FF&F launch at Lithgow


New members to this group may not be aware that a major project of the LRRSA
since 1999 has been researching the iron and steel industry of Lithgow,
including associated mines, quarries and railways, in association with the
Lithgow District Historical Society and the State Mine Museum.

That project has culminated on the LRRSA's latest book, 'Furnace, Fire &
Forge: Lithgow's iron and steel industry 1874-1932'. The years of hard work
have culminated in the delivery of the book to Melbourne by the printer on
Friday and the formal book launch is scheduled to be held at Lithgow on
Friday, 15 September.

There has been some uncertainty about the FF&F book launch over the past
week. Through Gerard Martin, Member for Bathurst, we had arranged for Bob
Carr to do the launch on the grounds that he wrote the Foreword when he was
Premier. The 15 September was set as the date to suit Bob's schedule. I saw
Bob at an event on 15 August when he personally assured me how much he was
looking forward to the launch. On 21 August Lithgow Council received word
from Carr's office that he will now be overseas on that date!

There has been some anxiety over the past week as Gerard Martin and I have
been working through a list of potential alternates, but the late notice was
proving a problem.

The good news is that Gerard called last night to advise that John Della
Bosca will launch Fire, Furnace & Forge at Lithgow on 15 September. Not only
is he available, but Gerard advises that he is most enthusiastic about the
prospect. John is Minister for Commerce, Minister for Industrial Relations
and Minister for Finance, so there should be some useful links there. This
is a good outcome. I understand that John is an excellent speaker at such
forums and he also has close family links to Lithgow, so he will be tackling
the task with some passion!

I should get a call from Della Bosca's personal secretary today and we will
arrange a meeting to brief him on the topic. We can now proceed with the
finalisation of details of the launch event. It will be at the Union Theatre
in Bridge Street, at 10.30 for 11am start. In addition to a speech or two
and some morning tea, displays relating to the history of the iron and
steelworks will be set up at the Hall. This building was originally
Oddfellows Hall, later becoming the Union Theatre. It was the scene of a
number of events featured in FF&F, including the official banquet for the
opening of the blast furnace on 13 May 1907.

Following the launch activities at the Union Theatre, it is planned to do
conducted tours of the two key locations in Lithgow - Blast Furnace Park and
the old ironworks/ steelworks site. I have also arranged with the Bathurst
District Historical Society to do a presentation and book signing at their
premises at 11am on the Saturday morning.

A review of FF&F will appear in the October issue of 'Light Railways'.

Bob McKillop

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