My Three Sons
The Cooper’s Lime Kilns are barely visible in Lighthouse Park, Mindarie, but they are there. If you walk along the paths at the end of Anchorage Drive you will find them tucked away in the park.
There are two kilns, a big and small one, which have been fenced off to preserve what remains.
The two limestone kilns were built by Henry Cooper and his three sons Harry, Daniel and Atholl. Built in 1932, the kilns were strategically located to take advantage of the prevailing winds and the abundance of high quality limestone close to the coast. During this time lime production played an important role in the gold industry and especially in Western Australia’s Eastern goldfields.
The kilns also played a significant role in providing much needed work for the community during the economic depression which Australia was in the midst of during this time.
All Fired Up
The limestone was quarried and then fired in the kilns for 2-3 days at extremely high temperatures (above 880 degrees Celsius) in order to produce lime. Both kilns operated in tandem, whilst one was fired the other was being emptied and loaded. The lime was collected from the openings at the bottom of the kilns and then bagged for delivery to Fremantle . From Fremantle the bagged lime was sent to the goldfields, where it was used as a fluxing agent in gold extraction.
A Fortunate Life
Two of Henry’s Sons, Daniel and Harry lived nearby (with their families) in shacks which were built from jarrah saplings and lime bags.
The lime kilns provided work for up to twelve people at a time. The most interesting of Henry’s employees were Albert Facey and his father who worked as lime burners in 1934.
The kilns ceased production in the 1940’s when the quality lime was exhausted. The construction and design of both kilns are considered to be unusual and rare and deemed of important architectural significance. Albert wrote about his experience at Quinns Rocks in his novel “A Fortunate Life”.