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Blast Furnace Park, Lithgow and Lake Pillans Wetlands

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by Anne Dignam (subscribe)
I am a amateur freelance writer from Sydney. My passion is Aboriginal history, Australia and its unusual places. My aim is to share my knowledge to better your experience. Thank you
Published July 16th 2013
Blast Furnace and Lake Pillans Lithgow
Lithgow, the birthplace of the Australian iron and steel industry.
Lithgow was in its prime, during the 1870s. After the opening of the railway, it was the first industrial centre in Australia and was home to coal mines, an iron foundry, copper smelters, brickworks, pottery breweries and refrigerated factories, for meat storage.

Ruins of the blast furnace today

The blast furnace was built by William Sandford, who was associated with Mittagong Steel Works. It was the first blast furnace built in Australia and possibly the Southern Hemisphere.

View from Lake Pillans Wetlands

James Rutherford of Bathurst, a principal shareholder and manger of Cobb and Co, Dan Williams, a Canadian railway engineer who worked on the Zig Zag and Hon John Sutherland, the Minister for Public Work,s joined Enoch Hughes, the director, into the steel manufacturing industry that we rely on so heavily today.

The seer size of these ruins shows the architectural structure and strength to still be standing today.

First view of the blast furnace ruins

At the rear of the ruins you will find an incredible egg like shape split in two; this is iron splatter, the remains of iron after it has been melted.

Iron splatter remnants

The main building was 25m high, 6m wide and towered over the blast engine house.

Thompson's Engine House

The blast furnace during peak production, produced over 105 000 tonnes of pig Iron. Pig Iron is the name given to to the smelting of iron ore with coke, usually limestone is used as a flux.

Charcoal and anthracite are occasionally used as fuel. Pig Iron is high in carbon and silica and other constituents of dross which makes it very brittle and has limited applications.

The shape of the moulds used for the ingots are structured in sand, with the ingots at right angels to a central channel or runner. It looks similar to a litter of piglets suckling. When the metal has cooled and hardened, the ingots or pigs are broken, from the thinner runner similar to the piglets leaving the sow. Pig iron is mainly used for remelting.

Pig iron information Plaque

Without coke and limestone, the lithgow iron and steel industry would not have existed. Limestone was carted from Ben Bullen near Mudgee and Iron Ore was carted from Coombing Park, near Carcoar near Bathurst. The mine originally opened as a copper mine but iron ore was so prominent and surrounded the copper ore. The mine was taken over by G & C Hoskins and a railway built in 1907.

In 1907, Rutherford, due to strikes lasting 9 months and effects of WW1, eventually blew up the blast furnace with two dray loads of blasting powder. Sandford built a new blast furnace in 1913; due to foreclosure and the closure of Lithgow smelter and mine, all facilities closed in 1927 as it was not cost effective to transport iron ore to Port Kembla.where it still operates today.

Lake Pillans Wetlands

Lake Pillan Wetlands

Lake Pillan is named after the Mayor of Lithgow Robert Pillans who served 11 years as Mayor. Lake Pillan's wetland pond was used as a swimming hole and the water was used to cool the blast furnace. Today it is a tranquil area with lovely walks around the pond, have a picnic and let the kids explore the area.

A nicely preserved area with plenty of information plaques explaining everything. You can spend 5 minutes here or hours. It is a popular potographed area of Lithgow.

Pig Iron reference from Wikipedia
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Where: Blast Furnace Lithgow and Lake Pillan Wetlands Lithgow
Cost: free
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