Star of the East Company

From Hotels of Ballarat
Star of the East Gold Mining Company
Picture needed
Town Ballarat
Street Picton Street
Known dates 1864-1899
Google maps -37.58498,143.84495

The Star of the East Company operated a gold mine in Ballarat, <1864-1899>.

Site[edit | edit source]

The mine was in Picton Street, Ballarat, along the Yarrowee escarpment.

Background[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

In October 1864 the company advertised that specifications for a tender could be seen at the Camp Hotel in Sturt Street.[1]

1881[edit | edit source]


The quarterly meeting of the above company was held last evening at Williams' Redan Club hotel. There were about fifty shareholders present, and Mr T. H. Gray occupied the chair. The report of the directors was as follows:—"At the date of our last report, the north-west drive was in a distance of 90 feet. We continued the same until we had reached a distance of 202 feet from west drive and what we considered the hanging-wall of the west lode. We passed through a number of vertical veins in the last 50 feet; and could get prospects of gold in several places. We opened out north on one of the veins, and drove a distance of 23 feet, and put up a rise 15 feet on the same, and although we could get gold at any time in the dish, yet the appearance of everything showed plainly that to get any body of stone we must go deeper. We accordingly carried out the wishes of the shareholders as expressed at our last meeting, and called tenders for sinking the shaft 140 feet deeper. The contract was let to Thomas Rowe and party. The depth of the shaft up to date is 70 feet below the chamber, and 533 feet from the surface. The sinking up to the present has been hard, but from the appearance of the shaft we are likely to make better progress in the future. The ground seems to get easier, and the strata lying more flat as we go deeper, which is considered a good indication of being near the lode. T. H. GRAY, chairman; WM. HICKS, manager." The receipts for the last quarter were:- Balance from last quarter; £7 18s 10d; calls, £367 6s 11d; debit balance, £2 19 3d, Expenditure —Directors' fees, £8 15s; salary, £42; wages; £200 17s 8d; contracts, £49 4s 9d; timber, ironmongery, firewood, and smaller items, completing the total £378 5s. The reports balance sheets were adopted, and Messrs J. H. Roberts, J. Ware, and Andrew Brown, elected directors. Messrs Jago and J. T. Williams were re-appointed auditors, and the meeting adjourned.[2]


An extraordinary meeting of the company was held last night at the Globe hotel, Skipton street; Mr Gray in the chair, and about twenty-four other shareholders present. It was resolved that in future the meetings be half-yearly instead of yearly. The uncalled capital of the company was increased from 6s 8d to 16s 8d. and the limit of the monthly calls increased from 3d to 6d. The minutes of the meeting were then confirmed.

The quarterly general meeting was then held. Directors' Report.—"Since the date of our last report we have continued sinking your shaft without interruption. The ground has been pretty hard, and the country well settled all throughout the sinking. We passed through one small quartz leader during the quarter, and latterly there has been a great increase in the quantity of water making in the bottom of the shaft. Your shaft has now attained a depth of close upon 200 feet below our former level, and it is for this meeting to say whether we shall open out at once, or sink the shaft deeper. Your directors are desirous of sinking for a fortnight longer before opening out, and they are of opinion by that time the shaft will be deep enough to fairly test the ground. Arrangements have been made with Mr Magor to extend our term of lease for twenty years, and to reduce the percentage frm 10 per cent, down to 7½ per cent., and likewise to extend the boundaries of our claim by a line drawn due west, right across the lease, including the celebrated Guiding Star reef, which gave returns of 1 oz 13 dwt down to the water-level, when the tributors, with the appliances they had got, were unable to follow it any longer. You will see that the concessions made by Mr Magor in reducing the percentage, extending the term to twenty years, and the large piece of ground added to your claim, enhance the value of your property considerably, as all the payable reefs proved in the locality run through your ground; and it is only a matter of time when the Star of the East will be second to none in the district. Two of your directors, Messrs Gray, and Ferguson, retire from office at this meeting, but are eligible for re-election, and offer themselves accordingly."

Receipts and expenditure—Receipts, £441 11s, from calls. Expenditure, £425 0s 7d. Credit balance, £16 10s 5d. The general balance-sheet showed a total of £3778 6s 5d, with the above balance. Adopted. Messrs Ferguson and Gray were re-elected directors, and Messrs Williams and Jago auditors. A vote of thanks to the chair then closed the meeting.[3]

1883[edit | edit source]

In April 1883 the company bought the machinery and plant of the East Koh-i-noor Company:

An extraordinary meeting of the shareholders in the above company was held at Williams' Redan Club hotel last night. Mr Andrew Brown occupied the chair. The business was to empower the directors to enact a mortgage over the machinery and other effects of the company, and to confirm the action of the directors in purchasing the plant and machinery of the East Koh-i-Noor Company. The directors were empowered to effect the mortgage, and the action of the directors in purchasing the plant of the East Koh-i-Noor Company was confirmed.[4]

September 1883 - Half yearly report:

The half-yearly meeting was held last evening at Williams’ Redan Club hotel. Mr Brown, chairman of directors, presided. Directors’ Report.—“Shortly after the date of the last meeting your directors succeeded in placing all the shares, and in accordance with the resolution passed at that meeting they purchased powerful and effective machinery, consisting of 16½-inch cylinder engine with the usual appliances. This was erected to the satisfaction of the company by Messrs Badams and (??)roe at a cost of over £300, this, of course includes many charges incidental to the erection of a plant. The water taken out and the shaft skidded, work was started below and on cleaning up everything was found in good order. Driving was started on the 27th August, but the country passed through being a very hard sandstone the progress made was not so great as desirable. At 148 feet from the shaft a highly mineralised vein of quartz was passed through, and at the distance anticipated a number of promising strings of quartz was met with, and it is quite possible at the meeting we may have more favourable news to give. From what have heard of the character of the gold (extremely nuggetty) obtained by the New Band, it is similar to that obtained by the Band and Albion when at their best. If a more defined body of stone is not obtained before we reach the eastern boundary next the New Band, we will open open out on the vein and feel confident that from the indications noticed the vein will lead to a permanent and profitable lode. Three directors, Messrs Brown, Gray, and Yale, retire; those gentlemen together have been nominated for-re-election, also the auditors, Messrs Kent and Williams.— Andrew Brown, Chairman ; William Hicks, Manager." In addition to the half-yearly reports, the chairman verbally reported that in conjunction with the manager and Cr Leckie, of the Sebastopol Council, he had been introduced to the Minister of Mines by Messrs Bell, Finchum, and Smith, M's LA., as a deputation in sup port of the company’s application for a portion of the prospecting vote, and had been favourably received. The thanks of the company were especially due to Mr Bell, M.L.A, for the trouble taken in lodging application and arranging interview with the Minister. The half-yearly balance-sheet showed the receipts to be £1074 10s 6d—comprising balance from previous term, £5 9s 5p; and capital account, £1069 1s 1d. The expenditure included wages and salary, £275 6s 10d; machinery and plant, £317 17s 10d; contract and labour, £217 2s; other items completing the total of £1031 5s 2d; leaving a credit balance of £43 6s 4d. The assets were estimated at £1308 5s 4d, and the liabilities at £593 16s 10d. The auditors certified to the correctness of the books and accounts. The reports and balance sheets were adopted, and the retiring directors and auditors re-elected. A vote of thanks to the chair closed the meeting.[5]

1885[edit | edit source]

In March 1885, a new born baby's body was found dumped in an old shaft at the site. The young mother, Annie Preston, who had secretly given birth, was later charged with infanticide following an inquest at the Globe Hotel:

William Brown deposed that he was a miner, residing at Sebastopol, and was employed by the Star of the East Company. Witness went to look in an old shaft for some timber on the morning of the 17th March, On looking down the shaft he saw a naked baby at a depth of about 9 feet. Witness then sent for the police. The child was lying on its left side. Witness saw what appeared to be a woman’s footprints on the mullock heaps loading towards the shaft. In one place there was a mark as of a slip. Witness did not meddle with the body, and saw the police remove it...Constable Taylor, of the Redan police, deposed to finding the body as before described. It was only about four feet below the natural surface of the ground, and nine foot below the mullock heap's piled on three sides of the shaft. Witness removed the child, on which a post-mortem was held the same day...Inspector Parkinson deposed that on the 18th March last be accompanied Constable Falkiner and two black trackers to the old shaft described. After some little time the trackers took up the tracks into the creek. They observed that the footprints went to the shaft and back across the creek towards Skipton street, and covered the marks over to preserve them. The distance from the shaft to the prisoner’s house was about 550 yards. Witness was with Constable Brennan at her residence when she was arrested.[6]

In November 1895 the mine was forced to close the No.2 shaft for six months for repairs to the pumps:

At the Star of the East mine it has been found necessary to temporarily stop under ground work at tho No 2 shaft, in order to lower and fix the pumps, and as a consequence about 90 of the men have been discharged. It cannot be said precisely what length of time will be occupied in completing the work, but it is believed that underground work must be suspended for about six months. Such a lengthy stoppage must have the effect of seriously embarrassing many families at Sebastopol, for unless developments occur in other mines, and thus permit of employment being given to an increased number of miners, the means of livelihood of many families will have been lost for the time being.[7]

1902[edit | edit source]

In July 1902 two miners were charged with stealing gold bearing sand from the mine:

THE POLICE COURTS. CITY COURT. Friday, 8th August. COMMITTED FOR TRIAL. Before Mr W. Dickson, P.M., Messrs J. Heinz and T. Bodycomb, J.'sP. Geo. Look and Arthur Steel, miners, were charged with the attempted larceny of a quantity of gold-bearing sand from the Star of the East mine on 25th July. Mr J. B. Pearson appeared for the prosecution, and Mr H.. S. Barrett defended Steel and Mr D. Clarke defended Look.

In opening his case, Mr Pearson said the accused appeared to have been systematic pilferers, and he would prove that they had been warned within a reasonable period before the offence. The company had brought, the action because they had been much annoyed by pilferers, and wanted to check their depredations. Thos. Proctor, mine manager of the Star of the East, stated that shortly after noon on 25th July he saw the defendants coming from the direction of the boxes which discharged pyrites and sand from the battery. When they saw him they went back, and he followed them, and called to them to stop. Steel stopped, but Look went on running towards the city. Some thing was projecting from Steel’s coat, and on being asked to show what it was he displayed a bag, the bottom of which was saturated with sand and dirt. A tin dish containing sand was about 70 feet from the battery. Steel gave his name as Wm. Williams, of Darling street. The sand in the dish was auriferous, and was of the average value of £40 per ton.

To Mr Barrett—There might be half a dozen roads running through the company’s lease, but witness knew of no sand like that produced in court on them. The roads were not fenced off. People had been warned against gathering sand, but it was possible for them to do so. There was panning in the Yarrowee Creek, but the last people seen doing it were ordered off. The company claimed the right to order people off. He had chased the two defendants off some four or five months ago. To Mr Clarke—There were Chinamen on the creek, and the bank of the creek was a common thoroughfare. There was not much sand in the creek. Witness was certain Look was one of the men he chased. John Walsh, battery hand at the Star of the East, residing at Sebastopol, said that on 25th July, about midday, he was at work looking after the tables. Between 12 and 12.30 he saw the two defendants about 25 yards from the battery. Look had a dish, and seemed to be panning off in some water in a gutter. The other defendant was looking on. A bag was lying beside them. To Mr Barrett—The gutter was by the side of the dam. Witness never saw any panning in the creek. To Mr Clarke —There was a three-rail fence between the gutter and the battery. Wm. Hennessey, battery boy at the No. 1 Star, said he saw the two defendants passing the battery about 12.15 p.m. They turned and came back when Mr Proctor came down, and Look ran away. Steel stopped, and Proctor came up to him. Albert Walker, stoker at the Star of the East, stated that at about mid-day on 25th July he found the dish produced and a handkerchief under it near the corner of the battery, about 30 or 40 yards away. There was sand in the handkerchief, and the dish was turned upside down over it. Witness saw the same men there two or three months ago.

Mr Barrett objected that this was not evidence, and Mr Dickson upheld his objection. To Mr Barrett —Witness gave the handkerchief to Mr Hicks, the clerk. To Mr Dickson—He did not know to whom the dish or the handkerchief belonged. John Walsh, recalled, said he saw the dish upside down in the gutter about 1 o’clock. To Mr Barrett—He could not swear that the dish produced was the one Look was using, but it was a similar one. Detective Armstrong said that on 29th July, in company with Constable Hooley, he arrested the accused at their homes in Redan, and asked them various questions. Mr Barrett —When you arrested Steel, did you give him the usual warning? No; I don’t consider it necessary. I never give warning to anybody. Mr Clarke asked similar questions with regard to the arrest of Look. Constable Hooley stated that Steel lived in Pleasant street, Redan, and Look in Leeds street, Redan. Mr Barrett submitted that there was no case against Steel. There was no evidence that he made any attempt to steal sand. A witness said he saw him watching another man panning, and whatever was done by anybody was done in broad daylight at crib-time, when the men were about. Steel’s giving a wrong name was no crime. Mr Clarke pointed out that Look was not called upon to show what he was doing. It rested with the prosecution to prove an offence, and that had not been done. There was no proof that the place where the alleged offence was committed was in the company’s lease, and there was no proof that the company itself was incorporated. If the defendants wanted to steal the sand they, would not have left it behind them under the dish.

Mr Pearson addressed the bench on a point of law, contending that the evidence he had produced was sufficient to convict. Mr Dickson said the bench were of opinion there had been an attempt at larceny. Under advice the defendants reserved their defence, and were committed for trial at the Supreme Court on 19th August. Bail was allowed as before.[8]

Accidents[edit | edit source]

  • August 1899:

Mr Matthews, enginedriver at the Star of the East battery, who lost his arm in consequence of having it crushed in the cog wheels on Tuesday, was last night progressing as well as could be expected.[9]

The People[edit | edit source]

  • ___ Matthews, engine driver 1899.[9]
  • William Brown, miner.[6]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 25 October, p. 3. , viewed 05 Oct 2018,
  2. 1881 'STAR OF THE EAST COMPANY.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1884; 1914 - 1918), 22 June, p. 4. , viewed 25 Sep 2021,
  3. 1881 'STAR OF THE EAST COMPANY.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1884; 1914 - 1918), 22 September, p. 3. , viewed 28 Feb 2021,
  4. 1883 'STAR OF THE EAST COMPANY.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1883; 1914 - 1918), 24 April, p. 4. , viewed 29 Apr 2020,
  5. 1883 'STAR OF THE EAST COMPANY, SEBASTOPOL.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 28 September, p. 4. , viewed 29 Apr 2020,
  6. 6.0 6.1 1885 'THE ALLEGED INFANTICIDE AT REDAN.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 April, p. 2. , viewed 23 Feb 2020,
  7. 1895 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 26 November, p. 2. , viewed 20 Feb 2020,
  8. 1902 'THE POLICE COURTS.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 9 August, p. 9. , viewed 25 May 2022,
  9. 9.0 9.1 1899 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 31 August, p. 2. , viewed 24 Dec 2018,

External Links[edit | edit source]