gate, London (England Census 1891 and 1901).

Between 1893 and his death in 1907 George became an internationally known art collector and was a patron of the artist John Singer Sargent. At the time of his death he owned the finest collection of paintings by modern British artists in the world. He made it his rule not to acquire a picture unless it was painted in his own lifetime (The Times, 1907).

He died in 1907, the year before his son Alexander McCulloch won a Silver Medal in the Single Sculls at the London Summer Olympic Regatta in 1908.

George's widow Mary married the Scottish painter James Coutts Michie in 1908. The house at Queens Gate was used as a British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital during the Great War and was known as the Michie Hospital. For her war work Mary Coutts Michie received the CBE in 1920.


*The History of Broken Hill, Its Rise and Progress, compiled and edited by Leonard Samuel Curtis, Frearson's Printing House, Adelaide, South Australia, 1908.

*The Times 13th December 1907 and other obituaries of Mr George McCulloch.

*Into the Broken Hill Paddock, published by Jenny Camilleri, printed by Openbook Australia 2006, ISBN 0-646-46245-8

*Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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