The author made a visit to this mill site as part of research for the story of William in July 2011. This is the same month 125 years ago in 1886 that he arrived in Croydon. This page gives some information obtained from that visit that might be of interest.
The Pioneer Mill, as it was named by William, was located some 3 km northwest of Croydon about 300 metres west, from what used to be the main cart track to the Mountain Maid mine which supplied most of the ore it crushed from 1886 onward until gold ceased to be mined in Croydon. At one time there was almost a town that included at least 3 hotels where the Mountain Maid Mine stood. Click here to view an extract from a newspaper report of 1887 mentioning William’s mill.
William built this mill with his own hands and it began operating in December 1886. It was the first to crush ore in Croydon. William owned this mill until mid 1888 when he sold it to the Mountain Maid for £4,000 cash including goodwill. Click on William’s Waterhole picture to see a Google Earth image showing Croydon, the Pioneer Mill and William’s Mining Leases, Ironclad and Pride of Hills locations.
The mill began operation just after the Rush to Croydon at a time when there was a severe shortage of crushing capacity and thousands of tons of ore were waiting to be crushed. The mill in his time crushed many thousands of tons of ore which William was paid in gold at ¾ of an oz a ton. It was a very lucrative business for him and helped set him up in Brisbane before he left for Raub in July 1889.
His reputation in Queensland was enhanced by this success and the community activities he subsequently engaged in, such as being part of deputations to ministers on behalf of Croydon to raise funds for a town hall and the hospital, and he soon became a ‘man about town’ in Brisbane. It was this reputation that no doubt brought him to the attention of the Raub Australia Syndicate and why they asked him to head their venture in the Malay States.
During William’s time here he also had mining interests, but only as a partner, in the Ironclad and Pride of Hills Mines. I do not know as yet what profits he took from these mines but, they were payable mines according to the record for the period of Croydon’s gold mining history.
There are many artefacts and features remaining from William’s time at the Pioneer Mill site and most can be readily identified if you know what to look for. There is evidence where the main appliances and buildings stood and where the tailings are. There is a large collection of stamp shoes where the mill must have stood, where the dam was and how the water was brought to the mill. The site is on private land and may soon become heritage listed because of its historic significance in the gold history of Croydon. It lies as a monument to human endeavour and enterprise in at times, a very harsh and unforgiving environment. Some items were photographed and some of the pictures are shown below.
William’s Waterhole on Belmore Creek that fed the Pioneer Mill. Click on image to see map location of Mill
Copyright © Victor R. P. Bibby 2012 All rights reserved.
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1887 Stamps Croydon Museum
Town Hall Croydon CA 1888
|Specimen Hill Mine|
|William's Patent 1873|
|A Gold Field|
|Cricket at Raub|
|The Misses Bibby|
|40 Head Battery|
|Family After Raub|
|Return to Raub|