Strychnine ends sorrows

The No. 4 pumping station at Merredin, part of the Golden Pipeline
The old number 4 pump station, Merredin, Western Australia, where William Stamp took strychnine in March 1928

William Stamp, 54, was chief engineer at No 4 Pump Station on the outskirts of Merredin.

One day in March, 1928, he walked into the engine room dripping wet and asked a fellow employee “how’s things?’’

When his co-worker asked why he was wet, he said “Things are not too good with me.

“I have just taken a dose of strychnine. I also jumped into the dam, but could not stand it any longer, so got out again.”

He threw his keys on the flue, saying he would not need them any more.

Stamp was taken to Merredin to have his stomach pumped, violently convulsing on the way,  but died within a few minutes of receiving treatment.

He told the doctor he did it due to worry.

His wife and family had just left for a visit to Perth, and a friend told the inquiry he had spent an uncomfortable afternoon with Stamp, who was talking about the second coming of Christ and being spied on.

Stamp’s headstone no longer exists, but he is buried in the Merredin Cemetery.

William Stamp’s resting place is near to, and looks similar to, the above piece of dirt in the Merredin Cemetery, WA

 The pumping station was part of the Golden Pipeline, which helped open up Western Australia’ goldfields. It was built in 1902 as one of eight pumping stations of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme.

The Irish engineer who designed the important scheme, Charles Yelverton O’Connor, also committed a determined suicide – by shooting himself as he rode a horse into the ocean at Robb Jetty, south of Fremantle.

Sources: Merredin Mercury and Central Districts Index (WA : 1912 – 1954) Thursday 22 March 1928 p 5, Thursday 15 March 1928 p 5

Merredin Pioneer Cemetery, NSW

Published by Sharyn Moodie

Travelling around Australia for work, I've found so many amazing headstones. But what is more amazing is the stories behind some of these deaths, and the way newspapers of the day reported them.

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