Spassky Copper Mine Limited

The Spassky Copper Mine in Siberia was established by the New Zealand-born Englishman E Nelson Fell and his older brother Arthur Fell (later Sir) in 1903. The Spassky Mine, was situated in the Amounsk, South of Omsk in West Siberia on the Steppes, reached, at that time, by travelling first to the end of the Trans-Siberia Railway, then by horse and cart some 650 miles. Set in the Steppes, the traditional home of the Khirgiz, the area was described by McCrae as 'absolutely beautiful' in the summer, but particularly hard over winter where it is frozen for 5 months, although work in the mines continued regardless. McCrae noted in an interview that he was one of eight Englishman in a community of 1000 Russians and over 500,000 Khirgiz. E Nelson Fell also wrote about his time in Siberia in Russian and nomad; tales of the Kirghiz Steppes, and there are other contemporary accounts to be found including Robert John Barrett’s journal (see reference below). The Mine was nationalized by the Russians in 1917 and closed in 1921. E Nelson Fell is otherwise known for his initiatives in America, where he lived for much of his life.

Postcard from Siberia

Postcard from Siberia sent home by Arthur McCrae. Courtesy Mant family archives

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Sources and Copyright

Photographs, letters and other records used in the exhibition are owned by the Mant family, and were initially collected by Arthur Gordon McCrae's sister, Frances Mant. Copies may be used for private or educational research only. All other use, reproduction or duplication requires the permission of the owner. Please contact the if you have any queries about the content or use of it.

For more information on E Nelson Fell, see the following references:

Barrett, Robert John Russia's new era; being notes, impressions and experiences–personal, political, commercial and financial–of an extended tour in the empire of the Tsar, with statistical tables, portraits, snapshots and other illustrations (London, Financier and Bullionist, Ltd., 1917) [Digital copy via].

Fell, E. Nelson, Russian and nomad; tales of the Kirghiz Steppes (London, Duckworth, 1916) [Digital copy via Hathi Trust].

Ilič, Melanie, ‘Preface: The diary and letters of Nelson Fell’, Revolutionary Russia, 12:1 (1999), 115-156.