Heritage Buildings & Sites
The Chimney was created to provide an updraught to the boilers at Peacock's Enginehouse. The reopening of the open cut mine in the early 1970's necessitated the destruction of Peacock's Chimney, so to the credit of many dedicated and hard working members of the National Trust, the chimney was rebuilt by the National Trust at its present location in 1972. "Johnny Green" sits atop the relocated chimney. "Johnny Green" has been the mascot of the miners since 1852 and is dedicated as a memorial to the "Cousin Jacks and their fellow miners at the Burra Mine."
L-R: Peacock's Chimney c. 1850; Peacock's Chimney present day.
The massive Cornish built enginehouses, of which Morphett's Enginehouse remains as a reminder of a by-gone era, were constructed to protect the mine machinery from the weather and anchor it to the ground. Morphett's Enginehouse and Shaft has been lovingly renovated by the people of Burra and stands as a memorial to the miners who originally constructed the building and sunk the shaft plunging to a depth of 600 feet.
L-R: Morphett's Engine House and mine site c.1858; Burra Mine Pool present day.
Morphett's Enginehouse and other structures are open to the public and the building contains many photos, relics and a video history of the mining era, providing an extremely interesting and informative trip back in time.
L-R: Morphett's Engine House c.1860; Morphett's Engine House present day.
Paxton Square Cottages
Paxton Square Cottages, built in 1852, are a row of cottages recently restored in Burra. It is believed that they were built by the mining company to encourage the miners to leave their dangerous dwellings in the creek.
The cottages gained their name from the square of land situated in the middle, where the children played, livestock was tethered and the outdoor toilets were placed. The 'Paxton' of Paxton Square was William Paxton, an original director and shareholder of the Burra Mine.
In 1876, Paxton Square housed in excess of 160 people. The Mining company auctioned the complex in 1912, with the successful bidder being Hon. John Lewis. He and his family set up a trust to provide low rent housing to the poor of Burra. This tradition continues, with the heritage listed site providing low cost accommodation for visitors to Burra.
1878 saw the first beer brewed in Burra at the Unicorn Brewery, called Unicorn Ale. It supplied three types of ale, pale, dark and XXX.
It was typical of most country towns to have their own brewery. By the time the Burra brewery closed in 1902, it was supplying beer to many northern towns including Broken Hill, and owned the seven hotels then open in Burra, five of which are still open today and preserved close to their original décor.
Unfortunately, the structure above the ground was mostly dismantled but luckily the cellars and assorted other structures are still preserved in tact. These buildings have been made accessible to the public and make for a very interesting step into the past.
The Burra Creek Dugouts are an extraordinary feature of Burra's rich historical tapestry. As stated by Ian Auhl in "Burra in Colour" - 'imagination and belief sometimes need a little aid. Perhaps then it is best to let a visitor to the Burra Mine in 1850, chronicle the sight which met his astonished eyes when he arrived at the Burra Creek :
'This creek with its habitants in, not on, the banks on both sides forms one of the most singular spectacles ever beheld. The miners, in the true spirit of burrowing, to which their habits incline them, have excavated dwellings like rabbit-holes, in lines, as thickly under the banks of the creek as they could be placed; a foot or two only intervening between the several habitations, sometimes merely a mud bank as a division wall. Some have one room, others more; all have one or more chimneys, formed on the bank top, and in most cases of barrels cemented in mud; some are of mud only, a few of wood formed square, and a very few of brick. All these chimneys rise up at intervals like tree stumps in a roadway, and the public path runs along the banks and over the house tops. Sometimes these chimneys protrude before only just in time to be avoided as you step aside, while their reeking smoke rises into your very nostrils. These rabbit-burrows are also variously constructed, some have mere holes for doors or windows; some have substantial doors and glazed sashes; a few have shingled verandahs, and many are whitewashed outside; while some, in addition, are papered and carpeted within. A person named Magers, in particular, has a carpeted room in his subterraneous dwelling. The sight of the busy industry of the inhabitants of the creek, on each side of the saffron-coloured stream from the mine constantly pouring down, is very curious; washing and hanging out clothes, scouring pots, and other domestic occupations being visible at every frontage. The rise of a heavy flood in the creek, from the winter rains, would submerge this whole subterranean city."
There were in excess of 1800 inhabitants living in the banks of the Burra Creek at one time, until the flood of 1851 swept their dwellings down the river with the rising waters.
The Redruth Gaol has the dubious honour of being the first South Australian country gaol erected. The gaol was built with three cells for men and three for women, with separate courtyards. A second storey was utilised as a work room.
The gaol served as a harsh place of confinement from 1879 until it closed as a gaol in 1894. It was resurrected as a detention centre in 1897 as the Redruth Girls Reformatory. During this time it housed on average thirty 'incorrigible' girls sent to Redruth from other institutions in Adelaide.
The Reformatory continued for some thirty years until a series of events, including a wild riot by the "Girls of Hampton Court", led to their transfer back to Adelaide and the closure of the Gaol as a Reformatory.
'Breaker Morant' was filmed predominantly in and around Burra in 1979, and the Redruth Gaol was one of the major locations.
The Heritage listed building is now in the care of the National Trust and the Goyder Council. The Gaol represents an excellent view of the past and is open to visitors to experience our history. The list of previous inmates and offences always proves to be a talking point, particularly when visitors find their family name amongst the list!
L-R: The inmates of the Redruth Girls Reformatory at a picnic in 1918; Reduth Gaol present day.