11 July, 2010

The Kingston Alluvial Field

From: The History of Ballarat, from the first pastoral settlement to the present time, with plans, illustrations and original documents.

By William Bramwell Withees, Journalist, published in Ballarat by FW Niven & Co., 1887, at pps. 225 ff.

"For many years the alluvial deposits in Ballarat Proper have been exhausted, and the bulk of gold won in the Central Division has been quartz gold. This was foreseen in 1870, when the first edition of this History appeared ; but a great revival of alluvial mining began in the Creswick Division in the early seventies. This was caused by the success of Graham, Brawn, and others at Broomfield Gully, in shallow ground. Their success led to the starting of the Lewer's Freehold Company on the 22nd July, 1872, the first party comprising Messrs. W. P. Jones, S. Fyson, H. Gore, T. Rossell, W. Curten, E. and G. Daws, Rev. J. Wagg, W. J. Gillard, R. Henden, J. Riordan, J. M. Davies, G. West- cott, Alex. Stewart, W. Saville, and Alex. Rogers.

"The first washing was on the 8th April, 1873, when 28 oz. of gold were obtained. This led to a great rush ; the shallow ground was traced till the famous De Murska, Ristori, Lone Hand, and Madame Berry gutters were discovered, and nearly the whole of the country between Creswick and the Loddon taken up for mining. The rich deposits and the deep ground recalled the old days of Ballarat itself, and the locality is now the only largely productive alluvial field in Victoria. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the whole of the territory was private property, the Birches and the Hepburns, of the pastoral epoch, or their successors, vendees or assigns, being lords of the soil.

"The fortunate element was the freedom from the jumper and the other risks of Crown land regulations ; the unfortunate element was the royalty tax imposed upon the miner by the land-owners. Early in 1875, by which time the shallow rush had reached the edge of deep deposits and given expectation of a large and profitable field, a band of Ballarat capitalists bought 6000 acres of Birch's estate from Alexander Wilson, the owner at that time. This band consisted of Messrs. M. Loughlin, W. Bailey, E. C. Moore, J. A. Chalk, R. Orr, D. Ham, E. Morey, and H. Gore, who called their company the Seven Hills Estate Company. The company was registered under the Trading Companies' Statute, in 200 shares of £250 each, and their land was taken up by the famous Ristori, West Ristori, Louglilin, West Louglilin, Lone Hand, Lord Harry, Berry Consols, and Madame Berry G.M. Companies, upon whom a royalty of seven and a-half per cent, of the gold won was levied, with one per cent, extra when an extension of leases was required. In May, 1881, the Seven Hills Estate Company was registered in 10,000 shares of £20 each, but very few of the original company's shares changed hands, and the new company has never numbered more tlian fifteen shareholders. The company under its first organisation received £28,600 in dividends, and up to the 18th April last £138,885 under the new organisation, including £18,834 received assrazine rents from surface lessees.

"Thus we have an instance of a large sum (£148,651) being taken from the miner which, upon the theory that the gold belongs to the Crown, ought not to have been taken from him, and an instance of a very successful speculation which has already paid for the land more than four times over, and leaves still the estate intact, barring, indeed, some surface damage here and there, and the certainty of other mining royalties yet to accrue. But the ability to pay such a large aggregate of royalty proves the richness of the alluvium and the success of the mining investors.

"Thus the dead Ristori Company (12,000 shares of £1) obtained 104,224 oz. 10 dwt. 12 gr. of gold, value £430,918 16s. 4d. ; paid £32,153 14s. 2d. in royalty, and divided £16 14s. 5d. per share. The dead Ristori West Company (20,000 shares of £1) obtained 38,491 oz. 5 dwt. of gold, value £158,409 15s. Id. ; paid £12,707 9s. 8d. in royalty, and £3 14s. 5Jd. per 20,000th share in dividends. The dead De Murska Company (8000 £2 shares) obtained £76,600 Is. 2d. worth of gold, paid £5743 9s. 10d. in royalty, and £28,200 in dividends upon £8800 called up.

"The dead Lone Hand Company (12,000 shares of £1 10s.) obtained 126,146 oz. 3 dwt. 3 gr. of gold, value £522,162 17s. 3d.; paid in royalty £39,163 Is. 3d., and in dividends £242,700, the paid up capital being £15,300. But the still live and flourishing Madame Berry Company (18,000 shares of £1 10s.) puts all the others into shadow, for it has obtained already 160,592 oz, 11 dwt. of gold, value £656,464 18s. 5d. ; has paid in royalty £49,177 13s. lid., and £21 8s. per share, or an aggregate of £385,200 in dividends, with only 17s. odd paid up per share.

"This was up to the 18th April last, and the company has apparently a long and prosperous life still before it. This is the richest of all the Kingston mines, and its works are extensive, as already (June 1887) there have been over nine miles of drives excavated in auriferous wash, a mile and a-half excavated in reef, or bed rock, and forty rises put up from six to 157 feet in height, or an average of 30 feet each. The West Loughlin and Berry Consols have not yet become productive mines. The Hepburn Estate is in gold, the Berry No. 1 beginning to open up wash, and it and the Consols will soon, apparently, be productive, the Hepburn Estate and Berry No. 1 being liable to the same royalty rate as that in the claims before catalogued, though outside the Seven Hills Estate. The Lord Harry and Earl Beaconsfield mines are likely to be producing gold before long, and a host of progressive companies stretch out the line of ventures to the borders of the Loddon Valley."

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