Trains and Trams of the Bulli Coal Company Line

(Bulli Colliery to Sandon Point Jetty and Mainline)

1858- 1993

Chronology and Bibliography

Compiled by Michael Organ


The following is a chronological listing of historical references to trains, trams and the construction and operation of the Bulli Colliery to Sandon Point tramway and railway line between the years 1858 and 1993. Also included are references to the various sidings associated with the Bulli Cokeworks, which operated on site between 1889-1930, and the nearby Vulcan and Newbolds brickworks.


Captain Robert Marsh Westmacott attempted to mine coal at Bulli. He is stopped, in part, by the Australian Agricultural Company rights to mine coal in New South Wales.


Preliminary coal mining operations commence at Bulli Colliery. This includes survey work, geological investigations, construction of access roads and excavation of preliminary shafts and adits.


April – official opening of the Sommerville and O’Brien’s Bulli Coal Mine.


Bulli Coal Mining Company formed. Operations commence on mining from an adit 400 feet above sea level at Bulli Colliery.


30 September – ‘An Act to enable the Bulli Coal Mining Company to construct a Railway from land near Bulli belonging to the said Company and to connect same with Bellambi Harbour’. Assented to by New South Wales Legislative Council. Full project not carried out.

14 October - tender advertisement published in the Illawarra Mercury for construction of railway, bridges and a jetty at Bulli in association with the coal mining operations.


23 January - Illawarra Mercury - report on the Bulli Coal Company's mine an works. Reprinted - 28 January, Sydney Morning Herald.

May - June: Completion of construction of the Sandon Point coal loading jetty and connecting horse-drawn tramway from the Bulli coal mine. This initial jetty was 680 feet long and designed by William Weaver. The first load of coal was loaded from it onot the brigantine George.

2 June – official opening of a self acting standard gauge incline up the hill to Bulli mine. Wagons worked by gravitation from the mine to the jetty. Horses hauled empty wagons back to the bottom of the incline.

3 June - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Bulli Coal Mine’ - 1st part of a report on the official opening of Bulli mine.

6 June - Sydney Mail - Report on official opening of Bulli mine.

9 June - Sydney Morning Herald – ‘Bulli’ - 2nd part of report on official opening of Bulli mine.

16 June Illawarra Mercury – ‘Bulli’ 2nd part of report on official opening of Bulli mine. Reprinted from SMH of 9 June.

22 June - Bulli Coal Mining Company begins operations, with the first load dispatched from Sandon Point jetty on this date. SS Ironside takes coal to Shanghai, China.

26 June Illawarra Mercury – ‘Accident at Bulli Coal Company’. 7 wagons crash off end of jetty.

26 June - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Shipping at Bulli’.

7 July - Illawarra Mercury – 'Lions at Bulli’. Report on meeting of coal company directors at Bulli on 4th July.

7 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Lost Waggons’.

7 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Shipping at Bulli’.

17 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Shipping {Bulli}

24 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Trial Trip of a New Steamer [Woniora]’.

28 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘First Steam Collier for Illawarra [Woniora]’.

28 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Shipping {Bulli}

29 July - Sydney Morning Herald: ‘The Bulli Coal Mining Company’ - Report on the Annual Meeting of the Bulli Coal Mining Company and its operations.

7 August - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Bulli Coal Mining Company’.

September - SS Waniora first steamer on Illawarra trade – 250 tons capacity.

Shipping – schooner Moselle takes 100 tons of coal; schooner Tiger takes 90 tons; schooner George takes 120 tons.


3 June - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Bulli Coal Company’. Report on meeting.

14 June - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Bulli Company’s Jetty’ 100 feet of the jetty is washed away during storms. Repairs eventually cost 2000.

17 June - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Late Storm’ Report on damage to jetty and landslide.

21 June - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Bulli Jetty’.

29 June - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Bulli Coal Company’.

5 August - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Bulli Coal Company’.

16 August - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Bulli Coal Company’.


24 February - Sydney Morning Herald: ‘The Bulli Coal Mining Company’ - Report on Half-Yearly Meeting of the Bulli Coal Mining Company and its operations.

24 August – Sommerville article re dispute with Bulli Coal Mine.


25 January - Illawarra Mercury: District News - Bulli. .... Often have we heard of locomotives in various parts of the colony, and in fact it has been talked of in our immediate neighborhood, but who would have thought that the shrill whistle of the locomotive would ever be heard in the valleys of Bulli, but such will be the case. I believe the proprietors of the mines have determined on dispensing with the horses in drawing the waggons up from the jetty to the foot of the incline, and will have a locomotive placed on the line instead about the middle of next month. Messrs Russell and Co., of Sydney, have the contract for making the engine, &c., which is to be finished about the middle of February.

March – schooner Moselle stranded on beach.

6 April: Sydney Morning Herald: Report on loss of schooner Albion en route from Bulli to Sydney with a load of coal.

----- Sydney Morning Herald: Colonial Locomotive. - The firm of Messrs. Vale and Lacy, of Sussex-street, have just completed the second engine of this class ever constructed in these colonies, and, like its predecessor, it is a beautiful specimen of engineering skill. The present engine has been constructed to the order of the Bulli Coal Company, and is what is generally known as a 4-wheel tank engine of 35 horse-power, working up to 100 if necessary, the cylinder being 7 inches in diameter, and weight of engine 32 tons, the whole work having been performed within the last three months. The first engine built by this firm is now at work at the Zigzag, Lapstone Hill, and has given unqualified satisfaction to the contractor for whom it was constructed. Messrs. Vale and Lacy have also in hand a powerful tank engine for the Northern Railway Line, with 16 inch cylinders, which will be ready in three months. The workmanship and finish displayed in the construction, of these engines are of the highest order, and competent engineers pronounce them equal to anything imported. There are also in the course of manufacture twelve break vans for the Government, built of colonial hardwood, the flooring being of massive iron to gain the necessary weight. A visit to Messrs Vale and Lacy's establishment would amply repay any party taking an interest. In the gradual improvement of engineering in all its branches in this colony.

13 April - Town & Country Journal: Notice of an order being placed with Russel & Co., Sydney, for the first Bulli Coal Company locomotive. It was built by Vale & Lacy and became known as engine Vale & Lacy No. 2. This was the second locomotive built in the Colony, and the first for the Illawarra region. Type: 0-4-0, 10 tons, 35 hp.

22 May – schooner George smashed to pieces.

21 June – storm washes away part of jetty and 4 workmen are drowned. New jetty subsequently constructed.

5 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Inquest at Bulli’.

9 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Bulli Jetty’.

13 July - Tiger washed ashore and wrecked at Bulli.

19 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Bulli – The Jetty’.

26 July - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Bulli – Accident’.

31 July - Sydney Morning Herald: ‘The Bulli Coal Mining Company’ - Report on the 11th Half-Yearly Meeting of the Bulli Coal Mining Company and its operations.

2 August - Illawarra Mercury – ‘The Bulli Coal Mining Company’.

20August - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Bulli – The Jetty’.

30August - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Bulli – Bulli Coal Pit’.

August - Vale & Lacy No. 2 delivered to Bulli Jetty in pieces and therein assembled and steamed. Renamed ‘Bulli No.1’, or ‘Bulli Pioneer.'

10 September - Illawarra Mercury – ‘Wreck of the Matedor and Bright Planet’.

Jetty hardwood pylons replaced by turpentine.


July - Bulli Coal Mining Company orders a second locomotive from Vale & Lacy.

SS Barwon in trade.


January – Locomotive Vale & Lacy No. 4 arrives at Bulli colliery. Type: 0-4-0. Renamed Bulli No.2. This is the 2nd Bulli loco.


7 May - Town and Country Journal: Report on wreck of the brig Spray. P22.


Bulli mine producing 600 tons daily and employing 80 men.


19 August - Town and Country Journal: Scenery at foot of Westmacott Pass. P241.


Engraved image of Bulli jetty.

22 January - SS Bulli arrives at Bulli. Capacity 500 tons, 186 feet long. Later wrecked on way to Tasmania.

18 October - Sydney Mail – ‘Coal Mining at Bulli’ Report plus engraved images of mine and jetty.


Geological map shows Bulli jetty route.


SS Merksworth at Bulli. Capacity 300 tons.


29 December - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli Pass coach accident.


August - New tunnel opened at Bulli “B” Pit mine, to the north. Narrow gauge railway incline branched to serve both openings.


First coal exported from new tunnel.

2 August - Town and Country Journal: Engraving ‘ Township of Bulli ’. Report on Bulli. P.216-7

9 August - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli. P265.


Robert Stephenson 2360 of 1879 purchased by Bulli Coal Company. Renamed Bulli No.3. Known as “Katie.” Limited use due to heavy weight causing track damage. Type: 0-6-0, 14 tons. This is the 3rd Bulli loco.

7 February - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli. P265.


28 October – S.S. Waniora lost off Botany Bay with 240 tons of coal.


April - SS Bulli II built and leaves England on this date. Stranded and wrecked at Capetown in May.


“B” Pit mine closed.

30 May - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli. P1120.


January – wives of striking miners hold back train on colliery railway line.

23 March, 2.30pm – explosion at Bulli mine kills 81.

2 April - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli explosion. P702.

15 April – Illustrated Sydney News: Report on Bulli explosion, plus engravings.

21 June - ‘North Bulli Crossing’ opened at 44.33.42 Miles (71.438km) on the main railway line from Sydney. The crossing, which was at 86 deg. 51 min. (slightly towards Wollongong), was shown in the contract plan as a flat bottom cast steel crossing, with both tracks being of standard gauge.

July – mine reopens.


3 October - Signalbox erected/opened for private and government trains at the junction of the main line and the colliery railway.

13 October - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli. P754.


Bulli No.3 locomotive transferred to Woonona and Bellambi collieries.

Bulli Cokeworks opens on site (until 1930). Two dams/ponds constructed on Tramway Creek to supply water for quenching coke.

Cokeworks to use slack coal ex. Dump. 60 tons produced per day. 40 modified “coppie” ovens. Bulli Coal Mining Co., p20.

February – Testimonial to Alexander Ross.

20 July - 20 ovens in service. Increased to 40 ovens later. Black Diamonds, p15.


9 August - Triangle from private railway to Down connection on mail line 9 August 1890 (on Down side).

July – Bulli colliery for sale.

George Adams acquires cokeworks. Bulli Coal Mining Co., p22.


21 April - Illawarra Mercury – report on purchase of coke works by George Adams.


March - George Adams acquires Bulli Colliery. Reconstructs mine and jetty and erects dam across Tramway Creek.


9 September - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli. P35.


21 January - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli. P28.


Locomotive Vale & Lacy No. 4 in need of repairs. Written off and scrapped.

August - Baldwin 5451 of 1881 (NSWGT Motor No. 21) sold to Bulli Coal Mining Company. Delivered to Bulli colliery by sea to Wollongong , and then run by its own steam along the main line to Bulli. Renamed Bulli Coal Co. No.21. Buffer beams fitted, end aprons removed and replaced by pipe railings. Used for jetty shuntings. This is the 4th Bulli loco.

21 November - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli Pass. P22


April - Jetty partially destroyed by storm – 16 months to repair.

8 May - Town and Country Journal: Report on Bulli. P19.

June - Baldwin 6983 of 1884 (NSWGT Motor No. 62) purchased in damaged condition without body and delivered to Bulli colliery, after previous use at Newcastle. Body built at colliery and buffer beams fitted. This is the 5th Bulli loco.


20 additional ovens added to cokeworks, making the total 40. Black Diamonds, p15.


Vulcan Fire Brick Co. begins operations on site adjacent to the rail line to the jetty. Continued operations until 1935.


July – 200 feet of jetty washed away.


Vale & Lacy No. 2 of 1867 stored out of use at the foot of the Bulli incline without a chimney, and gradually stripped.

Rail line re-layed with better quality rails.


Baldwin 6983 locomotive located in slab running shed at Bulli out of use.

Beyer Peacock 2662 of 1885 (NSWGR No. 356) sold to Bulli Coal Company. This is the 6th Bulli loco.


Vale & Lacy No. 2 of 1867 scrapped - perhaps removal date of boiler from frame.

Baldwin 6983 on blocks in yard at Bulli to be overhauled. Not carried out, and scrapped.

January - Vale & Sons No. 41 of 1887 (NSWGR No. 368) purchased by Bulli colliery ex Newcastle . Renamed Bulli No.4. This is the 7th Bulli loco.

August - Beyer Peacock 2662 transferred to Port Kembla Steel Works and scrapped. Wheels and motion used in Bulli No. 4 reconstruction.


Baldwin 5451 removed from colliery traffic.

January - NSWGR 30of 1911 sold to Bulli colliery. Renamed Bulli No. 5. This is the 8th loco at Bulli.

August - Bulli No. 5 in service and permitted to work Bulli coal trains to Port Kembla.


Vulcan Refractories Co. taken over by Newbolds Silica Fire Brick Co. Newbolds continue on site until 1974.


Baldwin 5451 scrapped at Bulli colliery.

August - AI&S purchases Bulli colliery. Vale & Sons No. 41 renumbered AI&S No. 2 at Bulli; Bulli No. 5 (NSWGR 30 of 1911) transferred to Cringilla and scrapped in December 1937.


January - last note of Vale & Lacy No.2 of 1867. Frame only.

December - Kerr Stuart 780 of 1908 transferred to Bulli after work at Newnes and Lithgow. This is the 9th Bulli loco.

December – AI&S purchases Bulli colliery.


Krauss 2179 of 1889 transferred to Newbolds, Thirroul, to work siding. Converted to petrol loco with Leyland engine.

August - Kerr Stuart 780 working at Bulli colliery to replace AI&S No. 1.

December - AI&S No. 2 (Vale & Sons No. 41) overhauled at AI&S Cringilla, renumbered AI&S No.4.


21 April - AI&S No. 4 returned to Bulli.

May-June AI&S No. 4 spends two months at Mount Keira colliery as relief, from Bulli.

Engine shed at Hobart Street and Princes Highway Bulli demolished.


Kerr Stuart 780 removed to AI&S Crigilla for overhaul and then to Mount Keira .


Sandon Point jetty damaged and abandoned.


Kraus 2179 transferred to Newbolds Home Rule quarry. In use to c.1946. Removed in 1975 to Illawarra Light Rail Museum , renamed ‘Newbolds’.


AI&S purchases land at Sandon Point, site of the former cokeworks and tramway/railway line.


Coke ovens at former Bulli Cokeworks site demolished.

4 May – AI&S purchases further parcels of land at Sandon Point adjacent to former tramway 3.2ha.


Middle section of jetty collapses.

NSWGR crossing on level replaced with overhead bridge.


December - AI&S No. 4 out of service at Bulli, to be replaced by AI&S No. 1.


January - Avonside 1596 of 1911 (AI&S No. 1) transferred to Bulli colliery. This is the 10th Bulli loco.

February - AI&S No. 4 on standby at Bulli.

August - AI&S No.4 in use for one day that month.

November - AI&S No. 4 in use for one day that month.


November - AI&S No. 4 transferred to AI&S Cringilla and scrapped.

November – modernization of Bulli colliery and railway completed.


AI&S No. 1 out of service. Replaced by "Z" 1915 (ex NSWGR loco), on hire to Bulli colliery. This is the 11th Bulli loco.


15 April - "Z" 1915 returns to Eveleigh shed.

24 April - Beyer Peacock 2322 of 1884 (NSWGR 239) transferred to Bulli colliery from Corrimal. 10th Bulli loco.


29 July - Beyer Peacock 2322 of 1884 (NSWGR 239) removed to AI&S Visitors Centre, Cringilla, for display, and subsequently to Hunter valley steam museum in 1976.

27 September – AI&S sells 2.84ha coastal strip at Sandon Point to Wollongong City Council for $1.


Last use by a train of the Sandon Point railway line and siding.


Line from Bulli colliery officially closed.


Bulli Coal Mine closed by owners, BHP.


Railway bridge over main line dismantled.


Residential development of Sandon Point estate by Stockland destroys archaeological and other remains of the railway line and cokes ovens. 

Bulli Steam Locomotives 1867 - 1972

* Number / Name  / Period of active service

1. Vale & Lacy No. 2 of 1867 (1867-c1923)

2. Vale & Lacy No. 4 of 1869 (1869-1906)

3. Robert Stephenson No. 2360 of 1879 (1880-1889)

4. Baldwin No. 5451 of 1881 (1906-1934)

5. Baldwin No. 6983 of 1884 (1907-c1928)

6. Beyer Peacock No. 2662 of 1885 (1928-1929)

7. Vale & Sons No. 41 (1929-1953)

8. NSWGR No. 30 of 1911 (1934-1936)

9. Kerr Stuart No. 780 of 1908 (1937-1940)

* Krauss No. 2179 of 1889 (Newbolds of Thirroul) (1938-1945)

10. Avonside 1591 of 1911 (1952-1959)

11. NSWGR "Z" 1915 (c1959-65)

12. Beyer Peacock No. 2322 of 1884 (1965-72)

C.C. Singelton and Gifford Eardley, ‘Bulli Colliery to Bulli Jetty’, Australian Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin, February 1938, 33-4. [Corrected MO 23/3/18]

‘Bulli Colliery to Bulli Jetty’

Australian Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. – late Bulli Colliery and Cokeworks Ltd., Illawarra.

The Bulli Coal Mining Company was incorporated in 1861 and in 1862 an Act of Parliament to construct a railway from the mine to the coast was assented to. The railway was at first horse drawn to and from the foot of the self-acting incline below the mine over which standard gauge wagons are still worked.

The line is 1 mile 26 chains in length clear of the incline and single throughout except for sidings which occur spasmodically along the route. The Illawarra line was constructed in 1887, and crossed the Bulli Colliery line on the level with a triangle connection, both controlled from Bulli Coal Siding Signal-box.

A coke works existed on the down-side of the Illawarra line up to a few years ago. For 4 years the company’s engines were permitted to run on departmental lines to Port Kembla, but since 1 October 1937 this practice has been prohibited.

At the foot of the incline a spur line used to run to the “B” Pit but this was removed some 35 years ago.

It has been stated that the company imported a locomotive known locally as “Katie” but proving too heavy for the light track the engine was sold to Taylor and Walker of South Bulli Colliery in 1867 and its place taken by a Vale & Lacy being that firm’s No.2 and Bulli No.1. This engine weighed 10 tons, had a wheel base of 4’ 6” and was 14 feet over buffer beams, and 6 feet wide.

In 1868 a sister engine was bought from the same firm with however a larger pair of tanks, and was scrapped about 1907, being replaced by two second-hand tram motors Nos. 21A and 62A, the motion of the locomotive being used for haulage of the mine until electrified. 62A motor had been concerned in a smash and came to Bulli in pieces, a new cab having to be constructed by the colliery.

Both had front apron plates removed and open railing with buffer beams substituted.

In 1928 62A was scrapped and replaced by 356 F class locomotive originally from N.S.W.R. but this engine only lasted a year, being replaced by another F class, which with new cylinders and a general rebuild became No.4 Bulli in 1929.

In 1934 motor 21A gave up the ghost and 2031 was brought from N.S.W.R., which was not a good bargain as it was scrapped in 1937, just after the Australian Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. Tool over the Bulli Colliery, and this company purchased South Maitland Railways Ltd. 2nd 1, and named it “AI&S 1”, [with] number 4 being renumbered “AI&S 2”, making the last named “3rd 2”, while the S.M.R. engine is “3rd 1”.

Table 1 – Bulli Coal Mine Locomotives 1867 to 1938





Builder No.



1st – 1


Saddle Tank

2’ 6”


x 15”

Vale & Lacy



Bought new, scrapped 1923. Second engine built in New South Wales.

1st – 2


Saddle Tank

2’ 6”


x 15”

Vale & Lacy



Bought new, scrapped 1907.

2nd – 1


Saddle Tank

3’ 0”


11” x 16”




Bought 1907 North Bulli Colliery, ex N.S.W. Tramways. Disused from 1934, scrapped 1936. Originally 21A.

2nd – 2



3’ 0”


11” x 16”




Bought January 1907 ex N.S.W. Tramways. Scrapped 1928. Originally 62A.




5’ 1”


15” x 22”

Beyer Peacock



Bought 1928 Hebburn Colliery ex North Bulli Colliery, ex NSWR. Scrapped 1929. Originally 1st 356.

1st – 4



5’ 1”


15” x 22”

H. Vale



Bought January 1929 NSWR. Rebuilt with portions Nos.3, 4 and underframe 364F in 1929. Originally 1041 (368F). Scrapped 1937.

2nd – 4



5’ 1”


15” x 22”




Rebuilt from portions of Nos. 3, 4 and frame 364




4’ 0”


18” x 24”




Bought August 1934 ex NSWR. Scrapped 1937. Originally 2031 (943E).

3rd – 1




20” x 24”




Bought 1937 South Maitland Railways Ltd. Originally 2nd – 1 (SMR Ltd.)

The above railway is a single line 1 mile 26 chains in length, connecting the foot of the broad gauge colliery incline to Bulli jetty, crossing the Illawarra line on the level at an interlocked crossing worked from the Bulli Coal Siding Signal-box.

The line was built under the “Bulli Coal Railway Act” of 1862 and was therefore in existence long before the construction of the Illawarra line in 1887.

The line is connected with the Illawarra line by a triangle junction near the crossing and between 1933 and 1 October 1937, the company’s engines were permitted to work over the government lines to Port Kembla. The colliery was taken over by AI&S Co. in December 1937.


Bayley, W.A., Black Diamonds: History of Bulli District of New South Wales, Bulli, 1975.

Eardley, G.H. and Singelton, C.C., ‘Bulli Colliery to Bulli Jetty’, Australasian Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin, Vol.1, No.4, February 1938, 33-4.

Eardley, G.H., Bulli Coal Mining Company, Australian Railway Historical Society - Light Railway Group, 1954.

----, Transporting the Black Diamond – Colliery Railways of the Illawarra District, Traction Publications, Canberra, 1968.

----, ‘Transporting the Black Diamond – Colliery Railways of the Illawarra District’, [Book 2 – Draft manuscript], n.d.

----, ‘Railway Equipment Associated with the Old Bulli Colliery’, Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. 27, No. 467, September 1976, 208-12.

Forsyth, J.H., Historical Notes on Illawarra Line, Public Transport Commission of New South Wales, 3 volumes, October 1976.

King, N.S., Cornelius O’Brien: Pioneer of Bulli, Illawarra Historical Society, 1965.

McCarthy, K., Gazetter of Industrial Steam Locomotives, Illawarra District N.S.W., Australian Railway Historical Society, December 1983.

Pittman, Edward F., ‘Coke’, in Annual Report of the Department of Mines and Agriculture, New South Wales, for the year 1892, Government Printer, Sydney, 1893, 33-7.

Roberts, M.R. and Davis, J., Greetings from Woonona-Bulli: Images of the Black Diamond District, Wyewurry Publications, Thirroul, 1995.

Rogers, B., Preliminary Assessment of Heritage Significance of former colliery railway bridge over Princes Highway, Bulli, 2000.

----, Location of archaeological sites, Sandon Point: Bulli Coke Company’s Coke Ovens and Salt Works, 2000.

Singelton, C.C., Railway History in Illawarra, Illawarra Historical Society, Wollongong, 1969.

Any comments, corrections, or additions to the content of this site are most welcome. Please e-mail the author at: Michael Organ []. Site last updated: 23 March 2018.