A slice of local history on display in Oakey

17 April 2014

A new display portraying the Oakey region’s coal mining history is on show at the New Hope Group’s Community Information Centre.

Kath and John Greenhalgh have kindly donated the use of items from the former Acland No.2 underground mine for the information centre on Campbell Street in Oakey.

The display includes a mannequin dressed up in original clothing and equipment from the underground era, a hand borer, an electric borer, a coal pick and shovel, plus many articles and photos relating to the Acland mine and other local coal mines from the past.

“The display looks really good. It’s nice to see these things out again as we have had them all packed away for a few years now,” Mrs Greenhalgh said.

“There are a lot of descendants locally of all the people who worked in the former underground mines at Acland, Balgowan, Willeroo 1, Willeroo 2, Sugarloaf, and also at the former mine here in Oakey, who we hope would be interested in the items on display.

“It’s also a reminder of how busy the area once was with mining. The mines once served the railways, brickworks, the gasworks in Toowoomba, hospitals and abattoirs.”

Mrs Greenhalgh said the trousers and shirt on the mannequin once belonged to their son who worked at Acland No.2 and the coat and helmet were from other fellow miners in the early 1980s.

Coal exploration in the Acland area was initially stimulated in the early 1900s by demand for coal at the railway locomotive depot in Chinchilla.

After a railway branch line opened between Oakey and Cooyar in 1913, mining commenced in the Acland region near the railway line.

The first coalmines in the district included Sugarloaf Colliery, Kingsthorpe Mine, Balgowan Colliery, Willaroo Mine and the Acland Coal Company Limited Mine. These mines gradually closed down after the railway locomotives moved to diesel power in the late 1950s.

The Acland No.2 Colliery, which opened in 1929, was the last underground mine operating in the area when it closed in 1984.

The Greenhalghs owned the farm on which the mine was located and they then ran the Acland Mining Museum on the site until they retired in 2000.

Anyone with interesting items from the local underground mines is also welcome to loan them for the display. Please contact Helen or Naomi on 4691 3445.