The Morden Mine tipple won’t topple any time soon, thanks to recent concrete restoration work.
Work on the historic Nanaimo coal mine structure was completed this month after nearly a year of work to replace sections of the 108-year-old concrete headframe and tipple structure at Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park, in Nanaimo’s South Wellington area.
Built by the Pacific Coal Company, the 22.5-metre-tall headframe and tipple structure were used to load coal into railroad cars for transport. It was the first of its kind in the Nanaimo region and is one of only two structures of its kind left in North America. The structure was recognized as a national historic site in 1971. The provincial park was established in 1972 to protect the deteriorating site. In April 2019, the province contributed $1.4 million to the Friends of Morden Mine’s efforts to conserve the historic pieces.
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The restoration work, completed by B.C. Parks, the heritage branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development and the Friends of Morden Mine, presented unique challenges, which included stabilizing the structure with 16 shipping containers and extensive shoring for workers, due to the deterioration and large spans in the headframe. Some of the shipping containers weighed almost 8,000 kilograms and had to be threaded between the ruin’s fragile posts and beams with just centimetres of clearance on either side.
“Friends of Morden Mine are so pleased that this has finally happened. It feels wonderful to come and look up at the headframe and know it will not fall over,” Sandra Larocque, Friends of Morden Mine president, who lobbied for years to preserve the site, said in a press release. “Preserving this structure is important so future generations can see how it was done on a real-life scale. It’s amazing to see everyone be able to see history, as a picture cannot do it justice.”
For more information about Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park, visit http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/morden/.