Location 160
Location #160. Wilsons Coal Mine.
Map 3

Kawarau River - Cairnmuir



Location #160. Wilsons Coal Mine (the Kawarau coal pit). Located on the Kawarau River, right bank, about 1.2 km downstream from the Bannockburn Inlet, now under Lake Dunstan.

Still Standing


Flooded by lake Dunstan.

Construction Details

Location Type


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Interested Parties

The table below shows the groups of people that had an interest in this property, either as owners, residents, tenants or shareholders. Clicking on the 'Details' link will display a list of the individuals in the group along with any known historical information about them.

Group Date Description
1 1890 - 1896 T Wilson & Son Details
2 c1896 - c1899 W R Parcell (2) - lessee (possibly). Details
3 1900 - 1909 The Cromwell and Bannockburn Colliery Company Details


The table below shows any historical notes about the location.

Note Date Short Description Note Text
2206 1875 Thomas Wilson operating a coal mine called the Kawarau Mine. It appears that Thomas Wilson (1) (Tommy the Dane), was operating a coal mine called the Kawarau mine near Gees Flat in the Kawarau Gorge. He lived here in a canvas and timber hut.
2207 1890 The Wilsons coal pit is opened. In Sep 1890, Thomas Wilson (1) and his son Thomas William Wilson (2) opened up a coal mine they called the Kawarau Coal Pit, however it was always known as Wilson's.
2208 1896 The Wilsons tried to see the coal pit. The Wilsons tried to sell the Kawarau Coal Pit, but without success.
2209 1896 The coal pit may have been leased to W R Parcell (2) There was little interest in the industry, however the Wilsons managed to lease the mine. The lessee may have been W R Parcell (2).
2213 1900 Wilsons mine was sold to the Cromwell & Bannockburn Colliery Company. The newly formed Cromwell & Bannockburn Colliery Company purchased Wilson's Mine. The company also purchased the 'Excelsior No 2 Coal Mine (location #194) which was about 750m from the Kawarau River on the right bank (east side) of Bannockburn Creek. The Excelsior No 2 Mine was connected underground to Wilson's Mine. The coal seem in this mine was from the lake margin faces of the Manuherikia group sediments like all of Bannockburn. In this mine the seem averaged 2m of fair quality coal in a large field. The coal was unbroken by faults and had very little water at this time. It required little timber, and no explosives to mine. It was one of the best coal pits in Otago, supplying clean burning coal for gold dredges and domestic use. The coal was delivered across the Kawarau River by way of a flying fox. (see location #159)
2214 1900 Miners working in Wilson's Mine In January, the miners working in the eastern end (Wilson's) of the connected Wilson/Excelsior mine were John (Jack) Taylor and John and James Cooper. These miners were still working here in November (from J P Parcell memories - he worked in Excelsior No 2 during this period).
2215 1903 Miners working in Wilson's mine. Miners working in Wilson's mine were : Samuel Tregilgus, John Richard Crombie, William Wilson, Edward Healy, John Short, George McKillop, Frederick Jones, Hugh Donnelly, Louis Francis Parcell, John Barclay, George Saxon. (from photo Heart of the Desert p134). Once the two mines were connected by the coal company, the mine was just referred to as the Excelsior mine.
2216 1909 Closure of the Wilson's/Excelsior mine The Cromwell & Bannockburn Colliery Company tried unsuccessfully to sell their coal lease in Bannockburn Creek on the Cairnmuir seam. In November they cloased down their Excelsior Mine and abandoned their Cairnmuir seam lease. For more details of the Wilson's / Excelsior mine - see The Excelsior No 2 mine - location #194.


The table below shows a list of images related to the location. Click on 'View Image' to display more details about the image, and to view the image.

Image Id Source Date Short Description
103 Cromwell Argus via Eileen Olds 9 Jun 1903 Cromwell & Bannockburn Colliers - Chas. Ray View Image
154 Heart of the Desert - J P Parcell c1903 Wilson's Coal Mine - Kawarau River View Image
1192 Paul Crump - Bannockburn c1909 Plan of Wilson's Coal Mine - location #160 View Image