Balmain Colliery

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Balmain Colliery
Balmain Colliery 1.jpg
Balmain Colliery, Birthday Shaft. c1940s.
Balmain Colliery is located in Sydney, Australia
Balmain Colliery
Balmain Colliery
Location in Australia
StateNew South Wales
Coordinates33°51′09″S 151°10′40″E / 33.85250°S 151.17778°E / -33.85250; 151.17778Coordinates: 33°51′09″S 151°10′40″E / 33.85250°S 151.17778°E / -33.85250; 151.17778
ProductsCoal, Natural Gas
CompanySydney Harbour Collieries 1895-1896
Harbour Collieries Co. 1896-1931
Natural Gas & Oil Corporation Ltd 1932-55

Balmain Colliery was a coal mine located in Birchgrove in the inner-west of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It produced coal from 1897 until 1931 and natural gas until 1945.[1] At approximately 880 m depth, it remains the deepest coal mine ever to have been sunk in Australia.[2]


The colliery was located on the northern side of the Balmain Peninsula, on the corner of Birchgrove Road and Water Street, next to Birchgrove Public School.


The presence of coal was confirmed in 1891 with bores at Birchgrove and Cremorne Point.[3]

Permission to mine from the Department of Mines was granted in 1894 with another parcel of land between Rose Bay and Vaucluse also applied for in 1895.[4]

Started by the Sydney Harbour Collieries (Limited), the company was wound up in 1896.[5] Bought out by the Harbour Collieries Co. in 1896.

Two shafts, named Birthday and Jubilee, were sunk between 1897 and 1902.

The mine produced coal from 1897 until 1931 and natural gas until 1945.

The site is now occupied by the Hopetoun Quays residential complex.

Mining accidents[edit]

Balmain Colliery (Date unknown within period 1925-1957)

Three fatal accidents occurred at the mine claiming 10 lives:

  • On 17 March 1900, six miners were being lowered down the Birthday shaft. At 434m the bucket they were travelling in caught on a projection, tipped over and five of the six men fell to their death in the shaft. As a result of this accident, the Mining Act was amended to provide guide rails in shafts to prevent bucket swinging or overturning.[1][6]
  • In 1932, a year after the mine closed, a six-inch bore was sunk below the Birthday shaft to pipe natural gas to the surface.[1][7] During the sinking of the bore, two men were killed when the gas ignited and exploded.[1]
  • During the sealing of the Birthday shaft on 20 April 1945, a rudimentary test was being undertaken which ignited escaping gas and caused an explosion below the seal. The company manager and two men were killed in the accident and another two men injured.[1][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Peter Reynolds, Balmain Places 2 - The Coal Mine Under The Harbour , Architectural History Research Unit, University of New South Wales, 1996, ISBN 0-908502-54-0
  2. ^ "Primefact 556 - Balmain's Own Coal Mine" (PDF). NSW Department of Primary Industries. February 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  3. ^ "[BY TELEGRAPH] NEW COAL DISCOVERIES". The Barrier Miner. 4 (1107). New South Wales, Australia. 10 October 1891. p. 3 – via National Library of Australia.
    "COAL UNDER SYDNEY HARBOUR". The Argus (14, 200). Victoria, Australia. 30 December 1891. p. 7 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "Coal Discovery at Cremorne". The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser. LVI (1741). New South Wales, Australia. 18 November 1893. p. 1063 – via National Library of Australia.
    "Government Gazette Notices". New South Wales Government Gazette (636). New South Wales, Australia. 24 September 1895. p. 6156 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "SYDNEY HARBOUR COLLIERIES (LIMITED)". New South Wales Government Gazette (158). New South Wales, Australia. 28 February 1896. p. 1512 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "Balmain Disaster". Clarence and Richmond Examiner. New South Wales, Australia. 20 March 1900. p. 5 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "BEEP DOWN". Warwick Daily News (4226). Queensland, Australia. 24 January 1933. p. 5. Retrieved 27 June 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "MINE GAS EXPLOSION KILLS 3 MEN". The Sydney Morning Herald (33, 487). 21 April 1945. p. 3 – via National Library of Australia.