Oakey Park Colliery operated from 1888 to 1941. It was
one of only two Western coalmines to manufacture coke,
the other being the Vale Colliery where coke was manufactured
very briefly from 1892 until 1900.
The sinking of a circular shift lift in diameter was
begun by the Oakey Park Coalmining Company in 1887 using
three shifts of sinders working 24 hours per day. By
1888, the surface works had been completed and the winding
shaft had reached 327 ft to the bottom of the Lithgow
Valley coal seam. The winding engine had two coupled
cylinders of 11in x 3ft. In 1889, an air shaft 8ft in
diameter was sunk. Its final depth was 340ft. In 1899,
sixteen beehive coke ovens were erected at the colliery
and during 1900, a further sixteen were built, giving
a collective capacity of 132 tonnes of coke per week.
Initially, the entire output was sold to the Blayney
copper smelting works. By 1906, forty new rectangular
ovens had been built in order to fulfil an extensive
contract with the Sandford iron-smelting furnace at Lithgow.
At the time, these coke ovens were the largest in the
State, each being 8ft x 30ft, with a total capacity 400
tonnes of coke per week. Charging was from overhead canister
trucks, discharging by travelling steam ram, with the
doors being hoisted by hydraulic lifts.
When the ironworks were
taken over the C. & G.
Hoskins in 1908, Oakey Park Colliery continued to supply
the coke for the blast furnace. With the erection of
a second blast furnace by Hoskins in 1913, the demand
for coke far exceeded the output of Oakey Park. Hoskins
consumed all the coke produced at Oakey Park and augmented
it with coke purchased from the South Coast. Later Hoskins
purchased their own collieries and erected their own
coke ovens at Eskbank and on the South Coast.
Ventilation of the underground workings at Oakey Park
was by furnace with side flues and exhaust steam from
the pumping engine. It increased over the years between
15,000 and 18,000 cu. ft. of air/min. to cater for between
28 and 51 men underground, plus horses. By 1903, 90 men
were winning coal by contract. By 1923, 175 men were
employed underground, ventilation was being supplied
by a 70 inch diameter Sirocco fan at 60,000 cu. ft./min.
The coal face was two miles from the shaft, haulage was
by endless rope, and output was 500 tonnes/day. Both
team and electric pumps were used for draining the mine.
Both shafts had winders with cages and the men used the
upcast shaft to allow more time for winding coal from
the down-cast station. It generated and supplied limited
amounts of electricity to Lithgow Council and Blaxland
Oakey Park Colliery map
[click on image to enlarge]
Clearly dominates the site. In effect two, structures
with the outer structure made of long lengths of ironbark
beams supporting a platform into which the two winding
wheels are set. Ironbark beams and lengths of steel
brace the Poppet Head internally. Features to metal
Within this Poppet Head lies another timber structure
associated with the up cast shaft. Four vertical
poles rest against a metal block. The whole is braced
internally by timber beams and it stands independent by of the Poppet Head.
four poles mark the margin of the downcast shaft. This structure was presumably
for winching the skip cars.
The pier buttresses are of two types - differences
being in size and materials used in construction.
The first type is generally made of mortared brick.
Three piers of this type are relative to the poppet
head support props.
The second type is a mixture of roughly dressed sandstone
blocks and bricks mortared together. These are generally
lower and shorter than
Type One and
are not associated with the Poppet Head. They have been interpreted as
engine mountings for the first winding engine which was associated
the shaft and the initial years of operation. This is mirrored in the
case of Winding
The Winding: Room is a brick structure which may be assumed to have originally
been roofed with corrugated iron over timer rafters. It is built into
the hillside and this location has determined its design - basically
two large brick engine mountings present in the centre and directly in
line with the large aperture in its facade.
The coal loaders were presumably erected after 1908.
Associated with the railway line which ran adjacent
to their southern margin, coal not intended for the
coke ovens would be loaded onto railway trucks passing beneath them..
The four concrete pillars remaining are found on the
margin of the cleared and raised area which contained
the Boiler House (10), Power House (8), Shaft
No. 2 (11) and the Fan Room (13). Little survives apart from a length of
timber spar over two of the pillars.
All that remains is a concrete raft with a circular
depression in the centre. This is said to have housed
a steam-driven engine. Original fabric and design
of the structure is not known, as no pit-top plans survive. However in
of the fabric which dominates the rest of the site either brick with corrugated
iron roofing or a complete corrugated iron structure are the likely options.
The same applies to the Boilerhouse (10). Of interest are the small brick
supports that run alongside the Powerhouse, Boilerhouse and Winding Rooms
1 and 2. These are interpreted as being supports for piped live steam -
generated in the Boilerhouse and used to run all
steam engines on the site. No piping
remains, but the supports are in a reasonable shape of preservation, both
individually and as a group indicating direction and extent of the piped
Oakey park Colliery brochure (oakey.pdf)