Lake Macquarie History

Redhead Station and Lambton Colliery - Adamstown Belmont Railway - Fernleigh Track

Redhead Station

The present station at Redhead is located some 9 kilometres south from Adamstown and was opened on 3 February 1925. It is the second platform at Redhead and replaced an earlier platform located 10. 7 kilometres south of Adamstown and was initially unattended. In August 1919 a waiting shed was installed at Redhead Platform. This was due to agitation by the miners. With the opening of the 2nd platform at Redhead another platform came into being south of Redhead called Redhead South to serve the transport needs of the miners at Redhead Colliery initially known as Burwood Extended.

The 1925 Redhead Station had an island platform; the main line was to the east of the platform and the crossing loop to the west. The facings of the platform are coarse grade aggregate concrete which contrast greatly with the timber facings of the earlier platforms at Kahibah and Whitebridge. The facing of the platform at Jewells is similar to that at Redhead. The only water tank and column on the line for locomotive purposes was located to the south of Redhead Station, beyond a fettlers shed. This watering facility was probably removed early in 1971 because on 20 February 1971, the District Locomotive Engineer based at Broadmeadow removed the water meter from Redhead Station.

“Happenings under Belmont” by Hilary Fallins recalls that a Mr Meaher was once station master at Redhead. Another well known station master was Ernie Evans. He retired in 1962. Reportedly his station assistant for some time was n. Fidock. During Ernie’s time the station boasted beautiful flowers and blooms; reportedly Redhead Station won a railway garden competition three years in a row.

Shortly after 9 April 1971, following the suspension of passenger services, the Redhead Station platform scales were sold by the New Redhead Estate and Coal Company. However station staff still worked at Redhead because the signal box needed to be manned to control coal train traffic. In its days as a signal box only people known to have worked at Redhead included Norm Smith, Larry Lewis and Steve Marriott. Last coal trains passed through from John Darling Colliery at Belmont North on Saturday 12 March 1988. Last shift worked at Redhead Station’s signal box was day shift only for Friday 13 May 1988. However on 14 May 1988 special approval was given to The Rail Motor Society to run four trips south of Redhead to Jewells Platform in conjunction with the launch of the book “Adamstown via Fernleigh”. Before the book launch the tracks of the crossing loop at Redhead had been lifted. The end came for the Redhead Station building on Tuesday 24 May 1988 about 11a.m. when it was engulfed by flames and burnt to the platform level.

Lambton Colliery

The last train left Lambton Colliery on 19 December 1991 thus bringing to an end the operational life of the last colliery on the Newcastle Coalfield with 19th Century functional buildings. During its long life the colliery has frequently changed names and owners.

During 1886 Scottish Australian Mining Company (SAMCo.) obtained land at “The Red Head”, south of Newcastle. Company intended to call the new colliery “Ryhope”. The next year name was changed to Durham Colliery. Shafts were sunk and buildings erected during the 1890s. The colliery was laid out and designed by Thomas Croudace, foundation colliery manager of the SAMCo. During February 1898 the name changed again to Lambton Colliery B Pit. During 1900 Lambton B Junction laid in to transport the colliery’s production by rail. Colliery employment listed as 66. In January 1924 following sale, Lambton Colliery at Lambton became known as Old Lambton. Lambton Colliery B Pit at Redhead officially retitled Lambton Colliery. SAMCo called tenders for construction of manager’s house at Redhead. “The Gables” still stands as a private residence. During 1932 BHP Co Ltd purchased both Burwood and Lambton Colliers from the SAMCo. Under BHP ownership Lambton Colliery became the first fully mechanised colliery in Australia when production commenced in the Victoria tunnel Seam in 1935. A significant landmark, the main shaft chimney dating from the 1890s was demolished in April 1961 to enable the sinking of a cross measure drift or inclined tunnel. In 1964 production commenced in the Dudley Seam. Conveyor haulage housed in the cross measure drift became operational. Redhead thus received another local landmark; the green 2000 tonne storage bin.

Shaft haulage rendered redundant and main headframe demolished. During the first half of 1971 workforce listed as 335; possibly the highest employment total since BHP acquired the colliery. May 1988 saw the end of rail traffic south of Redhead Station. In consequence new working practices introduced for trains entering the colliery yard. In May 1989 Lambton became part of the Bond Corporation’s subsidiary, Pacific Copper. This ownership did not last long as in January 1990 FAI Insurances took over as part of that company’s acquisition of Pacific Copper’s coal mining interests. On 19 December 1991 last coal transported by rail from Lambton Colliery. Two trains ran that historic day. 4881 ran early in the morning with seven CH wagons. Later in the day 4861 and 4881 worked twelve CXD wagons in a “Push and Pull” configuration. In February 1993 demolition work began on post 1920s structures. At least one pre 1920 building demolished. April witnessed the demolition and cutting up of the 2,000 ton storage bin. On 12 May the Land and Environment Court gave FAI Property Services authority to demolish “forthwith” the remaining pre 1920s structures at the colliery. In consequence the main shaft group of 1890s buildings, the last of its type in Australia, was demolished within an hour of the court’s decision. (The upcast shaft group of buildings were not demolished). Towards the end of 1993, in October, FAI Property Services agreed in principle with Lake Macquarie City Council to incorporate the remaining 19th Century upcast shaft buildings into the company’s development plan for the former colliery site. In the period 1996 to 1998 the colliery site was progressively cleared, levelled and streets formed for residential development. By August 1998, streets and housing lots formed on estate. On 1 August an auction sale of the “best” fifteen sites on the “Redhead Grange” Estate was held in the winder house of the upcast shaft group of buildings. By 25 October 1998 construction work was well advanced on the first house to occupy a block on the Grange Estate.

Acknowledgement of Country

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