The Mineworkers Trust’s Jo-Ann Miller and Haenke Foundation trustee Wybe Geertsma put wheels in motion.
The Mineworkers Trust’s Jo-Ann Miller and Haenke Foundation trustee Wybe Geertsma put wheels in motion. Claudia Baxter

Saving mines heritage

A RARE piece of Ipswich's mining heritage is finally about to be preserved and shown off.

The Jessie Brown Wheel and the surrounding West Moreton Shaft site at 10 Ella St, Blackstone, has been bought by the Willis L Haenke Historical Foundation and the Mineworkers Trust.

Thirty years ago this month, the same wheel provided the backdrop for an announcement about the start of mining heritage preservation in Ipswich by then Mayor of Ipswich Des Freeman and former Haenke Foundation trustee Professor Ray Whitmore.

Current trustee Hugh Taylor, at the launch of the Jessie Brown project on Friday, said the story appeared in The Queensland Times on May 22, 1982.

"This particular project did not start in earnest until the early 2000s, when the Mineworkers Trust, in conjunction with the Ipswich Historical Society, commenced discussions with the landowner about selling the site," Mr Taylor said.

"The Ipswich Historical Society was going to be the party to help preserve and develop the site for and on behalf of the Mineworkers Trust. The project stalled over time, with frustration, and was reluctantly dropped."

Settlement with the present owners was finalised in November last year.

"The Haenke Foundation, in conjunction with the Mineworkers Trust, is looking forward to preserving this 1880s coalmining site," Mr Taylor said.

"Our aim is to carry on the work that Prof Whitmore started, and that was in making this site available for tours, open days and to tell this small part of the fascinating history of the Ipswich region's coalmining industry."

About $200,000 has been spent in buying, fencing and cleaning up the 1.5ha site.

Fellow Haenke Foundation trustee Wybe Geertsma said the Jessie Brown Wheel was thought to be the only one of its kind left in Australia in its original working location, as far as coalmining was concerned.

When it was installed at the colliery in 1887, it was touted as "the most powerful piece of mechanism in south Queensland".

The winding drum, used to lower cages down the 200m mine shaft, was named after the eldest daughter of Peter Brown, chairman of the coal company.

It was shut down in the 1920s.



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