The Fitzroy Iron Works

20 August 1864 The Sydney Morning Herald

We have much pleasure in being able to report that the first blast-furnace for iron-smelting created in the Australian colonies has during the past month been brought into successful operation at the Fitzroy Iron Works at Mittagong, and that a quantity of iron of splendid quality has been produced from the ore.

The event has for some time past been looked forward to with considerable anxiety, and the consummation is not only regarded with great satisfaction by those who are personally interested in the undertaking, but its importance is widely recognised as opening up a new and extensive field of colonial industry.

The numberless uses to which iron is applied, and the large demand for it for the various public works in a young country, invest with special value the first production of this metal in Australia, the situation of the Fitzroy mines is extremely favourable for the development of the iron-producing industry.

The Great Southern railway will pass through the property of the company, and it is expected that the line will be completed to Mittagong - a distance of eighty miles from Sydney- before the end of next year.

This position will afford admirable facilities for supplying the Government with rails and other iron work; and the company have been offered the same price for the rails as it costs the Government to place them on the line.

A large and remunerative business is thus offered to the company, and under energetic and judicious management the undertaking cannot fail to be very successful.

A company for working the mines at Mittagong was started about twelve years ago; but, owing to various causes, the attempts to produce iron from the ore have hitherto been unsuccessful.

It is not necessary to advert to the previous history of the undertaking further than to mention that, as the result of correspondence with Messrs. Davy, Brothers, proprietors of the Park Iron Works near Sheffield, the company recently secured the services of Mr. Joseph Kaye Hampshire, late manager of the Whittington Iron Works, near Chesterfield in Derbyshire, and of Mr. Frederick Davy, from the Park Iron Works, who now acts as engineer to the company's works.

We proceed to give some particulars respecting the property of the company, and also as to their operations and prospects.

The blast furnace now in use for smelting is seventy-five feet in height, and its greatest width internally is fifteen feet.

It is fitted up with the latest improvements from England; and it is blown by a pair of horizontal engines forty two-horse cylinders - driven by a pair of sixteen-inch cylinders, made upon the place.

The steam engine a-tached to the rolling mills was made in Sydney, by Mesers. P. N. Russell and Co, and is of forty horse-power.

The mill is capable of rolling all kinds of merchant iron from the size of seven-eighths of an inch up to three inches; it has been at work for several months past.

There is also on the spot a superior stock of rollers, of English manufacture, for the production of railway bars and boiler-plate; and there is in course of erection a new cupola in addition to the one already on the property.

The anthracite coal is at present brought from a distance of two and a half miles, but the company are proceeding with the sinking of a shaft, which is already carried to a depth of a hundred feet; when this mine is worked, the cost of obtaining coal will be reduced by one half.

It is believed that limestone exists on the property, though it has not yet been discovered, but the railway line in course of construction towards Goulburn will pass through a large field of limestone distant about thirty miles.

It is intended to proceed at once with two more blast furnaces, on the most improved principles, cased with boiler plate, instead of the stone of which the present one is constructed.

It is also proposed to commence a large mill for making boiler plate of all sizes and strengths, and for the rolling of railway bars, to be driven by n powerful engine from eighty to a hundred horse power.

The ore exists in great abundance on the company's property upon the surface of the ground, and can be brought to the mouth of the furnace calcined, at a cost of six shillings per ton.

The depth of the ore is believed to average not less than thirty feet, solid masses of pure Iron stone.

By the appliance of a hot blast, which will shortly be erected, it is expected that the ore will yield seventy per cent, of metal.

A number of pigs and some small castings have been sent down to Sydney and have attracted much notice, not merely from persons engaged in the iron trades but from the public.

The fine quality of the iron has caused much surprise and admiration; indeed, it is declared by those who profess to be judges of the metal to be second to none produced at any mine in the world.

An experiment has being made to try the strength of one of the castings: an inch-square bar six feet in length was tested by placing 4 cwt. upon the centre, and the bar did not break until it had deflected 3 inches.

Some of the castings have been polished and show a surface as bright as steel.

At present the iron is being run out into pigs, and is produced at the rate of a hundred tons per week; but it is intended to proceed immediately with the casting of some iron cylinders for the new bridge at Gundagai, a contract for the supply of the ironwork for that structure having been taken by the Fitzroy Iron Works Company.