Gold was first discovered in Beaconsfield in 1847 but it was not until 1877, when the Dally brothers discovered the cap of a payable gold reef on the eastern slope of Cabbage Tree Hill, that the intensive mining of the area really began. This reef later became known as the famous Tasmania Reef.
The surrounding town began its early life as ‘Brandy Creek’ because of the colour of the water in the creek where the gold was originally discovered. The growing civic consciousness led to the demand for a new name for the town and in March 1879 Brandy Creek was renamed Beaconsfield, after Lord Beaconsfield, (Benjamin Disraeli), then Prime Minister of England.
In 1903 an English company bought the Tasmanian Gold Mining and Quartz Crushing Company and formed the Tasmanian Gold Mining Company Ltd. The Company began extracting ore laden with gold from two shafts adjacent to each other, the Grubb and Hart Shafts. As flooding of the mine had become such a huge problem, ongoing capital was required for pumping equipment, some of which were ground breaking feats of engineering for the time. Between 1904 and 1905 engine houses were built for the Grubb and Hart Shafts with a central boiler house. This was reputedly the ‘largest and most extensive mine pumping plant in the world’. These buildings now house the Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre, an excellent visitor centre. Alas the steam pumping engines have not survived.
The infamous Beaconsfield Mine collapse occurred on 25 April 2006. Of the seventeen people who were in the mine at the time, fourteen escaped immediately following the collapse, one was killed and the remaining two were found alive using a remote-controlled device. These two miners were rescued on 9th May 2006, two weeks after being trapped nearly a kilometre below the surface.
The Beaconsfield Gold Mine, was one of the biggest gold mines in Australia. It is estimated that the mine produced 1.95 million ounces of gold during its existence.
The mine closed in June 2012.
Attribution: Beaconsfield Mine & Heirtage Centre, Wikipedia, Mining Technology website.