One of the biggest challenges facing the development of reef mining was the problem of crushing the ore to extract the gold. Setting up a crushing plant in remote locations was an expensive undertaking well beyond the means of the average small scale miner. Accordingly these batteries were usually run as independent operations that crushed ore from a variety of mines in the surrounding region.
At Hill End for example in the early 1870s several major batteries were in operation around the clock – truly the town that never slept!
These included the Pullen and Rawsthorne battery (seen below) that crushed the famous gold specimen extracted from the Beyer and Holtermann claim in October 1872.
Perhaps the finest of the Hill End batteries though was Thomas Chappell’s, seen below alongside the dam which provided the water so essential for its operations.
For all their imposing stature however, these crushing plants were very rudimentary in how they recovered the gold from the pulverised ore. This meant that the tailings from the battery were often reworked in later years to win some of the gold missed the first time around.