Back to Henry and his mining

I’ve been so preoccupied finding this and listing that and had forgotten to write a little more about dear old Henry from Cornwall. My last post on him made mention that he had been working hard in the mines in Cornwall and was saving up to get a ticket to Australia, which he did.

The ship he came over to Adelaide on was the Electric and upon disembarking he made straight for the copper mines at “The Burra” which is a very long walk from Adelaide, fortunately he got rides on drays and wagons as far as Kapunda, which is probably half way if not more. Then from Kapunda he walked roughly the last 48 miles, pushing a wheelbarrow with all his worldly possessions in it, straight to the Burra where he immediately began work.

Only a year before Henry’s arrival, outcrops of brightly coloured ore had been had been located by shepherds, this is where it then gets interesting. Regulations at the time were that a Special Survey of 20,000 acres from the Government was necessary to gain mineral rights to any deposit. Two groups then fought for ownership of the land bearing copper and both groups were soon nicknamed the “Snobs” and the “Nobs” with the “Nobs” later calling themselves the “Princess Royal Mining Company”.

The special survey along the Burra Creek where the ore was found measured 8 miles by 4 miles and both groups purchased it in 1845 and agreed to divide it into two as equally as possible going on the amounts located. A lot was then drawn to determine which company got which half. The Snobs drew the Northern half and named their mine Burra Burra and the mine very quickly became one of the largest copper mines in the world, while the Princess Royal Mining Company drew the Southern Half and the mine was closed in 1851 as the ore had run out after 6 years.

(below picture is of what the mines and some the Cornish Castles looked like when they were in use; bottom: What the successful mine looked like)

Burra mines 01

Burra mines






Also in 1851, a collection of towns known as “The Burra” had formed with a population of over 5,000 people and it was the first mining town in Australia to be surveyed and was Australia’s largest inland town. Its influence on mining in Australia and South Australia in particular was of crucial importance until of course, gold was discovered elsewhere in Australia in 1860.

When Henry started mining at The Burra it was at the height of production, 1,000 men and boys were employed there, majority of them being Cornish and believe it or not but all positions of responsibility were held by Cornishmen. Much of the equipment being pumping engines were imported from Cornwall also and housed as only they knew best, in what were called Cornish Castles. Although Henry arrived there at the height of peak production, production was declining.

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