Duke of Cornwall Mine

A great view of the ruins of an 1870’s Cornish engine house.

Access:    By car to viewing point. No admission to site (private property) Period:    1870s
Time:    Allow 15 minutes there Stories:    Migration; mining companies; 19th century technology

T here is a paradox in the prominence of the Duke of Cornwall engine house.

On the opposite side of the road, near the brow of the hill, is an unspectacular heap of waste rock (or mullock), the remains of the Rowe brothers' Mosquito nine. This mine was spectacularly rich, but the Duke of Cornwall was a monumental failure. The Duke of Cornwall was a foreign company floated in England, predicting it would show the locals a thing or two.  True to its boast the company erected extremely powerful and spectacular mining equipment, including a 25-inch cylinder Cornish beam engine, a large crushing battery and several large furnaces. The company was soon in trouble, though - no gold and all the investors' money spent.

Less than 200 metres away, the Rowe brothers' fortunes were increasing daily. A visiting journalist in 1870 wrote of the Mosquito Mine-

 ‘For nine years its owners have been working steadily on, declaring large dividends every month …  and now they have every chance of becoming something very like millionaires.  I am prepared to believe almost everything of this claim, especially as I have heard of a Ballarat visitor being helped away breathless with astonishment at what he had seen, and it takes a great deal to make a Ballarat speculator breathless’.

In 1875 the Rowe Brothers purchased the failed Duke of Cornwall mine and its splendid plant for £1850.  The Mount Alexander Mail called it 'the cheapest mine and plant ever sold in this district'.

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