Archive for September, 2009

This chapter explains how the bureacratic process worked to enable people to buy land under “Conditional Purchase” and the process of improvements and inspections that enabled them to obtain title to the land. 

A Parish map showing J. B. North’s land holdings, and the lease for the Ropeway across the Jamison Valley.  Up till now we did not know if  North had acquired a lease for the ropeway track.

Parish map showing lease for Pendant Tramway

Parish map showing lease for Pendant Tramway

Transcription of handwritten Inspectors report on improvements on North’s MCPs to comply with the improvement conditions. Click here.  Table 3-1 List of improvements
A comment From Philip Pells

p3: The writer deliberately used the phrase “At the feet of these cliffs” because the bases of the cliffs are not at the same level.  It has been suggested that the sentence should read ‘At the foot of these cliffs’, but I think this conveys an incorrect sense.

This Chapter details the involvement of Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral in the further operation of Katoomba mines after J.B. North leased the mine.

A picture of an acetlyene miners lamp courtesy of John Hill of Oberon and some information on the Rail Siding that North had installed, from State Archives, and ARHS. Click here:  Miners Lamps


This email from John Shoebridge containg a newspaper article from Newcastle Morning Herald 1886, with a story of a miner working in  the mines at Katoomba.

Newcastle Morning Herald Article


This is a comment from Stan Johnston. 20/12/09

102            I find the description of clipping given by Keith Duncan  incomprehensible.

Reply fromPH

Yes Keith’s description is not the greatest, however it is a quotation, so it has to be printed literally.  On Page 131 is a description of how a snaffle works, but the photo is not very illustrative. We had a better one but it didn’t make the cut.

 More from Stan:

104            Counterweight Path (present day) . Said to be originally used for  tensioning the endless rope. Is the reference to “present day” an indication  that it is a counterweight for the  Scenic Railway?

Reply from PH

P104  The Counterweight path is for the present day Scenic railway and has nothing to do with the historic installations.

            The tramway and cableway haulropes were tensioned by the two skips ( you can only see one ) on the edge of the hill in the LH background of Fig 7-3 page 86.

         We surmise that the “Valley Tramway” haulrope was also tensioned at the mouth of the original furnace tunnel, because of remmant earthworks there. It may have been that the original tensioning of the ropeway didn’t work when the winder was changed to driving the tramway so the tensioning point was moved. It certainly would have been more efective in the valley instead of on the clifftop, because a more constant tension could be kept on the C wheels with less tensioning weight, because of the weight of the ropes from the winder to the bottom of the cliff. Normal practice is to tension the unloaded rope, in this case the outgoing one returning the empty skips to the mines.

More from Stan:

110      Re Figure 8-17. What was the motive power for the cutter?

Reply from PH.

Acording to Leonie Knapman compressed air was used at Joadja. Compressed air was certainly used to drive the Mt. Rennie Tunnel, as the drill marks are quite obvious in the roof. So it certainly could have been used in the Katoomba Mines inthe AKO&M times.  An electric cutter was used in the 30’s and 40’s Katoomba Colliery workings.


p101; The reference to Figure 9-15 in the 4th last line should read Figure 9-14 (SJ)

This Chapter details the efforts of Katoomba Colliery Limited, the Company which re-opened the old Colliery in 1928.


Herewith some maps found in the State Archives

212640  A 1931 map of early streets of West Katoomba. Many of the streets in Por 62 are now in Katoomba Golf Course.

The second map is a Blackheath Parish Map with the holdings of J B North and his son J G North outlined in Red and the holdings of The Australian Kerosene and Mineral Company Co Limited hatched in red.


3255  Is a partial scan of an undated surveyors map of the Southern section of the Katoomba Workings, it doesn’t correlate very well with the Mines Dept maps of the same area!! 


The third document is a surveyors sketch of the Scenic Railway incline. It shows a total drop of 680.70 feet on a distance of 777.68 feet an average incline of 43 degrees 23 minutes. It records the steepest part as 50 degrees and 15 minutes.



More comments from Stan Johnstone:

116            Explanation of the reason for ” slack coal “. It had nothing to do with roof   support.

Reply from PH.

P116  I also am concerned with this one. The original remark came from Ralph Bennett’s paper on Katoomba Colliery.  It seems illogical to me that you would separate small coal from large with a fork, then use the small coal inside a pigsty to hold up the roof!

More from Stan:

120            I think there must have been further improved versions of bulk hoisted  skips. I think I saw a rapid dumping ” alligator ” there in 1939 (but there is  no mention of one).

Reply from PH:

P 120. I am not familiar with the term “alligator”. The skip used to haul the coal to the top in the 30’s and 40’s was a bottom dumping one. If you look at Fig 9-6 you can see the handle for releasing the bottom flap.  The skip for incline haulage was loaded from front dumping skips on a Tippler. The original Tippler has been remounted in its original position at the bottom of the Scenic Railway.

Post fromPhillip Pells:

p117: In the second paragraph it is stated that ‘…the “slack” or small coal, that had not been profitable to take, and had been left by North’s miners as roof support’.  SJ suggests that the small coal would not have been used as roof support as it would have been ineffective. In response we note that we took this statement from the articles by Bennett, which we have found to contain other errors.  However, in this case Bennett may have been correct because, firstly, there is no doubt that the small coal was left in the colliery during the workings of the late 1800’s , because there was no viable sale value in small coal.  Secondly, that it was left stacked up against the roof was also , no doubt, true- given that the seam thickness was less than 1m over most of the mine.  Thirdly, while we admit uncertainty as to whether it was explicitly considered to form some form of roof support we could accept that it was , because in the torbanite mine at the Ruined Castle North’s miners used an advancing longwall system and explicitly used waste to provide roof support.  So it would not have been strange to transfer this concept to the bord-and-pillar mining in the colliery.

This Chapter contains a brief geological History of the Blue Mountains area, and the reasons for the existence of the Coal and Oil Shale that was mined in the Katoomba Area.

This Chapter tells the ecological story of the rainforest, its recovery after years of decimation at the hands of the Miners, and background information on the Superb Lyrebird.

This Chapter puts 19th century living into context with today’s standards, and explains the motivations and reasons for the Miner’s lifestyle.

Some analysis on the newspaper article on John Hocking’s accident. Click here : William Hocking’s Accident