Video – Mining history in West Wallsend – Sugarloaf Colliery

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– Hi, and welcome to Under Sugarloaf TV. Another episode where we’re gonna to be talking to John O’Donnell, and we’re gonna be looking at the Sugarloaf Colliery number one drift, so we’ll be looking at that and a couple of associated areas that surround the drift, and you’ll probably be familiar with the landmark that’s now at the primary school. So let’s go ahead and talk to John. –

This is the old Mount Sugarloaf number one, belt access, this is where the coal came out of the mine. The actual Sugarloaf steel sign which is at the primary school at West Wallsend used to sit on that concrete portal. This is the way the coal came out of the mine, went along and dropped down into the bin, and that serviced the washing plant, and that was washed into various grades of coal and sent off to market or power stations.

The mine went from, I think, ’48 or ’49, to ’78 or ’79 I think it shut, one or the other. So we worked this here ’til about 1974, ’75, then we went across the mountain and we put number two in. And we worked over there, well I left in ’76, but the mine stayed working in that portal until it shut. Back behind Jon is the office area, bathroom area and the incline where we would take the shuttle cars down from the surface, and men would access the mine.

The bathhouse was there as well, it’s all overgrown now, but it was a great mine and it was worked by great people. Everybody had a ball, we were one big family here. Brilliant.

– [Jon] So the fan and everything John, can you just explain that to the people?

– There was an outlet, the original outlet was called Holmes’ Tunnel and that was driven ages before the mine went in. It was an old lease and when I walk in there, as a young fellow I was shown where the old miners had holes where they put an attachment with a candle on it when they were mining, and it was all done by hand, and that was where the actual fan was located, on that tunnel.

It was called Holmes’ Tunnel originally, and the fellow that started this off was Jack Freeman, and the fellow that had the lease, and they worked in with it, was a fellow of Stewart, I’m not sure of his, his name was Snook Stewart, I can’t remember his first name but I worked with his son, Kerry.

So that was the operation. Jack Freeman was an overman at Stocky, had all the information, had all the equipment. He started the mine up. Mr. Stewart had the lease, and they were all working together as a company, Sugarloaf Propriety Limited. One big family, brilliant.

– Thank you mate. Well I hope you enjoyed that episode of Under Sugarloaf TV. Please remember that if you have any news, events, videos or articles that you’d like to contribute to the channel, go to and look for the contribute tab and you can add your information there.

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