Shale & Shays
The Fight for Shale Oil from the Wolgan Valley
By Mark Langdon
Published by Eveleigh Press
300 pages, 279mm x 215mm, Many photos, most are black and white, but a number of available colour images have been used. Some of these images had been hand-coloured by the original photographer.
Mark Langdon, an upper Blue Mountains resident and trained historian, presents a fresh look at the exhilarating shale-oil mining days of 1906 – 1932 in the Wolgan Valley in New South Wales. Researched from existing company and government documentation and newspaper reports of the day, the book begins with the story of the Commonwealth Oil Corporation’s (C.O.C.) inception, financed and run from the London offices, continues through the building of the works at Newnes and the railway to Newnes Junction, and rounds out with the final days in the 1930s, when the fate of Newnes resided in the hands of the Commonwealth Government and National Oil Pty Ltd. The work includes the decline of the C.O.C. and John Fell’s becoming the owner. The problems faced are covered in detail, as is the lives of the miners and residents living in the valley.
Special attention has been given to the railway – locomotives and rolling stock – including exhaustive research detailing the building and use of the railway that carried the precious shale and oil to the main N.S.W.G.R. Western Line at Newnes Junction and then on to Torbane in the west and to the Sydney export seaboard. Each vehicle type built specifically for and purchased by the C.O.C. is covered, with a history and photos and a scale drawing of each vehicle type included. The work is rounded out with superb maps and a Phil Belbin painting.