Re: Mt Victoria chert incline

Tony Smith

Our local Lithgow newspaper, the Lithgow Mercury, runs from time-to-time historical reprints of articles of interest from times gone by. In today's edition (02 Jan 14), there is an article regarding the purchase and removal of a boiler from a "Chert quarry" at Mt Victoria. From it's description as being in a remote and inaccessible gorge, it appears to refer to the Browntown quarry rather than the Mitchell's Pass quarry.

The Mercury have not placed the article on their electronic edition, so I will reproduce it here:


From the Lithgow Mercury files of August 30,1929 telling "the tale of a boiler and a Lithgow official's ingenuity".

Telling the tale of a steam boiler which found it's way into a hospital laundry.

Lithgow Hospital Committee noticed a "Mercury" advertisement for the sale of a boiler recently, and instructed the Secretary to make inquiries.

Mr Carroll, a hard-headed businessman himself can scent a bargain with the next one, and he closed for 30 pounds with the firm, a quarrying company which had gone into liquidation.

Distant fields look green, and when he went to Mt Victoria, he discovered his prize was in a gorge, miles off the beaten track.There it was, and it seemed to defy Man's ingenuity to remove it.

One man examined the stubborn thing, and announced that, provided he got the help of two men and a team of horses,25 pound would not be out of the way for drawing it to Lithgow. "Nothing doing!" remarked the Lithgow man, who went on another tack.

A tramway runs down the mountainside to the Chert quarry, and he conceived the idea of pulling it up by steam.

That hurdle might be successfully jumped; but what of the risk?

Still there are always insurance companies ready to share the risks for a consideration, and Mr Carroll insured the thing for 50 pound.

It cost 1 pound.

One of the conditions of the sale was that that the big engine at the top of the incline was to remain in commission for two weeks before it was sold.

Now for the ascent!

Mr WH Crane, of Lithgow, and two men mounted the awkward thing on the tramway vehicles, and they accompanied it to the top. 

It was along and tedious pull, but the engine and plant stood the test, and the task was accomplished successfully.

The journey was not without it's thrills.

The line, according to the Hospital man, is a wonderful piece of engineering, and there are four viaducts, some 70 feet from the ground.

The scenery is glorious, and so steep is the line that it is almost impossible for a man to walk not far from the perpendicular.

Once "Up top", the rest was easy, and the boiler was brought to Lithgow for 9 pound.

Now it is installed in the institution and should be in working order next week. A first class "Job" at a cost less than 60 pound which proves there are several ways of doing things if you like to go about them.

Incidentally, the Haulage engine, which cost 1000 pound when new, has been purchased by the Lithgow Valley Co for installation in Hermitage Colliery.

An incident of a few months ago is recalled by the presence of several messages on the boiler.

When a young woman was missing from Hartley recently she wandered to the spot. There is an entry "Lost, going up tramline".

This was apparently a fruitless effort, for she wrote later "Tramline too steep, gone back to hut".

It was at the hut that old "Bill" McKenzie found her some time later."

Further research of the Mercury could prove interesting to find the original advert disposing of the quarry plant (incl engine and boiler). While the quarry seems to have been out of operation, it is apparent that the tramline was still intact and operational in Aug 1929.

The old Lithgow Hospital was demolished in the mid 1990's, but I would think that the steam boiler would have been removed from the laundry well before that time.

And the Salisbury winding engine? Hermitage Quarry closed in the early 70's I understand, and some equipment was still on site well into the 80's, but the site had been rehabilitated before 1990. It still has not been redeveloped and is bare of any relics.

---In LRRSA@..., <sjiau2000@...> wrote:

Hi Keith and all,

There was also shale mining at the base of Mount Victoria Pass, South of the Great Western Highway.
I visited the area in the early 1990's. The only remains are blown in adits.

On the subject of Mount Victoria there was a coal mine, called the Mount York Colliery, to the west of Lockyers Track. (West of Mt Victora and accessed from the Mount York Road). They seem to have gone to a lot of trouble with an incline railway to the mining shelf.
On the mining shelf there is only one adit. It goes in for about 30 metres and is in very good condition.
It was started in 1922. The mines department would not grant a permit for the owner, a Mr Charles Edward Leesman, to act as Manager due to lack of experience. The mine closed in 1922.

The chert quarry on Mount Victoria Pass is west of the "convict" bridge and above the road (south). Remains include concrete foundations. Prior to the last upgrade of the pass the loading chute was visible from the highway.

All in all it is a very interesting area.

Stephen Imrie.

--- In LRRSA@..., "keithpainter48" <kpainter@...> wrote:
> Thanks guys for your responses thus far.
> An article by John Reid appeared in Light Railways in 1979. I have also spoken to John.
> There were two different activities with the chert.
> I wouldn't recommend trying an abseil without a visit to both the top and bottom of the two sections of cliff and ledge between.
> The concrete blocks held the Salisbury steam winding engine.
> The shale incline is another one between Mt Vic and Bell and was a much earlier date and went down into Hartley Vale. The CRMTCo went down into the Kanimbla Valley to the south.
> Re site visits: an old path has been found which makes it fairly easy to access the spot where the incline came over the cliff onto the Cliff Trestle which was about 70ft high at start and over 600ft long
> Not much has been published but we have made significant discoveries in the past year. Just this week one of my fellow walkers spotted some old stone steps beside the company dam. That was my 35th visit to the site!
> I have a book in preparation.
> Love to know about the wheel markings . . .
> And has anyone seen the AES mark at other sites?
> --- In LRRSA@..., eoliver@ wrote:
> >
> >
> >
> > >From: Kevin Sewell <kevinrsewell@>
> > >
> > >The other operation was the subject of the original question and was
> > >located a kilometre or so from the highway on the SW side of Mt Vic, and
> > >on the other side of the railway to the Browntown oval. This was the incline
> > >railway and it would appear remnants are somewhat difficult to find and
> > >probably buried in bush. Sounds like potential explorers would be well
> > >served by taking abseiling kit, and given the difficulty of getting in and
> > >out of the mine site, probably some form of prussick gear too.
> >
> > A group visit - probably LRRSA - was held a couple of decades ago, and the
> > remnants were certainly not difficult to find then, although IIRC there was
> > a continuity problem in that the top had to be approached from the top and
> > the bottom had to be approached from the bottom. I well remember the exertion
> > involved in the long climb up from the lower level. There seemed to be a
> > lot of collective knowledge about the whole history (industrial and railway)
> > on that visit, but I do not recall how much was documented.
> >

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