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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 12

I The First Half Century - The Initial Struggle

II The Second Fifty Years - The Start Of Expansion

III The Third Fifty Years - Federation And The First World War
i General Conditions
ii Some Early Innovative Approaches
iii Concrete Pipes
iv Cement-fibre Pipes
v Concrete Products
vi The Birth of the Iron and Steel Industry

IV The Fourth Period - Second World War To The Present



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Lithgow works (continued)

In the meantime the Eskbank Works was being operated on a reduced scale by a workers' co-operative and Sandford became its manager, after resigning from Lysaght Bros. in 1886. There is some evidence that he tried to interest John Lysaght Ltd. in purchasing the Lithgow works some time before 1900, but it is obscure whether this was before or after he retired from their service. He did, however, make a later offer in 1906-7.

Sandford eventually took over the Lithgow Works on the basis of a seven year lease of 10/- per ton output and 2/6d for financing arrangements with an option to purchase and which he subsequently exercised to take over the works, estate and colliery for 62,600.

At the time of the original lease, the Lithgow works consisted of six puddling furnaces, one ball furnace, two mill furnaces, steam hammer and 475 mm mill. A sheet rolling mill was installed in 1894 and a steel furnace in 1900, the first cast of steel in Australia being accomplished in the same year. He had also put in two cupola foundry furnaces which were used to re-melt pig iron that had been 'at grass' when he took over the plant. The Siemens-Martin furnace installed for steel production, however, held only about five tonnes metal and was ridiculously small for the expected use.

At about the same time a galvanizing pot and corrugating plant appears to have been installed as a business summary developed by Lysaght in 1907 notes:

Oct. 1901. The works as then existing were under offer to a London Syndicate for 50,000 in shares, the Company to pay a royalty of 9d per ton of coal used and to provide a working capital of 250,000.

The output of Galvanized Sheets was then 2500 tons per annum. Rail freight to Sydney 10/6 per ton and it is stated that they have at Lithgow, fire clay, fuel and ore about 50 per cent and red hematite about 50 per cent, and there are other grades of ore in the district, and a Siemens blast furnace in course of operation and the cost of steel slabs about 6 per ton.

Estimated cost of pig iron something under 40/- per ton.

Estimated that it takes 2 tons of ore to 1 ton pig, about 1 ton of coke to smelt 1 ton of ore. And it takes 2 tons of coal to make 1 ton of coke.

The coal at Lithgow is estimated to last 100 years. Cost delivered at smelters at pit mouth under 3/9d per ton. Coal consumed at the works was then debited at 4/2d per ton leaving a good profit to the colliery.

Government bonus as then proposed, was considered equal to 10/- per ton on pig iron and 12/- on billets etc.

Proposed furnace (BF) estimated capacity 850 tons per week. W. Sandford expressed his great wish to work in harmony with J. L. Ltd. and he stated that if the proposals were not accepted in London, he would be prepared to submit them to J. L. Ltd. on like conditions.

The blast furnace referred to above, probably had a capacity of up to 800 tonnes per week but at that size, was probably the largest in the southern hemisphere. It was blown-in in 1907, at a time when Sandford appeared to be facing a critical financial crisis and when he was troubled with obtaining sufficiently low cost raw materials, with a lack of tariff protection and with a financial burden compounded by the new blast furance costs greatly exceeding estimates. By the middle of 1907, W. Sandford Ltd. had a bank overdraft of 128,000.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Eskbank Ironworks Co.; John Lysaght Ltd; Lysaght Bros. & Co. Pty Ltd; W. Sandford Ltd

People in Bright Sparcs - Lysaght, John; Sandford, W.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 870 - 871, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher