The Southern Coal Company

The Southern Coal Company (SCC), a major coal mining Company, floated in London, to open a coal mine in the Bulli Seam, on the Southeastern slopes of the Mount Kembla.  In 1887, the development of the mine site and the mining of the Bulli Seam commenced, from the outcrop of the Bulli Seam on the Eastern face of the Mount Kembla. The installation of plant on the mine surface included Endless Rope Haulage, designed to deliver Empty and Full Coal Skips, in and out of the mine, and down up a Surface Incline. A  Screening Plant, was erected at the bottom of the Incline to unload the coal skips, along with facility to support the operation of Steam Locomotive and facilities  were unloaded, and returned back up the Incline, and on underground, for refilling by the Contract Miners.

An Endless Rope Haulage was installed at Pit top, to deliver the coal mined underground, and loaded into Skips by Contract Miners, to the Surface, and on down the Surface Incline to a Screening Plant, to unload the Skips and process the coal. The  emptied Skips were attached to the Endless Rope Haulage, for delivery back up the Incline, and on underground, for refilling. The Plant and facilities  erected at the bottom of the Surface Incline, also included, maintenance Workshops for Steam Locomotive and Rail Waggons, along with Office and Residential facilities for the Mine Staff. The facilities built were comprehensive and of a good standard.

Mine Portal Entry, Southern Coal Co, Mount Kembla
From the collection of Ron Cairns

The Steam Locomotives and Rail Waggons were installed, along with the construction of a standard gauge Railway from the Mine site, to deliver coal from the Screening Plant to a Jetty, erected by the SCC at Red Point, later named the Port Kembla.  

Southern Coal Co Jetty, Port Kembla
From the collection of Ron Cairns

In 1888 the SCC, in conjunction with a business Partner, undertook the erection of a Battery of Beehive Coke Ovens, named the Australian Coke Making Company Ltd. These Coke Ovens, were erected at Unanderra, adjacent to the passing SCC Railway to the Jetty,. The purpose of this Plant, was to absorb the Duff (small) Coal, generated at the SCC mine, under construction on the Mount Kembla, and from other mines, in the area.  These Coke Ovens, were included in the SCC Project, to open a mine on the Mount Kembla, and the erection of this Plant; was completed, on schedule

In 1887, the driving of a pair of Roadways into the outcropping Bulli Seam commenced, on the Eastern face of the Mount Kembla. These roadways were driven to the West, and on reaching some 400 yds underground, a second pair of Roadways, were driven off to the North, and on reaching some 800yds in length, these roadways intersected a Fault in the Bulli seam, that proved to be, unable to be penetrated.

The Orders already accepted for the supply of coal from this mine, were satisfied by the SCC purchasing and delivering coal, mined at other Collieries, in the Illawarra.

The above for  event, led to the SCC ceasing all underground mining, and work on the mine site, and in 1889  abandoned the site, to develop a coal mine.

Following a request by the SCC, the NSW Mines Department Geologist Mr. Harper, visited the mine, and advised that the Fault was a Master Channel, in the Bulli Seam, and in his opinion, it marked an end of the Bulli Seam, at this site, and along the Escarpment, South of the Mount Kembla .

In 1890, the Southern Coal  Company entered into a Joint Ownership, of the Brokers Nose Colliery (BNC) at Corrimal, to supply coal to Customer Orders, and generate some Revenue for the SCC. At that point in time, the BNC was in Voluntary Liquidation, and required a significant upgrading of the Colliery Plant, and Surface facilities. The SCC was able  to address these matters, by using Plant already installed, or being delivered, from the now abandoned SCC Mount Kembla Site, along with the SCC Labour, to develop and support the mining operations, at the Brokers Nose Colliery.

The Steam Locomotive Sheds, originally erected at the abandoned Mount Kembla mine site, were later relocated, to a site adjacent to the Coke Ovens noted above, at Unanderra. The Workshops, Screening Plant and Incline Endless Rope Haulage Plant, were dismantled and installed, at the Brokers Nose Colliery.  The remaining mine facilities, excluding the Mine Portals, but including the Railway, from the mine site to the Coke Ovens Plant at Unanderra, were removed.

In 1902, the Southern Coal Company was reconstituted, and became the Corrimal Balgownie Collieries Limited.

The Southern  Coal Company Colliery Workings beneath the  Mount Kembla

The Southern  Coal Company Colliery Workings beneath the  Mount Kembla

The Master Channel  in the Bulli Seam

                                                                                                                                           Harper, L.F. “The Geology and Mineral Resources of the Southern Coalfields” 1915, p.87.  [1]

The Bricked sealed Mine Portals of the abandoned SCC mine remain to this day along with aN attached Steel Mesh, to each Portal, to satisfy the current requirement for the sealing of Mine Portals.  Earth Cuttings, can be found in the undergrowth, on the heavily timbered South Eastern slopes of the Mount Kembla, and trace the route of the Mine Incline, down the mountainside, from the Mine Portals area.  The Screening Plant, and Workshops, are believed to have been erected, in the vicinity of the now Callistemon Road and Argyle Place, that adjoin the Southwestern extremities, of Staff Road, Unanderra.  No remaining evidence exists, of the  Railway, leading away from this area, however, some circa.1940, Wollongong City Council Aerial Photographs, reveal some small sections of the Railway, in the Unanderra  area.

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[1] Harper, L.F. “The Geology and Mineral Resources of the Southern Coalfields” 1915, Plate X111.