Chapter 10 Engines, Rails, Cables, Bells and Whistles.

The Operation of the Katoomba Mining Infrastructure. This Chapter follows the career of Cecil the coal skip in his journey around the Katoomba infrastructure, which effectly explains how the complex system worked.


This is a comment on the use of the word “snaffle” by “Skip” of unknown address.

Letter from "Skip"
Letter from “Skip”
Page from "Mining Machinery"
Page from “Mining Machinery”
Newspaper Cutting illustrating modern usage of the word "Snaffle"
Newspaper Cutting illustrating modern usage of the word “Snaffle”

Skip is quite correct in the modern use of the word “snaffle” which means to grab on quickly, which is exactly the meaning put to the device when it was used to “grab onto” a wire rope quickly. The chain and hook device used by the miners went out of use as soon as safer quick grips were put on the market in the 1890’s, as they were quite dangerous to use, resulting in quite a few shortened fingers.

The English publication, “Mining Machinery”, mentions Smallman Clips and Fisher Clips, both of which were developed in the UK the 1890’s.  Their penetration into the Australian market was slow.
There is another use of the word “Snaffle”referring to horses’ bits, which have a ring joining the two halves together inside the horse mouth,  so that is like a chain.
My Father, who worked with the Miners at Katoomba, when he was carting coal from the Mine, and who subsequently employed some of them as Scenic Railway staff, used the term, as any chain with a hook on one end. The term had come down to him through the local mining population.
Philip Hammon 16/11/09 
Comment from Stan Johnstone:

136            What is the significance of the black line extension?

Reply from PH:

P 136.  You have sharp eyes. The black line is the haulage rope for the modern Cableway. It happens to be very close to the original Pendant Tramway alignment. 


p141. In the Mount Rennie Tunnel Box: 5th line should read ‘at the western, Megalong, portal’, not ‘at the eastern, Megalong, portal’ (SJ)