|A Post Office was founded
in April 1883 and Captain's Flat, as a town, was alive.
New shops were opened by F. Bennison and G. Darker, T.
Daly opened a blacksmith and C. Newman a timber yard.
John Harrison converted his property, Yorkdale, into a
boarding house but he died less than a month later.
By 1886 some 200 acres of Crown Land was mapped out
for the town's growth and in 1888, Captain's Flat was
officially made a town. Captain's Flat was well and
truly up and running. By the 1890's the town had five
hotels and six general stores.
But Captain's Flat was nevertheless, a wild mining
town. The owner of the Silver Age Hotel was forced to
use a pistol to clear patrons from his bar during a riot
where the manager of Koh-i-noor Mine was severely
beaten. The wife of another hotelier fell through an
open trapdoor while serving drinkers, luckily she
escaped serious injury. Perhaps the best known hotel of
the times was the Captain's Flat Hotel, owned by Mrs.
Mary Ann Goggin, who was a noted citizen of the town.
Mr. J. W. McDonagh started a general store in 1885
and Patrick Coffey opened his bakery in 1887 and he
operated it for some ten years without competition. Mr.
S. L. Furner opened another general store in the cntre
of town and called it "the cheapest house in town",
indeed, he even had that slogan painted across the roof.
The town had grown so quickly that there was ample trade
for both he and McDonagh and four more store proprietors
as well. two coachlines were operating, the Donnelly and
Petaers and the Tickler lines. By 1898 there were two
dentists, three doctors, a chemist, blacksmith, jeweller/watchmaker,
tailor, three hairdressers and several auctioneers. The
town also boasted a medical hall, cordial factory,
School of Arts, billiards halls, printer and a
Most of the businesses congregated south of the Post
Office. This area was known as Bogtown but Captain's
Flat had four suburbs, the others being Bagtown, Newtown
and Coppertown. Residents did not take kindly to the
names and demanded Bagtown be called Oakvale and Bogtown
called Paradise Alley. But the original names are the
ones which stuck, even to this day.
The first official building erected was the Police
Station in 1896. The town was still a typical mining
town of the day, with the most patronised establishments
being the hotels. Beer flowed freely and it is said that
publicans turned the taps full on and left the beer
flowing as the demand was such that to pour glasses of
beer singly was simply too slow. The barmen wore
gumboots and served drinkers who were packed tightly
inside the bars. Conversely, the School of Arts had only
forty odd members, the miners simply not interested in
development of their minds through gentler pursuits. The
courthouse was built in 1899 but residents complained
about its size, claiming it was nothing more than a calf
pen. Strangely, stock were impounded on the site over
the years which was oddly prophetic.
No matter how hard upstanding citizens tried to
improve the town, it remained a rather uncivilised place
with children and youths roaming the streets,
"skinny-dipping" in the river and exposing themselves to
passersby. The first edition of the Mining Record
claimed that "There are schools to educate; churches for
spiritual welfare; stores; hotels and other places where
all the necessities of life are supplied at very
moderate and reasonable charges".
The locals had a local horse racing club, of rather
dubious integrity with race fixing among jockeys
apparently common. But it didn't seem to matter too
much, the race days being well attended, with the horses
racing along the Jerangle Road, it was easy for jockeys
to swap horses while they were out of sight. Spectators
sat under trees waiting for the horses to reappear, with
the inevitable beer drinking being the main recreation.
Football was also very popular with several teams being
fielded in the town. But no matter what the sporting
interest, the day was always ended with a social evening
at the Goggins Hall.
But underlying Captain's Flat's seeming prosperity
was a civic need for funds for the poor, and for the
most important commodity... water. The government
ignored the calls for funding to establish a decent
water supply and the lack of basic services resulted in
serious disease outbreaks, particularly typhoid. In
1899, money collected for a retiring mine manager, was
used instead for the poor. Mining accidents were common
with quite serious injuries happening every day, but
there was still no hospital. The hospital was set up
eventually, but by the time this happened, ore prices
were down and the mines were closed.
Advertisement for Furner's store in
The Captains Flat Mining Record of 15 January 1898.
The Post Office in 1897. This rented premises was on the
opposite side of the street to where the Post Office
J W McDonagh's Store.
S L Furner's store. He called it "the cheapest house in
town" and painted that slogan on the roof.
P Coffey's Bakery.
The Captains Flat Hotel had rooms to accommodate 75
Foxlow Street was just a dirt track running through the
centre of town in 1896.
Bogtown in 1897.