Colliery 'monster' to be preserved for posterity

MECHANICAL MONSTER: Hugh Taylor of the Willis L Haenke Historical Foundation with the giant winder.
MECHANICAL MONSTER: Hugh Taylor of the Willis L Haenke Historical Foundation with the giant winder. David Nielsen

A HIDDEN bit of history is set to get the recognition it deserves, thanks to the ongoing efforts of an Ipswich mining heritage trust.

Members of the Willis L Haenke Historical Foundation will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the opening of the West Moreton Colliery and Jessie Brown Winder at Blackstone this Saturday.

Trustee Hugh Taylor said the site containing the original mine shaft and the enormous, steam-powered winder, was purchased in November last year so it could be preserved as a tribute to Ipswich's coal mining origins.

"The Jessie Brown Winder was named after the daughter of Peter Brown, the chairman of the board of directors for the mine when it opened in 1887," Mr Taylor said.

Work began to sink the mine shaft in 1886. It reached the highly sought-after Aberdare seam at about 186m - at the time the deepest and largest coal shaft in Queensland.

It was decided that a much bigger winder would be required to bring the coal back up to the surface, and a company in Bendigo, Victoria was employed to build the device.

"They had to go down there and inspect the winder, before pulling it apart, bringing it up here and putting it back together again," Mr Taylor said.

The steam-powered monster was the largest of its kind in Australia and today is the only one of its kind left in existence.

"More importantly, it is still in its original position," Mr Taylor said.

Funnily enough, the Haenke Foundation had to fight off a recent bid by the Bendigo Historical Foundation to take the winder back down to Victoria.

The Haenke Foundation and Mine Workers' Trust will unveil a plaque at the Blackstone site this Saturday about 11.30am.

The unveiling will mark the beginning of the transform ation of the Ella St site into something of a mining museum, with extensive work to be carried out over the next year to refurbish the winder itself, and the surrounding area.

"The value is in the preservation of mining heritage. Mining was the first major industry in Ipswich," Mr Taylor said.

The site will be opened by request initially. However the foundation hopes to eventually open it to the public on a regular basis.

The former West Moreton Colliery and Jessie Brown winder is located at 10 Ella St, Blackstone.

Topics:  blackstone

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