I’ve not visited the Beaconsfield Mine site since 2012, six years after the Beaconsfield Mine disaster that claimed the life of Larry Knight and kept Todd Russell and Brant Webb trapped underground for two weeks. Goldmining at Beaconsfield has quite a history.
Gold was first discovered at Beaconsfield in 1847. Underground mining began in 1879 with the sinking and development of three main shafts to access the reef: the Hart Shaft, the Main Shaft and the Grubb Shaft. Beaconsfield became the richest gold town in Tasmania. In 1881 there were 53 companies working the field.
In 1903 the Tasmanian Gold Mining Company Ltd was formed when an English company bought the Tasmanian Gold Mining and Quartz Crushing Company. By then, water had become such a huge problem at the mine that a substantial injection of capital was required to purchase and operate suitable dewatering equipment. Gold was extracted from the two shafts adjacent to each other: the Grubb and Hart Shafts. In 1904 engine houses were built at these shafts, together with a central boiler house. These buildings now house the Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre.
The mine was closed in 1914 because of regular flooding. I remember visiting the site in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1999, the mine reopened. In 2012, it was closed again.
If you are in northern Tasmania, the Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre is well worth a visit. While my main interest is in the buildings above ground, there’s plenty of information about the mining activities, the machinery, and the history of the region. Here are three of the photographs I took during my last visit in 2012.