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SOUVENIR-CHARTERS TOWERS, 1872 TO JULY, 1950               Page 5


The Premier Queensland Goldfield

EARLY History

THIS goldfield town was built on a gently inclined plane, down which the chief street, Mosman Street, descends, junctioning with Gill Street the other main thoroughfare-at about three parts down which latter, after rising gently, goes to the railway station at Queenton, a mile distant. All I around on every side is a wide plain, barren or fruitful according to the time of year or the period that has elapsed since the last drought. There is a Towers Hill behind the town some 200 feet high, that is the only break on the horizon. There are hills in the distance towering up in the haze that 78 years ago helped to witness the Baptism of the town known as Charters Towers, or Tors, which latter signifies mountains in old Cornwall lingo; the first name, Charters. being that .of the Warden of the district, who proclaimed the new goldfield in August, 1872. The semi-desert waste of that day is now a thriving well-built town of some 13,000 people, containing buildings that many English towns of double the population, and a hundred times as old, do not possess. The field is 600 miles square, and includes Ravenswood, that first waxed and then waned before Charters Towers began to develop. The revenue collections of 1887,were £17,751 from the Charters Towers and Cape gold fields, which included the issue of 2,261 miners rights, the sum total being by far the largest on record. The value of the machinery on the field at the close of that year was £176,350, an increase of £61,450 on the value of the previous year. The mining companies at the end of 1887 showed a total of 5,126,180 shares issued, or about two millions in excess of 1886, the capital paid up being two and a quarter millions in that year as against four and a third millions in 1887. How Ravenswood fell behind in the race with its younger rival is seen in the fact that in five years ending 1877 the Towers had a total gold output worth £600,000, as against a little more than half that amount from Ravenswood. But the output in 1877 puts the Towers far away at the head of the list with £1,611,977, as against Gympie, with five years earlier development, that only produced £1,323,280. The other goldfields such as the Palmer, that opened in '72, made a brilliant average of £200,000 a year for the first four years sunk as low as £6,981 for 1887. Between the years 1884 and 1887 Charters Towers increased its gold output by nearly one half and the same rate of increase was maintained to the end of 1888. In comparison other fields such as the Hodgkinson and Mulgrave fields during the same period were waning and the gold output sunk to about a fifth of its previous figure. The Gympie goldfield which was the only rival the Towers had about 1887 was producing only about two-thirds of the Towers gold production figures. 'The stone produced on the Towers field averaged Ii ounces gold per ton whereas Gympie only averaged about one ounce per ton. A miner on the Towers at this time was earning £3 per week against £2/10/'- per week earned by miners on the Gympie field.

A comparison of crushing costs shows Towers costs from 12/- to 15/- which was higher than Gympie but crushing costs at Croydon was as high as 30/- per ton and on the Palmer field, 17/- to 20/- per ton, whilst the Etheridge averaged 25/-. The miners wages as already stated on the Towers field was £3 a week against £4 a week on the Croydon, Palmer and Georgetown fields.

A Mines Department report of the 10 year period 1877 to 1887 gives the following production figures from the various fields in Queensland: Palmer field £333,172, Ravenswood £125,815,
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