1945 magazine article

The following article is from an issue of Pix Magazine, published on 13 October 1945

Peace comes to a Munitions Town

Lithgow State Coal Mine

Lithgow State Mine

Lithgow State Coal Mine, where Mick Rudge works, and the power house (buildings in background) are run by the New South Wales Government. Some of the mine's coal goes to the power house on the covered conveyor shown linking the two plants, one reason why Lithgow District has the cheapest power in the State. The power house serves a 200 mile district from Penrith to Wellington. The mine employs 490 men, produces 1700 tons daily. Peak year was 1930, when 790 men produced 553,000 tons. Like all mines on the western field, the workings are free from inflammable gas.

Although the people of Lithgow are today more interested in the future of the Small Arms Factory than in any other local undertaking, they do not forget that coal is, and always has been, their main industry.

Coal gave birth to Lithgow as it is today, and as long as mankind needs coal Lithgow will live. The district's 26 collieries, employing more than 2000 men, comprise the biggest employment industry in Lithgow, now that the Small Arms Factory has reduced operations.

From a mining viewpoint Lithgow's coal lies practically on the surface. Shafts are rarely more than 200 feet deep, and three open-cut mines have been started since 1940. The 11 foot thick seam is almost inexhaustible on the basis of present production, and it provides the cheapest coal- generated electricity in New South Wales.

Although coal was discovered and used locally in 1848, the field was not developed until 1869, when the railway from Sydney was brought down the steep mountains by the now famous but dis-used zig-zag route of viaducts.

From 1270 tons in 1869, output steadily rose to 100,000 tons in 1876, 500,000 in 1906, 1,000,000 in 1917. Peak production year was 1929, when 2,258,000 tons was produced by 3191 mine workers. During this war (WW2) production has averaged 1,500,000 tons annually.

The Rudge Family

PIX magazine selected mine worker Mick Rudge, power attendant and former mine worker at the Lithgow State Mine, biggest coal mine in the district.

On the job, Mick Rudge is a power attendant, fires the boilers and runs the ventilation fan.

At home, Mick and "Young Mick" do their garden chores.

Mick Rudge and his wife Ruby have 11 children ("the crying of babies is the miner's music") and live in a cottage they brought from Cobar after the slump there during the last war (WW1).

Theatre attendant Nancy Rudge and her mother go shopping at the "Co-op", which runs a large, modern store, four butcher shops, bakery, its own apple and pear orchard and wholesale departments. Staff of 200 handle £300,000 ($600,000) yearly.

Probationer nurse Joan Rudge (right) watched by Deputy Matron A. Pillans, fixes bandages for Mrs. A.B. Wise in Lithgow's modern general hospital. Rebuilt 18 months ago, the hospital has 150 beds, 40 nurses, many of whom, including Sister Pillans, were trained there. Modern in design, the hospital has small wards and up-to-date equipment.

The Rudges have lived in Lithgow since 1919, are well-known and well-liked. Mick, a grandfather at 46, is a steady-living man, a good citizen. He neither drinks, smokes nor gambles, spends his spare time tending his three cows, 20 fowls and the garden.

Part of the Rudge family was at home having lunch when PIX magazine called. Mick (nearest camera) is feeding the youngest, Robyn, 23 months. Around the table are: Dulcie 24, who works in a Main Street store; her husband Bob McLean; Eric, 20 mechanic in a Main Street garage; "Young" Mick, 14, still at high school; Norma, 12 , and Pat, 6, who go to public school; Phyllis,16, who helps at home; and Mrs. Ruby Rudge. Missing from the family table were John, 26, who has a son and lives in Sydney; Joyce, 19, who is in Sydney; Nance, 22, theatre usherette; and Joan, 18, trainee nurse.

From “Pix Magazine”
Volume 16, Number 15, October 13, 1945