ADMINISTRATION BUILDING - Free standing, two storey building of late Victorian residential design. The building has a simple rectangular plan form with a long central corridor on each floor. External materials consisted of face brick with some detailing in the form of window arches and sills. The main roof is slate and the timber framed verandah is a bull-nosed, corrugated, galvanised iron roof.
PASSENGER RAIL PLATFORM - simple brick retaining wall and earth filled platform.
COOLING TOWER DAM - Set into the ground with a brick perimeter wall and sloped wall concrete lining below ground.
SOUTHERN COOLING TOWERS - no description
EASTERN COOLING TOWERS - Freestanding steel framed structures with lower members encased in concrete and supported on concrete foundation piers. A concrete lined pool is at the base of the towers. The walls are timber lined with the lower section lining in the form of timber louvres. A series of timber racks and slats are constructed inside the towers for the lower third of the height.
UNDER MANAGERS OFFICE - Small, freestanding single storey structure of rectangular plan and simple pitched roof. External walls are in Richmond Main red face bricks. There are no internal fittings and fixtures remaining from its original use.
MAIN SHAFT BUILDING - A two storey concrete construction with arched openings at ground level and arched windows. Internal and external walls are made of mass concrete with some steel reinforcement. Architectural details include pilasters, gables and arched windows. A metal stairway leads to the first floor which is primarily timber planks on steel. The roof is of light angle steel trusses with timber purlins and corrugated iron sheeting.
SCREENS & BINS AREA - Pillars of reinforced concrete
MAIN POWER HOUSE COMPLEX
TURBINE & GENERATOR ROOM - truncated 'T' shaped plan, two storeys with steel trussed roof. This building set the trend for the architectural elements of later buildings with the use of faced brick with expressed plinth and pilasters, arched windows, gable ends with bulls eye windows and general detailing. A gable end porch extension extends to the west with a double stairway. It is tiled with ceramic, imported tiles.
BOILER ROOM - A steel framed, corrugated iron sheeted structure with basement adjacent to, and north east of, the turbine room. The internal spaces are filled with the furnace, boiler equipment and controls, ladders, platforms and walkways.
There is an additional group of buildings to the southeast of the turbine room, previously the location of the southern bank of original boilers. These buildings have spaced columns and a later east wall with loading dock and canopy and workshop accommodation.
LOCO SHED & STORE - The shed is a two single storey Richmond main red face brick buildings with gable end walls joined by an infill section. There are two large arched doors in each gabled wall. The store has a north elevation. Both have steel trussed roofs with slate covering.
WORKSHOPS - These are a long , low single storey building constructed of brick. The roof is pitched with several cross gables indicating staging and gabled end walls. The original centre section has large member timber trusses.
TRANSFORMER BUILDING - It is two storeys with face brick detailing in Richmond main red and a gabled roof. Adjacent to the building is the later external transformer compound.
FAN COMPRESSOR BUILDING - Original portion is on the northern end and is constructed with Richmond main red face brick with typical detailing but not the gabled end walls. The roof is made of timber trusses and slate tiles. The southern, later section is tiled with imported ceramic tiles and has an annex on the southern elevation.
EMERGENCY FAN WINDER - A free standing single volume building constructed of red face bricks with typical detailing, including gabled end walls.
FAN VENTILATION BUILDING & SHAFT - A tall, free standing concrete framed structure with red face brick infill panels and glazed walls on the eastern elevation. The main winding machine floor is at first floor level. The ventilation duct connection to the shaft is located underground in the form of a gentle sweeping curve. The building is built over the ventilation shaft for the mine. The drift entry is open and the walls are brick lined. A steel tube column supports the tunnel roof.
GRAIN SILOS - Of concrete construction
(Civic & Civic 1983: 67-75)
1908-1913 - initial construction stage - Power House complex and main shaft built.
1914-21 - increase of ancillary buildings on site, including main ventilation machinery over old shaft
1921-25 - expansion of several buildings, including Fan Building. Passenger rail platform constructed.
1926-28 - replacement of boiler installation and the sinking of a third shaft with the attendant pit top structures(Civic & Civic 1982)
1980s - rail line relaid
Condition is fair
Archaeological potential at carriage shed site- low
The Richmond Main Colliery was one of the largest and most important shaft mines of the early twentieth century. It is situated in what was formerly known as the Richmond Vale area because of the large estate 'Richmond Vale'. This area has become more widely known as the South Maitland coal field. It straddles the land owned by Charles William Roemer, one of the first german immigrant settlers, and Arthur Mackenzie whose land included that granted to Lieutenant John Palmer, a purser on the 'Sirius', in 1823.
The area was used for farming and grazing until the 1880s and the discovery of rich coal seams by the government geologist Tannat William Edgeworth David. The coal reserves became known as the Greta Measures. Reports on the seam were made public on the eve of a mining boom and entrepreneurs were quick to exploit his work. One of the first was John Scholey who proved the existence of two seams below the Richmond Vale Estate in 1888. He sold the property to a Melbourne syndicate, the Richmond Vale Coal Company, who began to sink the first shaft in 1890 but did not complete the job. This was probably due to the severe economic depression that was developing. The syndicate was unable to sell the property until 1897 when it was bought by John Brown, managing director and part owner of the firm J & A Brown. (Turner 1983: 8-9) Little is known of what took place at the Richmond site between this purchase and 1906. (Brooks 1983: 31) What is known is that despite being equal partners with his two brothers, he had sole control of the firm and more power than any other single person has ever had in the Australian coal industry. This placed him in a unique position to develop the Richmond site.
Construction on the Colliery commenced in 1908. John Brown spent large sums to ensure that his mining plant, colliery railways, steamships and engineering works were substantially built and in the forefront of technological development. He pioneered the mechanisation of coal cutting on the South Maitland field and persevered with the machines in the face of opposition.
In 1913 the first commercial coal production took place. The mine's main shaft was 22 feet in diameter and bricked from top to bottom and has been described as incomparable with any other in the country, even in its final days.(Turner 1983:8-9) The Colliery reached peak annual production in 1928 with 507 000 tons of saleable coal. The 1929 Lockout followed by the Great Depression, the 1949 strike, a recession in the coal industry and the change to mechanisation in the 1950s and 1960s were major setbacks which the colliery, and the South Maitland field generally, would not recover from.
On 7 July 1967 the Richmond Collery ceased operation leaving eighty mine workers unemployed. This was a far smaller number than the 1200 who had been employed at the site in the late 1920s. The colliery continued to supply power to the state grid until 1976. Maintenance problems and the salvage value of much of the equipment resulted in the stripping out of the machinery and the demolition of the main head frames. (Brooks 1983:27 & 51)
The Richmond Vale Preservation Co-op Society Ltd was formed in the 1980s. It has been instrumental in returning some of the buildings and structures to their operating function in order to restore and maintain steam rolling stock and carriages and the rail line has been relaid. (Fenwick 1995:1)