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100 Years of History at Coates Mitre 10

Coates Mitre 10 Home & Trade Lithgow has come a long ways since its humble beginnings in 1906. It started out as a small bush mill behind Charles Moores House at “Norman Lea” near Hampton. Charles Moore is the Great Great Grandfather of Michael Coates, who is the present owner of the business.

The mill moved in 1909, to a small property called “Ingleside” situated on the Jenolan Caves Road. The property was purchased by George Coates when he married Emily Ivy Moore (the daughter of Charles Moore).

The mill operated on the site until 1917 when it was burnt out by a bush fire.

George moved the operation into Main Street Lithgow after the fire and the business is still operating from the same location 83 years on.

George Coates went into partnership with his brother Tom in the early twenties. The business traded as “Coates Brothers”. Tragically, Tom was killed in a horrific Mill accident in 1934.

Harold started full time work in the mill in 1932 at the age of 15. He went on to complete his trade as a Carpenter and Joiner.

Harold talks fondly of the early days through the depression years. His day would start at 5Am when he would go down to fire up the boilers in the steam engine that powered the saws.

In those days the logs were delivered by bullock drawn wagons or via the rail system to Bowenfels. Most of the logging was done on the Newnes Plateau.

During the War, the mill was considered an essential service and the employees were not eligible to join the armed forces. The mill was kept busy supplying materials for temporary housing for the Small Arms Factory workers and for Factory extensions.

George retired in 1944 when Harold took over the business.

In 1960 Harold’s son Ian started work. Harold’s role in the business diminished when he was elected to State Parliament in 1965.

During the 60’s as many as 43 people were employed in the Joinery and Mill. In 1971, the saw milling operations ceased and a new self-service hardware shop was built. This was one of the first of its kind in Country NSW.

Over the next 25 years, Ian saw the company through many changes in the Building Industry, including the introduction of prefabricated Frames and Trusses, Aluminium Windows and mass-produced doors and mouldings.

Michael and Lisa Coates have operated the business since 1994. Michael is the fifth generation family member involved.

Coates Mitre 10 Home & Trade Lithgow currently employs 24 people and supplies a wide range of goods and services to the Lithgow District.

It is a very different business to the one that started at “Norman Lea” 100 years ago. It will continue to change with the times and will proudly continue to serve the Lithgow Community for many generations to come.

1906 - 2006 A Glimpse At The Past  Click on image for a larger view

This is the earliest known Photo of our saw milling past. This photo was taken at “Ingleside” near Hampton. Notice the Bullock teams used to haul the logs to the Mill, probably from Genolan. This photo was probably taken some time around 1912. This mill was destroyed by fire in 1917.

The people who started the whole show. From left to right George and Ivy Coates with Ivy’s parents Sarah and Charles Moore. Charlie’s family had been doing some milling from their family property called “Normanlea” at Hampton. He got George started in the business when George was courting his daughter.

This photo was taken around 1938 on the Newnes Plateau.


This is the Coates Team when we celebrated our 40th Birthday. We think we have identified everyone in the photo as follows (from Left to right). Reg Fairolough, Margaret Thompson, Harold Coates, Betty Ford, Snow Northey, Harry James, John Watters, Joyce Blae, Jack Gidley, Fred Evans, Jim Bain, Hubert Venables.

Here we are taking part in a Lithgow Parade.
We are not sure of the year.


Ian and Harold putting the last log through the old saw bench in 1971. That’s the year we closed the saw mill to make way for our new hardware store.

This is a photo of Ian Coates and Ken Boyd taken in about 1970. They were have a competition to see who could grow the best beard

This is a photo of some of our vehicles, new and old. This photo was probably taken in the late sixties.

George and Ivy George and Charles moved the sawmill to Ingleside at Hampton in 1906. They formed a partnership call "Moore and Coates" and operated as "Normanlea Sawmills and Timber Yards. George married Charles' daughter Ivy in 1913. In 1917 the sawmill was burnt out by a bush fire. George moved the operation to Lithgow where he went into partnership with his brother Tom. The business then traded as "Coates Bros". Tom was killed in a mill accident in 1934.

This is a photo of Ian Coates on a our “Twin Canadian” saw bench. This was a part of the state of the art saw mill installed around 1970

Another parade photo. It seems we liked going in parades. Notice the phone number “140”



Log truck with Burner. – This is a photo of one of our logging trucks. It must have been taken during the war because it is fitted with a gas burner thingy behind the cabin which were in use while Petrol was scarce. The photo is taken at the garage which is now Lithgow Bike Stop.

Sarah and Charles
Sarah and Charles Moore lived at Normanlea near Hampton. Charles conducted a saw milling operation on the property in the 1800's and early 1900's. Charles went into partnership with George Coates when George started courting Charles' daughter Ivy

Harold and Kit Harold and his sister Norma purchased the business from their father in 1944 and operated as a partnership called "G Coates and Sons" Harold later became the sole proprietor. The business was first incorporated in 1956 and became "G Coates and sons Pty Ltd"

Ian and Gail Ian started in the business full time from 1960. Ian oversaw the cessation of Logging and milling operations in 1970 and oversaw the transition from what was essentially a bush sawmill to a modern retail facility. Ian and Gail purchased the business from Harold and Kit in 1975. Ian retired after 34 years at the helm in 1994.

Mike and Lisa Mike started full time employment in the business in 1988. Mike and Lisa purchased the business from Ian and Gail in 1994.

The business changed its name to "Coates Home Centre Pty Ltd". The most noticeable change to the business in the last decade has been the addition of the Garden Centre, which has proved to be a great addition. Mike and Lisa's two Children - Ashlie and Alex both love to help out around the store during their holiday breaks. Who knows, there may even be a sixth generation taking the reins in years to come.