Lucknow: a golden story, 1878 to 1898

In three months of 1896, 50,000 ounces of gold were taken from the field, largely from the ‘brown vein’, the year’s product being worth over £250,000.

Source: Orange District Guide

CS Wilkinson, the geological surveyor, reported in May 1881 that Reform, a private company, was the only company mining ore. It was working a deep vein, known as the Uncle Tom, at a depth of 387 feet (125 metres). To raise capital for expansion, the New Reform Gold Mining Company was floated in 1881 and the old company was wound up early in 1882. New Reform flourished until the late 1880s and by 1884 it had acquired a twelve-stamp battery.

Henry Newman was also managing the Fredericks Valley Gold Mining Company Ltd, which was formed in 1884 with English capital, headed by the Duke of Manchester. This company controlled the mines immediately adjacent to the New Reform, using the shafts of the Golden Point and the Shamrock to access deep seams. A ten-head battery was installed; together with a buddle (a buddle is a trough where crushed ore is washed with running water to flush away any impurities). There was a new winding engine, generating 10 hp, a new boiler and a 25 hp engine to power the battery and dewater the Golden Point shaft, now down to 100 metres.

Despite all this activity, with New Reform Pups and also a new Jackass Gold Mining Company, production faltered at the end of the 1880s. Newman was then responsible for finding a way of revitalising the field. He did this by creating the second major company bearing the name of Wentworth.

By 1894, Wentworth Proprietary was employing 232 men and had lowered the New Reform shaft to a depth of 160 metres. Across Fredericks Valley Creek in 1894, a new company, the D’Arcy Estates Gold Mining Company NL, was sinking its main shaft under the management of the American, WA Irwin, who had been brought to Lucknow by Gardner. This was the first and only shaft sunk on the east side of the Creek.

By 1898, the village and mines of Lucknow was alive with activity. The four shafts now operated by Wentworth Proprietary brought employment to more than 500 men, who enjoyed electric light and electric signalling in every shaft. The number of stamps had increased to thirty-five, and new battery boxes were made on site in the company’s own foundry. Despite this increased capacity the best ore could assay as high as 1,500 ounces of gold to the ton which was still sent abroad for crushing. 





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