At about 9:30 pm on Saturday, 27th July 1935, there was a loud explosion coming from the vicinity of the Concord Quarry in Ian Parade, opposite Exile Bay.
People living nearby immediately contacted the police when they could hear shrieks of distress coming from the area.
When Constable Adams, who was on his way to report for duty, was told by a man that groans had been heard coming from the quarry, he rushed to investigate.
By the light of the fiercely blazing powder magazine a terribly injured man was seen at the bottom of the quarry, lying near a heap of rocks in a pool of blood. Constable Adams climbed down the side of the pit to reach the man who was only lightly clad and his singlet still smouldering.
The Fire Brigade, Western Suburbs ambulance and Burwood Police were summoned. On arrival at the scene the police found that a shed, situated on the edge of the cliff, and used for storing explosives and tools was wrecked.
There were several minor explosions as Adams climbed down, and these continued while firemen and ambulance bearers descended the quarry.
About 20 yards away his overcoat was found, and nearby were his coat and waistcoat. There was another pool of blood at the bottom of the cliff below the magazine.
Pieces of hair and bloodstains on a projecting ledge, some distance down the face of the cliff, indicated that the man had struck this and that it had broken his fall. This is what probably saved his life.
Relays of four men carried the unconscious victim to the top of the quarry to a waiting ambulance wagon.
Two fully-loaded revolvers were found where the man had fallen and the matter would be closely investigated by the police.
So far as the police could discover the man had no official business at the quarry and how he came to be there was a mystery
The police believe that when the powder magazine exploded the man was flung 50 feet away. In his fall he suffered fractures of an arm and leg, his scalp had been torn almost completely off, and his neck and lower part of his face were dreadfully burned with powder. One of his eyes was destroyed and the other was injured. He was taken to Western Suburbs Hospital in a critical condition, where he was wrapped in an oil-soaked blanket to ease his pain. For brief periods he was semi-conscious but then lapsed into unconsciousness.
When questioned he gave his name as Frank Jones (20) of Kingswood and said that he entered the shed in order to have a sleep and that the explosion had later occurred.
The explosion was being investigated by the police and some sensational developments were expected. A police guard was placed around Jones’ bed.
Police believed that Jones entered a shed where explosives were stored at the Concord quarry, apparently in search of gelignite. He struck a match and an explosion immediately followed. A sheet of flame enveloped the shed. The man, badly burnt and unable to see, staggered out of the ruins and stumbling forward, fell over the edge of the quarry, 30 feet to the bottom. He staggered blindly across the bottom of the quarry, shedding his burning clothes. He finally reached the other end of the pit, about 50 yards from where he fell, and collapsed, covered with blood.
The shed, approximately 8 feet x 6 feet x 10 feet, was situated at the top of the quarry, It was where explosives were kept in a wooden box which was locked and then placed in an iron box, which was also locked when the men knocked off work at the weekend. The door of the magazine would then also be locked. The police stated that the lock on the door had been forced as well as that on a large box in which gelignite, powder, fuses and tools were stored. Although both the shed and box had been locked with heavy padlocks, no trace of these could be found among the debris or in the vicinity.
The building was destroyed by the fire and in the ruins a charred torch was found. The police assume that the man had used the torch while he opened the doors, but that it then failed and he struck a match.
When Jones was well enough to be discharged from hospital he was taken immediately to Long Bay Gaol. Bail was not requested.
Concord Quarry Explosion Sequel
An alleged statement by an accused man was tendered In evidence at the Burwood Police Court on Thursday, September 26, concerning an attempted robbery at North Strathfield railway station on June 29. In this statement, Frank Howard John Carpenter Jones, 20, was alleged to describe the methods by which he bailed up the Stationmaster and fired a shot which, he said, accidentally struck one of two men who came into the stationmaster’s room.
This was the man found, terribly injured, on the night of July 27, in the Concord Council’s quarry, where an explosion had taken place.
The statement, which Detective-sergeant Lawrence tendered, was voluntarily dictated and signed by Jones. It was as follows:
“On the night of June 29, I came from Kingswood to Burwood and Strathfield with the intention of breaking into houses. I broke into a house in Strathfield district and stole a grey suit and a pillow slip and decided to hold up the Stationmaster at North Strathfield station.
“I cut a hole In the pillow slip and then went to the station. I had in my possession two revolvers, which I had previously stolen from houses in the Burwood district. Both were fully loaded. I went down to the railway platform and, when I got there I put the pillow slip over my head, then got a revolver in each hand and walked into the stationmaster’s office.
“I said to him, ‘Pass over the money,’ at the same time pointing both revolvers towards him. He said, ‘I have not got any money.’ I said, ‘Where is the money from the till?’ He said, ‘There is no money from the till, and the keys of the safe are at Concord West.’ He then advanced towards me with his fists shaping up to me. As I had no intention of shooting him, I struck at his head with the revolver, and in doing so the revolver went off.
“Just at that moment, I heard the footsteps of another man coming in the doorway. I looked towards the doorway and saw two men coming In. The leading one advanced towards me and seemed to be about to grab me. I was not quite facing him so that when I fired a shot that I Intended to go into the floor, it accidentally struck him. He fell immediately. I told the men to walk out of the office ahead of me which they did. I then ran up the steps and walked to the Strathfield station, where I caught the train home about midnight.”
Detective-Sergeant Lawrence said he saw Jones on July 27 at the Western Suburbs Hospital, and the following day, in a house in Victoria-street, Kingswood, took possession of a pea rifle, a suit of clothes, and a quantity of jewellery.
On August 12 he questioned Jones about the North Strathfield affair, and it was then that Jones made the statement. Sergeant Gavin said that Jones had been found in the Concord Council’s quarry on the night of July 27. His clothing was burnt and blood-stained and his singlet was on fire.
His face and eyes were burnt, his scalp was practically detached from his head, and he was covered with blood. Gloves, brace and bit, torch, and other articles were found near the shed. Near an iron box, where the council kept explosives, two jemmies were found.
On November 18 Jones, whose head was swathed in bandages, was committed for trial at the Central Criminal Court on eight charges: shooting at and wounding Allen Joseph James Clarke, at North Strathfield, with intent to murder him; shooting at Arthur Horace Jay (statlonmaster), with Intent to murder him; robbery and attempted robbery while armed; and four charges of breaking, entering, and stealing.
Sergeant Toole (police prosecutor) said it was not intended to proceed against Jones on 17 other charges of breaking and entering.
Mr. Arnott (Stipendiary Magistrate) complimented the police on the way the evidence had been put before the Court
(Ed: This story was compiled from various newspaper articles of the time in Trove. This story doesn’t end here, see next months newletter for more.)