A Million Pounds and Not a Penny Return

A Victorian Gold Mining Saga

Matthew Churchward

Senior Curator Matthew Churchward explores the unfortunate saga of the Moolort and Charlotte Plains Deep Lead Gold Mines, into which unwitting British investors sunk over £1,000,000 in the 1890s.

Lured by the potential of tapping a fabulously rich trunk lead, six mines were established in the Loddon Valley of northern Victoria, and equipped with the best mining plant in Australia. The companies became embroiled in the fraudulent web of the notorious swindler Whitaker Wright and after over a decade of concerted effort all eventually succumbed to the numerous technical difficulties without ever paying a penny in dividends.

Recording to follow.

Item MM 143459: Stereograph - Charlotte Plains Gold Mine, Machinery & Worker, Victoria, circa 1900s


Matthew Churchward is an engineering graduate of the University of Melbourne, who turned his passion for engineering history into a career. After completing a Masters thesis entitled "The Influence of Gold-Mining on the Development of Engineering Manufacturing in Victoria During the 19th Century", he worked as a research officer and industrial heritage consultant, before joining the curatorial staff at Museum Victoria in 1994.

Over the past twenty years he has been involved in exhibition development and public program delivery at all of the museum’s venues together with extensive behind-the-scenes work on collection development and documentation. During this period he has maintained a strong research interest in the history of Victoria’s mining and engineering industries.

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