Charters Towers – a remarkable town

A reality, not a visualisation – in 1904 the town of Charters Towers recorded a population of 27,500 residents as a result of  gold mining operations established in the late 1880s. As early as 1882, the town was connected by rail to Townsville, a distance of 130 kilometres away.

The rich deposits of gold discovered at nearby Ravenswood, Millchester Creek and later at the base of Towers Hill meant that Charters Towers was considered one of Queensland’s premier goldfields.

Mill and work sites Charter Towers, 1904

By 1890, Charters Towers was named Queensland’s second largest city after Brisbane. Charters Towers operated the only Stock Exchange outside a capital city, trading in Mosman Street.

Photo image listing Members and Committee of the Stock Exchange, 1900

The information naming the committee and members of the Stock Exchange can be viewed in the Queensland Post Office Directory, 1901.

7435 Ron and Ngaire Gale Collection, State Library of Queensland

The Stock Exchange building showing the arcade in 1985.

Mosman Street Charters Towers, 1904

The buildings constructed in the main streets of Mosman and Gill Streets still bear testament to the towns’ past history and financial success.

View of Gill Street and Post Office building, 1904

Millchester Road, 1904

The hand coloured post card images illustrated are part of Willmett’s Album of Charters Towers Views, 1904 Collection APA-27. The complete set of images may be viewed on State Library’s One Search catalogue.

Queensland Post Office Directory advertisement of the former Excelsior Hotel, 1901

Following a fire in March 1995, the former hotel was purchased by the Charters Towers City Council in 2001 and rebuilt, incorporating features of the original building not damaged. Since 2003, the building has been home to the library, the Charters Towers and Dalrymple Archives and Charters Towers Excelsior Band.

The Excelsior library is hosting social media training for members working in heritage collections in mid-February. The training will focus on content that supports the value of the area’s heritage information and making this knowledge more accessible by sharing these stories with similar communities of interest. Staff members of the State Library of Queensland’s heritage collections and Museum & Gallery Services Queensland will incorporate local knowledge into the training sessions.

Image of the Excelsior Library in more modern times, courtesy of Greg Williamson, Flickr Commons

See you soon Charters Towers!

Anne Scheu, Distributed Collections Coordinator