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Clunes School of Mines

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Clunes-Campbelltown Road, Clunes VIC 3370

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Features

  • Historic site
  • Beautifully restored building
  • Park nearby
This beautiful gothic gabled building was constructed in 1892 and was used until 1893 as a campus of the Ballarat School of Mines. Since then it has been used as a meeting place for the County Women's Association and Australian Natives Association, a mattress factory, an infant welfare centre, and the Clunes Angling Club.

The School of Mines building still contains original paintwork and wall stencils that were revealed through the removal of a wall added in the 1950s, which are now on display. Furnaces where students learnt how to melt gold remain in the back room. A red brick fireplace is still in the front room, which was used for mining lectures.  It is one of probably only two small school of mines left in the state (source: www.workingheritage.com.au).

The Clunes School of Mines is located right across from Fraser Street (Clunes' gorgeous main road), beside Creswick Creek and just over the bridge from the scenic Queens Park. A War Memorial also stands across the road.

The following article was published in The Courier on 9th April, 2013 (source: www.thecourier.com.au), and describes the restoration of the Clunes School of Mines:

Old SMB building at Clunes is refurbished

AFTER floods struck the Clunes School of Mines, the chimneys were literally holding the historic building up.

Now that the old School of Mines has been refurbished (virtually a rebuild using as much of the original materials as possible) by expert restorers The Mint Inc, the chimneys are no longer straight but the building is strong enough to stand on its own.

The Clunes School of Mines was officially reopened yesterday with its main tenant, the Clunes Angling Club, accepting the keys.

The project cost about $250,000 but was well worth it due to the historical significance of the building, said architect and heritage adviser Mandy Jean. 

"The damage was massive, almost irreparable," she said.. 

"Because of the work of the angling club and Mint Inc, they have been able to repair what is a very important building for Clunes."

Built in 1892, the Clunes School of Mines was originally affiliated with Ballarat School of Mines. The elegant little building was only used to educate miners in the district about mining and gold-smelting techniques for about six months, though, before an economic crash saw much of the region's mining relocated to Western Australia.

The Clunes building has since been used by the Australian Natives Association and the Country Women's Association. It has been a mattress factory, an infant welfare centre and, for the past 12 to 15 years, a clubhouse for the angling club.

"The building is very important, both for its own history but also for the Clunes streetscape," Ms Jean said.

"There are only two schools of mines left in Victoria, and this was quite the foundation for this type of building in Australia when the nation was a leading innovator in mining and smelting in the world."

The building was in disrepair but nevertheless usable until the 2010-2011 floods moved it off its foundations.

Working with Brian Simpson from the Department of Sustainability and Environment, the Clunes Angling Club approached The Mint Inc with a view to saving the building.

"These buildings that tell a story about a community are very important to preserve," Mint Inc executive officer Katrina Kimpton said.

Where it was impossible to use original materials that were too badly damaged, recycled materials and messmate timber milled from the region were used in its construction. Because the building was so lopsided, every window had to be taken out and reconstructed.

The finished product is, in the words of Clunes Angling Club secretary/treasurer Ian Macfarlane, "marvellous".

The following article was published in The Ballarat Star (Vic: 1865 - 1924) on Tuesday 1st March, 1892 (source):

CLUNES SCHOOL OF MINES (1892)

The annual meeting of the council of the Clunes School of Mines was held on the 25th inst. In place of members of the council retiring by effluxion of time the following were elected: -Rev. Elder Gray, Mersrs John Beveridgo, R. Nichol, J. Bryant, W. T. Pitcher, J. H Daly and T. Gilbert.

the first annual report, showing progress was received and adopted. The following officers were elected for the ensuing year Rev. E. Grey, president; Rev. Father John Barret, and Dr Gordon, vice presidents; Mr Joseph Bryant, hon. director; Mr W. Y. Witherden, lion, treasurer. Mr H. E. Sando, secretary, and the officers for the time being were appointed trustees. 

Great satisfaction was expressed with the success of the school, and the progress and extent of the classes. It was referred to a sub-committee to make arrangements for allowing the free inclusion in certain classes, of a limited number of boys and girls of 14 and upward, who on examination qualified themselves for the privilege. An offer by an anonymous resident to pay the fees for four miners for admission to any class in the school was announced by the president, and received with thanks.


 

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