1861-1899 Timeline

Note: This page is a constant work-in-progress, with new information and corrections being made all the time. To search on the “1861-1899 Timeline” for any particular year, person, event, business, shop etc, simply press CTRL+F and type in the thing you are looking for in the small box that will appear on the screen.


Chinese miners fossicking for gold in a gully near Beechworth.

The 1861 Census states that there are 372 Chinese at the ‘Pennyweight Flat’. The large drop in Chinese numbers suggests tensions and dissatisfaction – caused by drought and lack of gold – has seen many Chinese depart the area, as the figures for September 1859 showed 1,347 Chinese in the camp.

1861 – Jan

The Beechworth Courthouse – opened in 1858 – now has five different courts being held within the building – General Sessions, Petty Sessions (Magistrates’ Court), County Court, Supreme Court, and the Gold Fields Local Court (Court of Mines).

Three other courts will be added to sessions held at the ‘Beechworth Courthouse’ over the coming years – Court of Insolvency (from 1871 to 1928), Licensing Court (from 1885 to 1917) and a Children’s Court (from 1907 to 1989).

1861 – Jan 24

An image of the Stanely township in 1890 (photo: Chris Dormer)

The Victoria Government Gazette publishes the announcement that Stanley – 10km from Beechworth – has been officially gazetted as a ‘town’. Three ‘suburbs’ will develop within Stanley – ‘Little Scotland’, ‘Little Ireland’ and a Chinese Village, and by 1866 Stanley supports around 4,000 people. At the height of the goldrush in Stanley, up to 6 ounces of gold are extracted every day.

Stanley will be stripped of its township status in 1994 following the amalgamation of local shires into the new ‘Shire of Indigo’ as an official local government area.


The population of nearby Wangaratta stands at 612 permanent citizens and has not yet acquired the status of a municipality. Some in the government view Wangaratta as having little importance and regard it as a swampy, flood prone area of land. By contrast, Beechworth has become the central area of Government administration, the judicial headquarters of the Police District, and the commercial hub of the area … and the first section of the Beechworth Gaol has just opened.


W. T. Hing, a successful and prominent member of Beechworth’s Chinese community, builds an attractive little home at 2 Finch Street. The cottage features granite quoining, tuck-pointed brickwork, bay and arched windows, pressed metal ceilings, open fireplaces, hallway arches and Victorian cornicing and skirting-boards. It still stands today.


‘Bellevue’ as it looked in the 1960s, around 100 years after it was built.

An impressive new two-storey residence – Bellevue – is completed at 9 William Street in Beechworth for Henry Thomas Littlewood, co-owner the popular Manchester House store. In April 1865 Bellevue is purchased by Mr M. McCormack and by 1866 it is owned by Mr. J Tisley who operates it as a boarding house. The two-level brick structure features granite dressings, a shingle roof and balcony and balustrade to the upper floor, with distinctive French doors opening onto the balcony and verandah. At the rear is a single storey section containing two short wings divided by a skillion-roofed central living area. Set on a large block of land featuring a number of brick and timber outbuildings including stables, Bellevue is one of the largest surviving 19th century residences in Beechworth and is now included on the Victorian Heritage Register.

A recent photo of ‘Bellevue’ at 9 Williams Street

1861 – Feb                   

The Public Recreation Reserve is cleared and enlarged, and by June 1862 the Jockey and Cricket Club control the Reserve.

1861 – Apr                   

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Philip Le Couteur

34-year-old Philip Le Couteur announces that he has produced the first wine ever made in the district.  Le Couteur Avenue opposite Beechworth Primary School is named in his honour. Others had already planted vines at Beechworth – including John Richmond and Hungarian-born Julius Albert von Rochlitz – but had not yet successfully produced wine. A German, Mr. Zimmerman, announces that he has purchased land with the intention of planting vines and producing wine.

1861 – Apr 26

At a meeting at Frederick ‘Fritz’ Dreyer’s Corner Hotel, the first Beechworth Football Club is formed, and will play its first game – a ‘practice match’ involving 40 players – on April 27th on the Beechworth Cricket Ground at Baarmutha Park. However, the Beechworth Football Club will not compete in its first ‘formal game’ until 1872.

By 1885 there will be two football teams in Beechworth – the ‘Beechworth Football Club’ and the ‘Wanderers Football Club’, which is based at Hurdle Flat near Stanley. The two teams play informally, both against one another and against teams from other nearby mining settlements, such as Yackandandah, Chiltern and Rutherglen. In 1886 the ‘Beechworth Mechanics Football Club’ is founded, followed by the ‘Two Mile Rovers Football Club’. The ‘Mechanics’ and the ‘Rovers’ will merge with the Beechworth Football Club in 1892. 


William Wilkinson Wardell – one of Victoria’s most important and acclaimed architects.

With prisoners moving into the first cells of the Beechworth Gaol in July 1860, work continues on new sections, with construction of the division walls, kitchen & store, washing shed, airing yards, and a Watch House for female Warders now being completed. Designed by the colony’s official Government Architect 38-year-old William Wardell (above) – who also designs St Patrick’s Cathedral and Victoria’s Government House – it will be completed by 1864 and is initially intended to house 25 male and 5 female prisoners, although these numbers will soon be revised upwards.

Amongst Beechworth Gaol’s more ‘infamous’ inmates are Ned Kelly and his mother Ellen Kelly. The Gaol is decommissioned in December 2004, but still stands and is now open for guided tours. Journalist Derryn Hinch spends 12 days incarcerated in the old Beechworth Gaol in 1985 for contempt of court. 

1861 – Jul 22               

James Ingram

A public meeting led by James Ingram initiates the creation of the Ovens Benevolent Asylum to provide accommodation, care and relief for ‘the aged, infirm, permanently disabled and destitute’. This includes gold miners who are permanently injured; women and children who are penniless, homeless, or whose parents were guests of the State.


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Beechworth Solicitors Office today at 22 Camp Street

William Lawrence Zincke opens his own law firm – Zincke and Martin Solicitors – with his senior legal partner Frederick Martin at 22 Camp Street. It still stands and operates as a legal practice today.

William Zincke plays the cello with the popular ‘Beechworth String Ensemble’. He marries Mary Laurence in Beechworth in 1869 and they have six children.


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The original weatherboard ‘Plough Inn’ at Tarrawingee

During the first land sales at Tarrawingee, 21 km from Beechworth, Hopton Nolan purchases a block of land and builds The Plough Inn, a new weatherboard hotel. It sits on the main road between Wangaratta, El Dorado and Beechworth. Now a brick building, The Plough Inn still operates from this site today.

After marrying Jane De St. Legier in Beechworth in 1856, Nolan had become the proprietor of the ‘Sun Hotel’ in Stanley before deciding to build his own hotel in Tarrawingee. The Nolan family will remain the owners and operators of ‘The Plough Inn’ for the next 160 years!

1861 – Aug 1          

Main Street of El Dorado looking south up Mackay Street. The Star Hotel is on right.

16km from Beechworth, the El Dorado Post Office opens in the small gold-mining settlement of El Dorado beside Silver Creek.

Between 1935 and 1936 a large steel dredge is designed and built by ‘Thompson’s Engineering’ for the ‘Cocks Eldorado Gold Dredging Company’. The dredge has 110 digging buckets, each of which can dig and lift 0.3 cubic metres of soil. By the time it is decommissioned in 1954 the dredge has turned over a massive 30 million cubic metres from the river flats of the El Dorado Plain, producing 70,664 ounces of gold and 1,383 tons of tin concentrate. ‘Cock’s Eldorado Dredge’ is one of only two complete bucket dredges in Victoria and the largest, most intact gold dredge in Australia.


Cabinet makers and furniture dealers Senglemann & Reidle open a successful business at 34 Ford Street.

After 45 years in business, Henry Claus Senglemann and Joseph Reidle sell the property in 1906 and the building is turned into a Skating Rink, a popular amusement at the time. When motor cars come into fashion, it is converted to the ‘Golden Era Service Station’, which remains there to this day.

1861 – Sep 2

The original ‘Union Bridge’ over the Murray River (image: Albury & District Historical Society)

With much fanfare, the first bridge over the Murray River at Albury – finally linking New South Wales and Victoria – is completed. The two-lane Union Bridge – between Albury and Belvoir (Wodonga) – is officially opened when Miss Chauncey, daughter of the Roads Superintendent, breaks a bottle of champagne in the middle of the timber bridge. (The new bridge replaces the river punt that has been crossing the river since 1843.) The bridge has been constructed by Americans Adam Casner Kidd and William ‘Billy’ Barnwell Brickell at a cost of almost £7,500. Kidd and Brickell naturally invite everyone back to their pub, the Exchange Hotel in Albury, to continue celebrations and drinks after the official ceremony! (Somebody jokes it’s too bad that Kidd and Brickell’s punt had sunk two weeks previously, forcing the authorities to open one lane of the two-lane bridge, unofficially, ahead of time!) The first vehicle to officially cross the new bridge is a ‘Crawford and Connolly’ coach from Beechworth.

The first ‘Union Bridge’ will be replaced by a larger structure which opens on December 31st, 1898. This second bridge closes and is eventually demolished after the third and existing bridge is opened by the Premier of NSW, Mr Heffron, on April 7, 1961.

1861 – Sep                   

The ‘Albion Hotel’ gets a new front added to the existing building. Note the original weatherboard ‘Oriental Bank’ building next door on the right. The wooden bank will be replaced by a brick building in 1876 and still stands today. The ‘Albion Hotel’ does not.

The 1858-built Telegraph Hotel on Ford changes hands and is renamed the Albion Hotel (‘Albion’ is the 4th century Greek name for ‘England’) with the new licensee Robert Ransom exploiting the hotel’s close proximity to the Beechworth Court House, declaring that “witnesses needed at Court no longer have to wait in all weathers to be called – they can are welcome at the Albion where they will kept abreast of proceedings and advised when they are needed”.

The new front of the ‘Albion Hotel’ in 1877. (Note the recently completed two-storey ‘Oriental Bank’ building next door on the right.)
Standing next door to the 1876-built ‘Oriental Bank’ (now ‘Freeman on Ford’), the ‘Albion’ has its own small theatre, later appropriating the name ‘Star Theatre’ after the original ‘Star Theatre’ closes in late 1868. The ‘Albion’ will finally close on June 2nd 1920 and the building torn down. For a time the vacant land will be used as a venue for outdoor movie shows. ‘Parkinson’s Garage’ will later be built on the site. 
Comparison photographs of the former ‘Albion Hotel’ site now (top) and then (below)

1861 – Oct 1

The Victorian Exhibition of 1861 begins in Melbourne and includes 9 wines exhibited by Beechworth’s John Richmond. The exhibition – as the name implies – features (almost) exclusively Victorian manufactured items and produce, and runs from the start of October until the end of November at Melbourne’s first Exhibition Building, built in 1854, on the corner of Latrobe and William Streets. All exhibitors have the advantage of the best items being selected for display at the London International Exhibition the following year.

1861 – Dec                  

A contract for the construction of a dam to provide water for Beechworth is awarded to James Parker for £7,281. Work begins in early 1862 and is completed by the end of that year. A key objective of the dam is to retain the waters of the Hurdle Flat Swamp for gold mining activities. Initial plans are for a dam height of 35 feet, providing a storage capacity of 46 acres, with an understanding that the bank of the dam could be raised by 12 feet when more funds become available.

The Honourable George Briscoe Kerferd plays a significant role in securing the water supply for Beechworth. He is a great advocate for the construction of the dam and helps facilitate Beechworth’s water storage. The Council names the completed dam ‘Lake Kerferd’ in his honour. 

1861 – Dec 24

Spiers & Pond’s promotional poster for the first ever commercial sponsorship of cricket

The ship Great Britain docks at Sandridge (Port Melbourne) after a two-month journey from Liverpool. On board are the All England 11, the first ever international cricket team to tour Australia.

The tour is organised by two enterprising entrepreneurs – Felix Spiers and Christopher Pond – owners of the ‘Cafe de Paris‘ in Melbourne. It will be the first ever commercial sponsorship of cricket.

1862 – Jan 1

The touring English Cricket Team – ‘The All England 11’ – play their first big match in Australia at the MCG in Melbourne (in front of an estimated crowd of 15,000). Then the team will prepare to head north … to Beechworth!

1862 – Jan 7

The biggest sporting event in Beechworth’s short history is set to begin with the imminent arrival of the touring English Cricket Team to play a game in the town. They depart Melbourne by coach at noon, arriving in Wangaratta the following morning in time for breakfast … and the excitement in Beechworth is palpable!

1862 – Jan 8

After the rigours of the coach trip from Melbourne, and their breakfast stop in Wangaratta, the touring All England 11 finally arrive in Beechworth, where they are greeted by a large and excited crowd. After a short break to refresh themselves, the team is given a tour of the diggings along Reid’s Creek where they watch sluice boxes being washed out and are presented with some small pieces of gold from the wash up. Back in Beechworth that evening, it is decided that the English Team members will all wear coloured ribbons on their linen hats during the big match so as to be more readily identified by spectators. The match will be played at the hastily cleared site of the Beechworth Racecourse, with Beechworth’s Gold Warden, William Henry Gaunt, appointed to umpire the match.

1862 – Jan 9

The Big Cricket Match – Day One. The English players emerge from their respective hotels. Half have spent the night at John Duncan Fisher’s Commercial Hotel, the other half accommodated at the Star Hotel across the road on Ford Street. They make their way to the Beechworth Racecourse (Baarmutha Park) where the flattest piece of ground has been selected as the site of the pitch and the game commences.

1862 – Jan 10

The Big Cricket Match – Day Two. The match between the touring English Cricket Team – The All England 11 – and an opposing team made up of twenty- three players drawn from all over North-East Victoria, finishes in what is described by many as a ‘total massacre”! England make 264 in their first innings The local team can only manage 20 runs in reply.  In the second innings, the locals score just 53!  As the planned three-day games finishes early, a ‘scratch match’ is arranged between England’s most flamboyant player George Griffith – dubbed ‘The Lion Hitter’ – and an ‘Ovens District Eleven’ which includes Robert Reid and his brother Curtis Alexander Reid. Griffith, with three men to field for him, bowls all the Ovens side out for only one run then takes the bat and hits the winning run with the fifth ball of his innings. He keeps batting for the entertainment of the crowd until he hits a catch and retires from the crease. The players and the large crowd all agree it’s been a very enjoyable and entertaining day – even those from Tarrawingee – who lose most of their wheat crop in a bushfire which breaks out at Tarrawingee while they’re in Beechworth for the match!

Curtis Alexander Reid is a winemaker, who will produce wine at Tarrawingee under the ‘Reidsdale’ label until 1874. A celebrated local cricketer, he will go on to umpire the historic first Test Match in Melbourne in 1877 and, in 1878, becomes the first fully paid secretary of the ‘Melbourne Cricket Club’.

1862 – Jan 11              

England’s most flamboyant player – ‘Man of the Match’ George Griffith – dubbed ‘The Lion Hitter’

The day after the ‘Big Cricket Match’, most of the population of Beechworth turn out for a performance of the ‘Californian Circus’ followed by the presentation of the ‘Man of the Match’ award to George Griffith, ‘The Lion Hitter’ from the All England 11 team and a Mr Ward from Myrtleford who is the top scorer for the Ovens side with a fighting 13 runs. (The evening’s entertainment will also be used to raise funds to be able to make up the shortfall of monies owed to the winning team!) It must have been a tough few days in Beechworth for the English team, who had left England in the middle of a bleak winter to play cricket in local summer temperatures that had ranged from 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit!

‘The All England 11’ will go on to play against local teams in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine, Hobart, Bathurst and Sydney before returning to Melbourne for one final match on March 24, before triumphantly sailing home to England. Such is the success of the tour that another ‘All England 11’ team will return for second tour during the summer of 1863-1864.


John Connolly – former barman at John Duncan Fisher’s Commercial Hotel – takes over the George Hotel on the corner of Camp and Finch Streets and renames it the Shamrock Hotel. John Connolly quickly renovates the building to include the addition of a ‘Splendid Plunge and Shower Bath’ with a ‘Fountain Playing Daily’.

1862 – Feb

The Vine Hotel which stands at the junction of the Woolshed, Chiltern and Yackandandah Roads

A severe summer storm hits the Beechworth area. A telegraph post near the Vine Tavern is split downwards from the top by a lightning strike, the effects of which are alarmingly felt in the Beechworth Telegraph Office. In an instant, a line of fire runs over the telegraph machines, burning up the paper tapes, fusing the wire coils and charring all the woodwork. The electric current is carried off to the wire which discharges down to the well where two men from the Beechworth Gaol are busy at work repairing the pump. One of the men “startled by the explosion, laid hold of the discharging wire and was at once thrown on his back, luckily more frightened than hurt”.


Young Ned Kelly has started school in Beveridge’s new Roman Catholic Church. Ned’s schoolmate Frederick Hopkins memoirs state: “Ned was a tall active lad and excelled all others at school games.” In six months, Ned has learned to read and write to second class standard, before his father John ‘Red’ Kelly sells the Kelly house and farm in 1864 for £80, and moves the Kelly family 80km north to Avenel, renting forty acres on the banks of the Hughes Creek.

John ‘Red’ Kelly, an Irish gamekeeper, is found guilty of stealing two pigs in 1841 and sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia, arriving in Van Diemen’s Land in 1842. After serving his sentence, he sails to Melbourne where he works as a carpenter and marries Ellen Quinn, daughter of a free settler from Ireland. They move north of Melbourne and have six children. After killing a calf that has strayed into his paddock, ‘Red’ is convicted of stealing and, on May 29, 1865, is fined £25 which he cannot pay. Sent to prison, a neighbour will kindly pay the fine and he is released. However, now a broken man and suffering from dropsy, ‘Red’ Kelly dies several months later, leaving 12-year old Ned responsible for the family.
Ned Kelly’s father John ‘Red’ Kelly, who dies on December 27, 1866


The Empire Hotel (with first storey verandah) on Camp Street. (photo: Roy Collington Harvey Collection)

Camp Street, Beechworth. Above features the Empire Hotel. The Empire had formerly been the Smithville Hotel at the Woolshed before the entire wooden building is relocated to Camp Street where it will be destroyed by the Great Beechworth Fire on March 23rd 1867. Below features Henry Thomas Littlewood’s Manchester House on the corner of Ford and Camp Streets. It will later become a hotel, changing names a number of times (The Corner Hotel, Central Hotel) and, in 2022, becomes the home the Miss Amelie Gourmet Fine Foods.

Camp Street looking west, with Henry Thomas Littlewood’s ‘Manchester House’ seen clearly on left of image. (photo: Roy Collington Harvey Collection). Now the site of ‘Miss Amelie’s Gourmet Fine Foods’.

1862 – May 3 

25-year-old Joseph Eldred Bishop marries 19-year-old Irish lass Mary Anne Cronan in Beechworth where Bishop runs his successful Coach Building and Wheelwright business on Newtown Hill. Joseph and Mary Anne (a dressmaker) will have nine children.

Joseph Eldred Bishop will pass away at the age of 47 at his residence in Newtown on August 12, 1884, and is buried at the Beechworth Cemetery next to Mary Anne, who lives until the ripe old age of 91, dying on July 27, 1934.


‘The Gingerbread House’ at 39 Finch Street

A house is built at 39 Finch Street as a home for Alexander Greig. It is a single storey ‘Picturesque Gothic Revival’ style house of rendered brick on granite footings. It has an L-shaped plan and a steeply-pitched gable roof. The two gables each have small lancet windows and decorative timber bargeboards, leading to the house becoming known as ‘The Gingerbread House’. Expertly built by Greig, all the joints in the timber roof frame are mortised or bolted together, with no nails used. In 1863 Greig adds a second building on the site, with another structure added in 1867, closer to the house, to be used as a kitchen. The picturesque home – classified as a building of historic significance in 1972 – is still known locally as ‘The Gingerbread House’ and continues to be used as a residence (below).

Alexander Greig’s ‘Gingerbread House’ at 39 Finch Street as it looks today.
Alexander Greig is a master builder who arrives on the Beechworth goldfields from England in the late 1850s and quickly sets up a business as a building contractor. By the early 1860s he has established the firm of ‘Greig & Wilson’, dealing in hardware and builders’ supplies, and becomes one of Beechworth’s most respected early citizens.   


In its first 5 years of operation, the Committee of Management of the Ovens Goldfields Hospital has spent £32,000 on buildings and maintenance and has admitted 3,600 patients for treatment. Even after hospitals are built in Albury in 1861 and in Wangaratta in 1871, many patients still prefer the grand hospital in Beechworth. And it will continue to grow: the ‘Albert Ward’ will be added in 1871 and the ‘Chinese Ward’ opens in 1883, both behind the main building.

Although the Ovens Goldfields Hospital is intended as a philanthropic institution and is supported by generous donations from the community – especially from the Chinese – in practice it still relies heavily on government grants.  


‘Chant Cottage’ today at 10 John Street

Beginning as a 16ft x 12ft calico tent with slab walls for miner Robert Chant, the slab walls are later replaced by weatherboards and the calico roof by shingles, evolving into Chant Cottage, a perfect example of an early miner’s cottage in Beechworth. Located at 10 John Street – quite close the original diggings beside Spring Creek – the original structure comprises the central part of the present three gabled building (above). It remains a significant part of the town’s history and is now registered by the Heritage Council of Victoria.

The side of ‘Chant Cottage’ before recent renovations.


Hiram Allen Crawford

Hiram Allen Crawford’s young wife Anna dies at the age of 24, leaving him a widower with two young daughters, Martha and Emma. In poor health, Crawford – who established the ‘H.A. Crawford & Co’ coach business in Beechworth in 1856 – returns to his family home in New Hampshire in America, where he falls in love, returning to Beechworth in December the following year accompanied by his second wife Martha Alamanza Foster.


Prussian emigrant Charles Ferdinand Ludwig Falck establishes a clock, watchmaking and jewellery shop on Ford Street, which also buys and sells gold. Falck’s Watchmaker & Jewellers shop windows become famous for their displays of his beautiful hand-made clocks. Falck also becomes the respected time-keeper at the Beechworth Racing Club.

‘C.F. Falck Watchmaker and Jeweller’ shop can be clearly seen on the left of the ‘Central Hotel’ in this 1901 photograph.


The Beechworth Aclimatization Society seeks permission to erect an aviary next to the spring in the ‘Botanical Reserve’, although the recurring theft of newly planted trees at the Reserve is becoming a problem.


33km from Beechworth, 640 acres of gazetted land is cut from Thomas Mitchell’s Tangambalanga run to create the Tangambalanga Aboriginal Reserve.


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American Cue Alley

The Imperial Hotel opens for business at 56 High Street, Beechworth. Built by Edward Rogers, by 1865 he is advertising his hotel as “the best accommodation and amusement of any in the township” and offers a “magnificent Concert Room with grand Pianoforte”, an “American Cue Alley” (billiards) on the premises, with a vegetable garden and a range of fruit trees at the rear, which backs on to Spring Creek. In 1868 he adds the “Imperial Swimming Baths” as an adjunct to the business, as well as a “Skittle Alley”, a “Quoit Ground” and he creates the popular “Beechworth Chess & Draughts Club”.

Ned Kelly will fight Isaiah “Wild” Wright at the rear of the ‘Imperial’ in an infamous bare-knuckle boxing match in 1874.

1862 – Dec                  

The first dam wall at Hurdle Flat Swamp is completed, and the first filling of the newly-named ‘Lake Kerferd’ dam produces 20 acres of water. The dam is 17.5 feet deep and has cost £12,000 to date. There are additional costs of £2,000 following a dispute with a contractor.

Sadly, following construction of the dam, the Council is on the verge of bankruptcy and the town continues to take its water from the municipal wells instead of the dam, and – between 1862 and 1872 – Lake Kerferd is unused, apart for annual regattas that are held on the Lake in the 1860s. Water from Lake Hume is sold to mining companies, but this is fraught with disagreements and a significant amount of ratepayers’ money is spent on fighting legal action. 

1862 – Dec 16

The Crow Hotel at Silver Creek on the Beechworth-Stanley Road

The Stanley District Road Board is established.

A number of businesses operate on the Beechworth-Stanley Road by the 1860s to service people travelling between the two towns. These include Haworth’s ‘Stanley Arms Hotel’, ‘Douglas’s Hotel’, Little’s ‘Freemason’s Arms Hotel’, Ryan’s ‘National Hotel’ ‘Ellis’s Hotel’, a butcher’s shop and the ‘Crow Hotel’ at Silver Creek (above).

1862 – Dec 24   

The completed ‘Ovens Benevolent Asylum’ surrounded by a picket fence.

Construction commences on the Ovens Benevolent Asylum on (what is now known as) Warner Road. It will feature two large dormitories and numerous other smaller rooms and provide accommodation to those who require permanent care as a result of gold-mining injuries or other long-term incapacitating conditions.

In the 1860s Beechworth has large number of Belgian miners, and the striking new building will be erected with a Flemish façade. The Flemish gables will be capped with stone dressings and decorative iron finials. The building will feature elaborate ‘diaperwork’ (patterns in the bricks) with all the bricks being handmade and glazed. For many years the Asylum’s striking and unusual Flemish gables remain a dominant feature on the hill above the township.

1863 – Jan 21

Australia’s first State Funeral. In Melbourne – following the return of the remains of Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills after their death in central Australia in June 1861 – Burke and Wills are given a State Funeral. The bodies of the two explorers will then lie in state at the Royal Society Hall at the corner of Stephen and La Trobe Streets. Over fifteen days – commencing on January 21st – more than 100,000 people will file through the hall, to pay their respects and view the open caskets.

On 15 September 1861 a Victorian relief party led by Alfred Howitt and Edwin Welch found the one survivor, John King, living with the Yandruwandha. The bodies of Wills and Burke are also found and buried. Their remains are later recovered and returned to Melbourne and re-buried. They are given Australia’s first state funeral on 21 January 1863.


The ‘Burke Museum’ on Loch Street as it looks today

To honour Robert O’Hara Burke – Beechworth’s former Superintendent of Police – Beechworth Council purchases the Athenæum and Public Library on Loch Street outright and adds a ‘Museum of Science’ to the building, renaming it the Beechworth Public Library and Burke Memorial Museum. Items belonging to Burke will gradually be added to the museum’s collection, including an inscribed Bible given to Burke by his godmother A.H. Shawe Taylor, and saddlebags from Burke’s camel that had been found in October 1873 by John Conrick of Nappa Merrie Station on his property near Cooper Creek. The popular Museum still operates today, and is one of Victoria’s oldest. 

1863 – Feb 21

An aerial view of the Beechworth Cemetery with the red roof of the Rotunda (centre) The Gammon children’s grave is surrounded by a hedge just in front of the Rotunda.

30-year-old Beechworth pharmacist George Gammon and his wife Kate Gammon tragically lose Adelaide Anne, the first of their many children who will all perish from a range of conditions such as atrophy (wasting disease) and diarrhoea. Seven of the very young children – Adelaide, Frederick, Louise, Florence, Agnes, Constance and Alice – die progressively over the next 10 years. Their ages at death range from 9 weeks to two years, illustrating the trauma of family life in the 19th century, when so many children die from illness and disease which are now able to be treated. The Gammon children’s beautiful graves can be seen near the Rotunda at the Beechworth Cemetery surrounded by a hedge where, inside, is a statue of a sleeping baby, and the names of some of the children are inscribed on the statue pedestal (below).

By 1872, the Gammons had had eight children, but only one, Lucy Coles Gammon (1867-1955), is still alive. They will go to to have two more children who survive – Walter Herbert Gammon (1874) who will be killed in France in WW1 in 1917, and George Burgis Gammon (1878-1953).

1863 – Feb 28

Popular Beechworth auctioneer, Canadian-born John Henry Gray, is selected to run the auction of the Oriental Hotel on the corner of Bridge Road and Mellish Street in Newton, as owner James J. Moran has decided to retire. Sitting directly opposite Chevalier’s Flour Mill by the Newtown Bridge, the Oriental Hotel also adjoins a store which is included in the sale price. Alexander Thomson will be the successful bidder.


A grand façade is completed at the Ovens District Hospital on Church Street, finally uniting the hospital buildings behind it. Designed by James Harold Dobbyn, the façade is a long symmetrical Free Classical style composition of cut local granite in the ‘Palladian’ manner. It has arched windows and pediments at the centre and at each end.  The central entrance is most elaborate, with three arched openings with rusticated voussoirs, pairs of attached columns and a Baroque-inspired pediment above. The end sections have Palladian-influenced triple windows. Symbolising the optimism and vision of the gold rush period, the Ovens Goldfields Hospital now has 100 beds, with injured diggers from the entire region coming to the hospital. First taking patients in 1857, in its first five years of operation, it will treat 3,600 people and be considered one of the finest hospitals in the entire colony.

Beechworth’s ‘Ovens Goldfields Hospital’ – 1866 etching
The driving force behind the establishment of the hospital, James Ingram, will remain on the hospital’s Board of Management for the next 72 years until his death in 1928 a few weeks before his 100th birthday! Before the hospital is built, Ingram and his wife Margaret nurse cases of fever among local residents in a tent. The Ingrams have a life-long interest in caring for ‘the sick, the poor and the afflicted’. 

1863 – Jun                   

The ‘Vine Hotel’ at the junction of the Woolshed, Chiltern and Yackandandah Roads.

After running the Brittania Hotel on the Woolshed diggings for six years, Jacob and Christina Vandenberg and their five children decide to move closer to Beechworth and take over the Vine Hotel (established by Robert Quirk in 1858) at the junction of the Woolshed, Chiltern and Yackandandah Roads – on the road out of Beechworth towards Wodonga – a popular stopping place on the Crawford and Connolly coach route.

The ‘Vine Hotel’ building will stay in the Vandenberg family for many years, later becoming their private home, known as ‘Vine House’. It has since been demolished.


School inspector Wilson Brown visits the Woolshed Catholic School and records (future Kelly gang member) Joe Byrne as a handsome six-year-old who capably reads a passage from the Irish National Schools Second Book. Joe gains a ‘pass’ in reading but fails writing and arithmetic … as do all the other students in second class!


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The ‘Gilmerton’ entrance hallway

A beautiful home – Gilmerton – is built at 16 Ford Street. It still stands today and features the original cellar, attic with pull-down ladder steps, surrounded by an English-style garden featuring 100 year old hedges, oaks and elms.


The tailrace cut through the ‘Spring Creek Flats’

The original tailrace cut through solid granite to drain the Spring Creek Flats under the Newtown Bridge (first cut in 1856) is further cut to a depth of 8 feet (2.4 metres) so that it is now 450 yards long. This lowers the water table so shafts can more easily reach bedrock. A thin layer of gold is often found on top of the bedrock, covered with black sand. Before the deeper tailrace is fully completed (in July 1869), one contractor will be killed in a blasting mishap.

The deeper tailrace allows the continuation of goldmining on Spring Creek from 1869 to 1876 , during which time a further 6,500 ounces (around $91 million) of gold (at $1,400 per ounce) is discovered!


The timber-built Star Hotel in the 1850s

John Sitch Clark purchases John Alston Wallace’s Star Hotel on Ford Street for £1,300. Over the following months he will demolish the central portion of the timber building and begin construction of a two-storey brick structure (which stands in the centre of Beechworth to this day).


After importing grindstones from France, Louis Chevalier converts his sawmill beside Spring Creek – at the top of the Newtown Falls – to become the Beechworth Flour Mills. He also builds a beautiful home for himself and his family next to the converted flour mill. The Mill has long gone but the house still stands today beside the bridge at 2 Bridge Road (below).

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The Chevalier house at 2 Bridge Road


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Henry Johnson (aka Harry Power) – first known prison photograph

Horse-thief and cattle-duffer Harry Power (born Henry Johnson in Ireland) makes his first court appearance in Beechworth. He is represented by Beechworth solicitor William Zincke. This court appearance will be followed by six more, fronting Magistrates in Beechworth. He lives at Middle Creek in the Ovens District, where he is often assisted by the Kelly, Quinn and Lloyd families. Arrested on another charge of horse-stealing, he is sentenced at Beechworth on 19 February 1864 to seven years ‘on the roads’ hard labour.

1863 – Sep 11

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George Briscoe Kerferd, first Mayor of Beechworth

Beechworth, by statute, is proclaimed a ‘Borough’, a formalisation of the ‘Municipal Incorporation’ of the town that had occurred seven years earlier on 23 August 1856. George Briscoe Kerferd, who is currently the Chairman of the Municipal District of Beechworth is named the first Mayor of the Borough of Beechworth.

First elected to the Municipal Council in May 1857, Kerferd serves as Chairman for three terms between 1858 and 1864 and, along with James Ingram, is also the driving force behind the establishment of the ‘Ovens Goldfields Hospital’ in 1856-57 and the ‘Ovens Benevolent Asylum’ in 1861-63. Kerferd is largely responsible for Beechworth’s unusual water scheme which, though eventually successful and still in use, will not be completed until 1874 because of engineering and funding problems. Beechworth’s large water storage area is known as ‘Lake Kerferd’.

1863 – Sep 16

A five pound note issued in Beechworth by the Bank of Australasia, at a time when banks print their own bank notes. The ‘Melbourne Mint’ will not be established until 1872.

With the proclamation of the Borough of Beechworth, the government releases the following information – the Borough currently boasts 26 well-formed roads and streets, and some 550 stores and dwellings. There is also a Town Hall (also used as a Petty Sessions Court House), Council Chambers and offices, and the ‘Beechworth Athenæum’ – all under the control of the corporation; a Circuit Court House and offices, Treasury, Electric Telegraph Office, Survey Office, Warden’s Offices, Powder Magazine, Police Barracks and Gaol, under the control of the Colonial Government. There are four banks in the municipality – The Bank of New South Wales, The Bank of Victoria, The Bank of Australasia, and the Oriental Bank; a Masonic Hall, and soon a commodious Hospital, capable of holding seventy beds. The Beechworth mining district has a population of 14,373 European, and 3,974 Chinese miners, making a grand total of 19,211. The total number of all persons residing in the district is 30,883. There are 46 steam engines employed in mining in the district, with an aggregate power of 526 horses!


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The Ovens Benevolent Asylum.

The Ovens Benevolent Asylum is officially opened. Once again, James Ingram is the driving force behind the establishment of the institution, as he had been in 1857 with the creation of the Ovens Goldfields Hospital. The Asylum provides accommodation to those who require permanent care as a result of gold-mining injuries or other long-term incapacitating conditions. In the four months after it first opens, several children whose parents have died or are in prison are also admitted to the institution.

The Asylum’s flanking gable wings are added in 1867 and the ‘J.A.Wallace Wing’ dates from 1889. In 1935 it is renamed the ‘Ovens Benevolent Home’, then changed to the ‘Ovens and Murray Home’ in 1954. Two decades later, it becomes the ‘Ovens & Murray Home for the Aged’, before amalgamating with the ‘Ovens District Hospital’ in 1992 to become ‘The Beechworth Hospital for the Aged’ and finally the ‘Aged Care Division of the Beechworth Hospital’. The complex of single storey brick structures still stands on a hill overlooking the town and now operates as the ‘Beechworth Day Spa’.

1863 – Nov 2

Hiram Allen Crawford photographed in 1885

Now aged 31, American-born Hiram Allen Crawford becomes naturalised as an Australian citizen. The successful Beechworth coach company operator is now married to his second wife Martha and they will have four children together, although only two – Susie and Walter – will survive childhood.

1863 – Dec 26             

After the Union Hotel on Ford Street is renamed the Temple Bar Hotel in 1861 (by new licensees Harry Ray and John Williams), it’s famous 18-foot-long ‘American Bowling Alley’ is refurbished and opens with “new balls, new pins, pine floor, and appointments”. The Temple Bar Hotel also advertises the fact that its rear yard is “the only one in Beechworth where there is room to accommodate a circus”!

The Temple Bar Hotel features Beechworth’s only indoor ‘American’ Bowling Alley.


John Alston Wallace sells his Star Hotel on Ford Street to John Sitch Clark who demolishes the central portion of Wallace’s timber building and erects the present two-storey brick structure.


Beechworth’s Anglican Christ Church – which stands proudly on the crest of Ford Street – finally gains a polygonal apsidal Chancel and commanding Tower, designed by Melbourne architect Leonard Terry (architect to the Anglican diocese). The total cost of the new additions is £3,000. Pairs of buttresses express each corner of the castellated 17-metre-high square Tower, and it is crowned by a castellated parapet. A timber vestry will be added in the 1870s and a pipe organ built by William Anderson (below) will be installed in 1887.

Originally ‘Christ Church’ is at the centre of the ‘Archdeaconry of Beechworth’ which embraces Beechworth, Eldorado, Myrtleford, Bowman’s Forest and the surrounding district. By 1901 – when the focus of population has shifted – Beechworth will become a smaller parish which is absorbed into the ‘Diocese of Wangaratta’.


The 1864 Mining Register for the Beechworth District lists 60 Chinese men mining for gold at ‘Chinaman’s Flat’ at Murmungee, 11 km from Beechworth, and the name ‘Chinamans Flat Road’ comes into common use. It is still the name of the road today.

1864 – Jun 6               

Forty-five surviving aborigines from the Ovens, Kiewa and Mitta Mitta Valleys are taken to the Aboriginal Reserve at Tangambalanga, which covers 640 acres of gazetted land cut from Thomas Mitchell’s Tangambalanga run. This small number of First Nations people reflects the severity of genocide that has swept the region over the previous 30 years

By 1872, the policy of removing First Nations children from their families is in force across North-East Victoria, further crippling the surviving communities. 

1864 – Jun 19

Christina Macpherson, composer of “Waltzing Matilda”

57 km from Beechworth, Christina Rutherford Macpherson is born at Peechelba Station near Wangaratta, the ninth of eleven children born to Ewen Macpherson and his wife Margaret Rutherford who had migrated to Australia from Scotland around 1854. Peechelba Station, a property of about 150,000 acres, is jointly owned by the Macphersons and Rutherfords who have homesteads close to each other. Christina will grow up to compose the music for Banjo Paterson’s “Waltzing Matilda” in 1895 (based on a piece of Scottish music she had heard called “Bonnie Wood O’ Craigielea” which had later been converted into “The Craigielee March” by Godfrey Parker (aka Thomas Bulch) in Warnambool).

Christina Macpherson played her composition on a zither (autoharp) to Banjo Paterson, inspiring him to write the lyrics to “Waltzing Matilda”. Her contribution in composing the music is confirmed in 1991 with the discovery of one of her letters describing how she and Banjo Paterson collaborated in writing the song, followed by the further uncovering of the original sheet music in Christina’s handwriting, clearly demonstrating that Christina played a vital part in the composition of famous song. Christina never marries and dies in obscurity on March 27 1936. Buried next to her father and other members of her family at the St Kilda Cemetery, she leaves her entire estate worth £3,624 (about half a million dollars in 2014 currency) to her younger sister.

1864 – Jun 29

Beechworth-born Philip Wirth at the height of his fame

Philip Peter Jacob Wirth is born in Beechworth. He is the son of Bavarian musician, Johannes (John) Wirth and his English wife Sarah, who had arrived in Victoria during the height of the gold rush in 1855. As a boy, young Philip and his three brothers all play musical instruments in their parent’s travelling band, the Star Group of Musicians. After touring for a while as musicians and circus performers with Ashton’s Circus, the family set up their own troupe, which will become Wirth’s Circus. Johannes dies in 1880, but his sons carry on, adding to and improving the show until, in 1887, Wirth’s is the largest circus in the country and for the next eight decades Wirth’s Circus becomes known as Australia’s own ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, a huge travelling circus of international standard and reputation. Wirth Brothers Circus Ltd is incorporated in 1913 and at its height – under the guidance of Philip Wirth and his younger brother George – the circus tours 40 artists and another 110 support staff, 10 elephants, 40 horses, 14 cages of wild animals and eight tents, the largest seating 3,000. The special Wirth’s Circus Train consists of eight passenger cars and 20 wagons!

In 1893, to escape the Depression in Australia, ‘Wirth’s Circus’ embarks on a seven-year world tour: South Africa, South America, the United Kingdom, South Africa (again), India and Java. During their extended stay at Southport in England, they are visited by the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, who is particularly impressed by Philip Wirth’s six trained Australian brumbies. When ‘Wirth’s Circus’ finally returns to Australia in 1900, they bring with them the first of their famous herd of elephants. Until ‘Circus Oz’ is established in the 1970s, Wirth’s is the only Australian circus to undertake a world tour.

1864 – Jun 30                            

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The re-built ‘Plough Inn’ at Tarrawingee

After a fire destroys ‘The Plough Inn’, the 1861 single-storey weatherboard hotel at Tarrawingee, Hopton Nolan rebuilds his popular pub as a two-storey brick building 24km from Beechworth (which still stands today – see photo below). The bricks are made using soil from local paddocks and the new building contains large stables at the rear, used by Crawford and Connolly as a regular changing station for their horses and coaches.

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The ‘Plough Inn’ at Tarrawingee today
In the mid-1860s, the settlement of Tarrawingee continues to grow. Along with Hopton Nolan’s newly rebuilt Plough Inn’, Bernard Devery establishes the Red Lion Hotel’, Wallis H. Rudduch builds the Australian Arms Hotel’, and George Strain opens his ‘Seven Oaks Hotel’. There are now an astonishing 16 hotels along the Beechworth Road, between the bridge over the Ovens Bridge at Wangaratta and the Newtown Bridge at Beechworth!

1864 – Jul

The Harp of Erin Hotel is established on the corner of Loch and Church Streets in Beechworth, with Thomas Waugh as the hotel’s first licensee. In January 1869, Waugh’s Irish wife Maria will pass away suddenly of dropsy (enlargement of the liver) at the age of just 32, and then, two months later on his way to Melbourne, 34-year-old Thomas will die at Avenel on March 7th. Subsequently, the hotel is sold for £585. The building still stands today and is now a private home (above).


The Beechworth Gaol Governor’s House is completed next to the Beechworth Gaol. It’s first resident is Gaol Governor John Buckley Castieau. The house is built using prison labour utilising granite from the quarry behind the Gaol. Castieau will live at the 1,374-square-metre property until 1869, when he leaves Beechworth to become Governor of Pentridge Prison in Melbourne. Subsequent governors live in the house before a home is built inside the gaol itself. In the 1940s the property is divided into three separate homes.

During Castieau’s tenure as Beechworth Gaol Governor between 1856 and 1869, the Gaol is known as “Castieau’s Castle”. He meets his wife Polly in 1858 at a church bazaar, and the couple live in the Beechworth property with the first of their 10 children once it is built. Castieau is the government representative at Ned Kelly’s hanging on November 11th, 1880 as he is governor of Old Melbourne Gaol by then..  

1864 – Jul 14

A ‘champagne lunch’ lunch is held to celebrate the official re-opening of Beechworth’s Star Hotel on Ford Street. This follows John Sitch Clark’s purchase of the building the year before and his costly rebuilding of the wooden structure in brick. The ‘new look’ Star Hotel will continue to be the focal point of social life in Beechworth and stands for a time as the largest hotel in the district. Notable features include its deep verandah to the street and an elegant drawing room on the first floor (below).

Star Hotel – First Floor interior
In 1922 the ‘Star Hotel’ will be renamed the ‘Star Coffee Palace’ by new owner Mary Jane Rogers, but the new ‘no-alcohol’ policy will only last a couple of years. In the late 20th century it becomes a ‘Youth Hostel’ and later, two shops will occupy the ground floor.


‘The Buffalo Ranges’ – 1864 oil painting by Nicholas Chevalier featuring a view of Mount Buffalo, 45 km from Beechworth

Russian-born artist Nicholas Chevalier – brother of Louis Chevalier who operates the Beechworth Flour Mill – paints “The Buffalo Ranges”. It is promptly exhibited among works of other Victorian artists at a Melbourne Gallery. As the National Gallery of Victoria has just been established, the government announces it will purchase the best picture at the exhibition for £200. Chevalier’s oil painting is selected and “The Buffalo Ranges” becomes the first artwork painted in Australia to be included in the Melbourne collection.

Nicholas Chevalier self-portrait 1857 (courtesy – Gallery of NSW)

1864 – Aug                   

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Metropolitan Hotel (at right)

The Metropolitan Hotel opens on the corner of Camp and High Streets (where the current Empire Hotel stands today). The large two-storey red-brick building is commissioned by Richard Murton, the former landlord of the original Empire Hotel. During the summer months, the Metropolitan is advertised as “the only really cool place in Beechworth”, where the colonial wines are “‘of the best quality and cold as ice”.


George Gammon in his later years

Like a number of other Beechworth shop owners, 32-year-old druggist George Gammon decides it’s time to replace his single-storey wooden shop with a more solid brick building. He tears down his wooden Medical Hall business at 55 Ford Street – directly opposite the Commercial Hotel in the centre of town – and starts to build an impressive two-storey brick shop, with family residence above.

1864 – Nov

An announcement is published in the Government Gazette stating that “An order is given to reserve a site in Beechworth for a Lunatic Asylum, being 201 acres, 2 rods, 26 perches”. Tenders are called for the design and construction the Asylum, with the deadline set at November 2nd. No specifications are sent to Beechworth, precluding locals from the tendering process.

1864 – Dec 3

Colney Hatch Asylum near London

It is announced that the tender to erect the first portion of the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum has been awarded to Abraham Linacre of Carlton in Melbourne, with a contract for £12,000. It is estimated that the final cost for the entire project will exceed £100,000. Initial plans for the design – by prominent Melbourne Public Works architect 26-year-old John James Clark – are based on the influential Colney Hatch Asylum (above) near London which features an Italianate design with an ‘E-Shaped’ plan of administration, recreation halls, kitchens, stores, and dormitory wings with airing courts and covered walkways.

Built as the ‘Second Middlesex County Asylum’ in 1851, it is located in the parish of Frien Barne, close to a crossroads which has a hamlet known as Colney Hatch and so it becomes widely known simply as the ‘Colney Hatch Asylum’ and for much of the 20th century, its name is synonymous among Londoners with any mental institution. At its height, ‘Colney Hatch’ is home to 2,500 mental patients and is famous for having the longest single corridor in Britain, taking a visitor more than two hours to walk all of its wards!

1864 – Dec                  

The 1858 Post Office building with the new, taller 1865 clock and bell tower addition.

The Inspector General of the Public Works Department approves construction of a new, larger clock tower at the 1858 Beechworth Post Office. The new tower will be completed by 1865 and is surmounted by a handsome granite bell turret. The bell chimes on the hour. Although provision is made for a clock with four faces – facing north, south, east and west – only three sides have ever functioned. A persistent rumour for the ‘three sides only’ suggests that it is to deprive the prisoners at the Beechworth Gaol (to the north) from seeing the correct time! But the more logical reason is that the cramped space of the bell tower inhibited winding the clock and the clock mechanism for a fourth clock face. The clock has since been converted to electronic operation.

The 1865 ‘Beechworth Post Office Bell’ is claimed to be the oldest Post Office bell in Victoria.

1865 – Jan 1                

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Gammon’s Medical Hall (Pharmacy) with dwelling above as it looks today. The balcony is added by Peter Rue in 2005.

Druggist George Gammon officially opens his new purpose-built two-storey Medical Hall Pharmacy and dwelling at 55 Ford Street. George and his wife Kate will run the business successfully until 1896. Today the Beechworth Laundromatt operates from the ground floor of the building.

The 1860s and 1870s are very prosperous for Gammon, who accumulates significant wealth, and he will become an investor and major shareholder in a great many Beechworth gold-mining companies and businesses. 


Beechworth pharmacist William Witt (photo courtesy Stonnington History Service)

Having first been elected to the Beechworth Council in October 1859, popular local Pharmacist William Witt is now elected Mayor of Beechworth, serving a 12-month term in the role. This will serve him well when he is elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the member for Murray in 1868, where he is instrumental in the establishment of the railway line between Melbourne and Wodonga. In 1872 Witt becomes President of the new Melbourne shire of Nunawading, remaining there until his retirement in 1880. He builds a large family home called Heathersett, set on 33 acres of land at the corner of Elgar Road and Burwood Highway. The two-storey sandstone house is now the administration building for the Presbyterian Ladies College in Burwood.

William Witt as a member of the Victorian Parliament
A busy and dedicated citizen, Witt becomes a Justice of the Peace in 1863 and will serve on the bench of the Beechworth Court for the duration of his time in Beechworth. Witt is also one of the founding members of the ‘Beechworth Fire Brigade’ in 1867, serving as its secretary; a founding member and Governor of the ‘Ovens District Hospital’ and, at different times, serves as its chairman, secretary and treasurer of the Board of Governors; founder of the ‘Beechworth Prospecting Association’; a founding member of the ‘Beechworth Lunatic Asylum’ and the ‘Ovens Benevolent Society’. In 1857 Witt becomes a foundation member of the ‘Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria’ and is the Society’s secretary for the Beechworth district.


Almost 90 acres of vineyards and market gardens are now under cultivation in the Beechworth district.


Wealthy and successful Hiram Allen Crawford later in life

Deciding to expand his coach business further, Hiram Crawford purchases John Alston Wallace’s old Star Hotel in Chiltern and rebuilds the pub, adding large stables. From there the ‘Crawford and Connolly‘ coach routes are expanded to run west, as well as Wodonga and Albury.

1865 – Apr 2                

‘Daniel Morgan The Bushranger Affray at Copabella – Morgan Shooting McGinnerty’ – sketch by Nicholas Chevalier

Having shot and killed Sergeant David Maginnity (sometimes McGinnerty) about fifteen miles east of Tumbarumba while they’re returning from Coppabella Station in NSW in 1864, 35-year-old Daniel ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan has been warned by authorities not to cross the border back into Victoria. He ignores the warning in April 1865 and within hours he steals a racehorse at Tarrawingee, 21km from Beechworth before heading south-east to Tawonga, then north-west. Six days later Morgan bails up a property 13km west of Wangaratta and forces the women at the property to make him breakfast. When some neighbours arrive, he takes their finest horse and gives false indications of his intentions.

Born in 1830, William Moran, aka ‘Bill the Native’, aka ‘Mad’ Daniel Morgan, is first convicted in 1854 by Judge Redmond Barry, who sentences him to 12 years hard labour in Pentridge Prison for armed robbery. He emerges from jail with a fierce hatred of authority that will see him become one of the country’s most feared and hated outlaws. 

1865 – Apr 7                 

‘Chasing Dan Morgan’ – 1865 sketch by Nicholas Chevalier

As Daniel ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan continues to cause problems in the district –  bailing up travellers, sheep stations and public houses – Superintendent A. Winch at Beechworth sends out all available police in search of the bushranger who is about to be outlawed by an Act of Parliament which gives legal sanction to his execution, without forewarning, by any party.


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Three Mile Creek Mine (photograph by W.D. Gibbon)

John Pund and three other miners secure a 15-year license for the Three Mile Mine and construct a water race from Upper Nine Mile Creek to Three Mile Creek. By the early twentieth century Pund & Co. average over 1,000 ounces of gold per year from the mine.

After John Pund’s death in 1915, ‘GSG Amalgamated Co’ operate the site, and continue sluicing until 1950. Today, ‘Three Mile Mine’ is called the ‘Baarmutha Mine’. 


Richard ‘Dick’ Shelton with his parents, Esau and Margaret in locket portraits at the bottom of the picture. (Image: Shelton Family)

Young Richard ‘Dick’ Shelton is nearly swept away in the flooded waters of Hughes Creek at Avenel as he attempts to cross a fallen-tree-footbridge on his way to school. He is rescued by 10-year-old Ned Kelly, who, without hesitation, jumps into the swollen waters fully clothed and paddles young Dick safely to the creek’s bank. The shivering youngsters make their way to the nearby Royal Mail Hotel which is owned by Dick’s parents, Esau and Margaret Shelton. The Sheltons reward Ned with an elaborate 221 cm long, 14cm wide green silk sash, complete with gold bullion fringes at each end. The colour chosen is symbolic of Irish heritage. It is also probable the Sheltons pay Ned’s father Red’s court fine, allowing him to return to his family with an early release from the Avenel lockup where John ‘Red’ Kelly had been charged with stealing a calf from a Mr. Morgan.

Ned Kelly’s reward – the Green Sash with gold bullion fringes at each end. Note Ned’s blood on the sash, from when he is shot at the Glenrown siege in 1880.

1865 – Apr 9

‘Capture and Death of Morgan the Bushranger’ -1865 sketch by Nicholas Chevalier

35-year-old bushranger Daniel ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan is shot at Peechelba Station, 28 miles from Beechworth and just 7 miles from the Murray border, which he had been warned not to cross. The night before he had bailed up the McPherson family at the Peechelba homestead. During the evening the McPherson’s maid Alice Macdonald manages to escape and raise the alarm. By the early hours of the morning the house is surrounded by armed men and when Morgan, Ewen MacPherson and his son Gideon emerge from the house, a local stockman John Wendlan fires the fatal shot. Morgan will lie wounded and dying for a number of hours – without any medical assistance – until he succumbs to his injuries at around 2.15pm. As soon as he dies, “several persons commenced cutting locks from his rather profuse head of hair as souvenirs”. While Morgan’s body lies in the woolshed at Peechelba, his body is photographed by two photographers – Mr. Hall of Beechworth and Henry Pohl of Chiltern. Pohl’s most famous image is posed as though Morgan is holding his revolver, with John Wendlan holding a rifle alongside the body (below).

Daniel Morgan’s body will be put ‘on display’ – for the fascinated public to viewin a cell at the Wangaratta lock up His head will then be removed, wrapped in hessian, and sent to Professor Halford in Melbourne for ‘scientific study’. His remains are then buried at Wangaratta and, at a later inquest into Morgan’s death, no charge is found against John Wendlan, as the incident is declared ‘justifiable homicide’.  
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Henry Pohl’s photgraph of John Wendlan beside
the (posed) dead body of Daniel ‘Mad Dog’ Morgan


George Billson Snr.

48-year-old George Billson, his wife Isabella and their children (including 21-year-old George Henry Billson Jnr and 7-year-old son Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson), move to Beechworth from Woods Point and take over George Kerferd’s Ovens Brewery and Malthouse at 4 Last Street. In 1867 he will rename the business Billson’s Ovens Brewery and then simply Billson’s Brewery in 1872. The brewery distills ale and porter, a range of cordials, aerated mineral waters, soft-drinks and health tonics. For many years the Brewery also supplies the town of Beechworth with ice.

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The 1895-built ‘The Brewer’s House’ at 3 Finch Street today
George Billson also operates a ‘Malt House’ from 3 Finch Street in Beechworth. The original two-storey brick ‘Malt House’ is demolished in the 1880s, replaced by a new stately residence in 1895. Surrounded by beautiful, English-style manicured gardens, and featuring a tinkling fountain and an 80-year-old magnolia tree in the front of the house, it now operates as ‘The Brewer’s House’ luxury accommodation managed by ‘Billson’s Breweries’ (above).  


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The layout of Beechworth’s newest roads and footpaths is formalised.


A beautiful home named ‘Du Boulay’ is built at 34 Kars Street for Edward Clarke, a barrister, and his wife Anna Maria B. Young. Situated on over 4 acres of land, the solid granite Victorian house features a 250-year-old French spiral staircase (below). In one of his more unusual cases, Clarke successfully defends Mrs Mary King for “larceny of a candlestick”. His argument is that “a woman cannot be convicted of larceny while in the company of her husband”!

‘Du Boulay’ means “a person who lives by a grove of birch trees”. Kars Street is named for the ‘Siege of Kars’ that took place in June 1855, the last major operation of the Crimean War.


A map of Hillsborough in its ‘heyday’

Brothers Arthur and Archibald Clingin discover and work the ‘Bon Accord’ and ‘Homeward Bound’ gold reefs at Hillsborough, 12 miles south of Yackandandah. A small mining settlement begins at the valuable reefs, sitting on an escarpment overlooking Bruarong in the valley, not far north of Mount Stanley. As the settlement grows, Peter Develin establishes the Reefers’ Arms Hotel with a “Spacious Ballroom” and, in October 1867, local citizens led by John Brown raise funds for a school. The Hillsborough School Committee purchase an old hotel (the ‘New Era’ owned by a Mrs Kennedy) and move it to the settlement. Sadly, the town of Hillsborough has been deserted since the early 1920s and apart from empty mining shafts, virtually nothing remains (below). While Arthur Clingin stays in the area and dies in 1897 at the age of 52, Archibald Clingin will move to Twists Creek, then to Burwood in Melbourne, where he dies in 1934 at the grand old age of 92.

View towards Hillsorough in 2001, from the road to Mt Stanley.
The town was about in the centre of this picture
(photo: Don Ingram)


The centre of the Stanley township in 1900 (photo: Chris Dormer)

10km from Beechworth, the thriving township of Stanley is now home to around 5,000 people and 900 dwellings. It features a large number of businesses and services with a variety of stores including butchers, bakers, a furniture maker, a dressmaker, a chemist, blacksmiths and a medical practitioner, along with numerous hotels including the Star Hotel, the Rising Sun, the Golden Age, the Full Moon, the Vine, the Royal Oak, and the wonderfully named Live and Let Live Hotel. It also supports two of its own newspapers – ‘The Stanley Times’ and ‘The Mining Journal’.


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Patrick O’Mara’s ‘Water Right Hotel

The ‘Water Right Hotel’ is established at 42 Mellish Street, on the corner of Mellish Street and the Buckland Gap Road. It still stands today as a private home (below).

42 Mellish Street today
An original Red Posting Box still stands in front of the former ‘Water Right Hotel’ on Mellish Street

1865 – Nov 6               

News of the execution in Beechworth of Patrick Sheehan – printed in ‘The Ovens & Murray Advertiser’ – November 7 1865

For the first time, gallows are erected at the Beechworth Gaol and a crowd gathers to watch as Patrick Sheehan is hanged for the murder of James Kennedy, a publican from nearby Rowdy Flat at Yackandandah. Sheehan claims not to remember the violent stabbing incident due to drunkenness but seems resigned to his fate as he is is hanged at 8.30am with his last words being “God bless you all and God forgive me. That will do”.

While Sheehan is the first man executed at Beechworth, a further seven men will be hanged within the imposing walls of Beechworth Gaol between 1865 and 1881.  

1865 – Nov 9               

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The Vine Hotel

A tornado tears through Beechworth, damaging buildings and uprooting trees – including one that falls onto the verandah of the popular Vine Hotel on the corner of Balaclava Road and Sydney Road towards the Woolshed diggings. The Vine Hotel, established in 1858, is run by Jacob and Christina Vandenberg (or Van Den Berg), prominent members of the community.

1865 – Nov 29             

Disaster strikes the Vine Hotel near the Woolshed diggings – again! This time it is destroyed by fire, but is quickly rebuilt by the Vandenbergs.

On June 24 1880, Joe Byrne – a member of the Kelly gang – rides to the ‘Vine Hotel’ to be with his sweetheart Maggie for the final time. Maggie is a general maid at the hotel which is far enough outside of the Beechworth town centre that Joe can access it with little risk of being spotted. On this night Maggie informs Joe that his best friend Aaron Sherritt has been at ‘The Vine’ with a policeman who has interrogated her. Three days later Joe kills Aaron … and the next day Joe himself will be killed at the Glenrowan siege. An inquest on the body of Aaron Sherritt is held at ‘The Vine’.

1865 – Nov 30

The exterior of the former ‘St George’s Hall’ as it looks 140 years after it is opened.

William Thompson Soulby officially opens St. George’s Hall on Loch Street – “the biggest room in the Ovens District”. It stands just around the corner from Soulby’s London Tavern on Camp Street. The first event held in the hall is the ‘Beechworth Agricultural and Horticultural Show‘. As well as being used as a meeting place for ‘The Loyal Beechworth Lodge’ – who refer to it as the Oddfellows Hall for many years, St. George’s Hall will become Beechworth’s centre of entertainment for the next 100 years, with live theatre and general entertainments of the day including Grand Balls and Dances. After Australia’s Federation in 1901 it will be renamed Federal Hall (at the same time as the London Tavern is renamed the Federal Hotel). The building still stands today (above).

Soulby’s ‘St. George’s Hall’ is no doubt inspired by Melbourne’s ‘St George’s Hall’, opened on Bourke Street in December 1862 next door to the ‘Theatre Royal’. Briefly renamed Weston’s Opera House in 1869, by the late-1870s the hall is regarded as Melbourne’s “Home of Minstrelsy.” Hoyts exhibit films at the venue from 1909 until late-1914 before it is demolished to make way for the company’s De Luxe cinema (which opens on 26 March 1915).
In the mid-1920s the ‘Federal Hall’ becomes the town’s silent movie theatre, later re-named the ‘Regent Picture Theatre’ and then the ‘Regency Theatre’. With the advent of television in the 1960s, the theatre closes, and is relaunched as ‘The Regency Room’ for functions and dances. 

1865 – Dec 4

The National School is renamed Common School No. 36 and moves into a new red brick building that has been erected at 17 Loch Street. The majority of children in Beechworth will receive their schooling here between 1865 and 1875. After these 10 years, Common School No. 36 has outgrown the building and part of the ‘Botanical Reserve’ is selected for a new school, which will be built in 1875.

The school building at 17 Loch Street is designed in 1865 by Thomas Dalziel. When the ‘Common School’ moves, the building will be taken over by James Goldsworthy’s ‘Beechworth Grammar School’, and later become the office of the ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’ newspaper. It is now a private home.

1865 – Dec 27

After beginning as the ‘Municipal District of Beechworth’ on 23 August 1856, then becoming a ‘Borough’ on 11 September 1863, Beechworth now becomes the ‘Shire of Beechworth’, as a union of the Stanley and Wooragee Road Districts.


The newly renamed town of Bright in 1871

47km from Beechworth, the swelling gold-mining settlement at Morse’s Creek (at the junction of Morse’s Creek and the Ovens River) is renamed Bright after the British liberal politician John Bright, and the town’s role as an administrative centre grows. Shops, hotels, banks, schools and a horse racing track near Racecourse Road are established and newly surveyed streets are named after politicians and lawyers of the time.

Gold mining at Bright in 1890

1866 – Feb 12             

The district’s first ‘sparkling wine’, made in Beechworth by P.D. Murphy, becomes available. The wine has been ‘carbonated’ with assistance from Edward Samuel Russom, the soda water manufacturer.


Trim’s ‘Ovens Bakery’ building as it looks today at 12 Albert Road.

William Trim arrives in Beechworth to join his brother Edward Trim at his recently established Oven’s Bakery on Albert Road. The Trim brothers introduce Beechworth’s first “steam baking apparatus”, before Edward Trim decides to return to England, and William takes over the bakery. William is married to Margaret Trim (née Hulme) who is active with numerous Beechworth charities and will become vice-president of the Beechworth Ladies’ Benevolent Society.

Portrait of Margaret Trim (photo: James Bray)
In recognition of her services for local charities, Margaret is awarded Life Governorship of both the ‘Ovens District Hospital’ and ‘Ovens Benevolent Asylum’. William Trim is a councillor of the ‘United Shire of Beechworth’ from 1896 to 1905 and President from 1902 to 1903. Margaret and William have six sons and three daughters. Margaret dies in Beechworth in 1908, aged 66 and William dies in Beechworth in 1909, aged 74.


John Clements Snr establishes a store in High Street and over the next 18 years will expand his range of goods to food, clothing and building materials.

Clements arrived in Australia from Devon in 1854 and spent the next 11 years mining at the Spring Creek and Pennyweight Flats sites before deciding to give mining away in favour of running a business in Beechworth.


On a large property at 1602 Diffey Road – 2 kms from the centre of Beechworth – a small farmhouse is built, with an adjoining cottage added a few years later. It still stands today.

The large farm property and house at 1602 Diffey Road.


In the 14 years between the first gold discovery in Beechworth in 1852 and 1866, approximately 4 million ounces (115 tonnes) of gold have been extracted from the Beechworth area. At the current price of gold (approximately AU $2,000.00 per ounce), this means that around $6 billion worth of gold is extracted during these 14 years!

1866 – Jun                   

There are now 725 European alluvial miners, and 936 Chinese miners. The Chinese predominate at Woolshed, Spring Creek, and Three-Mile Creek. Magpie Creek (Wooragee) is now exclusively Chinese, with many of them getting 30 or 40 oz per week from their claims. The reefs at Magpie Creek are actually all one reef – a continuation of Homeward Bound on the Twist’s Creek side of the range.


‘Hedge House’ at 6 Church Street today

A beautiful and ornate brick house is built at 6 Church Street. It is now known as Hedge House after the large hedge added in the 1930s that surrounds the property.

1866 – May 11

The first Beechworth Dramatic Society is founded. Rehearsals soon begin for their first production – “All That Glitters is Gold” – which is staged at the Star Theatre in Beechworth on Thursday June 28th, featuring Mr J.J.B. Bowman in the role of Sir Arthur Lassell. The Beechworth Amatuer Band, under the leadership of Herr Schmidt, kindly give their services on the occasion. All funds raised are donated to the Ovens District Hospital.

1866 – May 30

An example of an 1860s cement crushing and stamping machine.

The district’s first cement works are established on the Woolshed. The Pioneer Cement Crushing Mill features steam-driven crushing and stamping machinery designed and manufactured by Alexander Rogers at his New Ford Street Foundry in Beechworth.


The former ‘Dalton’s Bakery’ and shop at 29 Finch Street, now a private home.

Joseph Piercy Dalton establishes Dalton’s Bakery Shop in a new brick building at 29 Finch Street, then builds a residence next door for his wife Ann Garratt and their children. ‘Oban House’ still stands today (below). Sadly, the Daltons will lose five of their eight children between 1859 and 1875 – 1-year-old Annie, 8-month-old Ebenezer, 3-day-old John, 4-month-old Fanny and 13-year-old Florence, all buried at the Beechworth Cemetery. Their other three children – Herbert, Walter and Sarah Dalton – survive.

The Dalton’s ‘Oban House’ at 27 Finch Street, next door to their Bakery
Born in Banwell in Leicestershire, Joseph Piercy Dalton and his wife Ann arrive in Melbourne in 1854 before proceeding to Beechworth where Joseph enters the baking business in Finch Street, running ‘Dalton’s Bakery’ for over 40 years. He is an active and consistent adherent of the Methodist Church and is one of its original Beechworth members, and the last of the original trustees. He is superintendent of the Sunday school and leader of the Methodist Church Choir for 20 years. He will pass away in January 1909 at the advanced age of age 84.


Beechworth Council construct a lodge at the ‘Botanical Reserve’ to a design prepared by the borough surveyor. It is erected midway between the carriage entrance and the corner of Kars Street and Sydney Road, one chain back from the front fence. The following year, tenders are called for a well and pump, earth closet and fence for the new lodge. The well is found to be too deep for a lift pump so Council opts for a windlass, rope and bucket with a lockable cover for safety. In 1868 tenders will be called for a person to occupy the lodge in return for one day’s work a week, tending the gardens and keeping the grass “at a reasonable length”.


Women’s sufferage supporter Eliza Gaylard in her later years

After an ocean trip on the ‘Red Jacket’ from Ireland to Melbourne, 20-year-old Eliza Mercer and her older brother travel to Beechworth to reunite with their uncle who is a policeman in the town. On the way from Melbourne their carriage is held up by a ‘highwayman’!  In February 1871 Eliza marries Henry Williams Gaylard – the manager of Fletcher’s Gold Mine – and they build a home at Allotment 2, Mellish Street in Newtown and have eight children together. When she is 44 years old Eliza Gaylard is one of the 170 women from the Beechworth district to sign the ‘Great Petition of 1891’ supporting the female suffrage campaign in Victoria. She will pass away aged 78 in 1925 and be buried in the Gaylard family grave in the Methodist section of the Beechworth Cemetery.


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George Judah Lyon

American George Judah Lyon leaves The Ovens and Murray Advertiser to commence his own business as a newsagent and tobacconist at 74 Ford Street, responsible for obtaining the agency for The Argus, which is a very lucrative business.


Although mostly abandoned in 1863, the Spring Creek reefs (including Madman’s Gully and the Canadian Reef) gain new attention when some small discoveries are made by dedicated miners.      


1869 photograph of Ford Street by James Bray (note the original 1858 Town Hall Clock Tower (demolished in 1887) on the right of the image).

After selling his Prince of Wales Photographic Gallery in George Street, Sydney in 1865, 34-year-old photographer James Edward Bray is commissioned to produce six views of the town of Rutherglen to be displayed at the upcoming Intercolonial Exhibition of 1866-67 in Melbourne. After completing his assignment, he tours the area and likes Beechworth so much he decides to stay and establish a photographic portrait business on Camp Street. He will successfully run the business with his wife Elizabeth for 25 years, until his death in 1891.

1866 – Oct 24 to 1867 – Feb 23                           

The first Intercolonial Exhibition is held in Melbourne. In the final awards ceremony, ‘honourable mentions’ are given to two Beechworth wines – an 1863 ‘Hermitage’ and an 1864 ‘Chasselas’.

The ‘Beechworth Court’ next to the ‘Wangaratta Court’ at the Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne
For the first time, the Australian colonies are brought together for this exhibition to assist in the selection of items to be forwarded to Paris for the Exposition Universelle’. There are exhibits from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and New Zealand, as well as from New Caledonia, Mauritius and the Netherlands-India. Each colony is assigned a specific area, or ‘court’ for their display. Victoria’s includes separate courts for the Sandhurst (Bendigo), Ovens & Murray, and Wangaratta and Beechworth districts.

1867 – Feb                   

The Governor of Beechworth Gaol agrees to have the prisoners make rustic seats for the ‘Botanical Reserve’ out of saplings and materials in the garden itself, and the Council provide nails and oil for the paint. Several “ornamental rustic garden seats are placed in the Gardens” in June.


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Thomas Ladson’s grand home at Tarrawingee, called “Ladson’s Folly” by some and renamed ‘Carinya’ by Hopton Nolan in the 1880s.

After building began in 1861, construction is finally completed on a grand two-storey Georgian brick residenceat Tarrawingee, on the main road between Beechworth and Wangaratta. Featuring a ballroom and a large underground cellar, it is built by Thomas Shiels and Jack Oliver for former Beechworth jeweller and businessman 35-year-old Thomas Taylor Ladson and his wife Mary who have been operating the Tarrawingee Post Office since 1858. The balustrade of the balcony of the Ladson’s grand home features decorative ironwork with a swag-bellied profile, a detail unusual in Victoria. The building has single-paned sashes and French doors at the front and multi-paned sash windows at the rear. The home initially incorporates the Tarrawingee Post Office and, shortly after, a new single-story building will be added, adjoining the grand residence, to operate as the Post Office and ‘Ladson’s General Store’ (below), along with a Public Hall. Thomas Taylor Ladson is the older brother of popular Beechworth storekeeper Alfred William Ladson.

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Thomas Ladson’s General Store at Tarrawingee as it stands today
“Ladson’s Folly” – The buildings will become known as Ladson’s Folly after the much-anticipated new railway line (and station) between Beechworth and Wangaratta bypasses the centre of Tarrawingee and therefore the expected ‘business boom’ does not eventuate. The coming of the railway to the area in 1875-1876 is the main reason Ladson had added the adjoining gabled single-storey brick building for the store! (above) As the road traffic diminishes, his ‘Tarrawingee General Store’ fails and Ladson sells the building to Hopton Nolan, whose family live in it and continue to operate the Post Office from the premises. Nolan will rename the grand house ‘Carinya’.


Straughair and Duncan’s Beechworth Foundry and businesses on the Newtown Hill

Mark Straughair and Scotsman John Laidley Duncan amalgamate their separate businesses, form a partnership, and take over Alexander Roger’s thriving business, the New Ford Street Foundry on the steep Newtown Hill at the entrance to Beechworth. Straughair and Duncan rename it the Beechworth Foundry and grow the business rapidly, adding a Blacksmith and Farrier Engineering building next door. By the late 1860s Straughair and Duncan employ 16 workers, manufacturing all manner of items, including tools and machinery for the mining and agricultural industries.

In the 1870s John Laidley Duncan becomes a Beechworth Councillor. Duncan Lane is later named in his honour. John and his wife Anne have 12 children. One of them, John Duncan Jnr, kills himself at the ‘Star Hotel’ in 1900 by opening an artery and bleeding to death.
The ‘Beechworth Foundry’ on Newtown Hill in 1910, after the deaths of Straughair and Duncan.
Mark Straughair dies in 1882 at the age of 51 and John Laidley Duncan dies at the start of 1896 aged 65. Duncan’s death brings about the immediate business collapse of the ‘Beechworth Foundry’. However, the foundry will be reopened in 1905 by William Henry Phillips (President of the ‘Beechworth Trades’ Cricket Association’) and taken over by H. Delora in 1906 (above).

1867 – Mar 23             

The ‘Great Beechworth Fire’ – Just after 11.00pm on this Saturday night, a fire breaks out in the stables of William Newsom’s Empire Hotel at 24 Camp Street (where the Beechworth Emporium currently stands) and quickly spreads and sweeps along Camp Street, destroying every building on one side of the street including Ingram’s Book & Stationary Store, Dunn’s Tailor Shop, Martin’s Solicitors, the Chinese Store and Young’s Boot Store, as well as badly damaging the Post Office (only the walls and clock tower remain – the clock still working!) and the Bank of Victoria on the opposite corner of Ford and Camp Streets. The fire bell rings out at 11.15pm but locals are unable to help fight the fire as there is a blockage in the town water supply. As the Post Office clock strikes midnight it is surrounded by a sea of flames. A total of seven buildings are destroyed, and four are severely damaged. Most of the buildings destroyed are made of wood, canvas and bark, while buildings of brick and granite offer more resistance. Miraculously, there is no loss of human life, although a horse is consumed by the flames in the stables of the Empire Hotel, which is also burnt to the ground.

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TheEmpire’ will be rebuilt a few doors further along Camp Street but destroyed again by a fire on March 3rd 1879, before being rebuilt for a third time! The ‘Empire’ had previously been known as both the ‘Post Office Hotel’ and the ‘Central Hotel’.  


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After the fire, James Ingram rebuilds his “Newsagency and Booksellers” in the same spot.

1867 – May 4

Beechworth’s second execution. John Kelly (no relation to Ned Kelly) becomes the second man to be hanged at the Beechworth Gaol. He is the only man executed in Beechworth for a crime other than murder, after he is found guilty of ‘an unnatural offence on a male child only some two years of age’ … “So revolting was the evidence that it excited intense disgust”. Witnessed by around sixty people, the hangman is James Gould (a convicted thief) after William Bamford, the ‘official hangman’, fails to arrive from Melbourne.

1867 – May 11

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The new Bank of Victoria building on the corner of Ford and Camp Streets.

The foundations are laid for the the new Bank of Victoria building after the previous building – badly damaged in the March 23rd fire – is demolished. The grand new structure rises from the ashes on the corner of the Ford and Camp Streets roundabout. Architects Arthur Ebden Johnson and Alfred Louis Smith design the new two-storey brick structure with a five-bay composition. The ground floor is ruled and has arched openings and the first-floor windows feature architraves and hoods. Designed in a classical tradition, rejecting its prominent corner position to take a palazzo form, emphasising the principal entrance by richer decoration on the door opening and on the corresponding window and small balcony above. Both the Bank building and Ingram’s Newsagency still stand today.

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The ‘Bank of Victoria’ building now houses ‘Beechworth Gold’, a gold and gemstone gallery and shop. The building retains its arched windows on the ground floor and a small cast-iron balcony above the main entrance. Inside stands the original gold vault, used when the building was a gold office. Another feature that remains is the 24-light chandelier with over 4,000 crystals. The original toilet blocks, servants’ quarters and balcony have been restored and a Victorian-style fountain with a fine stone pool is set within the garden area, overseen by wrought-iron gates.

1867 – Jul

Lincolnshire-born William Thompson Soulby, owner of the London Tavern, makes the first serious attempt to plant shady trees along Beechworth streets. He plants fourteen English Elms on both sides of the streets around his Tavern, spacing them twenty-five feet apart along Camp Street and for a lesser distance along Finch Street. He also provides protection for the trees against wandering stock of all kinds and Soulby christens his finished work ‘Elm Grove’.

1867 – Aug 11

The rather unusual funeral of Dr George Mackay. Following his death at the age of 57 on August 9, the hearse carrying Mackay’s body departs Beechworth at 9 am, heading to the cemetery at nearby Tarrawingee, but the coach driver appears to get lost on the myriad muddy tracks leading south from Beechworth and fails to turn up on time. In fact, the coffin is lucky to turn up at all, given that the driver of the hearse has to force his horse to run the hearse full tilt through numerous boggy patches on the way, and yet still gets bogged on a number of occasions. The horse itself almost drops dead when it finally reaches Tarrawingee, many hours after funeral. There is even a story that persists to this day that the body of Dr Mackat was not actually in the coffin when it is finally buried in Tarrawingee. Instead, the carcass of a sheep is “supposed” to be in the coffin, as it had taken so long to reach its destination!

1867 – Oct 20              

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Beechworth Fire Brigade in 1870

Following the ‘Great Beechworth Fire’, a meeting is held at the Star Hotel to plan for any future disasters … and the Beechworth Fire Brigade is formed, consisting of 10 paid members and 16 volunteers.

By 1866 there have been so many fires in the Beechworth district, a number of insurance companies approach the council and offer to contribute to the cost of equipment and the running of the new brigade. This will also lead to the formation of the ‘Volunteer Fire Brigade Board’.

1867 – Oct 20

Beechworth Asylum’s first Medical Superintendent – Dr Thomas Thomson Dick.

As the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum prepares to open, Dr. Thomas Thomson Dick from the Yarra Bend Asylum in Melbourne is announced as the new asylum’s Chief Medical Superintendent, with Bridget Dunne as the first Matron.

1867 – Oct 24

Beechworth Lunatic Asylum November 1866 – note the many tree stumps in the foreground and the scaffolding still on the left hand side of the (almost completed) building. (photo: Mr Hall, photographer of Ford Street)

The Beechworth Lunatic Asylum officially opens. A large procession heads from Beechworth Gaol up towards the Mayday Hills location, led by two mounted policemen ahead of a spring cart carrying a dejected occupant along with the Gaol Warder. Behind them, on foot, are seven other male inmates/patients, including “two Orientals” and Beechworth’s own Dr. Dempster. Bringing up the rear of the procession are another Gaol Warder and a policeman. In all, there are ten ‘lunatics’ who have the dubious honour of being the first ‘inmates’ of the new asylum. Other ‘inmates’ will arrive soon after from Melbourne and other parts of the colony. The extensive complex will eventually consist of 67 buildings – built of brick in the Italianate-style – all linked together by half a mile of verandahs which are supported by 350 iron posts, many of which are hollow to carry rainwater from the roof into the Asylum’s unique water supply. The water supply consists of seven underground cisterns – each 23 feet deep and 12 feet in diameter – with each cistern capable of holding 12,000 gallons of water! At its peak, the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum will be home to over 1,500 patients and 750 staff. Featuring 11 hectares of fine gardens, the institution will later be known as the Mayday Hills Mental Hospital.

Upon its opening, the ‘Beechworth Lunatic Asylum’ becomes one of the largest buildings erected in Australia at the time, incorporating over 3.2 million bricks in its construction. If laid end-to-end, one newspaper article explained at the time, these would extend for a distance of 450 miles! Luckily, these bricks don’t have far to travel as they are obtained from a series of large ‘brickpits’ created just a few hundred yards away, to the rear (north) of the main buildings and can be transported around the site on a specially built tramway. 40,000 paving tiles are used and the foundations of the various buildings contain 22,000 cubic feet of granite encasing 62,000 cubic feet of rubble!
Originally planned to be built in Wangaratta, James Ingram persuades the Victorian government to locate the asylum in Beechworth, as the proposed piece of land for it in Wangaratta is flood prone. 


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12-year-old Isaac Isaacs moves with his family from Yackandandah to Beechworth where is enrolled Beechworth’s Common School, then at James Goldsworthy’s Beechworth Grammar School – operating from the hall at 7 Church Street behind Christ Church – where young Isaac excels, becoming Dux in his first year and winning many academic prizes.

The building at 7 Church Street that housed James Goldsworthy’s ‘Beechworth Grammar School’ from 1857 to 1875 (as it looks in 2024)
In September 1870, when Isaacs is just 15 years old – and still a student at ‘Beechworth Grammar School’ – he sits for and passes an examination as a pupil teacher. James Goldsworthy invites him to (unofficially) teach some of the younger students at ‘Grammar’. From 1873, Isaacs is employed by the Victorian Education Authority as an assistant teacher at the Beechworth ‘Common School’ (the original 1865 building still stands in Loch Street).


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A new Police ‘Lock Up’ is completed on the Police Reserve. The solid stone building has a cell for both male (left hand cell) and female (right hand cell) prisoners for when they are held on remand before their court appearances. Both Ned and Ellen Kelly will be held in the cells on different occasions.

Beechworth Police Camp Buildings – 1870 pencil drawing by A.J. Stopps, printed by Beechworth photographers Julius Albert Rochlitz and R.H. Ackley
Established in the 1850s, the Police Reserve will eventually feature several buildings including the stone Police Lock Up and the 1871 Police Stables, built by contractor Lewis Griffiths at a cost £489. (The stables will house horses used by the police in the hunt for the Kelly gang.) Other buildings on the Reserve include the Police Barracks, and the Officers’ and Superintendent’s Quarters & Stables. Many of these building will sadly be removed after 1958 with a plan to turn the reserve into a large vegetable plot worked on by prisoners at the Beechworth Gaol.

1867 – Nov

An example of some of the trees planted by Robert Coates at Mayday Hills as they look today.

Even though Beechworth gardener Mr Tozer is appointed Head Gardner at the Asylum in October 1867, another man – a patient – is responsible for much of the landscaping. Robert Coates, once described as “one of the best professional landscape gardeners in the colony” is transferred to the newly opened Beechworth Lunatic Asylum from the Yarra Bend Asylum in Melbourne. Coates is also considered a “lunatic” – a fact that is celebrated by the Ovens & Murray Advertiser which wrote “Consequently, he brings a greater amount of care and diligence to bear on the work entrusted to his charge than perhaps a sane person would”. During his five-year stay at Beechworth, Coates is given the responsibility of the selection, planning and planting of the trees around the main buildings, including the grand avenue of English Oaks and lavish beds of rhododendrons and azaleas. Most of the exotic trees come from the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens and several species still survive, including the 25 Quercus robur – English Black Oaks – along the building’s avenues, described by the National Trust as “one of Victoria’s most aesthetically pleasing driveway avenues, especially for its species”.  Robert Coates is transferred back to Melbourne when the Kew Asylum opens in 1872.

1867 – Dec

‘Beaumaris’ at 11 Weir Lane – home of the Ring brothers from America.

The Christmas death of James Ring. An inquest is held at the Ovens District Hospital in the presence of Deputy Coroner, Dr Dempster and a jury of twelve, into the death of 60-year-old American James Ring who had been living with his brother Patrick Ring at their home ‘Beaumaris’ by the Three Mile Creek. James had not worked (as a blacksmith) for a few years due to failing health and on December 13th Patrick had run into their house after hearing his brother’s screams, only to find James thrashing about on the floor beside the fireplace with his shirt on fire. After trying to extinguish the fire with his hands, Patrick fills buckets with water to put out the flames. Patrick tends to his brother for a few days before Dr Sparling is called to the home and pronounces James is “in a very dangerous state” telling some that “he will probably die”. Six days later James is finally moved to the Ovens District Hospital where Dr Slater pronounces the case “hopeless” owing to “the man’s weakness”, and he dies the following Saturday morning after Christmas. The inquest is told that a post mortem discovered that James Ring’s liver was enormously enlarged, and contained a large sac filled with pus and hydatids.  The following verdict was recorded: That James Ring died at the Ovens District Hospital, on December 28th, from the effect of severe burns accidentally received at ‘Beaumaris’ a house at 11 Weir Lane on the Three Mile Creek, Beechworth on December 13th, 1867.

Patrick Ring, a miner and sometime blacksmith, had an intemperate mouth and is often before the Beechworth magistrate for using “foul language in public”. ‘The Ovens & Murray Advertiser’ once describes Patrick as ‘The Vulcan of the Three Mile’.

1868 – Jan 27              

The remains of the Kelly family house at Greta today

The Kelly house at Greta is destroyed by fire. 13-year-old Ned Kelly, his brothers and sisters and his mother Ellen are lucky to survive. The fire has been deliberately lit by Ellen’s brother-in-law James Kelly who is later sentenced to death for starting the fire by Judge Redmond Barry at the Beechworth Courthouse, which will be commuted to 10 years imprisonment.


A large and organised group – Ah Gee & Company – establish themselves among the quartz miners at Six-Mile Creek. Chinese miners are usually organised into large groups to work together, which makes them far more efficient than the typical European alluvial gold miners.

Chinese miners have been living in the nearby official camp at ‘The Three Mile’ since 1857 and some Chinese are also living and working on district farms during the same period. In 1858 there is a mini goldrush to nearby Murmungee where the Chinese will make up 50% of miners and numerous Chinese begin receiving their mail via the Murmungee Post Office.


‘Brays Photographic Studio’ at 33 Camp Street is now ‘Ned Kelly’s Marlo Cottage’ holiday accommodation.

36-year-old photographer James Edward Bray opens a studio at his newly-built home at 33 Camp Street. Seven years after establishing his business in Beechworth, Bray will photograph members of the Kelly Gang and their sympathisers, sometimes in his small studio on the second floor at the rear of the building. ‘Brays Photographic Studio’ is conveniently located next door to the ‘Ovens and Murray Advertiser’ newspaper offices. It is now known as ‘Ned Kelly’s Marlo Cottage’ holiday accommodation (above).

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Dan Kelly aged 16 – portrait by James Edward Bray
Bray’s portraits of the Kelly gang taken in his studio include Dan Kelly (wearing his brothers too-big clothes) and 21-year-old Joe Byrne in 1877. When he is 48-years old, James Edward Bray will be one of the four men who photograph the Kelly gang after the siege of Glenrowan in 1880.
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Joe Byrne aged 21 – portrait by James Edward Bray

1868 – Mar 22             

John Duncan Fisher’s ‘Commercial Hotel’ on Ford Street

Only one year after it opens, a mental patient escapes from the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum. Suffering “from idiocy”, the young man escapes by climbing over a section of the ‘Ha Ha Wall’ which is still under construction. He makes his way down the Albert Road hill where he drops into John Duncan Fisher’s Commercial Hotel on Ford Street. Police Superintendent T.E. Langley (in charge of Ovens District) happens to be there, and he asks the police officer if he can have a ‘nobbler’ (a shot of spirits) and a cigar before being returned to the Asylum. This is granted and he is returned to the asylum … but soon escapes again! The young (unnamed) man is then placed in a secure lockdown ward, so he can’t escape again!

1868 – May 6               

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To replace the original wooden church structure built in 1857, the foundation stone for St. Josephs Church, Beechworth’s first Roman Catholic Church, is laid by James Alipius Goold, the Bishop of Melbourne. Sitting at 9 Church Street, the church is designed by architect John Coe, and constructed of granite blocks. When finally completed in 1875, it will include a magnificent rose window and quatrefoil granite columns supporting the interior. However, a planned spire is never built.

St. Joseph’s church is renovated in 1963-64 but gutted by fire in July 1977, with the ‘Lady Chapel’ the worst affected. 


Beechworth’s Hibernian Hotel

Former Roman Catholic school master William John Austin establishes the Hibernian Hotel on the corner of Camp and Loch Streets. The two-story brick-built Irish pub will become a regular haunt for many of Ned Kelly’s family, associates and sympathisers and will host the wedding reception for one of the Kelly Gang. Although it is not one of the ‘grandest’ hotels in Beechworth, the Hibernian – smaller and more ‘homely’ – does have some unique features, including its fine cast iron lace work on its corner façades and balcony. Very few of Beechworth’s buildings of this time feature this kind of detailed cast iron balustrading and ornamental work, which is often seen in other Victorian cities and country towns.

Detail of the Hibernian Hotel’s cast iron balustrading and ornamental work
The ‘Ancient Order of Hibernians’ – founded in New York in 1836 – are a fraternal and church-based benefit society that promotes the welfare of people of Irish birth or descent, and is only open to male Roman Catholics.


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George Billson – Mayor of Beechworth

51-year-old George Billson is elected to the Beechworth Borough Council and is Mayor of Beechworth from 1869 to 1871.

1868 – Aug 20             

Edward Rogers, licensee of the Imperial Hotel, generously pays for the planting of a number of trees around the exterior of Beechworth Gaol and along High Street.


A beautiful home called Walworth is completed at 12 Kars Street. Beginning as a single-storey house in the 1850s, it is finished as a commanding and iconic two-storey solid red brick Victorian residence, historically referred to as “The Retreat”. It is built for Judge Thomas Spencer Cope – chair of the Beechworth General Sessions Court – and later owned by Beechworth pharmacist George Gammon and his wife Kate and then by coach builder Thomas Augustus Connolly of Crawford and Connolly Coach Builders.

‘Walworth’ at 12 Kars Street as it looks today

1868 – Sep 26

Mark Baldwin opens the Apollo Hall, a new Beechworth entertainment venue as a rival to William Thompson Soulby’s popular St. George’s Hall on Loch Street and the Concert Room at the Imperial Hotel. Four months earlier Baldwin had purchased the freehold of Soulby’s Victoria Hotel on the corner of High and Camp Streets for £300, made extensive alterations and then built the brick Apollo Hall adjoining the hotel. The Apollo hosts dances, concerts and other entertainment events. However, by May 1871 Baldwin’s Victoria Hotel has ceased business – with Sergeant Baber of the local police reporting the hotel “had become dilapidated and unfit for accommodation” – and the Apollo Hall will soon go the same way.


Beechworth begins campaigning for a railway to be constructed to serve the town, possibly as part of the main route into New South Wales.

For many years Beechworth district residents have been frustrated with poor roads and high transport costs which are inhibiting the development of the Ovens region. The opening of a branch line could mean a journey that once took many days, could be done in a few hours. A railway line would connect Beechworth with the main rail line at Wangaratta and open up the district for further development. 

1868 – Dec 17

Irishman Felix O’Connor is discharged from duties as a policeman at Beechworth. Felix became a member of Victoria’s Mounted Police Force on 31 May 1859 after serving 9 years in the Irish Constabulary. He is made a Senior Constable in Beechworth in May 1860, going on to be Sergeant of Police. However, notes on his service record show that he is a heavy drinker, not very good at following orders and has little understanding of Police duties. An example: “Not the slightest reliance could be placed in this man, I think he is the greatest liar I have ever had at the depot.” He subsequently goes into the hotel business, taking the licence for Beechworth’s Dublin Inn in 1869, then the London Tavern, followed by the Post Office Hotel in 1886 (below). Finally, in 1892, Felix becomes the licensee of the Railway Hotel, by which time he is the oldest hotel-keeper in Beechworth. While still running the Railway Hotel, he dies of heart disease in 1898 at the age of 66.

Felix O’Connor owns the lease of ‘Post Office Hotel” at 24 Camp Street from 1886 to 1892. The building will later be home to the ‘Beechworth Hardware Store’ and is the ‘Beechworth Emporium’.


Students and teacher at the newly established Murmungee School (photo: Bowmans Forest Murmungee History Group)

11km from Beechworth, the first school at Murmungee opens.

1869 – Feb 24           

The Corner Hotel – far right of picture – in the 1870s

Frederick ‘Fritz’ Dreyer, licensee of the Beechworth Hotel on High Street, takes over Henry Thomas Littlewood’s two-story Manchester House building on the corner of Ford and Camp Streets. He converts it into a hotel which he names the Corner Hotel (above right). It sits diagonally opposite the Beechworth Post Office in the centre of town. Henry Vandenberg will take over the Corner Hotel in 1884. Later taken over by Percy Pund, in November 1892 the name of the hotel is changed to the Central Hotel and a verandah is added to the first storey (below).

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The Corner Hotel (aka The Central Hotel) in the late 1890s
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The same building in 2022
This highly desirable location has previously been a single-storey building, home of the ‘Argus’ newspaper branch office (as a base for reporters writing about the goldfields); a clothing store; and a tobacconist. For many years from the 1940s to the 1960s the two-storey building is run as the popular ‘Astor Café’ (above), and then the ‘Dolphin Café’. In 2000 it becomes ‘Pozzebon’s Pizza Parlour’ followed by ‘Taylor’s Beechworth Milk Bar’. After sitting empty for a number of years, it is fully refurbished in period style in 2021-22 and now operates as ‘Miss Amelie Gourmet – Fine Food Merchants’.  

1869 – Mar

The front exterior of the ‘London Tavern’ as it looks today

After establishing the fine London Tavern at 43 Camp Street in 1859, William Thompson Soulby puts his hotel up for sale. The hotel – with “twenty spacious apartments built in brick” – is purchased by Thomas Wilkinson who renames it Wilkinson’s London Tavern Commercial and Family Hotel but within sixteen months he puts the hotel back on the market. It does not sell but instead is rented by John Rawlings who remains the licensee until 1876.

1869 – Apr 22              

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The foundation stone is laid for the Congregational Church by the Reverend Mark Bradney on the corner of Camp and Loch Streets. The new church will stand at 40a Camp Street, next to the site of the Congregational Church Hall, which had previously been the location of the original cemetery. (The bodies had been exhumed and transferred to the new cemetery in 1857.)

When the Congregational and Methodist Churches amalgamate in the 1970s it ceases being used for services and most recently it has been the home of ‘Gospel Antiques’.


French chef Ambroise Granjoux (who had been a chef at Government House in Melbourne and then in charge of the restaurant at Beechworth’s El Dorado Hotel) establishes a vineyard at Newtown. After some success, the vineyard is sadly destroyed by a fire and in 1873 Ambroise Granjoux will return to France. Today, Granjoise Lane (named in his honour) runs off Malakoff Road at Newtown and new vines have been planted at the end of the lane, surrounded by the impressive original stacked stone walls (below).


Beechworth newsagent and tobacconist George Judah Lyon purchases the Beechworth Cordial and Aerated Water Manufactory in Loch Street from Mr E. H. Dunn. He carries on this business for some time with a fair amount of success but, believing that the water passing through the slate strata towards the head of Spring Creek will be more suitable for the purposes required, he moves the factory to that locality and pushes forward the business with redoubled energy, emphasising the Soda Water. His cordials include ‘Ginger Wine’, ‘Peppermint’, ‘Lemon Syrup’, ‘Cloves’ and ‘Cherry Cordial’ and his award-winning ‘Raspberry Vinegar’ (label above). He later adds sauces, including his own ‘Bogong Sauce’. He will eventully sell his Spring Creek Brewery to Dr. Brierly and Hurst & Co when George and his wife move to Windsor in Melbourne in 1885.

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George Judah Lyon
New York native George Judah Lyon and his wife Wilhelmina enjoy amateur theatricals and regularly stage performances. The Ovens and Murray Advertiser report on a performance of the Shakespeare reading “Seven Ages” given by George at ‘St. Georges Hall’ to raise funds for the ‘Beechworth Academy.’ It is met with hearty applause. Finding that he cannot devote full attention to his newsagency, he sells it to Alfred ‘Alf’ William Foster and adds a brewery to his premises beside Spring Creek.
In 1873, 20 years after arriving in Australia from America, George Judah Lyon is naturalised. He has become both popular and important in Beechworth. There is a strong American presence in Beechworth and Lyon takes a prominent part in organizing Fourth of July celebrations. Always ready to be in the forefront of any movement which might benefit the district or develop its resources, when the United Shire of Beechworth is constituted, he is elected a Councillor from 1877 to 1881. He is philanthropic and a supporter of helping to relieve human suffering. He is a member of the Church of England, the Benevolent Society, the Public Library, and is also a Committee Member of the ‘Ovens and District Hospital’ and the ‘Agricultural Society’. He is a keen sportsman and member of the Beechworth Racing Club Committee, he is a strong supporter of the Beechworth Railway, and initiates the idea of the Boxing Day Sports which are held in Beechworth for many years. 


A ‘rough’ diamond

At Finn’s old claim at the Woolshed, a few diamonds are discovered as tailings are being washed through, and large quantities of stream tin are discovered at Pilot Range, north of the Beechworth-Chiltern Road.


‘Midland Counties Hotel’ with the extended verandah added in 1874. Edwin ‘Teddy’ Warden is at the centre of the picture. (photo © Burke Museum)

Having sold his Australian Arms hotel at Silver Creek, Edwin ‘Teddy’ Warden builds a new hotel in Beechworth, on the corner of Ford and Church Streets, formerly the site of the ‘Masterson & Hamilton Grocery Store’. He names it the ‘Midland Counties Hotel’ (after his home county in Coventry) and the new hotel boasts of a ‘private entrance from Church Street to the Dining Room’ (presumably for those who did not wish to walk through the bar!) and a verandah is extended in 1874 around both sides of the building. In 1889 Warden passes the license to his son Frederick Oscar Warden who, in 1900, adds a second story at the back of the hotel containing ten hotel rooms, with a new rear balcony with ‘a view of the distant Buffalo Mountains’. Frederick Warden dies suddenly at the age of just 43, leaving his widow Ellen Warden to run the business. She runs it extremely well … in 1913 she carries out major renovations and changes the name of the business to ‘Warden’s Hotel’. To celebrate, the Beechworth Town Band play selections from the balcony for the gathered gentry at the official re-naming and ‘free drinks are dispensed for an hour’.

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The renamed ‘Warden’s Hotel’ in the 1930s, now with a second-storey added.
Members of the Warden family run the hotel for almost fifty years, before the licence is sold to Ms. Frederica Walker in 1935. ‘Warden’s Hotel’ finally closes in 1971. The building remains today – still featuring its pair of famous ‘Wardens’ and ‘Hotel’ stained-glass windows facing Ford Street and, until 2022, operated as the ‘Beechworth Indian Restaurant’.  


After much debate and design work, construction begins on a new Beechworth Post Office after the damage caused to the previous building during the ‘Great Beechworth Fire’ in 1867. The iconic solid granite tower, which is still standing proudly, is to be incorporated into the new structure, designed by architect Peter Kerr from the Public Works Department (Kerr will also design the Kyneton Post Office) at a cost of £3,700.


Thomas Tanswell – born 1830, died 1892

Having first arrived in Beechworth as a 22-year-old butcher at the beginning of the goldrush in 1852 , Thomas Tanswell, now aged 39, returns to Beechworth with his wife Ann and their 13 children after spending the last 16 years in the nearby town of Bright. The son of a convict, in 1862 Tanswell had built and operated the Empire Hotel in Bright before his eventual move back to Beechworth where, amongst other things, he will become a Justice of the Peace and Beechworth Shire President from 1878-1879 and again from 1886-1887.

The township of Bright in 1874 (photo: Bright Historical Society)
In the township of Bright, at the junction of Morse’s Creek and the Ovens River 57km from Beechworth, Thomas Tanswell had run a hotel on the Buckland Goldfields below the river junction before building the popular ‘Empire Hotel’ in 1862. Later renamed the ‘Oriental Hotel’ this building still stands today at 2 Ireland Street (as the ‘Velo Hotel’) and is one of the oldest commercial buildings in Bright.  

1869 – Aug 30             

Original wooden Wesleyan Chapel (photographed by Walter Bentley Woodbury in 1855)

Demolition begins on the 1854-built wooden Wesleyan Chapel at 26 Ford Street. Used as the Wesleyan School since 1857, it has been deemed unsafe. Four tenders for demolition are received, with the accepted tender going to 43-year-old James Kyle for a demolition fee of £287. It is to be replaced by a new brick chapel, on the same spot, next door to the new stone Wesleyan Church built in 1857. 

When it opened in 1854, the old wooden Chapel is the first place of worship constructed in Beechworth. 


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The beautiful two-storey Victorian home ‘Richmond House’ is completed at 14 Bridge Road on the Newtown Hill for Mark Straughair and John Laidley Duncan, the blacksmiths and farriers and owners of the Beechworth Foundry across the road. The foundry owners build the house themselves, which features granite foundations with ‘English bond’ brickwork – triple brick downstairs and double brick upstairs.

Duncan will carry on the ‘Beechworth Foundry’ in Newtown after the death of his partner Straughair in 1882.  When Duncan dies in 1896 the Foundry business collapses but will be re-established by William Henry Phillips in February 1905 before being taken over a year later by H. Delora. 


George Briscoe Kerferd

George Briscoe Kerferd becomes Minister for Mines and Railways in the Victorian Government and is instrumental in having Beechworth connected to the State’s railway system, telling parliament “The advancement of Beechworth means more to me than my political career.” He has the branch line to Beechworth included in the Railway Construction Bill.

1869 – Oct

Harry Power – last known prison photograph

After escaping from Pentridge Prison in Melbourne on 16 February 1869, 50-year-old Harry Power (born Henry Johnson in Ireland) roams throughout the North-East Victoria robbing both the rich and the poor, finally settling on highway robbery as the most profitable line of work, holding up the mail-coach at Porepunkah on 7 May and another coach on the Longwood-Mansfield Road on the 22nd 1869. In Beechworth in late October having a drink at the Commercial Hotel, he overhears a ‘Crawford & Connolly’ coach driver (their office is across the street) boast that “he would shoot Harry Power if he came upon him”. Harry decides to put the driver to the test and the next day he will ride down the Buckland Gap Road and block the stagecoach with a barrier of logs in its path.

1869 – Oct

​”Bailed Up” – 1895 painting by Tom Roberts

As planned, bushranger Harry Power holds up the ‘Crawford & Connoelly’ stagecoach near Orton Road at Murmungee on the Buckland Gap Road 7 miles from Beechworth. Once the coach is halted, Harry springs from the surrounding bush (is Ned Kelly holding the horses? – see entry below) and orders everyone to put their valuables on the ground. There are four passengers on the coach, a Bright store keeper, a little boy, and two women – Kate Dalgleish, the teenaged Murmungee School Assistant Teacher, and a Chinese woman named Hing Ung. (This is highly unusual, since of the 1,500 Chinese in the district, only 2 are female!) The coach driver empties his pockets of £2/16s (and his pistol) after denying his boast the previous day at Beechworth. The Bright store-keeper hands over his gold watch and Hing Ung offers 13 shillings. Harry suggests she has more money ‘hidden in her garments’ and threatens to strip her to discover it. She protests tearfully as her fellow passengers plead with Harry to leave her alone. Chivalry prevails and he makes off with the lead horse from the coach to forestall any pursuit.

The Victorian Government immediately raises the reward for Harry’s capture from £200 to £500. Alas Harry’s days are numbered and his fondness for watches will lead to his undoing. Offering to return a gold watch (for £15) to one of his victims via one of Ned Kelly’s uncles, Ned’s grandfather James Quinn will reveal Power’s hideout for the reward, receiving £300 for his part in the capture. Harry Power receives a sentence of 15 years in prison.

1869 – Oct

13-year-old Ned Kelly forms an association with notorious bushranger, prison escapee and ‘wanted man’ 50-year-old Harry Power who now operates in the Ovens Valley area. Power teaches young Ned bushcraft and other “tricks of the trade”. As a result, Ned will be arrested and held in custody for seven weeks as a suspected accomplice to Power, but the charge is dismissed.

1869 – Nov 12             

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The new Wesleyan Schoolroom (left) next to the 1857-built Wesleyan Church

The new brick Wesleyan Schoolroom is completed, replacing the recently demolished wooden chapel on Ford Street. A special ‘combination’ event is held on November 14, with sermons preached by local Wesleyan, Congregational and Methodist ministers.  The following day about ‘250 ladies and gentlemen’ attend a ‘Tea Meeting’ in the new building at which the Wesleyan minister Revered James D. Dodgson and others speak and Mr Ah Ling sings a ‘hymn in Chinese followed by a few remarks in English’. Both buildings remain intact today.

The Wesleyan Church will become the Methodist Church in 1900. When the Methodist and Congregational Churches merge in 1966 it ceases being used for services. The church building will become the ‘Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre’ in the 1980s and is now the home of the ‘Quercus Community Centre’ while the Wesleyan Schoolroom is now the ‘Quercus Bookshop’.


In Beechworth during the year there are 41 recorded deaths and 127 recorded births. The population stands at 2,746 and 400 burgesses. The annual income of the Beechworth Borough Council stands at around £3,000. There are twenty hotels and the main manufacturers in town are the soap and candle factory, three breweries and soda water and cordial manufactory. The places of public worship embrace the Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Independent churches, and chapels of the Wesleyan, Baptist and Cameronian (Scottish) denominations.


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Photographic portrait of Ned Kelly aged 15 by an unknown photographer at Kyneton

16-year-old Ned Kelly is first incarcerated in the cell at the rear of the Beechworth Town Hall for assaulting Jeremiah McCormick.

Released in March 1871, young Ned is again imprisoned in August that year for three years on a charge of receiving a stolen mare. He spends 18 months doing forced labour in the area before being sent to ‘Pentridge Prison’ after another fracas. 


The beautiful home Erindale is built at 1 Victoria Road, on the corner of Victoria Road and Junction Road. It still stands today.

1870 – Apr

John Duncan Fisher’s weatherboard ‘Commercial Hotel’ on Ford Street before Thomas Tanswell has it demolished and replaces it with the current stone and brick hotel.

49-year-old John Duncan Fisher sells his popular Commercial Hotel in Ford Street to 40-year-old Thomas Tanswell (former owner of the Empire Hotel in Bright). While Tanswell continues to run the popular hotel, he begins to make plans to demolish the double-storey wooden building and draws up his own design plans for a grand, stone and brick hotel building to replace it. Three years later, on October 1st 1873, the new hotel will be opened (and will remain in the Tanswell family until 1967). The newly built Commercial Hotel will feature French doors, a richly gilded crest on the front window and decorative iron lacework on its verandah (below). As well as buying the Commercial Hotel, Thomas Tanswell will also purchase the adjoining coaching offices, along with Fred Dreyer’s former Freemasons’ Arms hotel building at the rear – which fronts onto High Street – meaning that Tanswell now owns a square block of land in the centre of Beechworth – with frontages to both Ford and High Streets! The old Freemasons’ Arms building on High Street will later be converted into a school, run by Tanswell’s eldest son Thomas Jnr and his wife Margaret. (see entry in 1885)

Thomas Tanswell’s ‘Commercial Hotel’ photographed in the 1890s
It would appear that Ned Kelly and members his family and his gang patronised the hotel. Thomas Tanswell was certainly a supporter and is known to have visited Ned Kelly in the ‘Melbourne Gaol’ whilst he awaits execution. ‘Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel’ still stands today and is one of Beechworth’s four remaining central hotels, along with theHibernian’, the ‘Empire’ and the ‘Nicholas’, as well as the ‘Grand Oaks Resort’, up the hill from central Beechworth at Mayday Hills. 


Members of the Witherow family cutting timber at Bowmans Forest

The settlement of Bowmans Forest – 10km south of Beechworth – is now a thriving community, following the establishment of a school in 1865 and local shops along the ‘Ovens Track’ (now the Great Alpine Road). It is at a junction of the traditional track to ‘Fisher’s Crossing’ on the Ovens River (perhaps the same one Hovell and Hume used) since there is no bridge. The Bowmans Forest shops include the Hands and Morris Store, Maria Davis’ Dress Shop, John Balty’s Butcher Shop along with Charlie Williams Blacksmith Shop and the nearby Shannon’s Hotel and Mummery’s Hotel. By 1888 Bowmans Forest is listed in the North-East section of the “Victoria and Its Metropolis” book as one of the “small townships of the ordinary up-country type”.

Sadly, the decline of school-aged children and the location of the railway line further along the ‘Ovens Track’ will eventually spell the end of the township. Today there is little evidence of the Bowmans Forest settlement because most of the buildings were located on road reserves and therefore had no title, making them impossible to sell as going concerns. And the advent of World War One creates a shortage of building materials and many existing structures are soon pulled apart for construction elsewhere.
The remains of the 1865-built Bowmans Forest School in 1979 (photo: Denis Rae)


Peter Petersen Bohl establishes the All Nations Hotel on (what is now) the Old Stanley Road at Spring Creek. A fine two-storey building with an attractive verandah, it comprises a bar two, sitting rooms and three bedrooms.

In March 1872 Peter Bohl is charged with “permitting dancing in a building within the same enclosure as a licenced house without the permission of the licensing bench”. Bohl is let off and the matter is not pursued further.

1870 – May                  

The new Beechworth Post and Telegraph Office is open for business. The new building incorporates the original 1865 granite tower and other materials that are left standing following the ‘Great Beechworth Fire’ of 1867. The new, larger double-story Post Office, an Italianate structure designed by architect Peter Kerr, is unusual in that it consists of a new building being added to an existing tower, rather than the other way around. The new Beechworth Post Office features a private residence on the first floor. A cast iron verandah over the first floor balcony will be added in 1874.

As well as the existing clock tower, the new Post Office now features a colonnade on the ground floor and a balcony above with slender columns facing Camp Street. Out the front, right on the corner of Camp and Ford Streets, is a unique iron drinking fountain, operated by a foot pedal, with four spouts in the shape of lion’s heads.

1870 – May

As the new Beechworth Post and Telegraph Office opens (having been rebuilt following the ‘Great Beechworth Fire’ of 1867), a new hotel is also constructed on the site of the destroyed Empire Hotel (two doors down from the Post Office). The new hotel is named The Post Office Hotel with William Thomas Soulby in charge.  

1870 – Jun 5

Sketch – ‘The Capture of Harry Power’

Harry Power is captured in the King River Ranges by Superintendents Charles Nicolson and Francis Hare who, with Sergeant William Montford and a black tracker, who surprise Power in his hide-out (‘Power’s Lookout’) overlooking the Quinn property on the King River. Power is brought to Beechworth where he is tried at the courthouse and sentenced to 15 years at Pentridge Prison in Melbourne. The cell in which Power is held in Beechworth is open for display to the public today. Power is thought to have been responsible for 80 more armed hold-ups in the area than all the Kelly’s put together!

After accounts of his ill health behind bars are reported inThe Argus’ newspaper in 1877, 57-year-old Harry Power will be released from Pentridge on the application of several women, including Lady Janet Clarke. He works on the Clarke property ‘Rupertswood’ at Sunbury until, in early 1891, he becomes a guide of the former prison hulk ‘Success’ (on which had served an earlier sentence) which is now a museum. On October 11th 1891 his body is found in the Murray River at Swan Hill after apparently drowning while fishing.
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Harry Power in leg irons at Pentridge Prison

1870 – Sep

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An 1870 postcard picture of Ford Street

Beechworth experiences its heaviest rain and floods since gold was first discovered, with most creek claims washed out. As lots of tailing accumulations are washed away, the tail-races are therefore cleared.


Burnbrae Homestead today

Burnbrae Homestead is built at 13 Pritchard Lane, Sitting on just under one acre of land, it has a clear view onto the Newtown Falls and Newtown Bridge.

The views of Newtown Falls and Newtown Bridge from Burnbrae Homestead

1870 – Sep 15              

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Charles Sherwood Stratton – aka ‘General’ Tom Thumb

Celebrated American midget ‘General’ Tom Thumb (made famous by P.T. Barnum) arrives at the Commercial Hotel in Benalla after narrowly escaping flood waters, almost swept away by a flash flood in a swollen creek at Baddaginnie. A few weeks later, 38-year-old Tom returns to North-East Victoria with his touring troupe as part of the Barnum & Bailey Circus “Round the World” tour, with Beechworth hosting the circus for three evening shows and two matinees at the Star Theatre. The performances include sketches with Tom Thumb dressed as different famous historical characters including Napoleon (above). The shows prove immensely popular, with one session performed to a crowd of over 600 people crammed into the theatre.

Charles Sherwood Stratton – aka ‘General’ Tom Thumb – and his wife Lavinia Warren Stratton featured in a postcard from the late 1880s. Accompanying the postcard are a pair of Stratton’s leather knee-high boots – 13.4cm tall and 6.5cm long with leather lining and soles, stacked leather heels and decorative embossing on the front – donated to the Burke Museum at Beechworth.
By his 30s, Tom Thumb – real name: Charles Sherwood Stratton – stands just 2 feet 9 inches tall (90cm). As a child, Stratton appears twice before Queen Victoria and the three-year-old Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII. Stratton’s fame grows at an astonishing rate, and his popularity and celebrity surpass that of any actor within his lifetime. He amasses a fortune before his sudden death in 1875 at the age of 45.

1870 – Dec 26

‘William’ Tsze Hing passes away at the age of 35. He had run his popular store on Spring Creek for many years, selling beer, wine and Chinese spirits (made from cinnamon and citron). He is often called upon at the Beechworth Courthouse to act as a go-between and interpreter for the local Chinese community. Much respected, he is invited to join the Beechworth Oddfellows and the Freemasons. Born in 1835, in Guangdong, China, he marries Kezia Elizabeth Wallis in Beechworth, and they have two sons and a daughter. He is buried at the Beechworth Cemetery.


The national government census reveals that the greater Beechworth Shire has 2,192 Catholics, out of a total population of 9,581, just 23 per cent. The census, taken at 10-year intervals, will go on to show the slow and steady decline of Catholics in the district, until 60 years later when both the above figures have been exactly halved.

1871 – Feb

At a final cost of £489 and 7 shillings, construction is completed on the new brick Police Stables on the Police Reserve. Built by Beechworth contractor Lewis Griffiths, the solid building still stands on the reserve today.

After the building is no longer required for the stabling of police horses, it is used by the Beechworth Police as a storage area. After eventually falling into disrepair, it is restored in 1975 – including the replacement of its slate roof with corrugated and galvanised steel sheeting – and continues being used as storage space for the Beechworth Police Station next door.


Mulberry Cottage is built at 74 High Street, directly opposite the newly completed Police Stables. The cottage’s terraced garden leads directly down to Spring Creek (below).


After the death of his father (Patrick ‘Paddy’ Byrne) at the age of 39 from heart disease, 15-year-old Joe Byrne has to spend more time helping to run the Byrne family’s dairy farm in the Woolshed Valley. However, to earn extra income, he also finds work as a ‘cart boy’ with the Ovens Tannery in Beechworth, as well as doing odd jobs for the Chinese in nearby Sebastopol. It is here that teenage Joe Byrne comes across a man called Ah Suey strung up outside a shop screaming for help. Days later, Ah Suey is found murdered due to debts he apparently owes to Chinese mobsters. Although young Joe appears as a witness in the trial of the two Chinese men charged with Ah Suey’s murder, he provides very little information, possibly due to fear of a reprisal, as the accused are apparently members of the ‘Triad’, a Chinese crime syndicate with branches all over the world.

This will not be the only time Joe ends up in court thanks to his association with the Chinese (see 1873 entry). Joe spends much of his youth around the Chinese and learns Cantonese by ear. He indulges in Chinese food and other cultural aspects such as gambling and opium smoking.

1871 – Apr

Church and Loch Streets in 1871 – ‘St. George’s Hall’ is marked with an arrow.

A fire breaks out at Melrose’s Ovens Bedding Factory at 11 Loch Street, two doors down from St. George’s Hall. It is also the home of John and Jeanette Melrose and their family. Frantic efforts are made to put out the flames using “pint pots, dilapidated cans, buckets, etc.” Despite this setback, Jeanette Melrose will continue to run the business for some time, even placing an advertisement for Melrose’s famous horse hair mattresses.


An ‘airing yard’ (exercise yard) is opened at Beechworth Gaol, radically designed around a central observation tower to enable prisoners in solitary confinement to exercise in complete silence. It is a true ‘Panopticon’ structure with one guard able to watch over 12 prisoners during their exercise period.

In 1957, a swimming pool for prisoners will be built over the top of the ‘airing yard’ in the gaol.


Fiery Scotsman John Scarlett, secretary of Beechworth Council, is accused of bigamy. Although he is found not guilty, all the evidence seems to point to the fact he was guilty.


At the little settlement of Black Springs – 3 miles from Beechworth on the road to Wangaratta – James Price purchases a large piece of land for £1 an acre, sinks a well and creates a thriving garden market to service the local inhabitants. Price becomes a popular sight in Beechworth where, every Saturday, he travels to sell his fresh produce in town.

The settlement of Black Springs had developed in the 1850s with its own school, hotels, blacksmith’s shop, and from 1875, a bakery run by William Price, James Price’s nephew. Sadly, the Black Springs settlement will be destroyed by a bushfire during the Christmas of 1899 – except for the bakery – which continues supplying bread to the region until 1942. The bakery and its assorted buildings remain to this day.


Foster’s Tobacconist at 74 Ford Street

American George Judah Lyon sells his popular tobacconist and newsagency at 74 Ford Street to Alfred ‘Alf’ William Foster and his wife Sarah, daughter of a Jewish draper. In the 1850s Foster’s paternal grandfather, a Yorkshire man, had left his post as a police magistrate in Tasmania to bring his family to the Beechworth gold diggings.

Foster’s Tobacconist Store stands on the corner of Ford Street and Criterion Lane, named after the ‘Criterion Hotel’ which stands at the other end of the lane on High Street. Later it will be renamed ‘Warren Lane’ after Richard ‘Little Dick’ Warren takes over Foster’s tobacconist store. Today the laneway is partly roofed and known as the ‘Marion Arcade’.


A single gum tree is planted on the corner outside the new Beechworth Post Office, just like the gum tree that had stood there on the corner in the 1850s and 60s.

Note in the photo above, the gum tree stands alone as the only tree planted in the middle of town. But many more trees will be planted on the streets around town in the 1870s and most still flourish, giving Beechworth its reputation as a town admired for its beautiful trees, particularly in autumn when the golds and yellows of the leaves fill the streets with amazing colours. 


With the opening of the new Beechworth Post and Telegraph Office in 1870, the Beechworth Telegraph Station moves its operations into the new building, and its former building at 92 Ford Street (above) is remodeled to become the District Survey Office of the Lands Department. The work is carried out by contractor James Kyle at a cost of £223. The building’s front verandah is added in 1900.

In late 1999 the Lands Department relocates within Beechworth and the Telegraph Station will be refurbished to its original look and, in September 2001, is opened to the public as a place of historic significance with the building featuring exhibits of telegraph and surveying equipment. 

1871 – Aug 10             

A Ceremonial Collar worn by Victorian members of the ‘Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society,’

One of the first Hibernian Lodges in the North-East of Victoria is opened in Beechworth. The ‘Ancient Order of Hibernians’, founded in New York in 1936, are a fraternal and church-based benefit society which promotes the welfare of people of Irish birth or descent. The Beechworth Hibernian Lodge is strictly for male Roman Catholics and its chief purpose is to create a pool of money to cover medical and hospital fees incurred by its members.

The Australian branch of the ‘Hibernian Society’ is founded in 1868 by Mark Young who runs the ‘White Hart Hotel’ in Ballarat. Young is very active in local affairs and assists fellow Irishmen by creating the ‘Ballarat Hibernian Benefit Society’ which later amalgamates with the ‘Australian Catholic Benefit Society’ to form the ‘Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society’  Like Beechworth’s Hibernian ‘Lodge of St. John’ opposite the Burke Museum, the original ‘Hibernian Lodge’ in Camp Street – strictly for Roman Catholic men – provides fellowship for the Irish in Beechworth who are far from their homes and families.

1871 – Dec

John Connolly proudly promotes his patented ‘Mulled Ale’ and ‘Mulled Wine’ at his Shamrock Hotel on Camp Street.

1871 – Dec 29

The official seal of the newly created ‘United Shire of Beechworth’

As Beechworth does not surmount the population threshold (to continue its separate municipal status), the ‘Borough of Beechworth’ and the ‘Shire of Beechworth’ are united to become ‘The United Shire of Beechworth’.

The ‘United Shire of Beechworth’ (or the ‘Beechworth United Shire’) originated as two separate entities: the ‘Municipal District of Beechworth’ – first created on 23 August 1856, becoming the ‘Borough of Beechworth’ on 11 September 1863 – and the ‘Shire of Beechworth’, created on 27 December 1865 as a union of the Stanley (10 December 1862) and Wooragee (30 March 1863) Road Districts. The two entities merge on 29 December 1871, to form the ‘United Shire of Beechworth’. At its dissolution, it is the only local government entity remaining in Victoria which is styled as a ‘United Shire’, although many others are also the result of amalgamations.

1872 – Jan

View of Beechworth in the mid-1870s – arrow highlights the location of Billson’s Brewery (with the original chimney before it is moved) at 29 Last Street.

George Billson takes on his eldest son, 28-year-old George Henry Billson as a business partner at his brewery at 4 Last Street. Together, G. Billson and Son expand operations, selecting a new site for their brewery at 29 Last Street because it sits above a “pure natural mountain spring of exceptional purity that flows all the way from Mount Buffalo”.  George Snr and George Jnr employ Chinese gold miners to dig a large round well, from which they can draw the spring water. The specific shape of the well comes from the Chinese superstition that evil spirits hide in the corners of square wells.

This “Snowline” spring water has been used in Billson’s drinks ever since. The new site will soon feature a cordial factory, cooperage, and stables for the brewery’s horses. Most importantly, Billson and his son build a four-storey ‘tower brewery,’ a design which has only recently been adopted in Britain. The tower still stands today and is thought to the oldest surviving tower brewery building in Australia. 
The new Billson’s Brewery building at 29 Last Street in 1878, when the chimney tower is on the right hand side of the building. It will be moved to the other side of the building when it is expanded in 1895.
In 1879, George’s eldest son, the now 35-year-old George Henry Billson, will leave the partnership to pursue his own brewing career in Albury. Another of George Billson Snrs’ sons, Walter Joseph Billson, will start his own brewing business in Albury in 1894 and be Mayor of Albury from 1899–1900 and again in 1902.

1872 – Mar 11

The ‘Beechworth Prospecting Association’ is established in an attempt to bring back miners … which might see the return of people like Mary Fry – her Beechworth ‘Miner’s Right’ (above) allowed her to prospect at Ten Mile from 1898-1899.

As the number of people digging for gold continues to dwindle, local businessmen realise that unless new discoveries of gold are made in the district, the future and growth of the town could be doomed. So on this day, the Beechworth Prospecting Association is established to promote Beechworth to potential gold seekers and encourage new gold prospectors to come to the district, believing that this will keep Beechworth a viable and profitable township.


A ratepayers’ list of the Woolshed goldfields shows just 130 persons remaining at the diggings, of whom one third are Chinese.

1872 – Mar 30             

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The Ovens & Murray Advertiser – employees outside the Ford Street office.

Two years after the Telegraph Station relocated to the new Beechworth Post and Telegraph Office, they announce they are now able to receive news from overseas with the completion of international telegraph lines. This promises communication with Europe within a matter of hours and, with the prospect of more overseas news available quickly, the Ovens & Murray Advertiser responds by converting to a daily newspaper the following week.

This rapid conversion by the newspaper is a bit premature as the overseas telegraph suffers a range of early problems and will not be fully operational until October 22nd.  

1872 – Apr 8

The first flogging at the Beechworth Gaol takes place when a Chinese man, convicted of indecent exposure, is secured to a large wooden triangle and seventeen lashes are applied to his exposed back by a fellow prisoner. The flogging is considered distasteful by all concerned and when the time comes for a second series of lashes in Beechworth, there are no local volunteers to carry out the task, so the victim is sent to Melbourne where their public executioner will take the responsibility


10 Mellish Street photographed in 1976

John Clements, who had established his store on High Street in 1866, builds his new home at 10 Mellish Street in Beechworth. It still stands today.

1872 – Jun 1

Founded in 1861, the Beechworth Football Club finally plays its first ‘formally recognised’ match. The Saturday afternoon game is between ‘The Natives’ – native-born men – and ‘The World’ – men from anywhere else!

1872 – Jun 3

Billson’s workers busy in the Brewery

Having taken over Beechworth’s Ovens Brewery and Malthouse at 4 Last Street from George Briscoe Kerferd in 1865, today George Kerferd Snr will officially relaunch the business as Billson’s Brewery at its new home at 29 Last Street. In the presence of around 100 guest and visitors, Eliza Billson – the new wife of George Billson Jnr – stands back while the engine of brewery is started, before cracking open the traditional bottle of champagne, officially christening the newly renamed brewery.

Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson, who will take over his father’s brewing business in 1881, will commission a grand new two storey structure for the brewery in 1889 which will be completed by 1895.

1872 – Jun 12

Anthony Trollope photographed in 1875, the year his celebrated work “The Way We Live Now” is published (photo: Getty Images)

The famed English novelist Anthony Trollope pays a visit to Beechworth whilst travelling through the area with his wife and their cook on their way to visit the Trollope’s younger son, Frederick, who is a sheep farmer near Grenfell in NSW. Among the 57-year-olds best-known works are a series of novels collectively known as the “Chronicles of Barsetshire”, which revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also writes novels on political, social, and gender issues, and other topical matters. In 1851, Trollope had been employed to investigate and reorganise the entire rural British mail delivery system in south-western England and Wales. The two-year mission took him over much of Great Britain, often on horseback and he described the assignments as “two of the happiest years of my life”. Trollope is also famous for introducing the ubiquitous ‘Pillar Box’, the large red mail box that quickly becomes a fixture in towns all over England, and then throughout Australia, including Beechworth (below).

1872 – Aug 6

One of Beechworth’s best known coach drivers, Henry ‘Harry’ Ray, passes away. He had been injured three years earlier in an accident at Tarrawingee – when a coach wheel ran over his head causing brain damage – and he had never fully recovered.  As the railways begin spreading out into country areas, the great days of the coach and horses in the North-East are drawing to a close, and many Beechworth residents see the death of ‘Harry’ Ray as the passing of an era, as this follows the recent passing of two of the town’s other best-known drivers in the previous eighteen months – ‘Tommy’ Hoyle and J. Morten Kelly.

1872 – Aug 10             

Beechworth records its coldest morning since white settlement, getting down to minus 10 degrees with snow blanketing the town.

1872 – Oct 15               

Two armed bushrangers hold up the Post Office/Store at Wooragee, 9 km from Beechworth, then go to the Wooragee Hotel where they bail up and shoot the landlord, 39-year-old John Watt and a Mr. Kennedy, visiting from Albury. Watt struggles to survive in hospital from the gaping wound in his side from the shotgun blast, before passing away nine days later from his severe injuries on Friday October 25th.

Before he dies, Watt identifies one of the robbers. Bushrangers James Smith and Thomas Brady are charged with murder, and both are hanged at Beechworth Gaol for the crime on 12 May 1873.  

1872 – Dec 7

Eastern Arcade on Bourke Street in Melbourne in 1877, featuring a prominent banner for the “US Minstrels” and images depicting the players. (Photo: N.J. Caire of the Anglo-Australasian Photo Company, courtesy State Library Victoria) Note: The large ‘Apollo Hall’ entertainment venue sits above the main entrance

Successful Beechworth stage coach ‘magnate’ Hiram Allen Crawford becomes the toast of the town when, along with his business partner MR. S. Packham, he officially opens his mammoth Eastern Arcade in Melbourne. Running from Bourke Street through to Little Collins Street, it has been built on the site of the former Haymarket Theatre (destroyed by a fire in 1871) which is adjacent to the Eastern Market, established in 1847 as one the city’s major fruit and vegetable markets. Designed by architect George Raymond Johnson , the vast enclosed shopping arcade features 65 shops, with walkway areas in the centre which is covered by a roof of glass, with hotels at both the Bourke Street and Little Collins Street ends, as well as the ‘Apollo Hall’ entertainment venue which sits above the main entrance. The roof features three domes, the highest of which has an enclosed viewing area from where people can gain a spectacular view of ‘Marvelous Melbourne’. In 1877 Hiram’s younger brother, 25-year-old Alfred ‘Fred’ Galen Crawford, is appointed manager of the Eastern Arcade, having arrived from America in 1875. By the late 1800s the Eastern Arcade will become the heart of Melbourne’s Saturday nightlife.

Just hours after Ned Kelly’s execution in Melbourne on 11 November 1880, the bushranger’s brother and sister – 14-year-old James (Jim) Kelly and 17-year-old Kate Kelly – are ‘exhibited’ at the ‘Apollo Hall’ – which seats up to 1,000 people – within the Eastern Arcade. Appearing before an excited, curious and fascinated crowd (who have each paid the one shilling entry fee), Ned’s siblings – along with Ettie Hart, sister of Kelly Gang member Steve Hart – speak about the infamous bushranger’s exploits. There is a story that suggests Hiram Crawford’s daughter Emma (born in 1857) was good friends with Kate Kelly (born in 1863).


Building of a new Baptist Church is completed and opens at 14 Ford Street, later becoming an ‘Assembles of God’ church as well as serving followers of the ‘Church of Christ’. The interior of the church is renovated around 2001 to become a private home, known as ‘The Old Church House’ (below).

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The town’s first Baptist church services (then known as the ‘Disciples of Christ’) had been held in the tent of Beechworth pioneer James Ingram, and later in the weatherboard home that Ingram built.  


James ‘Jim’ Kelly aged 20, photographed upon his release in 1878

Ned Kelly’s younger brother, 15-year-old James ‘Jim’ Kelly, is sentenced to five years at Beechworth Gaol for cattle duffing. While at the gaol, James meets future Kelly gang member 17 year-old Joe Byrne from the Woolshed who is serving time for assaulting a Chinese man. Byrne’s accomplice in the Chinese man’s beating is Aaron Sherritt whom Byrne will shoot in 1880 as an informer of the Kelly Gang.

After his release from Beechworth Gaol in 1877, young Jim Kelly heads to Wagga Wagga in NSW where he steals some horses and is sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. After his release he lives respectably (and crime free), dying in 1946 at the age of 88. His ten year sentence in NSW means that Jim is (fortunately) not around to become part of his older brother’s ‘Kelly Gang’ in the 1880s .

1873 – Apr                   

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Beechworth Council decide to fence-in and plant a row of trees around the ‘Market Reserve’ next to the Town Hall. When completed, the area will be known as the ‘Town Hall Gardens’.


John Alston Wallace – the ‘Mining Colossus of the North-East’

Scottish-born John Alston Wallace, the ‘Mining Colossus of the North-East’, is elected to the Victorian Legislative Council where he will serve until his death in 1901 aged 73. Upon his death, he leaves an estate valued at £121,350.


George Billson is so proud of the natural spring water he is using at his Beechworth brewery that he commissions a government analysis of the water’s quality and publishes the results.

1873 – Jul 22

John Sitch Clark dies of gout and kidney disease at the age of just 45. Printer, publisher (The Ovens and Murray Advertiser) and publican (Beechworth’s Star Hotel), he invested heavily in property in the area after successful mining speculation. Clark is also a Beechworth Shire Councillor and a member of the local school board. He is buried at Beechworth Cemetery alongside his young wife and their son John Soulby Wells Clark who dies in 1875 aged 15, and their infant son Walter Clark who had died in 1858. John Sitch Clark leaves an estate valued at £5,656.

1873 – Oct 1                           

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The front of the ‘Commercial Hotel – ‘Crawford & Connolly’ stables are at the rear

The newly rebuilt Commercial Hotel on Ford Street is officially opened by a proud Thomas Tanswell. The occasion is celebrated with a free lunch and drinks and, as this day is also ‘Cattle Sale Day’ in Beechworth, Tanswell (a former butcher, like his father before him) provides an exclusive lunch for all the butchers in the region in the hotel’s upstairs Ballroom. Tanswell’s rebuilt hotel is quickly compared to the top hotels in Melbourne of the time and is certainly the grandest hotel in Beechworth … so much so that the Governor of Victoria Major-General The Hon. Sir Reginald Arthur James Talbot will stay at the Commercial Hotel during his visit to the region in 1906. (It will not be until April 28, 1908 that the name of the hotel is officially changed to ‘Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel’.) Crawford and Connolly are now occupying the premises at the rear of the hotel. They specialise in coach building and stabling as well as running mail and passengers around the north-east of Victoria, at a time when a trip from Melbourne to Beechworth takes over 24 hours by coach.

The current stables date from 1892, rebuilt after a fire and renowned as one of the largest outside Melbourne. The Victorian ‘National Trust’ will lease the stables and coach house building between 1969 and 1988, to run their ‘Carriage and Harness Museum‘.

1873 – Oct 28                            

Construction is completed on the North-Eastern Rail Line from Melbourne to Wangaratta. The new line incorporates three substantial iron bridges over rivers and floodplains at Seymour, Benalla and Wangaratta and is initially built as a single track only. The railway brings new life to towns along the line, like Benalla, but the small settlements it bypasses, like Greta, decline. The tiny settlement of Glenrowan is basically created by a railway stop being included on the line to Wangaratta. By the end of the year the line will be continued from Wangaratta, through Chiltern and Barnawartha, and on to Wodonga at the end of the line. Because the North-Eastern railway does not extend to Beechworth, the town suffers a decline in its influence in the region.

From the mid-1850s, the main road between Melbourne and Sydney has always passed through both Wangaratta and Beechworth, before heading to Wodonga and Albury. Stagecoaches run daily from Beechworth to Melbourne, Albury and Yackandandah. 


Lake Kerferd in the 1890s

Contracts are finally signed to cut a water race from Lake Kerferd into Beechworth, as well as contracts for the filter beds and settling dam. By Labour Day 1873, pipes have been laid from Lake Kerferd to the town, with Ford Street, Camp Street and High Street being the first to be connected. This work is completed in 1874.

Locals enjoying Lake Kerferd at the turn of the century.

1873 – Nov 12                          

The Prince of Wales – Edward VII – photographed on his 21st birthday in 1862

‘The Carnival of 1973’ – To celebrate the 32nd birthday of the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s eldest son, the biggest and most extravagant pageant ever seen on any of Australia’s goldfields is held in Beechworth. A huge procession of over 3,000 people begins at midday from the Market Reserve (now the Town Hall Gardens) including gaily dressed people, horses, carriages, and four marching bands. At the head of the parade are members of Beechworth’s Chinese community (see next entry). By the time the procession has reached the Public Recreation Reserve (now Baarmutha Park) over 10,000 people are there to attend a Charity Carnival which features a canvas dance floor, sideshows, food stalls, theatre performances and concluding at nightfall with a spectacular Chinese fireworks display.

A number of German immigrants in the street parade wear armour that has been specially sent to Beechworth by the Crown Prince of Prussia.

1873 – Nov 12

Over 250 Chinese lead the ‘Prince of Wales Birthday Carnival Procession’ down Ford Street. Dressed in the finest silks and Chinese decorations, they wave beautifully hand-painted Chinese flags and banners, play musical instruments and carry traditional military weapons. Yung Ah Jack – popular local Chinese interpreter – is the Parade Marshall.

“Chinese Procession at the Carnival of ’73” (detail from ‘The Australian Sketcher’, December 1874)
Born in Canton in 1844, Yung Ah Jack emmigtates to Australia at the height of the goldrush. On April 2nd 1872 he marries Charlotte Laster in at the Christ Church of England in Beechworth. They have four children – Frederick Walter, Alfred Edward, Louise Amy and Sydney Ernest. A fifth child, William, dies not long after being born in 1877.

1874 – Feb                   

Four acres of the ‘Botanical Reserve’ are gazetted as a new school site. Described by the Ovens and Murray Advertiser as “a wilderness with a granite out-crop at the back, and a swamp at each side covered with dwarf wattle and ti-tree”, the new school’s headmaster – with the assistance of a gang of prisoners from the gaol – set about draining the swamps and blasting the rock. After raising a small amount of money from a concert, he then plants pines, cypresses, cedars and sequioas.  Later, sections of the ‘Botanical Reserve’ to the south-east and north-east of the school are added to the school grounds, giving frontages to High Street and Sydney Road. The school’s sports oval is created in 1951.


A rear view of the ‘Ovens Goldfields Hospital’ on Church Street featuring the new gardens

Sweeping ‘Hospital Gardens’ are laid out by Richard H. Jenkyns on the sloping grounds of Beechworth’s Ovens Goldfields Hospital. Planted with over 200 species of trees, including fruit trees, and shrubs, as well as colourful flower beds and orchards and kitchen gardens for food production. Cedars and Bunya pines flourish, which patients can view from the shelter of a new rotunda, with fences added around the large property to complete the beautification process. The following year Jenkyns will be commissioned to lay out the Beechworth Town Hall Gardens (see 1875 entry).


One of Beechworth’s most notable (and notorious) locals at this time is John Phelan. A former Livery Stable owner, he has become the ‘Dog Pound Officer’ and ‘Shire Revenue Officer’. Phelan is a continual litigant, and regularly corresponds and complains to the local newspapers, where his official and officious escapades are often mockingly reported.


Aaron Sherritt (portrait photograph by James Bray in Beechworth)

Aaron Sherritt has a newly acquired selection near Sheepstation Creek. Sherritt and his friend, 18-year-old Joseph ‘Joe’ Byrne, mark the boundary of the farm with a combination of post and rail, and wire fencing, and build a rough slab hut where young Joe Byrne will come to spend the majority of his time. Born at the Woolshed in 1856, Joe is the eldest son of Patrick (Paddy) and Margret Byrne (nee White).

In the early 1870s, the teenaged Joe Byrne makes regular trips into Beechworth, becoming a regular visitor to James Ingram’s bookshop and newsagency, spending his time chatting with the Scotsman in the back room of his shop. Appreciating books and good conversation, Ingram finds him to be ‘a nice, well-behaved lad.’ The boy also likes to visit the Burke Museum and Public Library, where he wanders through the arched rooms of taxidermy and array of worldly artifacts, paying particular attention to the newly acquired Chinese items from a recent carnival.


42-year-old Frederick Allen purchases the Star Hotel on Ford Street in Beechworth from the estate of the late John Sitch Clark for £2,800.

Born in Kent in England, Frederick Allen travelled by ship to Victoria in 1852 and, after several years of chasing gold at various locations including Bendigo, moves to Allans Flat where he opens a store, followed by taking over Yackandandah’s ‘Southern Cross Hotel’ in the 1860s, before relocating to Beechworth in 1872. He will run the ‘Star Hotel’ until 1890. In 1886 he will become part owner and proprietor of the ‘Spring Creek Brewery’. He is elected to the ‘Beechworth Shire Council’ in 1879 and remains there until 1888. He is married three times. He passes away in Beechworth on August 13, 1906 at the age of 73.

1874 – Apr 2                

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Solicitor-General George Briscoe Kerferd (sketch by Tom Durkin, 1874)

Beechworth’s new water mains from Lake Kerferd is officially turned on by the Honourable George Briscoe Kerferd (now Victoria’s Solicitor-General), as Councillor Frederick Brown holds the hose that sends a huge jet of water clear over the Post Office tower. It is said that Councillor Brown also takes the opportunity to spray some water over those in the crowd who had criticised him over his infamous ‘Brown’s Folly’! (see 1857 entry)

Councillor Frederick Brown
Over the next two years the water is reticulated to the more remote areas of the town at an additional cost of £5,000. This is a great outcome for Beechworth but by the end of 1876 the Council is in debt by a staggering £30,489! 

1874 – Apr 2                

The first wooden ‘Newtown Bridge’ built in 1856, is to be replaced. The bridge spans Spring Creek where the Wangaratta-Beechworth Road enters Beechworth.

After Beechworth’s water supply is officially turned on in the centre of town, the official party moves down to Newtown Falls where the Foundation Stone for the newly announced granite Newtown Bridge is laid by George Verney Smith MLA. The original cost estimate is £3,897, but the government insists Beechworth Council reduce it – leading to construction being held up several times due to disputes over the costs – and it will not be completed until 1875, at a final cost of just £2,450.

1874 – Apr 3

Donald Fiddes and his team busy at work at Fiddes Quarry near the Woolshed.

The contract to build the Newtown Bridge is awarded to Beechworth Quarry owners Donald Fiddes and Co (Donald and his brother William) and construction officially commences after the Foundation Stone is laid. The Fiddess brothers quickly hire a number of fellow Scottish stonemasons, including John Morrison, who walks to the construction site at Beechworth every day up the “Zig Zag Track” from his home in the Basin at Murmungee and then home again – a distance of 16 kms!

Donald Fiddes and his Scottish stonemasons construct the bridge “like a pyramid” with no mortar used. Instead, they “key” the stones together perfectly, with one large “key stone” in the centre holding the bridge up. “It will be in service for 200 years!” the council proudly states. And yes, it still stands proudly today! 


65km from Beechworth, a high level wooden bridge is built over the flood-prone Broken River at Benalla. It features a ‘Toll Gate’ at the western end. The ‘toll’ is abolished in 1878.


From a design originally submitted ten years earlier by John H. Guzner, the Principal of Beechworth Grammar School, The Burke Museum finally gains a unique stained-glass window. Made to Principal Guzner’s 1864 design by Ferguson and Urie of Melbourne for a reported £30 (roughly $8,000 today), the window features the Colonial Flag of Australia, the red Cross of St George, the White Rose of England, the emblem of New South Wales in gold within the red cross, the Thistle of Scotland, the Shamrock of Ireland and the Southern Cross in gold stars with the wording “Burke Memorial”. It contains a total of 24 stained panels held together with lead.


Henry and Rebecca Poyntz with their four children; Henry Jnr, David, Jane and Rebecca on the verandah of the ‘Poyntz Hotel’ in Wooragee.

The Poyntz family take over the Wooragee Hotel, a key ‘watering hole’ on the road between Beechworth and Yackandandah and the business soon becomes known simply as the Poyntz Hotel. Henry Poyntz – also known as ‘Shove-along Poyntz’ – and his wife Rebecca had arrived in Wooragee in 1861 with their four children. Henry also runs a local dairy and is famous for his ‘Wooragee Butter’ and grows Algerian oats. The Poyntz family remain licensees of the Wooragee Hotel until 1911 and it is then continued by his daughter Jane Goodger (nee Poyntz).


Beechworth Post Office with added iron verandah.

A cast iron verandah is added over the Beechworth Post Office first floor balcony. In 1902 another upstairs room will be added, the roof gabled to match the existing temporary gable, and the exterior is faced with cement.

Beechworth Post Office before iron verandah is added.


Beechworth’s Presbyterian Minister Robert Ewing is accused of living with his wife even though he knows she’s a bigamist. Having been told by her minister in England that her husband has died, she proceeds to marry the Reverend Ewing in Beechworth, before being informed that the English minister made a mistake and that her first husband has not died and is was very much alive! According to law, this means that Ewing should ‘spring apart’ from his wife immediately. It becomes a big issue in Beechworth, as Ewing is such a popular minister, and his many parishioners don’t want him dismissed. In fact, they say they are prepared to join him in a new church rather than lose him, but he is eventually forced to go.


Andrew Porritt, son of a London bookseller, establishes The Ovens Register newspaper in competition with the other Beechworth paper – Richard Albert Warren’s The Ovens and Murray Advertiser.

In 1918 the Porritt family will purchase ‘The Ovens and Murray Advertiser’ from the estate of Mary Ann Warren, widow of Richard Albert Warren, and then amalgamate ‘The Ovens Register’ with ‘The Ovens and Murray Advertiser’.


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Isaac Isaacs

Local teacher Isaac Isaacs starts his legal career by suing the headmaster of the ‘Beechworth Common School’ – at which he has been an assistant teacher since 1873 – for fees that he claims are owed to him for teaching extra subjects. The claim is dismissed.

After his failure in court, Isaacs quits the Education Department in favour of law. In February 1875, Isaacs secures employment as a clerk in the Prothonotary’s Office of the Crown Law Department in Melbourne. He enrols in the Faculty of Law at the University of Melbourne, combining part-time studies with full-time work, and graduates Bachelor of Laws with first class honours in 1880, followed by a Master of Laws degree in 1883. 
After a successful legal career, Isaac Isaacs is elected to the Federal House of Representatives as the member for Indi (held in 2023 by Independent, Dr Helen Haines). A champion of Federation, Isaacs is a polymath who speaks six languages including Chinese; is for a time acting Premier of Victoria, a Federal Attorney General, High Court Judge and finally becomes the first Australian-born Governor General in 1931. 

1874 – Aug 7               

‘Belvoir’ soft drink bottles manufacted by Wodonga Cordial Co. in the 1950s

The name of the town of ‘Belvoir’ is officially changed to ‘Wodonga’.

1874 – Aug 8               

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19 year old Ned Kelly (by Melbourne photographer John Chidley)

In an infamous bare-knuckle boxing match, Ned Kelly fights Isaiah “Wild” Wright beside Spring Creek at the rear of the ‘Imperial Hotel’. The 19-year-old Ned defeats 25-year-old Wright in the fight which lasts for a brutal 20 rounds and Kelly becomes the unofficial boxing champion of the district.

Isaiah ‘Wild’ Wright (1870 portrait photograph by James Bray in Beechworth)
The ‘Imperial Hotel’ is demolished in 1966, with just the one-bedroom, one-bathroom ‘Pickett Cottage’ remaining in High Street. It still stands today. 

1874 – Nov 6

A contract is signed for the construction of a new branch line of the North-Eastern Railway from Wangaratta to Everton and then on Beechworth. The contract has been awarded to Messrs A & J Overend for £33,000 and work begins early in 1875 when the North Wangaratta Junction Stop will be created at a spot known as Burkes Waterholes (where natural springs are located) 6km beyond the Wangaratta Railway Station. This junction stop will facilitate the operation of contractor’s trains during the construction of the new branch line. In mid-1875 the North Wangaratta Junction Stop will be renamed Beechworth Junction.

The branch line from Beechworth Junction to Beechworth will be built in two sections – Wangaratta-Beechworth Junction-Londrigan-Tarrawingee-Everton, then (a year later) Everton-Lee’s Crossing-Beechworth.
The Beechworth line will be built using the “Broad Gauge” system (5 ft 3 in / 1,600 mm) as opposed to the “Narrow Gauge” system (2 ft 6 in / 762 mm). A “Narrow Gauge” system will eventually be built on a branch line between Wangaratta and Whitfield in the 1890s.


The Rocky Mountain Gold Sluicing Company siteat the present Lake Sambell

The Rocky Mountain Gold Sluicing Company Ltd is created, utilising the previous 1856 Rocky Mountain Claim for the area where present-day Lake Sambell stands. The gold is removed utilising ‘hydraulic sluicing’, a process by which water under high pressure is used to break down large amounts of rock and earth to expose the gold within them. From 1876 until its closure in 1921, the mine produces an astounding 47,926 ozs of gold!

With ‘hydraulic sluicing’ becoming a popular method of mining gold, an estimated 1,400 km of water races will be built throughout Beechworth.  


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Beechworth’s Newtown Bridge

At the entrance to Beechworth, the impressive Newtown Bridge is completed over Spring Creek, constructed of local granite by skilled Scottish stonemasons under the supervision of Donald Fiddes at a cost of £2,450. Unlike the earlier timber bridge (which had been built in line with High Street), the new stone bridge lines up with Upper Ford Street (or New Ford Street), which has replaced High Street, after five years, as the main road through Beechworth.

The completed granite ‘Newtown Bridge’ has a deck 80 feet long by 26 feet, 26 inches wide, including 6 feet of footway. The arch span is 50 feet and the rise 11 feet while the masonry parapets stand 5 feet high.
The view from Newtown towards the Newtown Bridge with ‘New’ Ford Street branching off up to the left and High Street straight ahead then up to the right.


Beechworth College in 1900 – students standing: S. Masters, J. Crow, A Ritchie – seated: J. Woodside, A. Luins, R. Stewart – Master: S.G. Code

The now vacated 1865-built Common School brick building in Loch Street is taken over by James Goldsworthy’s Beechworth Grammar School, which had been established in 1856 in the hall at 7 Church Street, behind Beechworth’s Christ Church. In 1895 Beechworth Grammar School will be purchased by 21-year-old Andrew Rule Osborn, a former pupil, and in 1897 he will rename it Beechworth College. In 1906 it will be taken over by new principal 27-year-old Parker John Moloney.

‘Beechworth College’ will finally close its doors in 1910 when Parker John Moloney leaves Beechworth to become a federal politician with the Labor Party.


Beechworth’s grandest Victorian-era residence Myrla is built by Donald Fletcher (at what is now) 2 Fletcher Road. Set on a hill (which becomes known as ‘Fletcher’s Hill’) with an elevated aspect over Beechworth, the bi-chrome brick residence features wide timber verandahs and stands in a magnificent Victorian-style garden of just under a hectare, designed by leading German botanist Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, director of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. The property includes two water features – a classic tiered fountain in the front and a modern reflection pond in the courtyard hemmed by a Beechworth granite retaining wall. There is also a small granite dairy/smoke house in the courtyard and an evergreen oak tree. The entire property is eventually surrounded by massive, manicured box hedges.

‘Myrla’ in the late 1930s
Donald Fletcher, originally from Scotland, arrived in Beechworth in 1855, became a father of 10, and had great success mining gold. ‘Myrla’ will be purchased by the government in 1953 for use as ‘Mayday Hills Mental Asylum’ senior staff accommodation. At that time, they will remove part of the interior upper level. It is now, once again, a magnificent and fully restored private home.


Now that the new Bridge is open, the settlement of ‘New Town’ grows rapidly. A new building is constructed at 24 Bridge Road, that will be a residence but also serve as the New Town Butcher Shop.

The side and rear of the cottage and shop at 24 Bridge Road.


New public baths are erected by the Beechworth Bath Company on Loch Street. These will be acquired by the council in 1878.


The ‘Black Springs Bakery’ (right) and the 1879 residence “Buffalo View” (left) on the Beechworth-Wangaratta Road.

Three miles from Beechworth, on the road to Wangaratta, William James Price opens the Black Springs Bakery on land his uncle James Price, a market gardener, had selected in 1871. Like his uncle, William had come to Beechworth from England with his parents and had entered into the employ of William Trim at his Ovens Bakery on Albert Road before setting up his own bakery at Black Springs. Starting his new business in a tent, he then builds a simple wooden structure in 1877, before enlarging the successful Black Springs Bakery, adding a stone and brick building around it (above right).

The ‘Black Springs Bakery’ becomes the centrepiece of the small goldrush town of Black Springs, established in the 1850s. At its peak, the township of Black Springs includes a State School, three hotels, a butcher, three blacksmiths, a racecourse, a rifle range, three sawmills, several vineyards and orchards, a collection of dairies, with the ‘Black Springs Bakery’ also becoming the settlement’s official Post Office. Ned Kelly is reputed to have bought bread at the ‘Black Springs Bakery’ The Bakery closes in 1942 and becomes the last remnant of a once thriving little community. Gifted to the National Trust in 1968, the old bakery buildings now operate as a guest house.
William James Price, the baker at Black Springs

1875 – Jun                  

A ‘railway town’ along the rail line for workers including ‘Gang Plate Layers’ (who will have three permanant homes built for them in Beechworth in 1876).

With the first section of the Beechworth branch line completed from North Wangaratta to Everton, the contract to construct the second – and more difficult – section of the railway line from Everton to the twon of Beechworth is awarded to Messers Fishburn & Moreton for £70,018. A small ‘railway town’ will be created at Everton to house the 500 workers needed to construct this ‘up hill’ section of the railway – the steepest broad gauge line in Victoria – complete with stores, hotels, workshops, contractor’s offices and stables while simple canvas and bark dwellings are erected to house the men. The workers use horses, bullocks and mules to manoeuvre the earth scoops and to pull the drays and wagons. Bricks are made in kilns to create 33 bridges and 45 brick culverts.

Major earthworks along the Beechworth line – the steepest broad gauge line in Victoria (photo courtesy Nick Anchen)
Work on the second section of the rail line – from Everton to Beechworth – will begin a year later on June 23rd, 1876 and will completed by September 1876.

1875 – Jul 1                 

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Everton Railway Station

Beechworth pioneer George Briscoe Kerferd, now the Premier of Victoria, is one of the first train passengers as the first section of the rail line – from North Wangaratta to Everton – is completed. Councillor Frederick Brown, President of Beechworth Shire, meets The Honourable Mr Kerferd when he arrives at Everton, halfway between Wangaratta and Beechworth, then they travel by horse-drawn coach to Beechworth to celebrate the completion of the new Beechworth State School (see next entry). The “official opening” of the rail line will be held a week later on July 7th.

Everton Railway Junction in 1975. A T-399 Goods Train departs Everton on what was originally a fully interlocked rail yard. (Photo: Trevor Penn)

1875 – Jul 2                 

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Beechworth Primary School No. 1560

Having travelled to Everton on the new rail line, Victorian Premier George Briscoe Kerferd now makes his way to Beechworth by horse-drawn coach to officially open the magnificent red-brick Gothic-style Beechworth Primary School No. 1560 at the Sydney Road end of the Botanical Reserve. Over 1,000 children march behind a brass band from their old Common School No. 36 in Loch Street to their new, much bigger school. Also present at the school’s opening ceremony are John Alston Wallace and six members of parliament and a tremendous crowd of local citizens. The new school has an initial enrollment of over 1,000 pupils!

Beechworth Primary School – Grade 2 students 1888
The architect for the new school is Henry Bastow from ‘Wharton and Vickers’ and his design will be the prototype for five other schools in Victoria. An imposing 20-metre slate-roofed tower dominates the original school building but, after gracing the school for 65 years, some of the slates fall from the tower and it is deemed unsafe and removed. So popular is the famous tower that a replacement tower, albeit more modest, is built in its place.   

1875 – Jul 7

The new siding/stop at North Wangaratta on the North-Eastern Railway line between Wangaratta and Wodonga is officially opened and renamed Beechworth Junction, as it will be from this point that that new branch line Beechworth begins. In 1885 a low grain platform is completed and ready for use and a passenger platform is completed by August 1890 along with a Signal Box. A Booking Office is built in November 1890 and by January 1891 the Beechworth Junction Station opens for passenger traffic with a full passenger platform, booking office, staff accommodation, and shelter sheds all completed, with a siding for heavy loads added in 1901. Beechworth Junction will be re-named Bowser in 1922 after Sir John Bowser, a local journalist, state politician and former Premier of Victoria.

Wangaratta Railway Station in 1915.
The interchange of goods traffic between the main line and the Beechworth branch line is handled at Wangaratta, six kilometres to the south. In 1927, the ‘Bowser Railway Station’ becomes a three-way junction, when a new branch line to Peechelba East is opened. Freight facilities include bulk grain storage, livestock loading ramps, and a fertiliser store. Passenger traffic to the ‘Bowser Railway Station’ ceases on 1 October 1972 and the station closes entirely on 13 April 1987, when the line to Everton (the last section of the Beechworth line) closes. The Peechelba East branch line had closed a year earlier, in 1986.  

1875 – Aug 17

The Beechworth Lotus Club stages a performance at St. George’s Hall. The evening features two pieces – the J.J. Williams drama “The Peep Show Man” followed by the farce “The Area Belle”.


Successful Beechworth jeweller William J. Turner builds ‘Elm Tree Lodge’ at the large triangular junction of Loch Street, Kars Street and Sydney Road almost opposite Beechworth Gaol. The original 5 room double brick home is expanded in 1890 to include a large lounge room, master bedroom and an internal bathroom. Sitting on two thirds of an acre, the house has an adjoining carriage shed that is dated pre-1875. It is now luxury holiday accommodation.

‘Elm Treee Lodge’ stands on a piece of trinagular land opposite Beechworth Gaol (right)

1875 – Oct 1                

The Baarmutha Post Office opens at Lee’s Crossing on Fighting Gully Road. It will close in 1968.


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A magnificent Californian Sequoia Tree – planted 1870s – in the Beechworth Town Hall Gardens

The beautiful Town Hall Gardens are finally opened next to the Beechworth Town Hall. Formerly known as the ‘Market Reserve’ – and in use as a popular public space since 1857 – the new gardens are designed and laid out by Richard H. Jenkyns. He plants a range of exotic species including giant Californian sequoias (above) donated by noted 19th century botanist Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne at the time.

In May 1876, a cast iron Rotunda is added. All the detailed cast iron work, as well as the pillars, are created and built at the local ‘Straughair and Duncan Foundry’. A fountain and two large urns will be added in 1877. 


25-year-old photographer Charles Bayliss arrives in Beechworth and takes a series of panoramic ‘plate’ images of the town, including the photograph above, looking north up Ford Street.

In 1866 16-year-old Bayliss meets the travelling photographer Beaufoy Merlin – who operates the ‘American and Australasian Photographic Company’ (‘A & A Photographic Company’) – and quickly becomes Merlin’s assistant. They travel extensively throughout Victoria and New South Wales. At the goldfields at Hill End in NSW they meet Bernhardt Otto Holtermann, who has become wealthy as the result of successful gold mining. Holtermann employs the ‘A & A Photographic Company’ to produce a series of photographs of the settled areas of Victoria and New South Wales, which are sent abroad to advertise the colony and encourage migrants. Although Beaufoy Merlin passes away, Bayliss continues to work with Holtermann who gifts the young photographer a mammoth ‘Plate Camera’ and the first images taken with it are of Holtermann’s recently purchased ‘Post Office Hotel’ in Sydney followed by an 1875 a panorama of Sydney, taken from the tower attached to Holtermann’s house in North Sydney, now part of ‘Sydney Church of England Grammar School’ (‘Shore School’). In the 1870s Bayliss begins to work alongside another photographer named Henshaw Clarke. Bayliss dies in 1897 (aged just 46) and in 1951 approximately 3,500 glass plate photographic negatives are found in the possession of Bernhardt Holtermann’s descendants. They are subsequently donated to the Mitchell Library (within the NSW State Library) in Sydney and now form the basis of the “Holtermann Collection“, although Bayliss, Clarke and Merlin are the actual photographers.
Photographers Charles Bayliss (left) and Henshaw Clarke, outside their ‘A & A Photographic Company’ premises, Hill End, New South Wales in 1872.


The ‘Gang Plate Layers’ cottage in Harper Avenue prior to restoration in 2024

Three cottages are built in Beechworth by the Victorian Railways as permanent homes for the ‘Gang Plate Layers’ and their families – many of whom had previously been living in tents along the railway line to Beechworth as they laid plates for the railway tracks. Only one of the cottages remains today, sitting on Crown Land at 1b Harper Avenue and, in mid-2024, it will be fully restored by the Lions Club of Beechworth for use by the community.

The former ‘Gang Plate Layers’ cottage restored
This ‘Gang Plate Layers’ cottage is believed to be just one of four surviving in Australia. The other three known to be in existence are in Menzies, Western Australia, 131km north of Kalgoorlie, also in the process of being restored.


Bank Manager Norman Lawrence stands in front of the beautifully designed ‘Oriental Bank’ building at 97 Ford Street (photo taken in 1881)

The small, original wooden Oriental Bank building is demolished at 97 Ford Street, and a bigger and much more impressive Oriental Bank building is completed on the same site. It is designed in the ‘Renaissance Palazzo’ style by prominent Melbourne architect Leonard Terry, who also designs Beechworth’s Anglican Christ Church, along with Melbourne University’s Trinity Chapel, The Melbourne Club on Collins Street, and the Blight’s bluestone warehouse (now known as Lazars) on King Street. The Oriental Bank – a British Imperial bank founded in India in 1842 – is favoured by Beechworth’s substantial Chinese gold-mining population.

1876 – May

Work on the Rocky Mountain Gold Sluicing Company site continues, using the ‘hydraulic sluicing’ process. Unfortunately, this process leaves a great deal of water and sludge at the base of the mine, so the new The Rocky Mountain Extended Mining Company is formed to cut a tunnel under the town of Beechworth from the lake to the nearby gorge to drain this waste away. The company employs A.L Martin to survey the best area for a tunnel underneath the township and out into the Spring Creek Gorge.


A ‘Manse’ is built at 22 Ford Street for the pastor of the Wesleyan Church.


George Judah Lyon adds a dwelling, stables and fowl house to his Spring Creek Brewery. His business interests extend to the Rocky Mountain Gold Sluicing Company Ltd, and he is one of the promoters of the Gas Company which results in the streets of Beechworth being lit with gas in 1881.


The beautiful Rose Cottage is completed at 42 Camp Street, next door to Beechworth’s 1869-built Congregational Church.

1876 – Jun 9

Crowds travel from around the district and gather at the water’s edge on both side of the Murray River – between Corowa and Wahgunyah – to watch 15-year-old William Henry Freeman walk across the river on a wire.  Not only does he cross the water but, to entertain the excited spectators, he also skips across the long piece of fencing wire, walks backwards, lays down on the wire mid-river, sits on a chair balanced on the wire, and even offers to “carry any lad from the crowd upon his back across the wire”. There are no volunteers!  

1876 – Jun 10             

Work on the opening of the massive tunnel under Beechworth.

Using hand drills, the newly named Rocky Mountain Extended Mining Company commences work on their tunnel project. In September 1877 more equipment arrives from New Zealand, including the first boring machines in Victoria. The lack of water to operate the air pumps hinders productivity and working hours are reduced to 10 hours a day. Following the call for new tenders, Mr Johnson Stevens wins the new contract at a price of £4 per foot and works resume on February 8th 1877 utilising advances in technology, including the use of compressed air to create pneumatic pressure to drill holes, a steam engine to drive the compressor, and an air extractor – all to cut through the solid granite directly under the town. The tunnel is built at a rate of 40 feet a month and eventually measures 3,600 feet (over 1,000 metres). This is an engineering marvel for the time and is notable as one of the first applications of rock boring machines in Victoria. The massive tunnel – and an associated surface channel at the top end – allows tail water from the deeper wash to be discharged into the Spring Creek Gorge at a point below the discharge of the original 1856 open tailrace.

The tunnel sluice entrance as it looks today

1876 – Jul                    

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Ladson’s Store – corner of Camp and High Streets

36-year-old Alfred William Ladson – younger brother of Thomas Taylor Ladson – takes over the lease of the building on the corner of Camp and High Streets (where the ‘Beechworth Ice Creamery’ operates today) and opens his store A. Ladson General Dealer, specialising in his trademarked Ladson’s Ink, along with blacking, vinegar, baking powder, and horse feed . A year later he will close the store and concentrate on his Ladson’s Ink business. But he will return to running shops in Beechworth five years later.


The 1859-built London Tavern is purchased by Felix O’Connor who, over the next 10 years, will fully refurbish the various brick buildings on the quarter-acre block on Camp Street.

In January 1902, when the licensee of the ‘London Tavern’ is Ellen Barry, a youth named Archibald Scott appears in court charged with offensive behaviour at the Tavern on Christmas Eve. Although the case is dismissed, Scott is soon re-arrested on a charge of committing perjury. The fascinating case involves an identical twin brother and a missing finger!  

1876 – Jul 13               

Train heads towards Beechworth through one of the many railway cuttings.

After two years of construction of the Beechworth branch line – at a total cost of £103,018 for the two rail sections – the first train arrives at Beechworth (although the Beechworth Railway Station building won’t be completed until the end of the year). The relatively short branch line from Beechworth Junction (Bowser) to Beechworth is one of the earliest in country Victoria. Between Beechworth Junction and Beechworth, there are four stops – Londrigan, Tarrawingee, Everton and Lee’s Crossing (renamed Baarmutha in 1904).

Tarrawingee Railway Station today, a stop on the ‘Rail Trail’.
A further extension of the branch line from Beechworth to Wooragee and  Yackandandah will open on 23 July 1891. The line is running at a loss just six months after it opens. Despite this, the Yackandandah extension is in operation until 1954 when a bushfire damages a bridge, resulting in the line closing permanently. 

1876 – Sep 29   

Opening Of The Railway To Beechworth – view Of The Township And Terminus.

After a long and steep haul up the escarpment to Beechworth, 13 carriages hauled by three steam locomotives finally arrive in town for the official opening ceremony of the completed second section of the railway line from Wangaratta (via Beechworth Junction). The branch line represents the faith of the then Premier of Victoria, George Kerford, and the leading citizens of Beechworth in the future of the district. The opening ceremony is the biggest event to take place in the Ovens District since the gold rush of the 1850’s, with celebrations taking place in and around the Goods Shed and a large circus tent erected for the occasion (as the station building is not yet complete). The ceremony is led by the Governor of Victoria, Sir George Bowen, along with the Premier, the Mayor and Town Council. Over 6,000 people gather for the event, including a large contingent of the Chinese community, all turned out in their finery.

The Beechworth Railway Station will officially close on December 30th 1976, one hundred years after it opened. The short branch line between Everton and Bowser (part of the branch line to Myrtleford and Bright) remains open until 1987. In the 1990s the line between Bowser and Beechworth becomes part of the ‘Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail’. 


A new booking office for Hiram Crawford’s stagecoach line is opened in Ford Street. Stagecoaches depart for the regular journey to Melbourne from the large ‘Livery & Bait Stables’, still located at the rear of the building. The shopfront is altered in 1861 to the way it looks now. Unable to compete with the expanding railway network, Crawford & Connolly Coaches will close in 1906.

The stagecoach trip to Melbourne from Beechworth costs £7 per person and takes three days, with overnight stops at Euroa and Seymour. 


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Railway Hotel

With the coming of the railway to Beechworth, the ‘Hotel Alliance’ – on the corner of Camp and High Streets – is renamed the ‘Railway Hotel’ as it is the nearest hotel to Beechworth Railway Station.


Brothers Matthew and Thomas Dodd, who have successfully run the Ovens Tannery since 1858, now open a leather goods shop – Dodd’s Leather Merchants – in Ford Street to run in conjunction with their Tannery in Malakoff Road.


The label of Billson’s prize-winning Soda Water – winner at the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia.

Beechworth Brewers George Billson and his son Alfred sail to Philadelphia in America to exhibit a range of their beverages at the Centennial International Exhibition, the first official “World’s Fair” (May 10 – November 10, 1876) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Billson’s win first prize for their Soda Water, made from the same pure alpine spring water – drawn from the same red brick well – that Billson’s continue to use in their drinks today.

The 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia includes over 14,000 businesses from 37 countries and attracts almost 10 million visitors. Inventions seen for the very first time include Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone & Thomas Edison’s automatic telegraph system. Some of the new food products being exhibited include popcorn, ketchup & root beer.  


Crawford and Connolly Coaches – day-trippers from Beechworth in a 15-seater

A large coach is built at the Crawford and Connolly factory in Beechworth, for the Wodonga-Albury run. Painted in bright colours, it is built to accommodate 15 passengers and weighs 15.75cwt. This is soon followed by another omnibus, the ‘Ballarat’. Designed to carry 18 passengers inside and 18 outside, it too is built expressly for the run between Wodonga and Albury at a cost of 150 guineas. The coaches run every half hour from 2.30 am as well as at times to suit the arrivals and departures of the trains.

Hiram Crawford’s Livery & Bait Stables at Wodonga in 1876.


After beginning construction in 1858, work is finally completed on ‘Baird’s Cottage’ – a logging company house – at 26 Mellish Street. The Tudor-style cottage is built for David and Catherine Baird by David’s father George Baird. Standing on a granite foundation, it features 60cm thick granite walls, a river redgum frame, filled in with brick rubble rendered with ‘wattle & daub’ (made with lime, manure and straw) and has a shingle roof and door locks imported from London in 1850. Weatherboards are added in 1880 and a corrugated iron roof later replaces the wooden shingles. It still stands today (on the corner of Mellish and Crawford Streets).


The granite Black Springs Bakery building

Business is booming at the Black Springs Bakery so William James Price contracts Messrs. Rose and Sherry to create a larger granite building over the top, and around, his original wooden bakery, then remove the wooden frame. (This accounts for the very high ceiling in the present bakery and the fact it is not completely square.) The large granite blocks used in construction are hewn from a quarry about 100 yards away, with some of the blocks measuring 8 feet long, 1 and a half feet thick, and a foot in width. Stables and a barn (for storing grain), along with a men’s hut (built on the western end) and a flour room (on the eastern end) – all constructed from granite – are added in 1890. The stables are removed after a typhoid outbreak caused by drainage into the well sunk at the eastern end of the Bakery.

The ‘Black Springs Bakery’ as it looks in the 1930s


Ned Kelly’s younger brother Dan (aged 16) is sentenced to gaol for three months on a charge of damaging property. Soon after his release, a warrant for his arrest is issued for horse stealing.


A beautiful fountain is added to the Town Hall Gardens to compliment the 1876 cast iron Rotunda. 


Just 10 years after being established, the Beechworth Fire Brigade – through lack of funds – is disbanded.

By 1866 there have been so many fires in the Beechworth district, insurance companies approach the council and offer to contribute to the cost of equipment and the running of a brigade. It is formed and named the ‘Volunteer Fire Brigade Board’.

1877 – Dec 27             

51-year-old Philip Le Couteur, and his second wife 28-year-old Ann Maria Kelly give birth to their first child, Frederick Le Couteur.

Frederick Le Couteur becomes a Beechworth Councillor in 1935 and is elected Beechworth Shire President in 1940. He will donate (for a ‘nominal sum’) part of his substantial Le Couteur land holdings along Sydney Road for the building of the new Ovens District Hospital at 52 Sydney Road in 1939.  Frederick will die at the age of 71 in Beechworth on 18 November 1949 and be buried in the Beechworth Cemetery.


A delightful brick cottage is built at 53 Last Street, on a large block of land on the corner of Last and Frederick Streets.

1878 – May 20

Fanny Phillips Cottage today

In the nearby town of Stanley, 23-year-old Beechworth blacksmith Charles Frederick Phillips marries 21-year-old Fanny Florence Hollister. They will begin their married life by moving into a small cottage at 31 Camp Street which had been built in 1861. It will be their home for many years and become known as Fanny Phillips Cottage as Fanny’s fame grows as one of Beechworth’s leading suffragettes – women who fight for the rights of women to vote.

Charles Phillips is a heavy-set young man and will gain much weight during his life – peaking at 30 stone (approx. 191 kg). His work as a Beechworth blacksmith has to stop once his ever-increasing weight interferes with his movements. Newspapers pose the question “Australia’s Heaviest Man?” when he dies from a heart attack at the age of 57 in 1909.

1878 – Oct                    

Ellen Kelly

Ned Kelly’s mother Ellen, her neighbour William Williamson and her son-in-law William Skillion, are tried at Beechworth courthouse and sentenced for aiding and abetting in the ‘attempted murder’ of Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick (a trooper of dubious character) who visited the Kelly house in April 1878, ostensibly to arrest Dan Kelly. Ellen Kelly is sentenced to three years and the men to six years each. Subsequently, rewards are posted for the arrest of Dan and Ned, causing them to go into hiding in the Wombat Ranges where they are joined by Byrne and Hart, thus precipitating the formation of the ‘Kelly Gang’.

Redmond Barry, the presiding judge in Ellen Kelly’s trial, allegedly remarks that if Ned Kelly were present, he would have “received 15 years for his part in the Fitzpatrick affair”. 

1879 – Mar 1               

Another fire on Camp Street

Another fire in Camp Street! A fire breaks out at Mr Bain’s mattress-making shop in Camp Street and spreads to Hille’s Butcher Shop next door (both built of wood) and then the flames leap to the brick-built Empire Hotel before being extinguished by the local fire brigade. The hotel’s lodgers lose all of their possessions, and the hotel is badly damaged, but the licensee Robert Bolan is able to save some furniture, stock and accounting books.

This fire occurs almost 12 years to the day that fire destroyed the previous ‘Empire Hotel’ which had then moved to this new site. The newspaper reports a local wag as saying that “Beechworth has seen the downfall of two Empires!”.


The large Price family at their ‘Buffalo View’ cottage beside the ‘Black Springs Bakery’

At the Black Springs Bakery, William James Price marries Elizabeth Stollard from Beechworth and together Mr and Mrs Price build a four-roomed cottage next door to the popular bakery. Elizabeth christens their new home “Buffalo View”. The Price’s will have 11 children (two of their sons will go on become bakers) but tragically lose their youngest son Albert ‘Bertie’ Edward Price on March 16th 1894 when he is just 16 months old. Elizabeth plants a vine which gradually spreads over the granite bakery building, covering it with a glorious mantle of green. Even in the depths of winter, “sprays are coaxed into exuberance by the warmth exuding from the bakery’s oven”.

The vines covering the ‘Black Springs Bakery’ – planted by Elizabeth Price in 1880.
In 1894 the original deep well (built on the land in 1871 by William’s uncle James Price) is covered by stonemason Thomas Fluke by a slab of granite, which has the initials “WP”, “TF” and the year “1894” carved into it. It can still be seen today. 

1879 – Jun 5

A meeting is held in Beechworth of the lapsed Beechworth Philharmonic Orchestra and the orchestra is reformed. The chief originator and conductor is James Cunningham Snr and the society will soon comprise forty-five ladies and gentlemen – thirty-two of whom are singing members. They will begin giving concerts in Beechworth quarterly and occasionally entertain patients at the Beechworth Benevolent Asylum. The self-dependant Beechworth Philharmonic Society is now under the experienced management of Richard Finch, the honorary secretary. Organist, James Cunningham Jnr, plays the harmonium with the orchestra, but is keen to upgrade to a proper organ. (see entry in Dec 20, 1886)


Beechworth’s water supply is further augmented when Council purchases Trahair’s Race.

In 1900 the open race into Beechworth is replaced with iron pipes at a cost of £3,500. This is followed by the construction of the ‘Europa Gully Tunnel’ in 1908, at a cost of £1,030. Following a drought in 1917, Council purchases Lorimer’s race at a cost of £1,030.  


Madame Marie Sibley portait photograph by James Bray in Beechworth.

Renowned clairvoyant, mesmerist and phrenologist Madame Marie Sibley performs in Beechworth, causing both offence and consternation, and excitement and sensation! Memorably, she has publicity portraits taken at James Edward Bray’s photographic studio on Camp Street.

Purportedly French-born, Silbey arrives in Sydney around 1867 and works as a clairvoyant, making her first stage appearances in 1868. By 1871 she is in Melbourne ‘manipulating heads’ for packed houses at Weston’s Opera House on Bourke Street. She tours throughout Australia where her shows incorporate séances, phrenological readings, hypnotism. Later she adds ‘baby exhibitions’ to her repertoire, in which prizes are awarded to the specimens with the best mental and physical capacity. By the mid-1880s she is performing with her daughter, ‘Zel the Magnetic Lady’, and advertising her range of remedies for conditions such as gout, rheumatism, and neuralgia. Having ‘retired from the platform’ she runs a store at Drake, near Tenterfield, where she dies in April 1894.  


Beechworth Gaol’s iron entrance gates

After Ellen Kelly’s three-year sentence of imprisonment with hard labour – for the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick – her friends and supporters gather outside the gates of Beechworth Gaol and, in violent protest, set fire to the gaol’s large timber front gates. They will be replaced with the iron gates still in use today (above).


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George Billson’s ‘Albury Brewing and Malting Company’

George Henry Billson leaves the partnership with his father, George Snr, and moves to Albury, where he has purchased the former Colonial Porter Brewery near the Union Bridge from Richard O’Keeffe & Co. Billson immediately spends more than £3,000 on improvements. George’s ‘Albury Brewery’ will merge with the ‘Hume Brewery’ in 1888 to become the ‘Albury Brewing and Malting Company’ with George as chairman of directors.


The Beechworth Gas Works are established on the corner of Albert Road and (what is now) Harper Avenue. It will provide citizens of the town with lighting, heating, cooking and other purposes for the next 70 years.

Harper Avenue is named for Joseph Pearce Harper, Beechworth Councillor from 1914 to 1923 and again from 1929 to 1945. During this time he is twice Shire President. Born in Cornwall in 1861, Harper arrives in Beechworth in 1877 at the age of 16 where he is apprenticed to bootmaker William Darson. By 1905 he has established his own successful bootmaking business in town. Living for a number of years with his wife Johanna in Mellish Street – where they become well known for breeding poultry and winning numerous prizes at shows in the district as well as the Royal Melbourne Show – he will pass away on April 25th 1945 aged 83.


In an attempt to limit the support for the Kelly Gang, twenty-one suspected Kelly sympathisers are eventually held in the Beechworth Gaol without trial or evidence for over three months. 

1879 – Dec 26

A Fire Brigade ‘Hose and Reel’ competition between Beechworth and Chiltern is held on Ford Street in Beechworth with a large crowd lining the street to watch the two teams battle it out. The winner is unknown


The ‘Andrews & Son’ store on Ford Street, photographed in 1910 five years after the passing of founder William Frederick Andrews in 1905.

William Frederick Andrews takes over the furnishing business of Forman and Co. (established in Beechworth in 1856) and rapidly grows the business as Andrews & Son on Ford Street. Supplying the districts of Beechworth, Rutherglen, Yackandandah, Bright, Harrietville, and even as far as Omeo, their travelling salesmen are always out, and their teams may be seen daily leaving their yards with goods for all parts of the North-eastern district.

1880 – Jun 3

The construction site for the ‘Rocky Mountain Extended Mining Company’ tunnel.

One of the world’s greatest engineering feats in completed in Beechworth! At exactly 3.00pm, the directors of The Rocky Mountain Extended Mining Company gather at one end of their newly completed tunnel and then commence the 25-minute walk through the engineering marvel, inspecting the sluice boxes which have been assembled along the entire length, emerging at the Albert Road end of the tunnel in time for the official “turning on of the water” at at 3.30pm. The half-mile long (800-metre tunnel) – which is big enough for a man to stand up in – extends under the township, to run water and sludge from the open-cut mining site into Reid’s Creek in the Gorge. The Rocky Mountain Tunnel has taken three years to complete, with 98,280 drills and 18 miles of fuse to fire the 32,760 dynamite blasts to bore holes. A total of 8,628 tons of stone are removed, no mean feat, as un-weathered granite is a very hard and difficult to mine. The tunnel ends up costing £14,600 and succeeds in draining the centre of Beechworth, which enables mining to continue. The tunnel is regarded as one of the greatest engineering feats in Australia and is reputed to have established world records for tunnelling in hard rock. It is claimed that mining would not have continued at Beechworth if it had not been for construction of the tunnel. (The tunnel is later used by Zwar Brothers Tannery.) Today the tunnel provides drainage for Lake Sambell and for the town.

The construction of the tunnel also proves to be a rich source of gold itself, with some 6,500 ounces (184 kilograms) unearthed between 1876 and 1880. This can be compared to other contemporary gold mines yielding between 3,000 – 5,000 ounces (85 – 142 kilograms). By the late 1800s, one ounce of gold was worth the equivalent of a week’s wages! 


It is estimated that nine hundred miles of water races have now been cut through soil and rock in the Beechworth district. Large water quantities are required for hydraulic sluicing, and the long water races and deep tailraces that are constructed are considered great engineering feats. This method of mining is extremely effective but causes significant environmental damage and impacts to waterways and agricultural operations. The extensive networks of races and dams in Beechworth are on a scale far greater than elsewhere in Victoria. Beechworth’s water barons continue to hold more than half of all the water right licences on issue and undertake sluicing operations on a massive scale.

1880 – Jun

Mrs Williamson announces in the press that she will be carrying on the business of her late husband William Williamson at the Star Lane Shoeing Forge in Beechworth, under the supervision of blacksmith Charles ‘Big Charlie’ Phillips.

1880 – Jun

‘Professor’ John Henry Pepper

Highbrow entertainment! At St.George’s Hall on Loch Street, 60-year-old ‘Professor’ John Pepper fascinates Beechworth locals with his lectures on “the Wonders of the Oxy-Hydrogen Microscope”. This is followed by Henry W. Mitchell’s lecture on Napoleon III, presenting “a graphic and faithful portrait of Napoleon III, tracing the romantic adventures of the ex-Emperor from his insane attempt at Strasburg to his death at Chislehurst. To be portrayed in vivid colours and delivered in a pleasing and graceful manner”.

John Henry “Professor” Pepper is a British scientist and inventor who tours the English-speaking world with his scientific demonstrations. He entertains the public, royalty, and fellow scientists with a wide range of technological innovations. He is primarily remembered for developing the projection technique known as ‘Pepper’s Ghost’, building a large-scale version of the concept by Henry Dircks. He also writes eleven important science education books, one of which is regarded as a significant step towards the understanding of continental drift. In Australia, Pepper also tries his hand as a playwright, producer and actor, staging a romantic drama calledHermes and the Alchymist”.

1880 – Jun 26             

The Murder Of Sherritt – from A Sketch Taken Immediately After The Departure Of The Kelly Gang. (courtesy State Library of Victoria)

Aaron Sherritt is at home in the Woolshed Valley near Beechworth with his pregnant wife Ellen (better known as Belle), mother-in-law and four policemen (Constables Robert Alexander, Henry Armstrong, Thomas Dowling and William Duross) when he is shot dead by Joe Byrne.

Sherritt’s pregnant wife Belle will miscarry her baby and all four constables will later be dishonourably discharged from the police force for cowardice.  

1880 – Jun 27             

Ned Kelly and his gang bail up the town of Glenrowan.

1880 – Jun 28             

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Joe Byrne’s body posed for a photograph after his death in the Glenrowan shootout
(Photo by J.W. Lindt)

A hastily arranged police train arrives at Glenrowan and a shoot out takes place. Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart are killed, and Ned Kelly is captured – injured but alive.


The pen gifted to Henry Vandenberg by Isaac Isaacs (Burke Museum Collection)

After graduating from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Laws (with first class honours), 25-year-old Isaac Isaacs gifts a beautiful pen to his friend 34-year-old Henry Vandenberg, who will become a member of the United Shire of Beechworth Council from 1897-1923 and President from 1912-13. The hotel-owner-turned-dentist will create the popular Beechworth Brass Band in 1887, he also acts a justice of the peace, and receives the dubious honour of being voted the winner of the ‘Ugly Man Competition’ at the ‘Back to Beechworth’ celebrations in 1922! In his later years, Henry lives in the de-licensed Vine Hotel which had been run by his parents Jacob and Christina for many years.


A small cottage is built at 16 Bridge Road in Newtown next door to the two-storey home Richmond House built in 1869 for Mark Straughair and John Laidley Duncan, the blacksmiths and farriers and owners of the Beechworth Foundry directly across the road.


Room interior at the Beechworth Hospital for the Insane (photo: Alchetron)

A Health Inspector finds the Beechworth Hospital for the Insane “much in want of extensive repairs” finding the sculleries and bathrooms in a “deplorable state” rendering them unusable. But he praises the Matron, Mrs Sharpe and her nurses for giving the female patients “an air of comfort by introducing curtains and antimacassars” (protective coverings for the backs of chairs and sofas) and finds the extensive 27-acre grounds in excellent order, full of well cultivated fruit trees and vegetable gardens. 

1880 – Aug 27-28                           

Sketch of Ned Kelly’s Trial at Beechworth on August 28, 1880 (State Library of Victoria)

Ned Kelly is held at Beechworth Gaol before appearing at the packed Beechworth Courthouse for a committal hearing, before being transferred to the Melbourne Gaol to stand trial for murder.


Billson’s workers busy in the brewery.

Billson’s Brewery add a range of wines and spirits to their expanding business.


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The ‘Plough Inn’ at Tarrawingee with adjoining General Store at left

Hopton Nolan, owner of ‘The Plough Inn’ at Tarrawingee, adds a single-storey building adjoining the two-storey hotel to trade as a General Store.


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Hopton Nolan’s ‘spread’ at Tarrawingee – Pub, General Store and Hall

Hopton Nolan purchases ThomasTaylor Ladson’s grand two-storey brick residence across the laneway from The Plough Inn renaming the building Hopton Nolan Hall. It will, for a time, serve as Tarrawingee’s Town Hall. He will later reame the grand home Carinya (above left). All the buildings still stand today.


A hand-tinted photograph of the arrival of the daily midday train at Chiltern Railway Station in 1880.

Railway traffic – both passenger and freight – between Melbourne and Wodonga continues to thrive. Just 25 km from Beechworth, the railway station at Chiltern, built in the early 1870s, is a popular stop.


A red brick home is built at 40 Mellish Street. A big red Post Box stands outside the property today (below).


A social occasion at the Mayday Hills Asylum.

Despite the decline of the gold industry, Beechworth is sustained by the presence of the two main government institutions founded in the 1850s and 1860s – the Asylum and the Gaol. And as tourism slowly begins, the town’s new reputation as a health resort and picturesque beauty spot grows.

The ‘Beechworth Asylum’ – Entrance Gates and Lodge (Gatehouse) in 1890.
The declining prosperity of the town has an upside – the post-World War II development that leads to the destruction of so much of Victoria’s nineteenth century fabric during the 1950s-70s is avoided.

1880 – Dec 26             

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The Public Recreation Reserve is officially named Baarmutha Park and impressive cast iron entrance gates are installed. Baarmutha is the local aboriginal name for the area – “land of many creeks”.

When official names are being discussed ahead of the 1880 Boxing Day Sports Carnival, the Editor of the Ovens and Murray Advertiser’ writes, ‘What better, prettier or more appropriate title could it have than that of ‘Baarmutha Park’? The area had been noted as a popular place for Aboriginal corrobborees in the early years of Beechworth’s white settlement. It had a creek running nearby (no longer there, although large rocks and boulders and a small ravine remain) with a pretty spot nicknamed the “Emerald Cascades”.

1881 – Dec                   

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George Billson’s younger son, 23-year-old Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson, takes over his father’s brewery and steadily improves it under the name of A. A. Billson & Co., and also trades as a wine and spirits merchant. In 1888 Alfred introduces his new specialty – Anglo-Australian Ale, which sells well throughout Victoria and New South Wales. The Billson soft-drinks and cordial factory also prospers, and Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson opens a branch at Tallangatta in 1885.

Alfred’s father, George Billson dies of heart failure in Beechworth at the age of 69 on February 9th, 1886. He is survived by three sons and two daughters. The socially and politically oriented ‘Bosher’ is educated at the Beechworth Grammar School and then at Scotch College. 
Alfred ‘Bosher’ Billson takes advantage of the high quality of its water to produce aerated mineral waters, including soda water, potass water, and ‘Lithia Water’ which is laced with lithium salts. Billson’s ‘Lithia Water’ as advertised as “the most healthful mineral water produced in Australia.” Lithium is later demonstrated to have clinical efficacy in treating mood disorders in trials run by D John Cade, former superintendent of Beechworth’s May Day Hills Asylum. Billson also creates a distinctive and popular ‘herbal beer’ which he names ‘Ecks’. 

1881 – Dec                  

Gas arrives in Beechworth and to celebrate, the Empire Hotel is decorated with a large crown of gas lights, with some of the other hotels decorated with gaslit Maltese and Brunswick crosses. Large crowds gather to enjoy these displays at Christmas. These decorations are actually provided by the gas company to garner the interest of the local community as consumer meters will not be installed around town until after Christmas.

1882 – Jan

Gas lighting is turned on at the Beechworth Post and Telegraph Offices with the installation carried out by Mr J. S. Riddell of Melbourne. When the sixteen jets – cleverly placed in chandeliers and other fixtures – are lit, the effect is a fine one and the new illumination, owing to its brilliancy and convenience, has the effect of facilitating the work of the officers engaged in the building. A couple of handsome gas pendant lamps are also suspended in the portico in front of the Post Office, which “present a good appearance and will prove a benefit to persons having occasion to post letters at night”. In connection with the office, “we would urge the desirability of the extension of the existing accommodation, which is found to be inadequate to requirements in the transaction of public business, by the addition of a new wing facing Ford-street, provision for the erection of which was made in the original specifications, as is evidenced by the unfinished appearance presented by the building in that street”.

1882  – Feb 1                           

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3km east of Beechworth on the road to Stanley, the Silver Creek School No. 2438 opens near the tiny Silver Creek Post Office.

1882 – Mar

‘Beechworth Pottery Company’ – 1880s teapots

The Beechworth Pottery Company is a formed with James Plumridge appointed the pottery’s working Manager. Based at Hurdle Flat, the first full kiln is fired in December 1882, and the teapots, flowerpots, ornamental vases, milk pans, jugs and drainpipes, all turn out satisfactorily. However, when the second firing in February 1883 results in the larger items breaking and cracking in the process, Plumridge blames the problem on moisture in the kiln walls and leaves the company in June 1883, moving to the Albury Pottery Works. The Beechworth Pottery Company ceases operation in December 1883 but is re-established in 1886 by John Hambleton, George Lindop and Benjamin Eastwood.  Lindop and Eastwood are experienced Staffordshire Potters.  The revived H.L. & E. Pottery Beechworth Company is successful and demand for their wares increases but, limited resources, staff and capital prevents any expansion.  In 1888 Beechworth businessmen Alfred ‘Alf’ William Foster and Joseph Wilson buy out H.L. & E. Pottery Beechworth and rename it the Ovens Pottery Company Ltd.

           ‘H. L. & E Pottery Beechworth’ stamp , used on the lower body of pottery jars and pots
Backgound information After a large source of clay is discovered during the gold rush at Hurdle Flat south-east of Beechworth, it is found to be suitable for earthenware and stoneware pottery so in 1876 several samples of clay are sent to James Plumridge of the ‘Pioneer Pottery Works’ in Ballarat. Plumridge completes a course of trials and is satisfied it could produce quality pottery. In January 1877 Plumridge travels to Beechworth to present lectures about ‘Ancient & Modern Pottery’ in Beechworth and Stanley, bringing examples of completed pottery from the Hurdle Flat samples he’d been sent.


Now aged 50, Hiram Allen Crawford relinquishes the active management of his highly successful Beechworth coaching business and purchases a 200-acre property on the Ovens River, near Everton, that he names ‘Brookfield’. In this new sphere, his predominant characteristics assert themselves, as he soon becomes one of the largest growers of hops in the Victoria and will eventually possess the largest lemon orchard in Australia! After holding ‘Brookfield’ for 20 years, 70-year-old Crawford sells out to Mr. D. J Whitteker, J.P, and retires to Elsternwick, near Melbourne. The majority of men, who had attained the allotted span of life, would be content to pass the remainder of their existence in leisured ease, but Hiram Crawford is not one of them … he purchases a growing number of large properties in and around Elsternwick and, in their enthusiastic management and development, finds an outlet for his activities. Hiram Allen Crawford will pass away in 1916 aged 84 and, in accordance with his wishes, his remains are brought to Beechworth for interment where a large number of townspeople attend the funeral as a last tribute of respect to one who had done so much for Beechworth. Four employees of ‘Crawford and Co’. will act as pallbearers.

Hiram Crawford’s ‘Brookfield’ property, with frontage to the Ovens River near Everton
On several occasions Hiram Crawford fills the Mayoral and Presidential chairs of Beechworth, is a member of the ‘Beechworth Municipal Council’ soon after its formation, twice Mayor Chiltern, Superintendent of the ‘Beechworth Fire Brigade’, a member of the ‘Country Fire Brigades’ Board’ since its inception, and a prominent member of the ‘Masonic Order’. He is appointed a Justice of the Peace in the 1860s by the Bindon Government; is a director of the ‘Sons of Freedom’ mine in Chiltern (the first limited company in the district); and is, for 20 years, both Chairman and Director of the ‘Beechworth Gas Company’. He is also a member of the committee of the ‘Ovens District Hospital’. Crawford returns home to the United States several times and, using his acquired wealth, will visit many other countries.

1882 – May                  

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‘Ladson’s Cash Grocery Store’ , 30 High Street

42-year-old Alfred William Ladson opens his new purpose-built grocery store at 30 High Street, right opposite the beautiful Ladson family home ‘Magnolia’. Ladson’s Cash Grocery Store will become quite a landmark on High Street where the locals call the shop simply ‘Ladsons’. It will later become known as ‘Ennals’.

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‘Ladson’s Grocery Store’ will remain in the family for over 100 years. Alfred’s son Arthur Ladson takes over, then Beatrice Ennals (mother-in-law of Dick Galbraith, Alfred’s grandson), then Dick Galbraith after his mother-in-law relinquishes the business before Dick passes it to his son Bob Galbraith. It is finally sold and becomes the ‘Beechworth Machinery’ store, which still operates today.


Norman Lawrence (above) – the manager of the Beechworth branch of the Oriental Bank at 97 Ford Street – marries Emma Blanche Debby (below). Lawrence will remain as the Beechworth branch manager until the worldwide collapse of the Oriental Bank in 1884 and the Beechworth branch closes.

1883Mar 21

The Sunday School building added to the rear of St. Andrews Presbytarian Church.

The Foundation Stone for the ‘Sabbath School’ – to be constructed of exposed brick at the rear of the 1857-built St. Andrews Presbyterian Church on the corner of Ford and William Streets – is laid by the Reverend John Gordon Mackie. It will be completed by the end of the year.


One of the five banners presented to Beechworth’s Chinese community in 1875

A ‘Chinese Ward’ is added to the Ovens Goldfields Hospital on Church Street. The local Chinese community made generous donations to the original appeal to build the hospital in 1856 and, since opening in 1857, the hospital has treated many of Beechworth’s Chinese population and, in return, continue ro recieve numerous donations and gifts from them.

The ‘Beechworth Carnival Committee’ gifts five banners to Beechworth’s Chinese community in recognition of their support of the ‘Oven Goldfields Hospital’ and the ‘Benevolent Asylum”. The banners have been purchased in China by a social envoy from Beechworth then presented to the Chinese community during the ‘Beechworth Fine Arts Exhibition’ in May 1875 by Donald Fiddes, President of the ‘Ovens Goldfields Hospital.


Manchester House is now trading from a new building on Camp Street with R. Hall joining Henry Thomas Littlewood in running the successful drapery business. A popular pastry shop operates next door.

The building stills stands on Camp Street today (below left), now one of the buildings of the popular ‘Beechworth Bakery’.


A map of the rail network in North East Victoria, highlighting the Beechworth line.

A railway line is completed which finally links Wodonga to Albury, meaning that rail passengers can now travel between Melbourne and Sydney.

1883 – Dec 17             

Bright Railway Station in 1890

Victorian Railways completes a new branch line from Everton to Myrtleford. Travelling through the Ovens Valley, it will be extended to Bright in 1890 with the Bright Railway Station opening on October 17th. This line becomes popular with tourists visiting Mount Buffalo where Victorian Railways operate the Mount Buffalo Chalet.

The branch line between Myrtleford and Bright closes on 30 November 1983 and back to the junction with the North-East Railway Line at Bowser on 13 April 1987. In the 1990s the line becomes part of the ‘Murray to Mountain Rail Trail’ and Bright Railway Station is maintained as a railway museum.  

1883 – Dec 31              

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A fire breaks out at the Beechworth Foundry on Main Street, Newtown. Owners John Laidley Duncan and Mark Straughair will suffer £1,000 damage.


An arrow identifies the original brick ‘Salvation Army Hall’ on Ford Street. It will be destroyed by fire in 1920 and repleaced by the current smaller, wooden building.

Just four years after the officially recognised start of the Salvation Army in Australia, the Salvation Army holds its first open-air meetings in Beechworth led by Captain Phillips and Captain John Dean with hundreds gathering to hear the Captain’s preach. The first Salvation Army Hall (a solid brick ‘Citadel’) opens on the present site at 35 Ford Street on September 28th 1885 with separate barracks built the following year. Officers in 1885 are Captain Reuben Edwards and Captain Samuel Fraser, before Captain Twyford takes over in 1886.

The Salvation Army’s “exuberance” in the late 1880s is curbed after receiving complaints from nearby residents and the shire council bans marches Sundays and after 9pm on weeknights! 
After the original ‘Salvation Army’ brick ‘Citadel’ is destroyed by fire, the current Citadel is erected in 1920. 

1884 – Apr 24              

‘The Gap Hotel’ becomes The ‘Royal Oak Hotel’ with Frederick Hahn as the licensee.

Eleanor Griggs Hollaway, licensee of the recently opened The Gap Hotel transfers the licence to Frederick Hahn. The hotel sits at the top of the Buckland Gap – the road between Beechworth and Myrtleford – almost opposite Fighting Gully Road and services the nearby goldminers of the Three Mile District which had included Eleanor’s recently deceased husband, the popular ‘Three Mile’ goldminer John Hollaway.

In December 1886 Frederick Hahn will rename ‘The Gap Hotel’ to The Royal Oak Hotel’ and the name and hotel remain until it is destroyed by fire in 1958. 

1884 – May                           

Oriental Bank manager Norman Lawrence and family in front of the building in 1881. Lawrence will remain as the Beechworth branch manager until it closes in 1884.

The once lucrative Oriental Bank – which opened its Beechworth branch in 1857 – closes on Ford Street after the entire London-based bank faces a financial collapse worldwide.

Originally established in Bombay, India in 1842 as the ‘Bank of Western India’, it moves its headquarters to London in 1845. After opening branches in Colombo, Calcutta, Shanghai, Canton, Singapore and Hong Kong, it acquires the failing ‘Bank of Ceylon’ in 1850 and obtains a Royal Charter for the merged institution under the name ‘Oriental Bank Corporation’. By the 1860s it has opened branches in Australia and holds a dominant position, particularly in India and China and is considered the “most powerful, oldest, and most prestigious Eastern exchange bank” and “the doyen of Eastern exchange banking.” However, from the 1870s, the bank’s finances suffer from bad loans to coffee plantations in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and to sugar plantations in Mauritius, and on May 4th 1884 the ‘Oriental Bank’ – including the branch in Beechworth – suspends all payments and is subsequently liquidated.  

1884 – Jul 15

Sir Henry Brougham Loch – Governor of Victoria from 1884 to 1889

57-year-old Sir Henry Brougham Loch arrives in Melbourne with his wife Elizabeth to take up his appointment as the new Governor of Victoria. He will quickly become one of Victoria’s most popular and respected governors and will visit Beechworth for a holiday in March 1885 (see entry below). Loch had been to Victoria before – for a few months between 1852 and 1853 – when he was a decorated army captain, and Loch Street in Beechworth had been named in his honour at the time.

Loch has a long and distinguished career in the British military, serving in the Crimean War and in China. In 1863, after marrying the well-connected Elizabeth Villiers, he is appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea, between Great Britain and Ireland. He will hold this position for the next 19 years, before being appointed Governor of Victoria.


‘Beaumaris’ at 11 Weir Lane

Successful Beechworth butcher 60-year-old George Newton purchases the property known as ‘Beaumaris’ at 11 Weir Lane from American miner and blacksmith Partrick Ring. In 1890 Newton will add a bullnose verandah and timber fretwork to the cottage and will go on to live at the house until his death, aged almost 80, in 1903.

Patrick’s brother James Ring had died as result of being burned in a fire at the house at Christmas 1867.


John Clements Snr dies, and his 29-year-old Beechworth-born son John Nichols Clements takes over his father’s popular store on High Street, having previously been running the Newtown Hotel. John Nichols Clements, who builds a large family home on the corner of Loch and Kars Streets, continues running (and enlarging and improving) the Clements Store until his death in 1907, aged just 51.

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In the early 1900s, John Nichols Clements eldest son, 30-year-old John James Alfred Arthur Clements Jnr, establishes his own ‘Cash Grocery’ store on Ford Street. Upon his father’s death in 1907 he merges the ‘Cash Grocery’ business with his late father’s High Street ‘Clements Store’. In his early teens, John James Alfred Arthur Clements (known as J.A. Clements) had worked at ‘W. Andrews and Son Merchants’ on Ford Street and will eventually purchase the large ‘Andrew and Son’ store (above) and move all the ‘Clements Store’ business there and run the store (below) until his death in 1943.
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‘W. Andrews and Sons’ Ironmonger Store will move to a smaller store in Camp Street (on the far right of the photo above) where the ‘Beechworth Bakery’ now operates


32-year-old Thomas Tanswell Jnr and his new 20-year-old wife Margaret Ann (McGowan) Tanswell establish a new school in Beechworth, operating from the former Freemasons’ Arms Hotel building on High Street (which had been purchased by Thomas Tanswell Snr in 1870). It operates successfully in Beechworth for almost twenty years as ‘Mrs Tanswell’s Seminary and Kindergarten’. But tragedy lies ahead (see below).

Article from the ‘Williamstown Chronicle’ Saturday September 24, 1910
At the turn of the century, with his eyesight failing badly, Thomas Jnr will move to Williamstown near Melbourne with Margaret and their surviving son Thomas Morrin Tanswell. Margaret will establish a Private High School for Girls in Williamstown but then her mental health starts to deteriorate. In September 2010, Margaret unaccountably disappears from the Tanswell home and, due to her mental condition, fears are entertained for her safety. The police will find her body while searching the waters at Williamstown’s Back Beach. She has taken her own life at the age of 45, leaving her now almost completely blind husband and her son Thomas Morrin Tanswell who has just started studying at university.


The ‘Alliance Hotel’ on the corner of Camp and High Streets when Carl Esther is the licencee. He is pictured (with moustache) in the centre of the picture with his wife on one side of him and his daughter Sophie on the other.

Billson’s Brewery employee (and American Civil War veteran) Jacob Hoffmann marries Sophie Esther at the Alliance Hotel, which is run by her father Carl Esther. They have seven children, including Alfred Francis Hoffmann who will be one of the founders of the Beechworth RSL in 1921. Sophie Hoffmann dies in 1902 and Jacob Hoffmann passes away on October 12, 1920. Both are buried at the Beechworth Cemetery.

Jacob Hoffman in his later years.


The Reverend George Frederick Cross is appointed Beechworth’s Church of England vicar. He will stay in the role until 1893. His wife is writer Ada Cross although, because of her position as a vicar’s wife, she is forced to keep her literary activities a secret, having her works published under her maiden name of Ada Cambridge.

Celebrated writer Ada Cambridge – wife of Beechworth’s Rev. George Cross
Ada Cambridge will write more than twenty-five fictional works (many of them serialised in newspapers), three volumes of poetry, and two volumes of her autobiography – “Thirty Years in Australia” and “The Retrospect”. She experiences her share of tragedy, including a near-fatal miscarriage and a serious carriage accident, as well as the loss of children to whooping cough and scarlet fever.

1885 – Mar 4               

Edinburgh-born Henry Brougham Loch, first Baron Loch of Drylaw. Governor of Victoria from 1884 to 1889.

His Excellency Sir Henry Brougham Loch becomes the first Governor of Victoria to honour Beechworth with a purely personal visit to “take in the renowned mountain air”. He is accompanied on his trip by Beechworth stalwarts – George Briscoe Kerferd, George Billson and John Alston Wallace – all now members of Victorian parliament. Although past Governors have made ‘official’ or ‘State Visits”, Lord Loch arrives – by train – for an ‘unofficial holiday’ with his wife Elizabeth but agrees, during his stay, to attend the Beechworth Show, organised by the Beechworth and North-Eastern Agricultural and Horticultural Society. Loch also travels from Beechworth to Stanley in a six-horse drag owned by Crawford & Co, driven by Mick Dougherty. Stanley’s young Agnes Mathieson is chosen to present Lady Elizabeth Loch with a basket of White Heart Cherries from James Muter’s garden. There is speculation that Beechworth might be the place chosen for the Governor’s Summer Residence, and a site is offered to him, free of charge, to build a summer home. However, not long after Loch’s Beechworth visit, a site at Mount Macedon is selected for the official Governor’s Summer Residence.

At the time Beechworth’s streets are laid out and named by George Douglas Smythe in July 1853, he chooses to name one of them Loch Street. Captain Loch, then a hero of the British army, is in Victoria at the time and is feted around Melbourne by Charles La Trobe and William Lonsdale, brother-in-law of Government Surveyor George Smythe who is clearly impressed by Captain Loch and his achievements.


Alex McLean, Ford Street coachbuilder, becomes the manager of D.M. O’Connor’s American Coach Factory in Church Street, with McLean’s former coachbuilding business taken over by Alex McLean Jnr and W.H. Thompson.


A new cottage is built at 72 High Street directly opposite Beechworth’s Police Paddocks. The gardens behind the house are planted with numerous Silver Birch trees giving the property its name – Birch Cottage – with Spring Creek running directly behind the garden.

Silver Creek runs through the rear garden of ‘Birch House


George Judah Lyon

American George Judah Lyon sells his Spring Creek Brewery and aerated water business to Hurst & Co and retires to Windsor in Melbourne.

In 1890, George Lyon and his wife Wilhelmina establish a boarding house, ‘Idthorpe’ in Marlton Crescent, St. Kilda close to the popular St. Kilda Pier. George passes away aged 57, from an apoplectic fit, to which he is prone.


Richard Finch – who runs his successful men’s outfitter shop on Ford Street – wins the tender to create special heavy jackets and thick protective clothing items for the Beechworth Fire Brigade.


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Rare ‘Fred Allen’ Beechworth beer bottle with ‘Lion’ trademark

After less than a year of ownership, Hurst & Co sell the Spring Creek Brewery to Frederick Allen, owner of the Star Hotel. ‘Fred Allen’ beer bottles, with a distinctive ‘Lion’ trademark, are valuable collectors’ items today.

Allen Street in Beechworth is named after Frederick Allen who will sit on the Beechworth Council between 1874 and 1901 and be Shire President on three occasions.


Judge Alfred William Foster1940s caricature by Richard Ovenden

Alfred William Foster Jnr is born in Beechworth. His father, Alfred ‘Alf’ William Foster Snr and his wife Sarah run a Beechworth tobacconist and newsagency on Ford Street (which they had taken over from George Judah Lyon in 1871). As a youth he becomes interested in spiritualism and rejects Christian beliefs, claiming they reveal no scientific evidence. Educated at Beechworth College and Melbourne University, Foster will go on to be appointed a judge of the Victorian County Court at the age of 41 – the youngest judge ever appointed in Victoria.

In 1944, Foster is appointed to the Australian Arbitration Court Bench, and in 1947 he will deliver the Arbitration Court judgement granting a 40-hour working week. In 1950 he will be responsible for granting an additional £1 per week to the basic wage, at a time when the wage was just £7.

1886 – Nov                            

The formerOriental Bank’ becomes the new home of the ‘Brigidine School and Convent(note students gathered on the balconey)

The beautiful but now empty Oriental Bank is purchased for £1,000 by Reverend Dean Tierney of St Joseph’s Church for use as a convent and school by the Brigidine nuns who are soon to arrive. The four nuns from Abbeyleix in Ireland arrive in Beechworth by train on Saturday November 27, 1886, to a very enthusiastic public welcome, although Reverend Mother, Mary Vincent Cummins, quickly realises she is expected to repay £1,000 pounds. The nuns convert the bank into a convent and school, improvising an altar out of a luggage case. By January 1887 the bank chamber (the front lower part of the building facing Ford Street) is fitted with desks and benches, while three of the upstairs rooms are furnished as dormitories and by February the boarding and day school for girls is opened.


Because there have been so many fires in the Beechworth area, insurance companies approach the council and offer to contribute towards the cost of equipment and running of a new fire brigade. The council agrees and it is re-formed, now called the Volunteer Fire Brigade Board.

1886 – Dec 20              

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Conductor James Cunningham Snr (front centre holding baton) with members of theBeechworth Philharmonic Society’ in front of the new Town Hall organ.

Ordered by conductor James Cunningham Snr and his son, organist James Cunningham Jnr, and the members of the Beechworth Philharmonic Society, a beautiful mid-19th century single-manual chamber organ finally is installed in the Beechworth Town Hall and is played for the first time – at a special ‘welcome concert’ – on this day. The organ is made of pine and leather, and has 256 leaden tin pipes, 66 keys and five stops.

Originally built in London in 1852 by ‘William Hill & Son’ for a stately English private home, the second-hand organ is installed in the Town Hall by William Anderson, who will return to Beechworth few weeks later to install another organ – this time at the Christ Church. The Beechworth Town Hall organ remains in place until June 1907 when it is bought back William Anderson for £20. The organ is finally sold back to the Beechworth Organ Society for $6,000 in 2018 and returned to its place in the Beechworth Town Hall. It is one of the four oldest organs in Victoria.
‘William Hill & Son’ also build organs for Westminter Abbey in London in 1848, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge (1834), St. Andrews Cathedral, Sydney (1866), Adelaide Town Hall (1877), Melbourne Town Hall (1872 – destroyed by fire in 1925) and the Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ (1886), the largest organ in the world at the time of its construction, with an outer case designed by Arthur George Hill, grandson of the late William Hill (who had died in 1870).

1887 – Jan

Another organ for Beechworth! The Reverend George Cross, rector of Beechworth’s Christ Church, oversees the installation of a fine (but already used) pipe organ in the church. It had been built by colonial organ builder William Anderson of Little Flinders Street in Melbourne for St George’s Catholic Church in Carlton in 1882.

Restoration of the Christ Church organ in 2008 reveals some of the pipework to be of early European origin.

1887 – Jan 17

Having been staffed by lay teachers since it opened in a wooden building built in 1857, the four Sisters who have arrived from the Brigidine Convent at Abbeyleix in Ireland take over permanent charge of St Joseph’s Primary School on Church Street.


The original Beechworth ‘Council Chambers’, are set to be demolished. The formal Town Hall behind it will be retained.

A decision is made by the Beechworth Council to demolish the original Council Chambers (built in 1858-59 – above) to be replaced with a new, larger building, while still retaining the beautiful Formal Hall at the rear (below). A state-wide competition is held for a new design which is won by Melbourne architect George Jobbins and construction commences under local builder Thomas Sandham. It will be completed by July 1888.

Interior of the rear Formal Hall which still stands today


A small cottage, now known as Waterfall Cottage, is erected above the Beechworth Gorge, next to Newtown Bridge, at 1 Ford Street. The house features solid granite foundations and opens out onto a south facing front verandah, and a north facing rear verandah with spectacular views of the Gorge.

The view over the Gorge from ‘Waterfall Cottage’ today


Henry Vandenberg establishes the Beechworth Brass Band. Also known as Vandenberg’s Brass Band, it quickly becomes popular and is in constant demand for local dances and official events.

Henry Vandenberg is one of Beechworth’s most well-known characters. The son of Dutch-born Jacob and Christinas Vandenberg (or Van Den Berg) who run the popular ‘Vine Hotel’ for many years, he leaves Beechworth as a youngster and walks all the way to Melbourne with just 3/6 in his pocket! Henry finds employment in the city as a gardener, before becoming a fully-fledged landscape gardener. Returning to Beechworth with his new bride, Mary Syme, he carries on the business of a general Beechworth dealer with much success, and when the Wangaratta to Beechworth railway is being constructed, he sees an opportunity and opens the ‘Victoria Hotel’ and entertainment hall near the newly built Everton Railway Station.   


The original ‘Scotch Pie Shop’ on Camp Street (building on right)

After the death of his brother-in-law David Dunlop, 52-year-old baker James McMaster takes over Dunlop’s thriving Scotch Pie Shop on Camp Street. It stands next door to Manchester House and opposite the Beechworth Post Office in one of the three buildings now occupied by the Beechworth Bakery (above and below).

‘Manchester House’ (on the left) and the Pastry Shop (on the right). A second storey and balcony will be added in 1900, two years after James McMaster’s death.


Brigidine nuns on the steps of the completed Priory at its peak in the 1960s

After quickly outgrowing space at the old Oriental Bank building, the Mother Superior and the nuns from the Brigidine Convent & Boarding School successfully appeal for funds from Beechworth’s Catholic parishioners, allowing them to move, taking charge of St. Joseph’s School in Church Street as well as purchasing 10 acres of land adjacent to the school. They eventually construct a grand building to serve as both a convent and secondary school. Building continues and expands until it is fully completed in 1904. The Brigidine Convent of Mt St Joseph becomes known as ‘The Priory’.

The last surviving member of the four original founding nuns who arrived from Ireland in 1886, will pass away in Beechworth in 1952.


Billson’s ‘Australian Ale’ as it is sold today.

Billson’s Brewery introduce their Australian Ale, a beer that quickly becomes popular.

1888 – Jul                    

George Henry Billson, son of the Billson Breweries founder, George Billson Senior.

The Billson Brewery combines with the Hume Brewery (run by Mr Headly and Mr Langhammer) to form the Albury Brewing and Malting Co Ltd. George Henry Billson becomes chairman, with Headley as general manager.

1888 – Jul

The front of the new Beechworth Council Chambers. The 1859-built Beechworth Town Hall stands behind it

The impressive new two-storey Beechworth Council Chambers at 103 Ford Street are officially opened, with a ‘Grand Ball’ held in the 1859-built Town Hall which stands behind the Council Chambers.

1888 – Jul                    

Beechworth now boasts two roller-skating rinks, as the new “fad” becomes increasingly popular. The first is at the Oddfellows’ Hall after Mr Young of Melbourne negotiates a lease of the building from the trustees. He engages 62-year-old Scotsman James Kyle to lay down a new smooth floor of the best Kauri pine and the venture is known as The Columbia Elite Rink. Mr Bailey and Mr Chalk are proprietors of the second rink – the Beechworth Skating Rink – operating from a commodious brick building on the corner of Camp and Last Streets. It opens with a performance from Henry Vandenberg’s Beechworth Brass Band, established a year earlier.

The opening night of ‘The Columbia Elite Rink’ is hosted by Beechworth’s Honourable Frederick Brown, M.L.C. who, after declaring the rink officially open, introduces popular Melbourne roller skater Mr Stevens. Stevens then treats the 150 invited guests to some remarkably clever fancy ‘rinking’, showing that he is thoroughly ‘at home’ on the skates, making the admiring spectators envious of his cool self-possession which is accomplished without accident or mistake. The highlight is Mr Stevens taking a ‘running jump’ over four chairs placed together in the middle of the hall! 

1888 – Sep 1                

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Zwar Brothers Beechworth Tannery

After being run by the Dodd family since 1858, the Ovens Tannery business and freehold is purchased by 27-year-old William Zwar (who has the production expertise), his brother 25-year-old Albert Michael Zwar (who is the ‘figures man’), and friend Leonard Lloyd (the ‘money man’) for £500 and their partnership is registered as Zwar Bros and Co. (Matthew Dodd passes away in Beechworth in 1904, aged 67.) At the time of the purchase, the business employs 15 men and processes 30 hides a week. Younger brother, 16-year-old Henry Zwar joins a year later as an apprentice, with the tannery eventually becoming known as the Zwar Bros Beechworth Tannery. The following year they also take over the Dodds Leather Merchants store in Ford Street. The Zwars continue to expand the business and by 1896 are employing 30 men, with the weekly output of hides at the tannery increasing to 210, becoming well known for their sole leather.  200 tons of wattle bark, sourced from Euroa, is required annually for the tanning process.

By 1896 the ‘Zwar Bros Beechworth Tannery’ is thriving, exporting 9 tons of products per month to England, China, Japan and India. Production is mainly in saddlery and sole leathers, with the company also trading in calf, goat, horse, kangaroo, wallaby, possum, rabbit and even kangaroo and wallaby skins! Leonard Lloyd dissolves his partnership with the Zwar brothers in 1914 for £9,000.
Albert Michael Zwar is the driving force behind the success of the tannery and eventually becomes its sole controller. While he is considered autocratic and forceful with an astute business mind, he also has a strong sense of community. 


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Beechworth Cemetery Entrance granite pillars and iron gates

Fiddes & Co (who built Beechworth’s granite Newtown Bridge) now oversee the addition of impressive granite entrance pillars and iron gates to the front of the Beechworth Cemetery.

The cemetery’s rotunda and headstones, as well as its distinctive and unusual features such as a Turkish fountain and the rare twin Chinese ‘Burning Towers’ and Shrine make it one of the finest examples of a historical garden cemetery in Victoria, and of botanical significance for its large collection of landscaped plantings. 


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The new two-storey front section of the Beechworth Town Hall is completed. Designed by Melbourne architect George Jobbins in a classical style, it consists of five bays intersected by pilasters.

1888 – Dec                  

Having taken over H.L. & E. Pottery Beechworth at Hurdle Flat, Beechworth businessmen Alfred Foster and Joseph Wilson rename the business the Ovens Pottery Company Ltd. They will manufacture a range of pottery products including stoneware, garden urns, vases, cheese dishes, ginger beer bottles, butter coolers, water filters, wine and spirit barrels, bread plates, jugs, teapots, storage jars, pots, tiles, flower pots, spittoons, basins, bowls, demijohns, lidded crocks, pipes and bricks. Ovens Pottery will struggle financially until John Alston Wallace injects £10,000 into the business and it carries on, until finally going into liquidation in 1892.

Ovens Pottery – 1890 Patent Stamps

1889 – Jan

A new building is erected at 51-53 Ford Street, next door to Gammon’s Medical Hall. James and Robert Cunningham’s Hardware & Ironmongery Store and John Armstrong’s drapery store Cheapside House will be the first businesses to occupy the building’s two shops, with Cheapside House eventually taking over both shops.

John Armstrong’s ‘Cheapside House’ after purchasing the hardware store next door
51-53 Ford Street – up for auction in the 1990s.

1889 – Apr

The Pyle family headstone at the Beechworth Cemetery

Typhoid fever is still taking lives in Beechworth and Robert Pyle and three of his adult children of the Three Mile will all die of the water-borne disease within 18 days of each other. On February 20 his eldest son, Robert Jnr, dies, followed on March 25 and April 7 by Emma and Annie – the second and third eldest daughters – who succumb to the same disease, from polluted water in the family tank. Finally, 55-year-old Robert Pyle Snr passes away in late April after a fortnight’s illness. (Two more children – Alfred and Charles Pyle – will die of the same disease three months later). The death of the respected and esteemed patriarch of the Pyle family results in shutters being put up in all the businesses in Beechworth as a large number of mourners come from various parts of the district for his funeral. The cortege comprises thirty vehicles and twenty horsemen. He is buried alongside the three fresh mounds of earth which mark the resting places of his recently buried children.

Arriving in the Beechworth in the 1850s, Robert Pyle Snr works for some time on a farm belonging to Melmoth Hall (receiver and paymaster at Beechworth) on the Three Mile Creek before entering into partnership with Bernard Holloway as dairymen and gardeners on the allotment of land where his house stood. Pyle and Holloway will subsequently purchase the dairying business of Marshall and Ward at Black Springs, as well as the market gardens of the Hall Brothers. In 1866 Pyle marries Catherine, the eldest daughter of Richard Rowe of Bowman’s Forest and they will have a total of 14 children. Through perseverance, industry and thrift, Robert Pyle Snr acquires considerable property and eventually becomes a respected butcher in the district. Sadly, not long before his death, his family home and other buildings are destroyed by fire. The loss, including the building’s valuable contents, is estimated at £1,000 over and above the amount of the Pyle’s £1,100 insurance policy.


‘Kurrajong’ (orginally referred to simply as ‘Male 7’), one of the 8 new ‘domestic accomodation’ buildings built in the grounds of the Asylum.

With ever-increasing patient numbers, work begins on the construction of 8 new ‘cottage wards’ within the grounds of the Beechworth Insane Asylum, behind the main, existing buildings. They will be completed by 1890.  Four are built on the ‘male side’ and four of the ‘female side’, with each cottage housing 20 patients. Initially named ‘Female 6-9’ and ‘Male 7-10’, the cottages are given names in the 1980s, including ‘Kiama’, ‘Carinya’, ‘Myrtle’ and ‘Grevillia’ (female side) and ‘Olivene’ and ‘Kurrajong’ (male side).   

An aerial view of the Asylum, highlighting the location of the new ‘Kurrajong’ cottage.


To improve water supply at the Zwar Bros Tannery, William Zwar builds a dam and then, in 1916, connects a 3” pipe to Beechworth’s water supply, but by the 1920s, this water supply is still not enough for the growing business.

1889 – Dec

John Armstrong’s ‘Cheapside House’ after purchasing the hardware store next door

John Armstrong’s new Cheapside House drapery store at 53 Ford Street quickly proves popular and he will soon take over the Cunningham brother’s hardware and ironmongery store next door. Today Beechworth Toys and Collectables (number 51) and Rebus (number 53) operate from the restored building (see photo below).

Born in England, Armstrong moves with his family to Australia where his father settles them in Wooragee, 9km from Beechworth, becoming a farmer and orchardist, assisted by his sons. Young John serves an apprenticeship at the drapery store of Sidney Henry Rundle of ‘London House’ in Beechworth before establishing his drapery business – ‘Cheapside House’ – at 53 Ford Street. He will go on to build up the business that becomes known far and wide simply as “Armstrong’s”. He becomes a Justice of the Peace and a member of the ‘Ovens District Hospital’ Board of Management, ‘School Board of Advice’, and a member of ‘Beechworth Boxing Day Sports’. He is the president of the ‘Beechworth Progress Association’ and Treasurer of the ‘Beechworth Racing Club’. Residing for many years with his wife Margaret at their home ‘Wongrabel’ on Finch Street, John Armstrong will pass away aged 63 on March 22, 1920.
The site of John Armstrong’s ‘Cheapside House’ on Ford Street as it looks today

1889 – Dec 31             

John Alston Wallace – Beechworth pioneers celebrate the New Year in his honour.

New Year’s Eve ‘Salute to the Beechworth Pioneers’. Scottish-born Beechworth pioneer John Alston Wallace invites 150 of the town’s greatest pioneers to a special celebration, timed to coincide with ‘Hogmanay’ – the last day of the year and Scotland’s most important holiday. Starting in the afternoon with a range of spectacular Highland Games – which attract a crowd of 3,000 – a banquet begins in the early evening inside a huge marquee set up in the grounds of the Vandenburg’s Vine Hotel. The invited ‘greats’ of Beechworth relive past triumphs and tragedies at the event and, as midnight approaches, fireworks light up the sky, and the bells of Beechworth blend with the sound of bagpipes to farewell the old year and welcome the new.

The one important Beechworth pioneer – invited but missing – at Wallace’s New Year’s Eve banquet is 58-year-old George Briscoe Kerferd, former Mayor of Beechworth, ex-Premier of Victoria and Supreme Court judge. He died while on a holiday at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula on the very morning of the ‘Salute to the Beechworth Pioneers’

1890 – Jan 1                

The celebrations continue the following day with the ‘Wallace Festival’ being held to celebrate John Alston Wallace’s outstanding contribution to Beechworth.

1890 – Jan 1                

Theresa Ellen Wallace, the recently deceased wife of Beechworth pioneer John Alston Wallace

The Foundation Stone for a new wing of the Ovens Benevolent Asylum at 12 Warner Road is laid by Elizabeth Keogh, sister-in-law of John Alston Wallace, in honour of Alston’s wife Theresa Ellen Wallace who had recently died in childbirth. It will be named the Wallace Memorial Ward.

Just before the Foundation Stone is lowered into place, George Fiddes, the new building’s architect, places a bottle containing ‘Jubilee Coins’ and copies of local newspapers in the cavity below the stone. 

1890 – Jan 1                

After 12 years as his assistant, Pharmacist George Gammon makes George B. Taylor his equal partner in the business, renaming it Gammon & Taylor’s Medical Hall.

William Johnston Bowen takes over the ‘Medical Hall’ in Beechworth
‘Gammon & Taylor’ continues until 1896 when the ‘Medical Hall’ is sold to William Johnston Bowen, the son of well-known Melbourne pharmacist William Bowen. After the sale of his business, George Gammon retires to the Melbourne suburb of Kew. William Johnston Bowen had been the dispenser at the ‘Ovens Hospital’ in Beechworth so is already well known in the district and he successfully runs the business until his retirement in 1916. 


Beechworth State School students lined up outside the school in 1900

Enrolments at Beechworth State School (number 1560) have dropped to 304. At its height, the school had over 1,000 children gaining their education at the school.


A fine new Victorian home with a wide verandah is completed at 39 Loch Street. Located on 2 blocks of land totalling 2,024 square metres, it still stands today as a 4 bedroom, three bathroom home and is sold in September 2018 for $1,270,000.


A Canadian ‘Western Yellow Pine’ (Pinus Ponderosa), similar to pine trees growing around Beechworth

An ‘Isolation Ward’ – designed in the Gothic style by Donald Fiddes – is completed at the Ovens Goldfields Hospital. Constructed to the west of the main building, the contractors are A & J Kyle. Costing £2,000, the new ward will become known as ‘Little Canada’ after the Canadian miner who likened the pine-clad slopes of the adjacent Beechworth Gorge to his native country so much that he builds a log cabin close to where the ‘Isolation Ward’ is constructed.

When Sir William Clarke travels to Beechworth to lay the foundation stone for the new ‘Isolation Ward’, another procession is held in Beechworth, complete with band, lodges and the Chinese miners displaying their famous dragon. 


The Star Hotel on Ford Street is sold to William Carroll for £3,000. Irish-born Carroll has been a wards-man at the Ovens District Hospital since 1867. His wife Mary Ann Carroll will manage the accommodation and meals at the hotel. Carroll will run the Star Hotel until his death in February 1903, at the age of 63, at which time his brother John Carroll takes over the hotel, and then ownership is taken by John Carroll’s widow Margaret Carroll following his death.


A Chinese Procession heads down Ford Street in 1890.


‘Charnwood Cottage’ at 11 Loch Street

On land that had been the home of Melrose’s Ovens Bedding Factory (destroyed by fire in 1871) the unassuming weatherboard Charnwood Cottage is built at 11 Loch Street. Set on over quarter of an acre of land, it features 12 foot high ceilings, 4 fireplaces, hardwood floors and sash windows, and stands two doors from St. George’s Hall (built in 1865). Named after the historic ‘Charnwood Forest’ which covers approximately 67 square miles (170 km2) in Leicestershire in England, Charnwood Cottage will be sold for $400,000 in January 2020 and then fully renovated and updated, with work completed in July 2023.

‘Charmwood Cottage’ at 11 Loch Street after its 2023 restoration. It sits directly across the road from today’s ‘Ritchies IGA Supermarket’.


‘The Cribbes Steam Riding Gallery’ arrives in a Wangaratta, spread out between three horse-drawn wagons, each containing parts of the ‘Merry-Go-Round. Young Alec Cribbes can be seen sitting in the passenger seat of the front wagon on the extreme left (photo: Wangaratta Historical Society)

Beechworth-born Alexander Cribbes draws big crowds as he tours North-East Victoria with his steam-driven “Riding Gallery” and other amusements. The “splendid steam riding gallery” is a boiler-powered ‘Merry-Go-Round’ featuring concentric rings of horses and carriages. The centre of the rings features a space where a band performs, entertaining the ‘riders’ with music as an engineer feeds fuel into the boiler and pulls a range of levers through the escaping steam to operate the popular ride. Cribbes always returns to his home in Beechworth during the winter months where his numerous workers are employed in improving his various properties, before he sets out on tour for the next season, regularly offering free tickets and rides for the benefit of local charities.

Two of Alexander Cribbes’ sons – Robert and Alec – play in the band in the centre of the ‘Merry-Go-Round’. The Cribbes family are involved in the Beechworth music scene and take part in many local concerts and performances. Alec (pictured below) will live to the age of 74, dying in Ringwood in 1957, while his older brother Robert (1876-1897 – who dies aged just 21) and his father Alexander Cribbes (1836-1915) are both buried in the Beechworth Cemetery.
11-year-old Alec Cribbes photographed in 1894. The youngest son of Alexander Cribbes and his second wife Margaret, Alec plays the cornet in the band.

1890 – Oct 15

After 10 months of construction, the extension of the Ovens Benevolent Asylum, the 12-bed Wallace Memorial Ward, opens at 19 Warner Road, the first ward built solely for female residents, mainly destitute miner’s wives. Designed by Beechworth architect Donald Fiddes, it is constructed by Thomas Sandham and John Lyell at a cost of £1,176. It is financed almost entirely by a donation of £1,100 from local mining entrepreneur and parliamentarian John Altson Wallace as a memorial to his wife who had died in childbirth some years before.

The ‘Wallace Memorial Ward’ will used as a female-only ward until 1973 when it is converted for use as a ‘Day Hospital’. After a new, modern ‘Day Hospital’ in constructed in the mid-1980s, the ‘Wallace Memorial Ward’ will be refurbished for use as the administration building. It has since been fully renovated and is now a private home. 

1891 – Mar 10

When the promotors of the ‘Cyclorama of the Battle of Waterloo’ in Melbourne discover that a patient at the Beechworth Benevolent Home was a soldier in the historic battle in June 1815, they send for him. 98-year-old Jeremiah Brown is transported to Melbourne where an old uniform is found and he is given a place of honour in the show where he proceeds to recount his adventures as a 22-year-old at Waterloo to fascinated, wide-eyed members of the Melbourne public!

Introduced to Australia by American promoters Howard H. Gross and Isaac Newton Reed, the Melbourne ‘Cyclorama’ – a large hexagonal building designed by George Johnson – is situated on Victoria Parade at Eastern Hill (Fitzroy). Before silent movies were shown to the public, the 19th century ‘Cyclorama’ hosts viewings of massive 360-degrees paintings of the battle that wrap around the circumference of the building’s interior. Sounds of the battle including cannons, thanks the recently introduced gramophone record, are played, and artificial smoke waft through the building for added effect. On hand are people – like Jeremiah Brown – who are either historians or were there at Waterloo to tell the story. The ‘Cyclorama’ is quite a phenomenon in its heyday but, with the advent of ‘moving picture shows’, it will close in the early 1990s with the building repurposed as an athletics and boxing pavilion, before being demolished in the 1920s to make way for extensions to St. Vincent’s Hospital.

1891 – Jul 23

Cover of the Banquet Menu (Courtesy Yackandandah & District Historical Society)

The train line from Beechworth to Yackandandah is complete and a special train sets out to celebrate the opening of the newly built Yackandandah Railway Station. The menu includes Ox Tongue, Roast Duck, Saddles of Lamb, York Hams and Pigeon Pie.


Built to house the ‘Ovens Register’ printing press at 37 Camp Street in 1891, it is operating 125 years later as the ‘The Press Room’ wine bar in 2016.

Andrew Porritt moves his Ovens Register newspaper printing press into a new purpose-built printery at 37 Camp Street.

Part of the historic interior of the 1891-built printing press building, when it is operating as ‘The Green Shed’ bistro in 2010.


The ‘Turner & Kipling’ shop at 52 Ford Street, next door to the ‘Commercial Hotel’.

C.E. Kipling becomes a business partner of long-time Beechworth jeweller and watchmaker William J. Turner in his business at 52 Ford Street. Considered the ‘Tiffanys’ of Beechworth, Turner and Kipling carries one of the largest stocks of jewellery, gems and watches in the North-Eastern district, and all kinds of repairs are done on the premises.

Originally arriving in Beechworth as a goldfields official, William J. Turner will quickly become a Commissioner on the goldfields before establishing his first gem, gold and jewellery business in Beechworth in 1856. At the same time, he also acts as a resident warden, at times performing magisterial duties and chairing the Local Court. He is awarded a medal for the precious stones he sends to the ‘London Exhibition of 1862’. With Beechworth’s other notable watchmaker and jeweller, Charles Frederick Falck, Turner prepares a dazzling display of gems and jewellery from Beechworth for the ‘Royal Society’s Exhibition’ in Melbourne in 1865. William J. Turner will die in 1896.


Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson.

Councilor Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson organizes a group of volunteers to further develop and beautify the ‘Botanical Reserve’ on Sydney Road. A majestic stand of European trees is planted, and two cannons are mounted on top of the large rockface in the reserve, known locally as the ‘Giant’s Grave’

The two cannons atop the ‘Giant’s Grave’ rock at the ‘Botanical Reserve’, now ‘Queen Victoria Park’.

1891 – Oct                   

An 1892 newspaper advertisement for ‘Bray’s Photographic Studio’ in Beechworth – published a few months after his death. His wife Elizabeth Bray and their son are now running the business, hence the name ‘James Bray’ does not appear in the advertisement.

Renowned and respected Beechworth photographer James Edward Bray dies after suffering a bout of influenza. He is 59 years old. After establishing his popular studio in Camp Street in 1868, he has just opened another branch of his photographic business at Yarrawonga which is where he passes away. His funeral is held in Beechworth and his widow, Elizabeth, will continue operating the Camp Street photographic studio with the help of their son, until she dies on 20 November 1895.

When he is 48-years old, James Edward Bray is one of four men who photograph the Kelly gang after the siege of Glenrowan in 1880. In the early 1880s Bray starts specialising in printing varnished photographs on tin.

1892 – Jan                   

The Beechworth Gymnasium and Athletic Club is formed and opens rooms on the corner of Church and Finch Streets.

1892 – Feb 12

62-year-old Thomas Tanswell Snr.

Thomas Tanswell Snr dies in Beechworth at the age of 62. He has successfully run Beechworth’s Commercial Hotel since 1871 and built a beautiful home in Newtown called ‘Loughborough Villa’ – named after the town of Loughborough in Leicestershire, England where he had been born. For a few months before his death he had been suffering from heart disease, and had been cautioned by Beechworth’s Dr. Skinner to avoid undue excitement. The day before his death he had been at his Commercial Hotel in Beechworth transacting business as usual, conversing freely with those whom he meets, before returning to ‘Loughborough Villa’ in Newtown shortly after 10pm. But at around 3am, a ‘gurgling noise’ is heard from him and, upon assistance being summoned by his wife Ann Tanswell, it is apparent that his end is at hand … and within a few minutes Thomas Tanswell has expired. Upon his death becoming known, most of the leading places of business in Beechworth will close as a mark of respect.

19-year-old Tanswell left England in 1849, traveling to Yass in New South Wales with twelve members of his family to join his father John, who had been sent to Australia as a convict in 1833. At the end of 1852 he left his father’s butcher shop in Yass and excitedly trekked overland in the first goldrush to Beechworth, first settling at Reid’s Creek and digging for gold – with a degree of success – before moving to Spring Creek where he opens a butcher shop. At the end of 1853 he joins the new goldrush to the Buckland and quickly becomes involved in business in the district – Morse’s Creek (now Bright), Myrtle Creek and elsewhere, working as a butcher and taking an active interest in mining and in local public matters before building the ‘Empire Hotel in Bright. Married – and with 13 children in tow and financially successful – he returned to Beechworth in 1869 and purchased and completely rebuilt the ‘Commercial Hotel’.

1892 – Feb 13

Beechworth’s ‘Commercial Hotel’ on Ford Street

On the day of Thomas Tanswell’s burial, the vast funeral cortege leaves the Tanswell home ‘Loughborough Villa’ at Newtown and makes its way into the centre of town, passing the Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel on Ford Street, then Thomas Tanswell’s beloved Masonic Lodge on Loch Street, before arriving at the Beechworth Cemetery. One of Thomas and Ann’s sons, George Tanswell – who has been suffering from tuberculosis for a number of years – manages to rise from his sick bed as the procession passes the Commercial Hotel to stand on the hotel’s balcony for a final farewell to his father. The effect of doing this and “the chill experienced by sudden exposure to the air” quickly exacerbates his condition and he dies the next day at the age of just 31, leaving a widow Georgina and a son, Reginald Tanswell. Edward Tanswell, the second eldest son of Thomas Tanswell, takes over the Commercial Hotel. Edward – who had married Jane McGowan in 1881 – will run the hotel succesfully, until 1895 – three years after his father and brother had died – when Edward too passes away at the age of 38, leaving his widow Jane to run the hotel for the next nine years, until financial difficulties force her to transfer the hotel’s licence to their daughter, 22-year-old Ethel Jane Tanswell in 1905. On April 28, 1908, Jane and Ethel will successfully apply to have the name of the hotel officially changed from the Commercial Hotel to Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel, the name that remains to this day.


Beechworth Railway Station and Goods Shed – busy with passengers in 1900

The Beechworth Shire Council reserves a large area of disused mining wasteland near the railway station (along Spring Creek to Mellish Street) for future development.


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Billson’s ‘Matured Stout’ as it is sold today

Billson’s Brewery introduce another new beer – Billson’s Matured Stout. It is still brewed today.


Reid’s Creek school closes. The Woolshed’s last hotel closes in the 1900s and the Woolshed school closes in 1922, although gold mining is revived by bucket dredging of the creek and continues until 1922.

1892 – Apr

The Wanderers Football Club team photo in 1890.

Following a meeting between officials of the two Beechworth football clubs – the Beechworth Football Club and the Wanderers Football Club – they agree to merge under the new name, the “Beechworth District Wanderers Football Club” adopting a red and black striped guernsey (and nicknamed ‘The Bombers’) before becoming an inaugural member of the Ovens and Murray Football Association (OMFA) in 1893.

The merged club is initially quite powerful, claiming the OMFA’s first two premierships, and adding a third in 1897. The 1897 flag is won by means of a play-off after Rutherglen and Beechworth (who have now dropped the ‘District Wanderers’ part of their name) finish level at the head of the premiership ladder. There are no finals series, as such, in 1897, so to all intents and purposes this play-off will be the fledgling association’s first ever OMFA Grand Final, with Beechworth edging home by 9 points, 3.4 (22) to 1.7 (13). 


Billson’s begin trading under the new name of A. A. Billson’s Anglo-Australian Brewery Company (the name it will keep until 1911). By 1895, its cellars are capable of holding 7,000 dozen bottles and, at its manufacturing peak in the early 20th century, the brewery can treat 20 hogsheads of liquor (about 5000 litres) per day.

1892 – May                  

The Report of the Secretary of Agriculture lists 32 separate winegrowers and vineyards in the Beechworth district with 124 acres under vine. With gold discoveries in the region all but coming to an end, the local wine industry is at its peak … but it will not last.

By 1901 the region’s plantings have shown a contraction to 103 acres and wine production is at 10,416 gallons. By 1910 this has been reduced to just 33 acres. In 1916 the region records just 6 acres of vines and production of just 30 gallons. The probable invasion of phylloxera – first discovered in Rutherglen in 1899 and spread through the north-east of the state probably had some effect – although Beechworth’s area under grape cultivation has been in decline since 1893. The outbreak of ‘The Great War’ all but finishes it off, the region’s once promising enterprise as a wine region is at an endbut it will return!


Small syndicates of miners continue to work old or abandoned quartz reefs, often without the assistance of heavy machinery to remove the large amounts of rock, in order to obtain yields at ever greater depths. Roger Williams & Sons revive operations at the old Williams Good Luck Mine on the Mopoke Reef (also called Morepork Gully) in the Dingle Ranges, three miles from Beechworth. They will continue to work the mine for more than two decades, digging an 800-foot long tunnel, digging down as far down as 200 feet to connect and provide better working access to the mass of reefs and veins in the vicinity. Progress is hampered by poor air quality charged with fumes from dynamite. Vast quantities of rock have to be crushed to obtain payable yields.

An emigrant from Cornwall with experience in the tin mining industry, 19- year-old Roger Williams Snr sails to New Zealand in 1840, then to Australia where he spends time on the Bendigo Gold Fields before settling in Beechworth in the early 1860s. He works on various mining activities in the district, including the ‘Rocky Mountain Tunnel’ project.  


With the decline of gold mining as Beechworth’s main drawcard, the Beechworth Progress Association sees the growing interest in tourism as a way to bring people to the town and issues ‘The Illustrated Guide to Beechworth and Vicinity’. Published by popular Beechworth newsagent James Ingram, the book comprises 54 pages of text and advertising, and 12 photo-printed plates. It describes the attractions, landscapes and peacefulness of Beechworth – and the railway that comes right into town – pointing out that “a busy Melbourne merchant could depart the city on the 4.55 p.m. train to arrive in Wangaratta at 9.16 p.m. take the connecting train to Beechworth and be in bed by midnight”! In the book, Beechworth’s potential as a sanitorium is praised by the highly regarded novelist Ada Cambridge (below) – who happens to be the wife of Beechworth’s Anglican Dean, Reverend George Frederick Cross.

Ada Cambridge praises Beechworth’s potential as a sanitorium

1892 – Nov                   

The Prince of Wales, Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s eldest son, born in 1841

An athletic carnival, followed by a large ball, is held in Beechworth to celebrate the 51st birthday of the Prince of Wales, the future King of the British Empire. He will serve as King from 1901 until his death in 1910.


Doctor’s Residence – 41 Camp Street (note the red ‘doctor’s lamp’ at right)

37-year-old Dr David Skinner builds a new home and medical practice – ‘Balgownie’ – on the corner of Camp Street and Loch Street, the same site used by many local doctors since 1856. It still stands (as a private home) today.

Born in Inverurie, Scotland, on April 28th 1855, David Skinner is educated in Aberdeen and obtains both ‘Master of Arts’ and ‘Master of Surgery’ degrees. After arriving in Melbourne, Skinner becomes the resident medical officer at the ‘Alfred Hospital’ before moving to Beechworth in 1882 to take up the same position at the ‘Ovens District Hospital’. He goes on to establish his own private medical practice – on land that will become the Brigidine Convent’ property – before purchasing the old doctor’s house at 41 Camp Street (corner of Camp and Loch Streets) where he builds his new house and surgery. He continues to practice medicine at 41 Camp Street until his death from influenza in Beechworth in August 1918, aged 63.


Frederic Haumann in front of ‘Haldon’ – his ‘Gentlemen’s Retirement Home’

German businessman Frederic Haumann purchases Alexander Pritchard’s 9-acre vineyard at 59 Havelock Road and builds a fine brick residence on the site. He names the house ‘Haldon’, describing it as a ‘Gentlemen’s Retirement Home’. The house still stands today and is now part of the Haldon Wine Estate (below).


Henry James Jarvis, retires from his Blacksmith’s Shop in Albert Road and acquires the 1870’s-built house ‘Nithsdale’ in Newtown. In his retirement, Henry James Jarvis becomes a Beechworth Councillor between 1909 and 1917 and is named Shire President 1916. He dies whilst still in office in 1917.

‘Nithsdale’ had been built by William Turner in the 1870s. William Turner (not to be confused with Beechworth’s celebrated jeweller and watchmaker William J. Turner) had, for a time, been Beechworth’s Post-Master and names his newly built Beechworth home ‘Nithsdale’ after his birthplace in Scotland. Turner and his family eventually move to Melbourne where Turner joins the ‘Commercial Bank of Australia’ and builds another grand house – at 316 St. Kilda Street in Brighton – that he also names ‘Nithsdale‘. This house still stands today.’


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J.A. Wallace’s Melbourne home ‘Quat Quatta’ at Ripponlea

Beechworth pioneer John Alston Wallace moves with his children to Melbourne and builds a gracious mansion in Ripponlea that he names ‘Quat Quatta’ and two years later, 67-year-old Wallace marries his third wife, 25-year-old Ada Rona Reid. ‘Quat Quatta’ still stands today.

1894 – Mar 14

The ‘London Tavern’ on Camp Street

At the London Tavern in Camp Street, Alfred Arthur Billson and a visiting conductor, Mr. H. Fielder hold the inaugural ‘Beechworth Liedertafel’. A ‘Liedertafel’ is a German tradition – a friendly society of men united by an enthusiasm for singing.

1894 – Jul 16               

Stanley (7.5km from Beechworth) covered in snow in July 1894

Snow blankets Beechworth and surrounds as a mass of cold air descends on the area.


The ‘new’ Billson’s is completed. In response to the need for more cellar space and to expand his operations, in 1889 Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson had commissioned a new, bigger two-storey brick building at his brewery site at 29 Last Street. To allow for this expansion, the chimney tower is moved, brick by brick, from one side of the old building to the other side of the new building. The new cellar allows for the storage of a up to 84,000 bottles.


Oliver Gilpin, born at Seven Creeks near Euroa, uses an inheritance to open his first drapery store in Korumburra, followed by a second store in Rutherglen in 1899. Many more stores follow, including Wagga Wagga in 1915 (above). He will go on to run a vast chain of stores throughout Australia, including a long running O. Gilpin Store on Ford Street in Beechworth. He is often credited as creating the first major drapery chain store business in Australia. Although known to be somewhat bigoted and eccentric, Gilpin is undoubtedly successful and has some modern ideas including the employment of women, an employee incentive scheme, mail order business, and recycling.

In 1910 the wealthy and successful Mr Gilpin will build a magnificent home – ‘Kia Ora’ – in Finch Street, East Malvern. The spacious grounds include a tennis court, artificial lake, fernery, summer houses and a croquet and bowling green. By the 1930s Gilpin’s chain of Drapery stores has grown to 94 branches and Gilpin is living extravagantly, including the purchase of two Rolls-Royce cars. He builds a new two-storey luxury mansion – ‘Idylwylde’- in Balwyn, with plans to extend it to eight storeys! The house features a huge ballroom and luxury indoor pool and spa and the 20-acre garden which includes an artificial lake, vast aviaries and a zoo of Australian animals. Oliver Gilpin dies in 1942 and his Beechworth store will be purchased in 1945 by Frank Jarvis and incorporated into his existing shop next door. The remaining chain of ‘O. Gilpin’ stores will be purchased by ‘G J Coles & Co’ in 1951 for £1,250,000.
Oliver Gilpin at his ‘Kia-Ora’ residence in Finch Steet, East Malvern

1895 – May 22

Newly married Walter and Jessie Crawford – Jessie’s dress made from cream bengaline, with trimmings of cream satin lace and ribbon. A stunning veil and wreath compliment the outfit.

Walter Carleton Crawford – son of Hiram and Martha Crawford, the successful and wealthy owners of Crawford and Connolly coaches – marries Wooragee-born Jessie Haeffner in a beautiful ceremony conducted by Church of England pastor Reverend Thomas W. Sarjeant, followed by a lavish reception at the Star Hotel presided by the groom’s father Hiram Allen Crawford.

1895 – Dec 26

A Boxing Day street parade down Ford Street in Beechworth.

1896 – Dec 17

‘Murder of John Giles Price by Convicts on Williamstown Beach 1857’ – sketch by George Rossi Ashton (of David Syme & Co- June 1887) – State Library of Victoria

Joseph Brock, a patient at the Beechworth Asylum, passes away. Brock is rumoured to be one of the gang of convicts who had participated in the infamous murder of John Giles Price – the hated ex-commandant of Norfolk Island – at Williamstown on March 25th 1852. A number of the ringleaders of the violent death will be hanged for the crime, with Brock apparently escaping, later ending up at the Asylum in Beechworth. 

Fifteen convicts are committed for trial for Price’s murder with seven of the men sentenced to death and hanged in 1857. Later, it is suggested that some of the executed men had been wrongly convicted.

1896 – Dec 19

‘William’ Nam Shing, one of Beechworth’s longest serving and most respected Chinese businessmen, dies of blood poisoning following a severe foot infection, at the age of 63 and later buried in the ‘Church of England’ section of the Beechworth Cemetery. Born in Hong Kong, Shing has been a Beechworth merchant for over 40 years – running his Sun Quong Goon General Store – after arriving at the diggings along Spring Creek as an 18-year-old. The wealth that Shing accumulates over the years is devoted to the advancement of the district, with his quiet generosity becoming well known, both to the Chinese community and Europeans alike. A big supporter of local charities, Shing sits on the Committee of Management of the Ovens District Hospital and will later be appointed a Life Governor of the Oven’s Benelovent Asylum. He is also prominent in the introduction of the tobacco industry to the area. He and his wife Annie Cohen have two sons – Percy and Frederick, and three daughters – Ada, Amanada and Annie Jnr (who dies not long after being born). Today, Nam Shing Lane near Lake Sambell is named after him (see above).


William Johnston Bowen’s Chemist shop at 55 Ford Street.

After the death of his business partner George B. Taylor in 1896, George Gammon retires, and sells his popular ‘Gammon & Taylor Medical Hall’ pharmacy at 55 Ford Street to William Johnston Bowen, the son of well-known Melbourne pharmacist William Bowen of Collins Street. As William Johnston Bowen has been the secretary and dispenser of the Ovens District Hospital for a number of years, he is already well known in the district, and he successfully runs the W.J. Bowen Chemist shop until his retirement in 1916. The building still stands today (below) with the famous Gammon’s name re-written on the top of the old chemist shop.

The former chemist shop at 55 Ford Street as it looks today, now operating as the
Beechworth Coin Laundromatt, with seperate accomodation on the first floor. The first floor balconey is added in 2005 by the building’s owner Peter Rue.

1897 – Jun 22             

John Alston Wallace in 1890

To celebrate Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee, the large area of disused wasteland near the railway station the council acquired in 1892 is cleared, levelled and improved to create Wallace Park. On opening day, a procession of several thousand citizens march down Ford Street to the new park where the local member of Parliament plants the first tree. A picnic, sports events and fireworks display follow. Wallace Park will be officially dedicated in 1907, six years after Wallace’s death in 1901.

Named after flamboyant Scottish entrepreneur and wealthy miner John Alston Wallace, it is now known as the ‘Wallace Park Reserve’ which today includes the ‘Beechworth Bowling Club’ (moved there from Queen Victoria Park in 1921), a running track constructed by the Beechworth Fire Brigade in 1953 and the ‘Beechworth Public Swimming Pool’ constructed in 1978.  

1898 – Jan

John Fletcher purchases James Ingrams’s newsagency and bookseller business in Camp Street from James Ingram Jnr (who had taken over the 1885-established business from his father in 1882). In 1870 Fletcher had resigned from his position as the secretary of the Beechworth Hospital to start business as a ‘Mudie Librarian’ and bookseller and newsagent. A popular and energetic citizen, he has acted as agent for “The Leader” and “The Age” during the whole of his business career in Beechworth.

‘Mudie Librarian’ – Between 1842 and 1852 English publisher Charles Edward Mudie develops his ‘Mudie’s Lending Library’ and ‘Mudie’s Subscription Library’ concept in London. Mudie’s efficient distribution system and vast supply of texts revolutionized the circulating library movement and it spreads to Australia.


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At Baarmutha Park, the shire council demolishes the wooden grandstand, replacing it with a new two-storey brick grandstand with a curved metal roof and a light ornamental railing at cost of £800, and new stone gate pillars are added. Both still stand today.


William James McFeeters marries Anastasia Brown. Their son David McFeeters will become the postmaster at Reid’s Creek and their daughter Beatrice May McFeeters will live to the ripe old age of 101! McFeeters Road is named in honour of the family.

The council also commemorate other pioneers through new street names in the area – Billson, Tanswell, Crawford, Allen and Ferguson Streets, and Fletcher Lane.  


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Ladson’s Branch Stores at 19 Camp Street

58-year-old Alfred William Ladson opens his third store in Beechworth, this time at 19 Camp Street called Ladson’s Branch Stores. It is managed by his son Charlie Ladson and stands next door to Frederick O’Brien’s drapery store.

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Alfred William Ladson
19 Camp Street will be the home of numerous businesses over the ensuing years, including a car yard, a pinball parlour in the 1970s and is now the site of the WAW Bank.


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Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson

Alfred Arthur ‘Bosher’ Billson (above) takes over as chair of the Beechworth branch of the Australian Natives’ Association.  He takes an indefatigable interest in town affairs and foresees tourism as a means of stemming Beechworth’s decline. He is a Beechworth United Shire councillor for 24 years and serves four terms as president. At various times he is also president of the local Progress Association, hospital board, Liedertafel, choral society, and sporting clubs.

1898 – Nov

Bartholomew Wong Poo

Prominent Chinese citizen 69-year-old Bartholomew Wong Poo – a missionary to the Chinese population gives a well-received address about the dangers of opium, explaining that young Chinese males are often as much addicted to opium as European youths are to alcohol. One of the catechists involved in the baptism of Chinese into Beechworth’s Presbyterian Church, Bartholomew Wong Poo and his family are much admired and respected around town. He had married Emma Jane Richards on December 2, 1877, in Echuca. They have six children together – Elizabeth May, Arthur Bartholomew, James Albert, Emma Jocelyn, Richard Wesley and William Thomas. The ‘Poo’ is dropped from their surnames and reduced to ‘Wong’ and the children attend Beechworth State School. Although Bartholomew’s English is not strong, and Emma is of English descent, the children’s upbringing proudly centres the Chinese community.

Barthololmew’s son Richard Wesley Wong – killed in action in France on March 2, 1917, aged 28 years

1899 – Apr 1                

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Doctor Jean Macnamara

Jean Macnamara is born at 62 Last Street in Beechworth. She will go on to become a doctor and scientist, known for her contributions to children’s health and welfare. She becomes a pioneer in the treatment of polio and an advocate of myxomatosis for the control of Australia’s huge rabbit population. In 1935 she is honoured as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Passing away in in 1968, Dame Jean is buried in the Beechworth Cemetery.

62 Last Street Beechworth
In August 1999 a plaque in her honour is unveiled outside Macnamara’s former family home at 62 Last Street by Dr. Jack Best of the ‘Tall Poppy Society’ and the ‘Institute of Australian Political Science’.


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The Beechworth Golf Club is established when the club’s secretary seeks permission from the Beechworth Shire Council to form golf links at Baarmutha Park. However, it is not until 1914 that the links are formerly opened. The racecourse grandstand serves as the clubhouse until immediately prior to WW11 when the Le Couteur family donate land where various clubhouses are built. The land, opposite the 6th green, is sold in 2014.

1899 – Dec 22             

Under heatwave conditions and gale force winds, a series of bushfires start around Beechworth just before Christmas. The first begins at Everton and, after burning its way through the hills to Sebastopol, it crosses the Woolshed Range and then sweeps up and over the hill behind Zwar’s Tannery, finally reaching the Gorge right opposite the Ovens District Hospital. Most of the houses near the tannery and opposite the hospital are destroyed. A man named White, living near Zwar’s Tannery, is seriously burned while endeavouring to rescue his deeds and other property. Just below Zwar’s Tannery on Malakoff Road an elderly couple are burnt to death.

1899 – Dec 22             

The ferocious north wind continues to blow, and another arm of the same bushfire reaches the Melbourne Road at the settlement of Black Springs wreaking terrible damage – eight houses are destroyed, along with the Black Springs School and a Mr Thompson is severely burned. The north wind continues unabated and the fire begins to spread to the outskirts of Newtown and right towards the Beechworth township.

1899 – Dec 22             

As Beechworth is enveloped in thick, choking smoke – and red hot embers, burning leaves and other debris fall over the centre of town – all business is suspended, and citizens rush out to help fight the flames.  The fire sweeps through the slaughter-yard of John Blackwell, destroying all his buildings and stores of hides and tallow. The Ramadens, a couple employed as workers by Blackwell and living in one of the outbuildings at the yard, are consumed by the fire and the dead bodies of both are found in the afternoon not far from the hut and burned almost beyond recognition. John Blackwell will pass away eight months later at the age of 49, leaving his widow Henrietta with their 9 children.

1899 – Dec 22

Another bushfire breaks out near the Chiltern Road and crosses to Wooragee where four farmhouses are rapidly consumed, and 15-year-old William Elliot perishes in the maelstrom after running to a paddock near his Wooragee home to let cattle out, and nothing further is seen of him until Sunday morning (Christmas Eve) when his charred body is found alongside the burnt remains of a bullock. The fire races up both sides of the Wooragee Road, quickly reaching, and destroying Worragee’s Rising Sun Hotel. All the land between the Wooragee Road and the Yackandandah Railway Line is burnt out, along with a number of dwellings that had been occupied Chinese miners. Two homestead leases, those of John Brewer and David Murray, are also destroyed, with a massive loss of grass, cattle and sheep. In the afternoon, the gale veers around to the West, bringing with it flames from the direction of Everton, and travelling at the rate of 15 miles an hour. Eventually, this branch of the fire is stopped on the outskirts of the Beechworth Racecourse.

1899 – Dec 23              

(Photo: Sean Davbey / Getty Images)

After burning through the night, the threat continues as another branch of the bushfire crosses Spring Creek, then Holmes Creek at the Gorge, near Beechworth’s Powder Magazine, and destroys the home of John ‘Jack’ Skidmore at the bottom of Camp Street. The fire then sweeps towards One Tree Hill, endangering all the houses on the hill above Barnard Street and some are damaged before the fire is stopped – by a wind change from the west and firefighters – at the Old Chiltern Road.

At its height – when the wind is at hurricane force – Beechworth is ringed by fires from the Lower Three Mile to the Yackandandah Railway Line beyond Red Hill. ‘Billson’s Brewery’ even catches fire, but prompt action by the brewery employees prevents any serious damage. A company of men from the Navy (who have arrived to take part in Beechworth’s Boxing Day Sports) also help in putting out the fires. But the biggest help comes in the form of a cool change, and a change of wind direction, on Christmas Eve which halts the further spread of fire. During the three days of the fire emergency, there are six deaths, and 26 homes are destroyed along with outhouses, sheds, huts and hundreds of animals and stock … and there are scarcely any fences left standing between Wooragee and Beechworth.