Coal-cutting by electricity at North Bulli Colliery, Coledale

At the North Bulli Colliery, owing to the introduction of coal-cutting machines, an entirely new set of conditions have arisen. The coal miner is no longer required, the machines having taken his place.

The whole of the miners received their notice, and on December 10 worked their last day under the old conditions. In the early part of 1904 the directors of the company, finding that they were expected to abide by the Arbitration Court’s award (notwithstanding that at the time the evidence was taken the company was not in existence), decided to install electrical coal-cutting machines.

The contract was given to the Australian General Electric Company, and the entire plant was ordered from America. Appended we give a full description of it.

The site of the township of Coledale, which is the name of the railway station on the company’s leasehold, is in a very picturesque spot, as also is the colliery higher up the hillside.

Towering over me colliery are the bluff hills of the Illawarra Range, 1000ft high, under which are the coal seams. A few hundred yards from Coledale Station is the ocean, the foreshores of which are nicely broken up with small headlands — an ideal spot for the township.

Near to the station are the sidings of the colliery, which are connected with the mine by means of a self-acting incline, which is operated by a large drum and brake from the screens, the full waggons as they descend pulling the empties to the top.

Around the tunnel entrances are substantial brick buildings. On the north of main tunnel is the power-house, containing the engine, dynamo, switchboard, etc., which supplies the power for coal-cutters. On the left are the boilers, and next to this the ventilating fan and engine-house, whilst standing in front of the main tunnel is the underground hauling engine.

Near the top of the screens is an automatic weighbridge, at which all coal is weighed before passing over the screens. On the upper side of the screens is a large bin for small coal, lit tort with a complete elevating plant for lifting the screenings and distributing them over the bin. From this the small coal is dropped into the waggons as required.

Further along the hillside are the stables, in which are to be seen when their day’s work is done, many well-bred and sturdy pit ponies, which average about 12 hands in height.

The colliery offices are nicely situated on a prominent outlook, which commands a view of the works on all sides. The manager of the colliery, Mr. Thomas Cater, has evidently laid out the surface works with a view to minimising the cost per ton as much as possible, advantage being taken of elevation wherever available. The main tunnels extend into the mountain side a distance of nearly a mile, from which branch roads extend right and left.

– The Sydney Mail February 1 1905 

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