BHP Chimney Ruin of First Offices | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

BHP Chimney Ruin of First Offices

Item details

Name of item: BHP Chimney Ruin of First Offices
Other name/s: Site of first BHP Offiices, BHP Fireplaces, Chimney ruins
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Mining and Mineral Processing
Category: Mine office
Location: Lat: -31.9596316224 Long: 141.4712212680
Primary address: Part of Consolidated Mining Lease 7 East of corner of Gaffney and Oxide Streets, Proprietary Square, Broken Hill, NSW 2880
Parish: Picton
County: Yancowinna
Local govt. area: Broken Hill
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Broken Hill
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Part of Consolidated Mining Lease 7 East of corner of Gaffney and Oxide Streets, Proprietary SquareBroken HillBroken HillPictonYancowinnaPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Broken Hill City CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

The BHP Chimney Ruin of First Offices is of State significance as the last remaining remnant of the original offices used by the huge Australian mining company BHP. It was originally located in one of the first residences built for early miners' accommodation at Broken Hill, which was also used as the first works office for Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd (BHP) (at that time known as Broken Hill Mining Company), which today, as BHP Billiton, is amongst the world's largest mining and resource companies. As such, this chimney represents the formation of BHP, a company which has helped to shape Australia's mining, industrial and immigration policy. The fireplace itself was reputedly built in May 1885, the year that Broken Hill began mining activities and started to develop as a remote inland town.
Date significance updated: 16 Feb 10
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Unknown (vernacular)
Builder/Maker: Tim Phin and A.W.B. Orman
Construction years: 1885-1885
Physical description: The chimney is a ruin, the only remains of a worker's cottage of which it once formed a part.
It is constructed in random stone and brick.
It is surrounded by a recently constructed wire mesh fence and protected by a corrugated iron roof shelter resting on four metal poles.
There is interpretative signage in weathered metal which reads:
'This fireplace built by Tom Phin and A.W.B. Orman 1885 is part of the first office of the B.H.P.'

There is also more detailed contemporary interpretative signage (dating from 2008) with images describing the chimney and its history within Broken Hill. It reads:
'This stone chimney marks the site of the hut built by the Broken Hill Mining Company (soon to become BHP) in May 1885 to house its first manager William Jemieson. It was, for a short time, used as the BHP works office where all mining business was conducted. In 2001, BHP became part of BHP Billiton, the world's largest resources company. As such this site represents the birthplace of BHP, a company which helped shape Australia's mining and industrial landscape.
'About 1907, BHP erected a wooden railing around the chimney so that it might be preserved. The top section has since been rebuilt and the structure covered.
'No photographs of the hut which housed the original BHP office have been located but the photo at right shows its location amongst the busy mining area of the Line of Lode.
'[Caption to] BHP SOUTH SMELTERS 1888. This photo was taken from near the corner of Oxide and Chrystal streets looking towards the site of the chimney which was located in the foreground or just to the left of view. A small hut and chimney can be seen partly obscured by a small tree in the centre foreground. (Rasp Memorial Library).
'The original syndicate of seven which held the seven mining leases (Blocks 10-16) on the broken hill named their venture the Broken Hill Mining Company. Following the discovery of rich silver ores in early 1885, the company appointed Jamieson as manager in April 1885. Within two weeks, with workmen Alf orman and Tom Phin, Jamieson established a camp at the foot of Block 14. Here they erected the first structures at Broken Hill of which only the original chimney still stands.
'The syndicate registered the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd in June 1885 but Jemieson resigned at the end of the year. During that period he undertook, at this site, planning of the original development work at the mine including the erection of the first smelters. By 1888, wooden staff houses and a handsome stone office were erected about 500 metres to the northwest. The site was now part of the Block 14 Mine. By the 1890s, all BHP staff housing was provided at proprietary Square. BHP ceased operations at Broken Hill in 1939.'
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The BHP Chimney of First Offices is in good condition.
Date condition updated:07 Dec 09
Modifications and dates: The BHP Chimney of First Offices was repointed in 2006 by Broken Hill Council under the supervision of Heritage Advisor Elizabeth Vines.
Current use: Ruin, local landmark
Former use: Aboriginal land, worker's cottage, first offices used by mining company BHP

History

Historical notes: Wiljakali (Wilyagali) land
There were some fifteen groups of Aboriginal people traditionally living in the huge area bisected by the Darling River in the western plains of NSW. The principal group around Broken Hill was the Wiljakali. Their occupation of the area is thought to have been intermittent due to the scarcity of water. The same scarcity of water made the area unattractive for European occupiers and traditional Aboriginal ways of life continued longer there than in many other parts of NSW, into the 1870s. As Aboriginal people were increasingly deprived of the full range of their traditional options, they were obliged to come into stations or missions in times of drought to avoid starvation. By the 1880s many Aboriginal people were working on stations or within the mining industry. Some people ended up living in reservations created under the Aborigines' Protection Act of 1909. The influenza epidemic of 1919 had a further significant impact upon the indigenous population (HO, 1996, 192-193) as did the twentieth century federal government policy of removing Aboriginal children from their families.

The Wiljakali people who occupied the area when Charles Sturt arrived in 1845 (and first referred to it as 'broken hill') faced less immediate settler agression than tribal groups who lived on the rivers, including the Darling (Spearitt, 2018, 73).

In 1883, when boundary rider Charles Rasp formed a small syndicate to mine a great ironstone outcrop in the far west of NSW, they thought they would find tin. Instead, they ended up having leases over some of the world's richest silver, lead and zinc deposits. Unlike gold, these metals were not simply there for the taking. BHP (Broken Hill Proprietory Ltd.), formed in 1885, faced technical and logistical challenges in mining and processing ore bodies (ibid, 2018, 73).

Broken Hill grew quickly. A population of 17,000 in 1889 had more than doubled to 35,000 in 1914, putting it on the map as the then third-largest city in NSW. In today's terms, it could be described as Australia's most multicultural city of the time (ibid, 2018, 73).

Trade Unions quickly formed around the mine and extraction processing industries. The Trades Hall, built between 1891 and 1905, became the first building in Australia owned by unions, who also purchased the local newspaper 'The Barrier Times' in 1908. This strong union tradition permeated all aspects of life in Broken Hill. The city's unionists won a 35-hour week in 1920, the first to do so in Australia (ibid, 2018, 74).

The city is full of surprises, including a mosque, founded by Afghan cameleers in the early 1890s, and a synagogue built in 1910. The cameleers flourished in the later decades of the 19th century, transporting wool as well as construction materials for the Overland telegraph line from Darwin to Port Augusta. The Jewish population mainly came from Eastern Europe. While the synagogue closed in 1962, the mosque is still used for worship. BHP ceased operations in Broken Hill in the late 1930s, by which time other mining companies had formed, leaving behind an open-cut mine that writer George Farwell described in 1948 as, 'forlorn as a dead planet. It has the air of a crater on the moon... Massive boulders and abandoned machinery sprawl down its flanks as though flung down the sheer sides of a mountain gorge. Upon the crest old iron lies everywhere' (ibid, 2018, 74).

Beginnings of Broken Hill
The term Broken Hill was first used by the early British Explorer Charles Sturt in his diaries during his search for an inland sea in 1844. Western plains towns far away from the major rivers, such as Broken Hill, owe their existence to the mineral discoveries made in the decade after 1875, when spectacular deposits of gold, silver, copper and opal were found (HO, 1996, 198). The township of Broken Hill was developed in the "Broken Hill Paddock" which was part of Mt Gipps Station where George McCulloch, the station manager employed many men. It was in 1883 that three of his workers pegged the first mineral lease on his property: they were Charles Rasp, David James and James Poole(Drewery 1985; Camilleri, 2009). The Syndicate of Seven was formed, and consisted of: George McCulloch, Charles Rasp, David James, James Poole, George Urquhart and George Lind. These men pegged out the remaining six mineral leases which are now known as the Line of Lode. It was the seventh member of the Syndicate, Philip Charley, who found the first amount of silver in 1885 (Drewery 1985; Camilleri, 2009). A township was soon surveyed and Broken Hill was initially known as a shanty town with an entire suburb named 'Canvas Town' for its temporary buildings.

The first survey of Broken Hill was made by Mr. E.H. Dawson, and started on August 27, 1884. It was in the year 1885 that the town of Broken Hill began to develop. Previous to that date it was nothing but mulga scrub, with two or three tents or humpies. The first house was built on Block 14 for Mr. Wm. Jamieson, the manager of the Broken Hill Mining Co. Ten came Delamore's Hotel, which was pulled down out Lake's Camp way, carted into Broken Hill, and re-erected by Mr. A.F. Pincombe, one of the old pioneers who was well known on the Hill. In quick succession followed Sully's old store, the Silver King Hotel, and Brazill and Jones' store, then came J.R. Stewart, baker, Neilson & Co., butchers;, Langemen's billiard saloon, Vaughan's Hotel, Ledgard's, Lee's and Finn's, & Co. Argent Street began to assume a busy aspect.'

The town boundaries of the 'Town of Willyama' were proclaimed on August 24th, 1887. The Municipal District of Broken Hill was constituted by a Proclamation dated 24th September, 1888 to include 'the Towns of Willyama and Alma and other lands.' The Proclamation, gazetted July 24th, 1907, 'hereby constitute as a City the said Municipality of Broken Hill.'

The Chimney
The original syndicate of seven which held the seven mining leases (Blocks 10-16) on the broken hill named their venture the Broken Hill Mining Company. Following the discovery of rich silver ores in early 1885, the syndicate appointed William Jamieson as manager in April 1885 and registered the name Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, in June 1885. The BHP chimney marks the site of the hut built by Tim Phin and W.B. Orman for the company in May 1885 to house Jamieson. It was located amongst the busy mining area at the Line of Lode, the rocky outcrop which contained the ore body and was used for a short time as the BHP works office where all mining business was conducted. Although Jamieson resigned at the end of the year, during that period at this site he undertook planning of the original development work at the mine including the erection of the first smelters. The BHP Chimney is the only remaining remnant of the hut which dates from the year that mining activities began in Broken Hill and when it began its development as a remote inland town.

No photographs have been located of the hut which housed the original BHP offices.

By 1888, wooden staff houses and a handsome stone office were erected about 500 metres to the northwest. The site was now part of the Block 14 Mine. By the 1890s, all BHP staff housing was provided at proprietary Square.

In 1908 the BHP Chimney was already a ruin but described as 'One of the most historical spots on the Hill. Beside this stack in a large tent there lived in the early days Mr. Wm. Jamieson and his assistant A. Reid, W.R. Thomas, Alf Orman, two or three axemen, cook. It was in this tent the destinies of Broken Hill were laid, it was here that all business with the mine was transacted, and here in this tent Mr. Thomas drew the plans of Block 14, British, Block 10. The Company has lately placed a railing round the old spot, in order that it may be preserved.' (Curtis, 1908) By this time BHP had erected a wooden railing around the chimney so that it might be preserved.

BHP ceased operations at Broken Hill in 1939. In 2001, BHP became part of BHP Billiton, the world's largest resources company.

The BHP Chimney thus represents the birthplace of BHP, a company which helped shape Australia's mining and industrial landscape.

The BHP Chimney is located on Crown land reserved for Temporary Common (Reserve 2421 Notified 4 September 1886), known locally as the Willyama Common, which is administered by Broken Hill City Council as the trust manager for the Willyama Common Trust. Consolidated Mining Lease no.7, held by CBH Resources Pty Ltd, includes the site but there are no plans to conduct surface mining in this area.

The top section of the chimney has been rebuilt at some time since 1907 and the structure modestly covered with a tin roof on four wooden columns. Under the supervision of Broken Hill City Council's heritage advisor in 2008, the chimney was repointed and interpretation signage added to the site.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Office use-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of mining-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Marking origins of major industries-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for silver-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for various minerals-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Miners' accommodation and living conditions-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Accommodating workers in workers' housing-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th century suburban developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Shaping inland settlements-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Vernacular towns serving a specific industry-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in offices-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The BHP Chimney Ruin of First Offices is of State historical significance as the only surviving remnant of the first offices of BHP, a mining company which has helped to shape Australia's mining, industrial and immigration policy. The chimney was originally part of a worker's cottage built to accommodate some of the first miners in Broken Hill but which was soon put into use as the first Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd works office (at that time Broken Hill Mining Company). The fireplace was reputedly built by Tim Phin and W.B. Orman in May 1885, thus dating from the same year that began mining activities began in Broken Hill and coinciding with its formation as a remote inland town.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The BHP Chimney Ruin of First Offices is of State significance for its historical associations with the origins of BHP, a company which has helped to shape Australia's mining, industrial and immigration policy and which conducted its first offices in the cottage which this fireplace once warmed.
Integrity/Intactness: The BHP Chimney Ruin of First Offices has been conserved in 2008 with stone repointing and signage interpetation.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions Activities and works relating to signage, fencing, shelter, parking, surface water management, waste management and landscaping, provided there is no negative material impact upon the heritage significance of the place. Apr 23 2010

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0182023 Apr 10 561974
National Trust of Australia register  106327 Feb 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenElizabeth Vines for Broken Hill City Council2009SHR Nomination for BHP Fireplace
WrittenJenny Camilleri2009Personal communications with Patricia Assad of the Heritage Branch
WrittenLeonard Samuel Curtis1908History of Broken Hill
WrittenRoberta J. Drewery1985Streets of History: naming our streets, Broken Hill, NSW Streets of History: Naming our Streets, Broken Hill, NSW
WrittenSpearitt, Peter2018'Making History Happen'

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5061024
File number: H09/00474


Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.