n May 1967, the Association of Railway Enthusiasts, organised a double headed steam locomotive hauled excursion from Melbourne to Ballarat and along the now closed branch line to Skipton. Steam locomotives between Melbourne and Ballarat were two 4-6-4 R class numbers R749 and R735735, with 2-4-0's J519 K176 beyond Ballarat to Skipton.
Due to problems raising steam mon locomotive R735 at it had been out of use for some time, the train was delayed initially and to save time, diesel electric locomotive B70 was attached at Flinders Street Station, and B70 hauled the train to Sunshine where it was met by the R class locomotives which ran to Sunshine from Newport via the goods lines.
There are photo stops on the way to Ballarat and also on the Skipton branch line, the highlight of which was the famous high timber trestle bridge where two photo runs were held. After turning J519 and K186 on the Skipton turntable, the train is soon ready for a late afternoon departure for Ballarat.

DISCOVERY OF A SEAM OF COAL IN Victoria.--                                               In alluding to a recent discovery of coal at Skipton, the Ballarat Courier says:-Further explorations have shown the discovery to be apparently of great value. The seam has already been proved to be two feet six inches thick, running vertically, and the fuel is thought to contain a large quantity of carbon. A gentleman from Newcastle, who was there when coal was first struck, has pronounced the sample shown to him to be quite as good as that obtained on the surface, and the experiments that have been made with the blowpipe corroborate that view. They have secured 200 acres of freehold on the supposed run, and have, besides, applied for the Skipton Common, which embraces an area of 640 acres. On Saturday Mr. Clinton proceeded to Melbourne for the purpose of showing specimens of the coal to the Government. The value of good coal in the neighbourhood of Skipton can scarcely he over-estimated. Some people 'believe that the immense plain which stretches south of Skipton, nearly to Mortlake, covers a large coalfield. The discovery, it is said, has taken the officers of the Mining Department by surprise, as the geological maps show no carbonaceous rocks there, but only basalt and granite. The original discoverer was Mr. Andrew Murray, who owns about forty acres of land in the vicinity, and he found it within three feet of the surface while prospecting for a quartz reef. ---- Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser, 16 January 1877.

COAL AND LIMESTONE AT SKIPTON.                                                              SOME four years ago it was reported that coal-had been discovered in the valley of the Emu Creek at Skipton by miners engaged in in sinking upon the land of Mr. Philip Russell \for a quartz reef, the outcrop of which was evident from a quarter to half a mile away. Somewhat under twenty years ago Mr. R.T.R. Vale, as the result of his reading and careful & study of geological facts, had predicted in the columns of the Smythesdale paper that coal to would in all probability be found in the valley. The formation of the country justified the belief, but it remained for the miners in search of gold to prove the theory correct. Mr. Lynch, the mining surveyor and registrar, immediately upon the fact becoming known, informed the Department that coal had been found at Skipton. The Department sent Mr. F.M. Krause to report upon the discovery, at and that gentleman, as we are informed, after a cursory examination, declared the substance it not to be coal at all, but a species of lignite. A thorough "damper' was thus put upon the in search for coal. Mr. Vale, however, preserved his faith in the existence of the coal, and Mr. Lynch also retained his belief that the substance shown him was true coal. An excellent opportunity of authenticating the true nature of the material cut offered upon the arrival of Professor Denton, the eminent geologist, and accordingly Mr. Vale invited that gentleman to take a trip to the ground where the coal had been struck, and whilst reporting upon the carboniferous deposit, to also give an opinion upon an extensive deposit of limestone which had been found in the same locality, upon the land of Mr. Cameron. From the township the party went in a northerly direction to the banks of the Emu Creek, where the coal discovery was made. After walking over a mile the " burn" was reached. It runs along across heavy boulders of basalt and between steep banks, which make of the place a regular ravine. Basalt crops out in the headlands, and fifty feet above the spot where the small shaft has been sunk a in which the coal seam has been struck there are bold rocks of the familiar bluestone. The place seemed unlikely to be the scene of a coal discovery, and the Professor thought and said as much, but there, sure enough, on the surface at the mouth of the 12 feet deep pit lay blocks of a substance which 999 out of a thousand persons would not hesitate to pronounce to be coal. Down the shaft, by means of a ladder, went first of all the Professor and Mr. Vale. Ten minutes elapsed, and they emerged again, and the anxious and important question was solved-was the material coal or lignite? Not a doubt of it, said Mr. Denton, the material was coal. He would stake his existence upon it, if ever coal came from Newcastle. No wonder, Messrs. Lynch and Vale were proud of the circumstance that they had been proved to be correct in their opinions, and the Government geologist (Mr. Krause) had been convicted of hasty speaking. Whether the coal was bituminous and valuable was, of course, not a matter for discussion. There it was true coal, a seam at least two feet in width, and although when brought to the surface and exposed to the air it crumbled away, it yet had the lustre and general appearance of the very best coal. Its non-combustibility was easily explained; it was mere surface coal, obtained at 12ft. depth, just on the bank of a creek, and consequently all bitumen had been washed out of it and it had "perished." Followed further, there was every reason to believe that it would prove of excellent quality, and Mr Denton committed himself to an expression of belief that a valuable seam might yet be opened up. The depth of the shaft, we may remark, is 12 feet, and the coal seam, which dips west, is well defined, and is found in conjunction with sandstone and fine clay, which usually accompany carboniferous deposits. A wash, the value of which has not so far as we can learn, been tried, is to be found in the shaft. The coal, as we have said, has a bright lustre, but as it is near the surface, it contains a considerable quantity of a earthy matter which detracts from its inflammable qualities, and although there are stories told of its excellent character as a fuel, we incline to the belief that it will be necessary to procure it at a greater depth and freer for impurities before it will prove of value for burning. Samples of the coal were brought to Ballarat by Mr. Denton and Mr. Vale. After having left the valley of the Emu Creek the Professor and party were driven in traps provided by the people of Skipton to see a deposit of limestone some three or four miles further west, on the land of Mr. Cameron. The bed of limestone in the locality was pronounced by Professor Denton to be very compact, and of considerable value. The coal he believes will ultimately be the fuel for the purpose of reducing the limestone. The stone crops up for hundreds of yards, and a splendid quarry of stone is also to be seen. Cost of carriage appears, however, to be the principal obstacle to the lime being brought into use. It has been burnt and used, but so far it is not a profitable market article, although capital and enterprise should speedily operate to secure practical results from a so fine a deposit of stone. Leaving the limestone beds, the question of visiting the basaltic caves in the locality was debated, but time pressing, a start was made for home, which was reached at half-past 5, the party being fully assured on the word of Professor Denton that good coal and lime will be among the future products of Skipton.-Ballarat Star. ---- Bacchus Marsh Express, 05 November 1881.

The Skipton Coal Company has accepted the tender of Crane and party for sinking a shaft to the depth of 60 ft, at which depth it is anticipated a coal seam will be cut. ---- The Argus, 30 September 1882.

n the statement of Mr Murray. Government geologist, that the sample of Skipton coal was the best he had seen in Victoria, the directory wish it notified that he stated it was the best looking he bad inspected from so near the surface. ---- The Argus, Saturday 19 May 1883.

SKIPTON COAL FIELD.-                                                                                                A letter has been received by Skipton Progress Association from Mr. John Caird, a resident of Ballarat, in which the writer stated that he was convinced that there was a good coal field at Skipton, and sought the assistance of the association in an effort to have the field developed. A syndicate might be formed in Ballarat. Some time ago the Skipton Coal Mining Co. Ltd. pegged out a large extent of ground under a fifteen years' lease on what is now known as the Skipton common. Three trial shafts were sunk, and in each instance seams of coal were found, which, an analysis, proved to be of good quality, and the experts at that time were of the opinion that a valuable coal field existed to the south west of Ballarat. The Government's premise that an officer would be sent to Skipton to test the country was never carried out, and the company ceased operations. ---- Terang Express, 23 June 1916.

Skipton Coal Deposits. - PROSPECTING 35 YEARS AGO. -           Concerning the coal deposits known to exist in the Skipton district, the local Progress Association is actively endeavoring to have seams tested matter was before the committee last week, and, after discussion it was decided to collect all available information, and report to next meeting. Concerning those coal deposits, the Skipton "Standard" says:— Probably many of the old residents of Skipton will remember that about 35 years ago a syndicate was formed, called "The Skipton Coal Mining Company, Limited." This company secured about 500 acres of land on what is now known as the Skipton common, on a 15 years lease. The capital was £900, in 300 shares of £3 each, and they had reached a certain stage in their venture when matters suddenly terminated, despite the fact that large quantities of coal existed. Before going defunct three trial shafts had been sunk, and in each instance they struck seams of coal, measuring 2 feet 4 inches in thickness. .Samples of the coal were analysed by Government experts, who were of the opinion at that time that the specimens were those of good coal, I and that there was a valuable coal field to the south-west of Ballarat. The Government was then approached for assistance, and a promise was made that a departmental officer would be sent to Skipton to test the country, but the promise was never fulfilled. The following extracts may prove of interest to our readers:—

Report of Professor Denton's lecture, dated 27th October 1881: "A specimen of Skipton coal was exhibited by Professor Demon, who said it was as genuine coal as ever he had seen in his life, he, had experimented on it that day. It was tertiary—a very valuable one. He believed there was a vast coal field to the south-west of Ballarat." Analysis of sample of Skipton coal by Cosmo Newberry, Government An analyst:—"The sample is bright black coal—non-caking, giving on analysis, volatile matter 51.15, fixed carbon 29.30, and 19.55, total 100. Messrs Denton and Vale, of Ballarat, paid a visit, to the Skipton coal field. The shaft had been cleared out and portion of-the seam brought to the surface; the Professor pronounced the coal to be of a superior kind, and similar to a first-class description of coal found in America. He was of opinion that in extensive deposit would be found in the vicinity." Judging by the above analysis there is evidently a stretch of country; that requires to be opened up. The first step would be to approach our Parliamentary members—Messrs Oman and Manifold—with a view to inducing the Government to pat down a diamond drill in order that a thorough, test might be made of the country. After this is done farther action could then be taken if necessary. ---- Camperdown Chronicle, 27 June 1916.

Mr H. Hermann, government geologist recently visited this district for the purpose of inspecting the coal deposits supposed to exist here. He made a thorough inspection of the coal shaft, and took away with him a quantity of samples for analysis. His report is awaited with interest. Mr Middleton, of Ballarat, has also taken samples to be analysed at the Ballarat School of Mines. Speaking at the local Progress Association meeting on Saturday evening last on the coal deposits here, Mr R. Cairns, senr-., remarked that he was not satisfied with the previous reports on the field, and if the geologist's report on this occasion proved adverse, he still favored pushing the matter ahead, and giving it a fair trial. A gentleman from Newcastle, who has had over 40 years experience at coal mining, recently visited the shaft, and was of the opinion that the coal was green, and could not be expected to burn when obtained from so near the surface. Mr Cairns also said that from what he was told he was fully convinced that if the seam was followed up a good bed of coal would be found in the neighborhood. If outsiders would not take the matter up, he thought a local company should be formed to work the mine to the desired depth. ---- Riponshire Advocate, 02 December 1916.

A syndicate has been formed for the purpose of testing the coal deposits at Skipton. It is proposed to prospect from the old shaft on the Emu Creek, about a mile from the township. ---- The Argus, 17 March 1920.

The Werribee Coal Syndicate, which has commenced operations here, is progressing satisfactorily, The shaft has been cleaned and unwatered. Driving south a strong face of alluvial wash has been met. The prospects are encouraging. The Progress Association intends to request the Government to send a drill or bore to Skipton with a view to testing the country for gold or coal. ---- The Argus, 22 March 1921.

Share this page