On Denniston

On Denniston



The Denniston Incline was one of the great creations from the age of coal and was regarded by many as the Eighth Industrial Wonder of the World.

Opened in 1879 to help transport coal from the mines of the famous Coalbrookdale Seam on the Denniston Plateau of New Zealand’s West Coast, the Incline plummeted seven hundred feet down grades as steep as one in one and a quarter (1:1.25). The system operated by gravity with a full wagon of coal going down pulling an empty wagon up. Over eighty eight years of operation there were many runaways and smashes.

In this fascinating documentary produced by the award-winning Memory Line team, we return to the remote and inhospitable Denniston Plateau with some of the miners and men who worked on the Incline. As they tell their story, high quality 35mm archive movie film graphically shows how the coal was taken from the mines high in the hills down to the ships at Westport, including an exciting ride down the Denniston Incline on a Q class railway wagon full of coal. Through the reminiscences of some of the womenfolk, we discover the happiness and hardship of existence on this isolated rocky clifftop in the clouds, where it often snowed and could rain for a fortnight.

Finally we are left to wonder at a chapter in New Zealand's history, when there was life On Denniston.

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