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Jack Rumford (1910-1995) - Electrician, Aberdare Extended Colliery. Part 1/2.
The photograph used as the profile picture was taken by Baden Howard, c. 1966. It is from the Barry Howard Collection.SummaryJack Rumford
Recorded 24 January 1982
Part 1 of 2
Jack’s father was John Baker Rumford who was very early in Caledonian collieries. Jack was the head electrician at Aberdare Extended colliery. His father was originally from Newcastle, England, he came to Sydney and had his own business but it flopped. Then went to Tasmania 1918-19 and put in a hydroelectric plant at a little place called Magnet. Returned to Sydney, and lived at Manly, 1919-25. Finally moving to coalfields, 1925, he had applied to be the electrical engineer of this town. Before that Jock Murray was the electrician at Aberdare Extended, which supplied power to Cessnock, the first supply Cessnock ever had. When his father arrived in Cessnock he took over as the electrical engineer at town lighting.
Jack was born at Crows Nest, in North Sydney, 1910, His first job was in Cessnock, before he started on the town lighting, the Cessnock greyhound track was being made around 1926-27, and this was where he did his first day of work. When he had the opportunity he went to the Cessnock town lighting was in 1927. The first job his father sent him out on was at West Cessnock on the corner of Francis Street, and was told to dig a six foot hole.
Eventually he went and got his certificate as an electrician which he did off his own back. When he went to get his certificate at the Tech at South Cessnock. Purcell was in charge of the school at the time.
Aberdare Extended supplied power to Cessnock, Kearsley, Neath and Abermain were supplied by Aberdare power pit. From Aberdare pit the supply ran down colliery street at 660 volts, hit the top of Neath hill then turned down to Neath, supplied the water board, then to Abermain, and went as far as Denman Hotel and terminated about a kilometre past there just before Chinaman's Hollow. Though Jack believes it didn’t supply Neath pit they had their own supply. Kearsley's was also fed through Aberdare. From Aberdare Extended it ran up through Campbell Street, then to Francis Street, then the high tension lines went through the show grounds then up to the Hospital, then it came back through Macgrane street back on to Annandale road, and followed the creek back to Extended, that way the hospital could have power but if one of them broke down they could have power the other way. The show ground was off that line at the time and had a transformer of its own. At the time Jack is talking about the high tension line was 2,200, not the 11,000 they have today.
Jack’s father was at Aberdare when the supply came through to Extended from Cockle Creek. It came direct from Cessnock, by routing to Aberdare south, only one feed 33,000 right through from Cockle Creek to Mulberry, then to Aberdare South to Kitchen, then to Aberdare Extended where it terminated.
South closed down when Jack was working at Aberdare on the town lighting, when South closed they sent them down to collect all the transformers before they put the lid on it. That was around 1927-30.
On the power line that went to Cockle Creek, it was Ray Smith’s (who was an electrician) brother Harry Smith, he had the contract for the biggest percentage of putting the 33,000 through to Cockle Creek.
Tom Mather was one of the big electricians, working at Heddon, Weston had a DC supply rather than an AC supply. Richmond Main supplied Kurri, after Stanford finished. John Russell worked at Stanford in the office for Kurri, and the power came from Richmond Main but it was controlled by Stanford office. Albert Finney was in charge of Cessnock office, Albert was back from WWI when he started there.
In 1927 when Jack started there was nothing behind the hospital so the supply stopped there. The supply went down Church Street went out Allandale Road out to Nulkaba. Jack’s father was involved in the change-over of power supply at this end of the job when they closed in Cockle Creek. He ‘closed the switch’ when the electricity came in, the power was there and they had transformers and everything, so they could close it in so they could supply it to Cessnock, they broke it down from 33,00 to 2,200, at the present time they break it down from 33,000 to 11,000 then they re-break it down again to 415.
When the power first got here from Cockle Creek, they immediately closed down Aberdare Extended, and 33,000 took over. They supplied under the ground from Cockle Creek or the sub-station in Aberdare Extended itself. When they closed the generators down they supplied to the pits around 1927-30.
At Aberdare Extended Power station there was about six men. Before the town lighting became Town Lighting he believes the workers were Jimmy Durie, Jock Murray, Billy McBeath. Town lighting crew there was eight or nine people, their work duties included erecting the poles, running the wires, supplying the houses, doing the metering, maintain the meters, inspecting the houses before the power was turned on. Jimmy was their foreman. Dave Murdoch was at the shop at the pit, he took over after Jack’s dad, and he worked on armature winding doing up motors and did the repairs on the electrical stuff for the pit. Jock Murray worked on the Turbines, possibly also David working under him. In the Cessnock town lighting there was Jimmy Durie was number one, Billy McBeath senior, Aub Dean, Charlie Dean. Tom Ward was out at Central Jack believes.
Around 1930 they took over Bellbird, when supplying power to Pelton, they had to put the poles up as they had nothing, Charlie Reagan was in charge of Pelton putting the power in, at the same time as that, Jack was in charge of putting the power through to Millfield, he believes it was just before the war during the depression days, they went down to four men during this time. Aub Dean and Charlie Dean got their jobs back on that, working with Jack. Charlie Reagan had his own gang.
In Millfield they put the poles up, and ran the 33,000 from Aberdare Extended on an advance line, right through to Millfield. They followed the railway line out through the back of Bellbird. There was a branch line off it that went to Kalingo, which supplied Ellalong which they took over when they powered them.
Paxton supplied their own power. They supplied the township of Pelton, not the Colliery. When they supplied Millfield they supplied both the town and the pit during the depression days. They put a branch line to Paxton from the Millfield line. When they branched for Kalingo it was along the railway and branched at Kalingo turn off to the pit. Paxton had their own power, they branched onto Paxton they synchronised the line with Cockle Creek to close in the switch, and if they were out of phase they would blow the works. Jack’s father said it was the first time they saw it done in district. It was done by meters, they would have to have the power factor right, the supply equivalent to one another both coming in at the same volume, then a meter rotating, when they are level they would work them in together, called the Paxton Branch.
The Paxton Branch was a branch line from Millfield line. Jack worked for Hunter
Valley County Council for 13 years after they took over. On the Friday night they had to estimate how much material they had in Cessnock, Abermain and Bellbird, they were all their area, they had to go out and figure out how much material they had on the pole and how many meters, they had to estimate it all and it took five years. When the change-over came on the Friday he knocked off from the Caledonian Collieries (Cessnock Town Lighting), and on Monday he started at Maitland with the Hunter Valley County Council. Then the boys had the option of stop and work with Coal & Allied or the Cockle Creek supply, or go work with the Hunter Valleys. Jack McGeachie, Matt Thompson, Ian Hotchkiss, Clarrie Higginbottom elected to go over to Cockle Creek. Gordon Cartwright was at Hunter Valley County Council as a clerk. Tom Day was in the office, Les Collins was a meter reader. Bellbird had to pay their bill at the office.
Nell Rumford is Jack’s wife who was born in Pelaw Main. Jack remembers going to work by bicycle when they had a job they took a push bike, put the belt on the handle bars of the bike, a bag between his legs on the bar, a body belt on with screwdrivers and pliers, and a 30ft ladder hooked on your shoulder to go and do the Cessnock Town Lane breakdown. They did it that way for years, at the time they did 48 hours a week. Every week on the Saturday they would ride up with a bike on their shoulder up Aberdare to the tennis court.
End (Tape 242/Side A) part 1 of 2SubjectCoal mines and mining -- New South Wales -- Hunter ValleyCessnock (N.S.W.)ElectriciansHunter Valley County Council (N.S.W.)Electric power distribution -- New South Wales -- Hunter ValleyElectricityAberdare Extended Colliery (N.S.W.)Rumford, John William, 1910-1995PersonJack DelaneyDepicts or Relates ToTom MatherIan HotchkisDavid MurdochCreatorRumford, John William, 1910-1995Delaney, Jack, 1919-2010CollectionVoices of the HunterPlaceCessnock, NSWDate Created24th January 1982Location Aberdare Extended Colliery Identifier242A