On a cold but inspiring afternoon in Lithgow, M&G NSW CEO, Michael Rolfe, attended the official opening of the Blast Furnace Heritage Park.
The official opening by Ray Christison, President of the City of Greater Lithgow Mining Museum, historical archaeologist and M&G NSW board member, was held to mark the completion of upgrade works and the re-opening of the blast furnace site for public use.
The Lithgow Blast Furnace Park upgrade commenced in 2014 and involved Stage 1 repair and remediation works to remaining brick ruins. The Stage 2 works, just completed, provide safe and accessible visitor access, together with a new interpretive strategy.
Lithgow City Council undertook these works to make the blast furnace site safer and to provide an improved visitor experience so that the park can be an anchor for cultural heritage tourism to Lithgow. A large community crowd joined in the celebrations with local, federal and state members of parliament, Andrew Gee and Paul Toole (respectively), combining with Lithgow councillors, Ray Christison, council staff and other project personnel, to officially launch the upgrade.
The official opening was also an opportunity for the community to hear about the early 20th century story of the Lithgow Blast Furnace and how important this industrial undertaking was to the social and industrial history of Lithgow and the nation as a whole. What better way to see the recently completed works, including elevated walking platforms that allow visitors to walk through the fiery heart of the once powerful blast furnace. The opening coincided with the 111th anniversary of the opening of the furnace in 1907. More information about the history of the site can be found here: http://www.lithgow-tourism.com/blasthist.htm.