October 1875 iron smelting began in Lithgow under the
direction of Enoch Hughes. The foundry was erected on Thomas
Brown's Esk Bank property where ore was found just
beneath the surface of the ground.
successfully encouraged James Rutherford of Bathurst,
a principal shareholder and manager of Cobb and Co.,
Williams a Canadian railway engineer who had worked on
the Zig Zag and the Honourable
John Sutherland the Minister for Public Works to join
him in this steel making venture. By the end of 1876 the
blast furnace was producing over 100 tons of pig-iron
per week (Lithgow Public School 1947).
was soon found that the success of the operation would
be limited by cheap competition from overseas iron which
was transported to the colony as ship's ballast. The
carried on for some time under a co-operative system
but appeared to have failed. In a mark of frustration
lack of protectionism measures for local industries,
Rutherford blew up the blast furnace with two dray loads
powder (Brown 1989, p66).
Sandford who was associated with the early steel making
operations in Mittagong, took over the operations from
Rutherford in 1886 and made some initial successes in
reviving the business by successfully puddling Australia's
first steel in 1900. Sandford was a strong lobbyist for
Lithgow industry, encouraging the New South Wales Government
to exclusively use locally produced iron and steel. In
1904 the government sought tenders from America, Europe
and Australia to supply it with its iron and steel requirements.
A condition of the contract was that all operations had
to use local ores and that all works needed to be located
within New South Wales. Sandford was awarded the contract
order to meet the obligations of his contract, Sandford
built a new blast
furnace with a capacity of 1,000 tons per week the
funds for which were secured through a significant bank
1989, p.74). The bank was to shortly foreclose on Sandfords
loan, with the operations then passing to G & C Hoskins.
George and Cecil Hoskins took over the Steel Works in
1908 the business began to thrive. In an attempt to make
the local steel industry more viable, the Hoskins Brothers
persuaded the government to pay a bounty for Australian
produced steel. The Hoskins Brothers moved their operations
from Rhodes in Sydney to Lithgow and began to make significant
was to become renown for its steel production, with thousands
of tons of steel being produced for the Trans-Australia
Railway. In the first year of production, the Steel Works
treated 51,000 tons of ore and employed 632 people (Lithgow
Public School 1947). By 1926 the steel furnaces had turned
out 178,000 tons of ore, resulting in 105,000 tons of
pig iron (Lithgow Public School 1947).
and limestone were both necessary requirements for the
production of steel. Coke was required to generate the
required heat levels to smelt steel, and the limestone
was required to act as a flux to draw off the impurities
from the ore. The success of the Lithgow iron and steel
industry was dependent on the supply of these two resources.
for the Lithgow operations was obtained from Ben
Iron Ore was obtained from Coombing Park near Carcoar.
This mine was origionally opened as a copper mine
Icely in the 1870's, as the copper was worked out it
was discovered that a enormous body of Iron Ore surrounded
the copper ore body. The mine was taken over by G & C
Hoskins and a railway line built which opened on
27th April 1907.
the closure of the Lithgow smelters the mine too
in 1927 - it being unecomonical to transport the iron
ore to Port Kembla. A enormous quantity of Iron ore was
from this site over the years, often complete train loads,
as well most through trains stopped & picked
up loading from this site. This railway is still
100% intact. Possibly
iron ore was trail mined at Irondale Colliery, Pipers
Flat, but this has not been confirmed. Though a prospectus
was issued stating that the Irondale Mine was to
Iron Ore from a band of high grade Ironstone which was
encountered in that mine.
ore was also mined on Tunnel Hill at Marangaroo.
course high grade silica flux was obtained from Newbolds
Quarry & Brickworks at Marrangaroo, as well as
the refractory bricks required for the Blast Furnaces.
for the Blast Furnaces came from a variety of sources
- Hoskins own Coke works at Lithgow, as well as Oakey
Park Colliery, and possibly Zig Zag Colliery.
supply of metallurgical coke, however was not sufficient,
and additional supply had to be freighted from the south
coast at great cost. This cost was exacerbated by the
state government's movement in 1919 to increase railway
freight charges by 10% across the state (Brown 1989,
lack of suitable coking coals, increases in railway freight
charges and the inability of the Western District to
sufficient quantities of good quality ore resulted in
the demise of the Lithgow Iron and Steel industry. In
1932 the blast furnaces were removed from the site. The
Hoskins Brothers at this time joined the Australian Iron
and Steel Company and re-erected their steel works at
City of Greater Lithgow acknowledges and appreciates the
History excerpts taken from the Draft
Economic Development Strategy for Lithgow
which was researched and compiled by Economic and Community
Development Class, University of Sydney October 1996