Denniston was always a working town; its life was the coal. The community at Denniston served no other purpose than to support the operations of the coal mines and the incline. Denniston (named after R.B. Denniston, the company’s surveyor and colliery manager) was the bleak jewel in the Westport Coal Company’s crown. It was also the country's most productive coalfield. From its offices in Water Street, Dunedin, Westport Coal collaborated with the Union Steam Ship Company to dominate the colony’s fuel and transport industries. Between 1879 and 1967, 13 million tonnes of coal was sent down the incline to Union Steam Ship Company colliers at nearby Westport.