Balmain Places. Three historical leaflets by Peter Reynolds
Morts Dock – Origins and Changes
Mort Bay used to be called Waterview Bay. At the head of the bay was the mouth of a small stream which ran down from the Balmain Hill through the valley of Strathean. On its way the stream collected in pools which came to be known as Curtis’ waterholes – an important source of fresh water in the days before corrugated iron tanks and piped water supply.
This leaflet traces the history of the area and Morts Dock from this time through its various owners and operations to its closing in the 1960s,
The Coal Mine – Under the Harbour
Sydney Harbour was a bustling port in the second half of the 19th century with Balmain a centre of maritime industry. Many waterfront activities, for example Morts Dock, repaired and built ships which relied on coal as a source of power.
In the 1890s Balmain was declining as a pleasant place to live. Another heavy industry would accelerate its decline – the coal mine.
Below Sydney harbour, the Bulli coal seam swept along the coast between Newcastle and Woollongong at 3000 feet below sea level.To tap this seam within Sydney harbour would eliminate transport cost, provide a local supply of coal, and allow ships to be loaded for export.
This leaflet provides details of the mine shafts, their construction and operation and the impact on the community through to the sealing of the shafts in 1945.
Gladstone Park – The Pigeon Ground
Beneath Gladstone Park lies the old Balmain reservoir. Before the Park was thought of, the place was known as the Pigeon Ground. In earlier days pigeon shooting took place on land opposite the Town Hall. Later the principal pigeon matches were “shot off” on land owned by the a’Beckett family since 1853 – now known as Gladstone park.
This leaflet details the history of the development of the park, its use as an underground water reservoir, and the resident action to maintain and improve facilities such as the bandstand, bowling club and school.