Earlier this week I was looking at information on the Oakey Drive-in and found mention of the old spitfires that are supposedly buried in the coal mine under the old drive-in, and so I thought I’d see what I could dig up on the old mine itself (pun fully intended).
The Oakey Coal Mine, as the Federal Coal Mine was originally called, operated from the early 1890s until 1897. In January 1893 coal was discovered on the Westbrook Estate just a quarter of a mile from the Oakey Railway Station and a 70 foot deep shaft was sunk to determine the quality and the quantity of the coal to be found. In June 1894 a prospectus for the
Rosebery Coal Mining and Agricultural Company Ltd. was advertised in order to raise capital of £20,000 to purchase land and develop both a coal mine and use the rich soil for agricultural purposes as well.
The name “Oakey Coal Mine” (and sometimes Oakey Creek Mine) seems to have been the catch-all phrase for the various companies that have operated the mine over its active life. The earliest mention that I found of the mine in operation was in a district court case, about wages owing to miners dating from 1895-1897. The coal mine closed for two weeks in May 1899 and was thought to be closed indefinitely, as it was deemed non-profitable but re-opened under new management by the end of the year, taken over by Mr John Wright. In 1900 the mine’s name was changed to the “Federal Coal Mine, Oakey” during the federal campaign. By early 1902 the mine changed hands again, “at a very satisfactory price, well on in four
figures” (shows how times have changed when these days you’d be flat out buying a decent car for four figures). In March 1902 the Federal Coal Mine, which was the property of The Oakey Coal Company, Limited, was sold to Mr. J. Cribb, of Ipswich. At this time the mine produced an average of 1600 tons of coal each month. The Federal Coal Mine received a gold medal for its “excellent coal” at the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition held in London. When an earth tremor shook the Darling Downs in June 1918, it was reported that the tunneling and shafting of the Oakey mine escaped damage. The mine was closed in 1922 after the coal seams where thought to have been exhausted, but was later reopened in 1925 as Milligan’s Mine before closing for good in 1942.
Well that’s me for another week. I’ll see what I can dig up for you all next week.