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Melrose – The New Goldfield

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The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, Sat 14 Jun 1890

Melrose – The New Goldfield.

(from our special reporter.)

MELROSE, June 9.

Twelve months ago Melrose was unknown. To-day it boasts a population of between, five and six hundred inhabitants, and its interests are shared by thousands of persons in the Australasian colonies. As Hillgrove is to Armidale, so is Melrose to Uralla. The last-mentioned township is regarded by the Melrosians as ‘headquarters.’ and a constant run of traffic is kept up, not withstanding the fact (undisputed by those acquainted with it) that the road is one of the worst in the colony. The position of the field is about equidistant in an easterly direction from Armidale and Uralla, and the distance is said to be about 30 miles, but this measurement greatly depends, first, upon the weather, and, next, upon the means by which one travels. For instance, a drive out on a fine day behind Mr. Jim Bonnar’s spanking pair would convince one that a short 30 would cover it, whereas a ride in at nighttime after rain would argue in favour of a long 60. To quote a cautious member of the Society of Friends, ‘It all depends.’ Let that pass. From Uralla we will call it 30. The road from this town has some advantages, passing as it does through pretty Gostwyck, one of the most picturesque holdings of the colony; and being situated 15 miles nearer Sydney, on the railway, Uralla, with some improvements in mail communication, is likely to hold its own.

Various obstacles, including some 19 gates, having been overcome, we arrive at Mr. King’s half-way accommodation house ; and thence, through a series of swamps and bogholes, to the township of Melrose. As is usual in mining centres, the town ship is far ahead of the field. The speculative spirit is evinced in the commercial surroundings as well as in the development of the mines, and future prospects rather than present requirements govern the case. Three hotels flourish in the hands of Messrs. Martyn, Burraston, and Gardiner respectively; a skating rink and general ball of entertainment is run by Mr. Parkiss; stores by Messrs. Pearson and McCrossin, of Uralla, are evidently stocked with a view to future emergencies, and various other needs are more than supplied. In one important particular the Government has been neglectful. With 123 children in the immediate neighbourhood, there is no provision whatever for their educational necessities. No teacher has been appointed, nor school established. Of course, the reply of the Department to oft-repeated applications is the ever-ready word, ‘shortly,’ but in the meantime the children are running wild and losing the precious advantages of youth.

The descent to the mines may be compared to that from Hillgrove, though in the case of Melrose the township is fortunately partly down the gorge, and thus the distance is shortened. Besides this, thanks to the enterprise of the Enmore Consolidated Mining Company, a good road-siding has been made at an easy gradient of about one in four.

Chief interest is at present centred in the operations of this company, for upon the result of the first crushing, now going on, depends in a large measure the fate of the field, or at any rate its immediate development. Capitalists are eagerly watching progress of events. As far as can be judged, shareholders will have every reason to congratulate themselves on their speculation. Without indulging in extravagant hopes, it may be confidently anticipated that for 200 tons likely to be crushed by the date of ‘cleaning up’ (15th instant) the yield of smelted gold will run into four figures. With a working expense not exceeding, say, half an ounce per ton, it will readily be seen that should even this moderate estimate be realised the mine should pay.

The history of the mine dates from July last, when Messrs. McKay (the owner of the Enmore run, on which the field is situated), Robson, McCrossin, and McClelland struck the reef. The lodes are situated on a spur between Postman’s and Gorge creeks, having their trend into the latter creek. These creeks are about 1200ft. below the top of the main tableland and within three-quarters of a mile of the same. From the top of the spur on which the outcrop of the lodes was discovered into Gorge Creek is 400ft. perpendicularly. The stone at once commended itself to capitalists, and after a trial crushing showing 11oz. of good gold for 4 tons taken from a drive 30ft. below the cap of the lode a company was successfully floated, and Mr. John Lewis was appointed manager. Since the beginning of October an enormous amount of work has been accomplished. The captain has had to work against very heavy odds. The road above mentioned, extending over a mile in length, for the conveyance of the machinery to the battery, was constructed in little more than a month. One thousand feet of driving and 200ft. of winze sinking have been accomplished, besides the erection of an extensive battery, and this in spite of an extraordinarily wet season. Work was commenced at the cap of the lode about 400ft, above the creek, and a winze has been sunk 52ft. to No. 1 tunnel, which is now driven 128ft. on the lode, and rich stone has been obtained. A second winze is down 50ft. to No. 2 tunnel, which is driven 120ft. A winze of 50ft. connects this with No. 3. Gold is found all through, and the reef averages, say 18in. No. 4 tunnel is 300ft. below the cap of the lode, and on this level 200ft. of driving has been done — 100ft. on the course of the lode, which is here 6in. to 12in. wide.

Most of the work is let by contract, and the men employed are making rather more than average wages — miners, 9s per day ; labourers, 8s 4d. Sixteen miners are employed, six stone-breakers, eight men in the battery, and one for trucking quartz. The contract price for stone-getting is 15s per ton, and for breaking 2s 11d.

The machinery and means of transit to the battery are constructed with careful regard to economy of working and gold-saving. All the levels are connected with a large hopper at the foot of the hill by a shoot, which passes all the different tunnels, out of which the stone is tipped on to a plat, there broken and tipped through a grating into the shoot. From the large hopper it is conveyed by short tram to the battery. The battery consists of 10-head stamper, made by Messrs. Langlands and Co., Melbourne, driven by a 20-h.p. portable engine by Marshall, two self-acting ore-feeders, a 5ft. Huntingdon mill (imported by Messrs. Park and Lacy), and the necessary copper plates, blanket tables, &c. The plates at the Huntingdon mill are electro-plated. At the battery the quartz is tipped into a large hopper directly above the self-feeders ; it is reduced in the battery and passes through a punch grating, 200 holes to square inch. The pulp flows over the copper plates and blanket tables and into pyramidal troughs, where the water is separated from the pulp to a large extent, so as to admit of its passing through the mill, which mill, it may be noted, takes the whole of the tailings, regrinds them, and delivers through a screen 1600 holes to the square inch. After some experience, the manager considers these mills eminently adapted for regrinding the tailings from the battery. The whole was erected by Mr. E. Doherty, of Ballarat, at a contract price of £196, and with complete satisfaction. A very neat piece of work in connection with the battery was the excellent joining and making of the mercury troughs, &c., executed by Mr. E. Purkiss. It will be seen that the utmost care has been taken to save the gold, and as this is valued at as much as £4 1s a comparatively small average should pay well. Other reefs on the company’s property have been prospected, but are not yet sufficiently developed to warrant an opinion as to their future value.

In concluding notice of this mine, too much praise cannot be given the respected manager, Captain Lewis, for the extraordinary energy and skill he has brought to bear in developing this mine so completely, in the face of difficulties against which few mine managers have had to contend.

Houghton’s Blocks, alias ‘Jimmy the Reefer’s,’ has made rapid progress in public favour, and was next visited. The first reef was discovered by James Houghton in October last, and since that date no time has been lost There are about 60 tons of stone at grass. Two shafts have been sunk, and good gold struck on reefs about 18in. and 2ft. wide respectively. A tunnel is being driven, and Mr. Morgan, managing on behalf of a syndicate, anticipates the best results. A trial crushing by Messrs. Park and Lacy yielded an average of 2oz. 5dwt. The area extends over 29 acres, and is apparently gold-bearing country right through. The property has recently been brought prominently forward in connection with attempted ‘jumping ‘ on the part of an individual who had a fancy for what is known as the ‘wedge-shaped’ block. It would have been an acquisition, no doubt, but the warden could only see another instance of the necessity for mining-law reform, and gave the case against the jumper.

Adjoining Houghton’s blocks, on the north-west side, is King and Doolan’s 8-acre block, showing a large formation nearly 7ft. in width, having two well defined walls, carrying stone averaging 1oz. per ton in free gold, but being heavily charged with pyrites it is impossible to estimate the value until assayed.

Passing through Hunter and party’s 10-acre block, with reef on the cap showing gold, we come to the Louisa, where considerable work has been done. A tunnel has been driven 100ft. through blue slate country, with a view to cutting Houghton’s reef in the underlay. The country is good, and the gold, if struck, should live. The four men who are working the claim so industriously have evidently great faith in their property.

On Carter’s block of 10 acres a quantity of trenching and cutting has been done, and three shafts sunk. The influx of surface water has greatly hindered operations on this as on many other portions of the field. Two shafts the men were compelled to abandon on that account.

At Sunnyside, or Maid of the Valley, a gold bearing reef of about 6ft. wide has been struck. Here, too, the stone is heavily charged with pyrites.

At the Hand-in-Hand, a 20-acre block, a wide reef varying from 3-9ft. is being opened up, and the testings so far show promise of good results.

The Granville Gold-mining Company, recently floated for £40,000, has an area of 28 acres in two blocks, on one of which they have a strong reef 6ft. in width carrying gold. There is another shaft down 52ft., showing a body of stone 1ft. to 18in. wide. Economy of working will be a strong feature of this claim, there being little expense in landing large quantities at grass. The Granville North adjoins the above and contains an area of 36 acres, on which fine reefs have been opened on the caps. In driving the tunnel a reef was crossed showing width of 13ft, and carrying a little gold all through. A shaft is down about 14ft on the line of the Granville Reef, and gold is showing. The claim is, comparatively speaking, undeveloped.

Messrs. Walsh Brothers’ blocks adjoin the Junction claim near the Consolidated, and consist of two blocks, comprising nearly 14 acres. The reef is exposed for a distance of 5 chains in length, carrying gold in the caps all the way. There are also four other reefs on this land, but only opened on the cap. They all carry gold.

At Dangar and party’s claim a reef has been opened up, and at a depth of 14ft is shown to be 2ft. wide carrying gold.

At No. 1 North (McCrossin’s), adjoining the Enmore Consolidated, a considerable amount of work has been done. A tunnel of over 100ft. has been driven, with a view to cutting the reef on the line of the Consolidated ; but another 100ft. will probably have to be driven before the line be reached.

The Eureka, having an area of 12 acres, shows an outcrop in the open cutting, the reef being from 6ft. to 8ft. wide and bearing good indications. The cap of this reef may be seen the whole length of the 12 acres, and it is believed to be a true fissure lode. A company has been formed for its development, and it promises well.

The adjoining claim is the Lord Hopetoun No. 1, with an area of 20 acres, on the same line of reef. At the open cutting, where the reef is now exposed, there is a body of stone 6ft. 3in. wide. A shaft to cut the reef at 65ft. is now down 37ft., and in this a crosscut leader has been met with 3in. wide, carrying good gold, and going into the main reef. The Lord Hopetoun promises to be not far behind some of the best shows on the field. Last, but by no means least, is the latest find on the field, the ‘Sliprails,’ situated five miles on the Armidale side of Melrose. The prospectors’ area consists of a 10-acre lease application, and the outcrop of reef shows the great width of 17ft., having footwall in the granite and hanging wall in slate. Various samples have been taken from right across the reef, and have realised about 1oz. to the ton. A shaft is now down about 12ft. on the reef, and prospects even better than on the surface. It is believed and hoped that the reef will narrow as it goes down. The mine is in the hands of an energetic syndicate, amongst whom may be mentioned three of the prospectors of Enmore Consolidated, and also the manager of that mine. It may, therefore, confidently be said the best will be done to secure good results. In summing up the prospects of Melrose, it must be admitted that they are very encouraging. For the short period of its existence there is ample evidence of good work, begotten of faith in the field, having been done, and though all are anxiously waiting the result of the crushing at the Consolidated, even were this not as satisfactory as to all appearances it is going to be, there would still be good and sufficient reason for believing that sooner or later Melrose will be one of the paying goldfields of the colony.

Written by macalba

March 29, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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2 Responses

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  1. So many holes being dug in the ground!
    I had to lookup “winze” – “a shaft or inclined passage leading from one level to another, but not rising to the surface”.


    March 29, 2018 at 9:10 pm

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