Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Balmain Coal Mine

Many of you know that Balmain has a rich shipping history but did you also know that it was once the home to the largest coal mine in Australia?

Coal was first discovered 914 metres underneath Sydney Harbour in 1847. The coal seam ran upwards as far as Cremorne but Balmain was selected to be the first site to mine it. The surface of the mine was originally located next to the Birchgrove Public School and was in operation until 1931. In 1945 there was a gas explosion in the mine that killed three men who were trying to close it.

In 1900, 6 miners fell 91-metres to their death when an obstruction in the shaft wall became lodged with the bucket carrying them. Sadly, one of the men landed at the feet of his brother who was working below.

In 1987, the Mort Bay Housing Department built over one of the old mine shafts. There was fear that houses would sink, but those houses still sit on the shores of Birchgrove with no indication of any movement from the old shafts.

I'd love to hear your comments or stories about the Balmain Mine.
Until next week .....

sourced from A Pictorial History of Balmain to Glebe J.Lawrence & C.Warne 1995

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