Perched upon a cliff overlooking the grandeur of the Grand Pacific Drive in Coalcliff, New South Wales, stands lost history that fell short of 1 year to earn its 100 year milestone.
Located in the scenic Ilawarra region of New South Wales Australia, in December 2012, employees of the Illawarra Coke Company (ICC), in 1966 owning both the Coalcliff and Corrimal Cokeworks, would have received devastating news, the Coalcliff site would be closing its doors after 99 years of operation and coke-making would cease operation.
The life of the Coalcliff site started in 1878 when a colliery opened on January 11, however the Cokeworks was not commissioned until 1914. Many workers, who walked out the gates for the last time in what would have been an indescribable emotional time, having been with the company for more than 40 years.
As is the question one often wonders when you walk amongst abandoned history. What lead to its demise, its neglect?
For Coalcliff, a number of factors contributed to its inevitable spiral into closure – money. In a matter of speaking.
A worldwide oversupply of coke, the high Australian dollar, the closure of domestic customers, infrastructure being too expensive to maintain, and not to forget the additional distance and cost to truck coke to Port Kembla.
And so history now stands abandoned overlooking the Sea Cliff Bridge. Mother nature claiming her home. Decay slowly creeping its way into the site, entangling its vines into once thriving machinery, bursting with life. Rust settles in, creating beautiful texture as the smell of age, permeates the senses.
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Illawarra Mercury – 6 July 2013
Illawarra Mercury – 13 Dec 2012
Illawarra Coke Company, Wikipedia
University of Wollongong Archives (WAU) – D275 Illawarra Coke Company