State Records Office of WA SROWA

Government of Western Australia, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries


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AU WA S4411




  • 1897 - 1939 (Creation)
  • 1897 - 1939 (Accumulation)

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Administrative history

In the period 1847 - 1896 there were various Government Geologists appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. In 1885 a motion was debated in the Legislative Council aimed at establishing a permanent geological dept for the colony, but faced with a shortage of funds, council members rejected the move.

The rapid progess of mining necessitated the formation of a Department of Mines on the 1 January 1894. Until the 4 December 1894, when E.H. Wittenoom was appointed Minister for Mines, the Department remained under the control of the Commissioner for Crown Lands. The position of Government Geologist had been re-created in 1887 (H.P. Woodward) but he resigned in December 1895. On 18 July 1896 Andrew Gibb Maitland was appointed Government Geologist. He arrived on 9 November 1896 to take up his duties. At the request of the Minister for Mines, Maitland drew up proposals for a Geological Survey, embracing assistant geologists, chemists and an assayer, topographic surveyor, lithographic draughtsman, clerk/accountant; and the establishment of a laboratory, library and geological museum.

By the end of 1897, Maitland had effected all these proposals and thus established the structure of the Geological Survey more or less as it is today. In the period 1911-1915 the Geological Survey, which Maitland had regarded as an organization directly responsible to the Minister for Mines, became clearly a branch of the Mines Department and therefore responsible to the Under Secretary for Mines. In 1922 the chemist and mineralogist, E.S. Simpson, and his laboratory were removed from the Geological Survey and merged with the office of Public Analyst to form the Government Chemical Laboratories branch of the Mines Department.

Name of creator

AU WA A928 - GOVERNMENT CHEMICAL LABORATORIES (1922-03-01 - 1989-12-31)

Administrative history

The Government Chemical Laboratories was established on 1 March 1922 with the appointment of Dr S. Simpson as Government Mineralogist and Analyst with control of the combined laboratories of the Health, Agriculture and Mines Departments, which formed the Government Chemical Laboratories.

The name of the Government Chemical Laboratories was changed to that of Chemistry Centre (WA) in 1989.

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In 1897, at the age of 22, Edward S. Simpson (B.E. in mining and metallurgy, Sydney University) came to Western Australia to fill the newly-created position of Mineralogist and Assayer to the Geological Survey. In this position he also acted as Chemist to the Mines Department and in 1922 was appointed Government Mineralogist and Analyst with control of the combined laboratories of the Health, Agriculture and Mines Departments which became the present Government Chemical Laboratories.

Simpson's knowledge of the minerals of Western Australia gained him wide recognition as an accomplished mineralogist. He collected and arranged systematically every piece of fresh information on the mineralogy of the State that came to his notice. His intention was to publish a monograph on the minerals of Western Australia. The final arrangement of his notes was little more than half completed when he dies of heart failure on 30 August 1939. The planned monograph was published as "Minerals in Western Australia" appearing as three volumes in 1948, 1951 and 1952. The work was to become a standard reference.

This series consist of Simpson's field and laboratory notebooks


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