Co-Ordinated Landscapes won the tender as Principal Contractor. The Lithgow Blast Furnace was Australia’s first major iron works. Working with Lithgow City Council and a team of specialists, careful consideration was taken to minimise the impact on the significant landmark and its industrial heritage and visual values. A collaboration with Steelworks Engineering ensured all key elements were met to ensure the preservation of the State Heritage listed site.
The challenge was to improve visitor safety without compromising public enjoyment and appreciation of the heritage values and recreation opportunities of the site. The process to fence some high risk areas while enabling close proximity viewing through fenced platform walks and viewing platforms was well received. Visitors can pass through the Davey Engine room and around the blast furnace foundations. Connecting to the Lake Pillans Wetland walk is a new viewing platform on Coal Stage Hill overlooking the Blast Furnace Park.
The rustic signage and retaining walls include historical items and images allowing all ages to be educated while enjoying the historic site. The carpark accommodates tour buses and improves pedestrian movement between the railway platform and the ruins. Accessibility was an important consideration. Wherever practical, accessibility for people with varying levels of mobility has been incorporated into the structure with accessible ramps and pathways and signage for people with visual impairment. Visitors will be able to move around the site, in some cases walking on old rail tracks originally utilised back in 1907.
Communicating and working with local sub contractors, the project benefited from local input and experience. The positive feedback from Lithgow City Council and the community is rewarding as more families are visiting the site and more events like community movie nights and community markets have been very successful.