Story: Coal and coal mining

The Denniston incline

This National Film Unit film shows the Denniston incline cable railway in action in 1967, just before it closed. North of Brunner on the plateau at Denniston, 600 metres above sea level, there were high-quality coal deposits, and mining these was made possible by the construction of the incline in 1879. This ‘eighth wonder of the world’ brought coal down from the plateau, with a fall of 518 metres in a track distance of 1,670 metres. There were two inclines – upper and lower – and the railway trucks were exchanged at the middle brake. The system worked on a counterbalance, so that the full wagons coming downhill pulled the empty ones back up. The system was conceived by R. B. Denniston, the manager of the mine, after whom the settlement was named. During its working life the incline brought down more than 13 million tonnes of coal.

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Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: Pictorial Parade 195. National Film Unit, 1967

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How to cite this page:

Alan Sherwood and Jock Phillips, 'Coal and coal mining - The 19th century', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 May 2024)

Story by Alan Sherwood and Jock Phillips, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 14 Apr 2021