https://www.undersugarloaf.com – Hi, and welcome to another episode of Under Sugarloaf TV. Today, we are talking to John O’Donnell, about the Seaham number 2 mine, out the back of West Wallsend. So let’s go ahead and talk to John now.
– We’re on the site of the Seaham number 2 downcast shaft. This is the shaft where the, the ventilation went down the mine, also the men traveled.
The upcast shaft is where the coal came out of, plus it was considered to be the second egress. So, that was the other way, the men could go up and down the mine. You have to have two ways in and out of the coal mine. Up on that rise up there, you can’t quite see it now, but there was a line of coral trees and old steps were there, right up until…
We’ll they might even be still there. But as a kid, you could see the coral, line of coral trees and the remnants of brick work. That was the office area. The surface mine area, would be there with the Lantana is. And the upcast shaft, where the fan is. That’d be over there, next to that tree, you can see it’s capped off.
That’s the way the coal would come out and be processed, and binned, and go out on the train. And further over is the bottom dam, that supplied the water to the mine and to the washing plant, if they had one. And above that dam, is the top dam. And that gathered the excess water and storage, to make sure the mine would have been drought proof. All this area was cleared. That’s a lot of overgrown now, but even those trees there, it went right back further. And um, Mick O’Donnell used to have his cattle out here, kept it beautiful.
That was many years ago, in the sixties and seventies, and maybe eighties. But it’s, it’s changing. Everything’s being overgrown, and, it’s sad because that’s our mining history. As I said before, about West Wallsend number 1 Seaham number 1 and number 2. Best practices. First class mines, world best, high production. And really, really, made this area, probably the most rich coal mining area, in the country at the time, If not the world. I’m privileged to be have been a part of it. The ancestors.
– [Jon Byrne] So John, with the dams, they were the two dams. The large dam at the top was to drought proof. The coal mine itself.
– Yes. And then the second dam, was where they actually fed the water over to the, to the, coal mine. – Yes yes. That would be the main catchment area, there at the top where the water run off the mountain, but the, the actual two dams would have been a guarantee of having enough mine of water to sustain the mine. If there was a long period of no rain, which sometimes happens
– [Jon Byrne] And there was a spillway between the two.
– [John] Concrete spillway, yeah – [Jon Byrne] Used to run from one down to the other.
– [John] Yes. Beautiful area this is where we used to come as kids, mushrooming, rabbiting, Blackberrying. Brilliant.
– [Jon Byrne] And again, a lot of this area now has been, I suppose desecrated by the four wheel drive enthusiasts.
– [John] Yeah, yes
– [Jon Byrne] It’s certainly changed since when you were a boy.
– [John] Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I think the mine stopped working in the, can’t give you the exact date, but I know dad started out here when he was 14. He was born in 1924. So, you know, late thirties, he started out here working on the surface and gradually went underground, to become a coal miner
– [Jon Byrne] And Seaham number 2 shut when? – Would have been in the forties sometime. I can’t remember it, but while I was born in 1950 and I can’t remember it, operating or, it was always just a big paddock, from when I was a little kid. So it’s all it’s got to, it must have shut, sometime in the forties.
– [Jon Byrne] And according to the plight, the, the shaft was actually sealed in 1993.
– Yeah, prior to that, there was a brick wall around it. Same as the one at West Wallsend And it wasn’t, it wasn’t good. They finally got things done properly, because they used to be a, a, a brick wall around here. Well, I assume you could jump up on the brick wall and go down the shaft. Plus there was a pipe came up and uh, with Methane gas in it, people used to light the damn thing up, which is very, very dangerous, So, what they’ve done here is what they should have done, a lot earlier, sealed it up, capped it off.
– [Jon Byrne] Well, thanks again John. That’s again, wonderful information for, for people in the area. And if you ever get a chance to come out and have a look. – It’s here.
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So that’s it for today, this is Jon Byrne signing off for Under Sugarloaf TV.