On March 9, the Liddell tradition of keeping its history alive continues at Club Singleton with the 2024 Liddell Coal & Allied operations and collieries staff reunion. It’s a must attend event that grows each year it’s held.
Liddell started in 1923. As one of the biggest mines in the district, it was the training ground for so many coal miners and played a massive role in supporting the local community. The reunion is an opportunity to remember all the generations that worked during the underground life of the mine, from the people that are still around today, to those that have passed.
Before Liddell became an opencut mine in the 70s, there were in excess of 500 underground miners working at the mine. Through both its time as an underground and opencut mine, Liddell was a hugely productive mine that contributed so much to local life until its closure last year.
The skills taught and learnt there, not to mention the life experiences that formed so many people’s characters, greatly impacted the community we know today.
Now closed, it has never been more important to keep the memories of friendship, tradition, and hard work alive and reunion organisers Scott Brittliffe, Shane Hardy and Mick Dunn are the ones responsible for making that happen.
“Tradition and comradery were, and is, who we are, and that’s why this day is so, so important,” said Scott.
“It’s really all about a social gathering to connect and remember and keep the friendships alive, along with the incredible contribution Liddell and its people have made to our community and our families.”
Shane also reflected on how important it was to acknowledge the contribution that Liddell made.
“The most patriotic mine in this district would have to of been Liddell. Virtually every condition that has been won in the industry was hard fought for in that pit and by its people,” he said.
“It was a proud pit, and we did it together, and that’s why we get together, and why the day is so important.”
This is their third reunion. They are determined that there will be many more. They will never forget how important the place was to so many and the bonds that they built. They were family in a way. As they lose people over the years it only becomes more important to keep those connections.
“As time passes, those experiences led by the memory of those we spent our time together with, and those we have lost who we worked beside, only increase the importance of getting together and remembering,” Mick shared.
On the day of the reunion, Scott, Shane and Mick will also be launching a project celebrating Liddell and the Singleton community.
With the help of Club Singleton and support of many in the local mining industry, they are creating a permanent memorial to acknowledge mining’s contribution to the region.
“We’re determined that the contribution of so many at Liddell and every other mine are never forgotten. So that beyond our reunions, we have a permanent reminder and celebration of local mining,” said Scott.
“Nearly every other mining town in Australia has something that celebrates and remembers mining’s contribution to their communities.
“In twenty or thirty years’ time, most of us will be gone. If we don’t step up and do this now, it simply won’t happen and that important history will be lost to time.”
“This district had the first coalmines in Australia, and despite its history going back to the early 1800’s it’s never happened,” Shane added.
“Our crews over the years were the first to put their hands in their pockets. Be it families in tough times and tragedy, or dialysis units for the hospital. The Mercy Rest Home is an example of Liddell being one of the first to get behind and support a much needed facility. Same goes for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. We were at the front of the line to support.”
For the memorial, Paul Hartcher put forth the idea to make use of historical pieces from Liddell and Glencore then generously donated these significant and historic relics of times past. An underground skip and trolley once pulled by beloved pit ponies, along with a ten-ton rail car. Local suppliers, led by Morgan Engineering, have committed to retrieve and restore these truly amazing pieces to their original glory. The timbers will even be replaced by wood cut on the original mill by Campbells Mill that used to cut all the timber for Liddell underground. The grounds of Club Singleton will be home to the memorial.
“Club Singleton has always been connected to our industry, in fact the old Drillers Club used to be on the site. So they’re bringing back that history in many ways,” said Scott.
Born out of the Liddell legacy and pride, the memorial will be a permanent reminder for future generations and ensure that coal mining’s contribution and its legacy to the community are remembered and celebrated.
“The call is now out to anyone who has anything of historical significance or interest, or knows of someone who does, to please consider making it a part of what we are trying to create,” said Scott.
“Our town has been built around this industry alongside our agriculture history, the two often intertwined through family and history. They were different times but what was learnt carries through to today,” added Mick.
“It’s our history and it is greatly important. Put the word out, we need everyone’s help.”
|The reunion will be held at Club Singleton on March 9 and anyone with a connection to Liddell Coal & Allied operations and collieries is welcome to attend. To be part of the day or if you would like to contribute to the creation of the memorial contact Scott Brittliffe on 0419981327