Talisker silver mine

The Talisker Mine


One of the largest silver-lead mines in South Australia, discovered in 1862, gave rise to the establishment of the nearby town of Silverton and became yet another 'Little Cornwall'. Originally known as 'The Talisker of Scotland', when discovered by John and Donald McLeod, it was later shortened to Talisker.

No sooner had McLeod applied for a lease and a company formed (The Talisker Mining Company) or several other leases were taken out, either adjoining, or near his discovery. One of them was taken out by J. Bull and W. Whitington who formed the Campbell Creek Silver Lead Mining Company.

While involved with the Campbell Creek mine near Talisker the company built a crusher and a treatment plant but was not able to make a success of it. The company was reorganised and renamed into the Cape Jervis Silver Lead Mining Company. Although it had a new name and new director it suffered the same faith, lack of payable ore and thus profits. It ceased operating in 1868.

The Talisker Mining Company began working in July 1862, with a capital of $12,000 made up of 3000 shares of $4 each. After the arrival from Glenelg of a shipload of Cornish miners and their Captain Alfred Jenkin six distinct lodes were located. Within a month ore was dispatched to England for assaying and a start made with opening up the mine and building of the nearby township of Silverton.

Two shafts were sunk, one on the Talisker lode, to a depth of 27 fathoms and one on Price's lode, named after Captain W. H. Price. Both had a first rate shaft with a whim on the surface. Early in 1863 a start was made with a crushing and dressing plant at a cost of $2,000. By 1864 only $1,75 on each share had been paid but individual shares were re-sold for as much as $20.

By the end of 1863 Alfred Jenkin decided to return to England and offered his three hundred Talisker shares for sale. In January 1864 the company's secretay, R.M. Tapley, advertised for 'a practical mining captain with testimonials. A month later, the town of Silverton was surveyed and extended two years later. It soon supported a hotel, brass band, Lodge, post office, chapel, eating house, store, telegraph and was services by coaches from Cobb & Co. That same month though Rounsevell's new line of Yankee coaches also commenced service to Talisker.

In December 1864 Tapley arranged for an annual meeting at the Terminus Hotel in Adelaide to elect two new Directors and to increase the mine's capital by calling in an extra five shilling per share. The ore was bagged and transported by sea to Port Adelaide and from there to England as no capital was available yet to build smelters at the mine. It was not until 1866 when smelters, proposed as early as 1864 when a call of five shilling per share was made for that purpose, were built at Talisker.

The newly surveyed town also had a resident doctor, bank, Institute and school. One of the students educated at Talisker was David Davies. Born in Monmouthshire, Wales in 1855, he came to South Australia with his parents in 1860. The Davies family later moved from Talisker to Kadina where Davies served his apprenticeship at Wallaroo. In 1879 David and his brother opened their own blacksmith shop in Carrieton. They eventually employed thirty-one people.

While the mine gave employment, life in Silverton was enjoyed by everyone and apart from the regular drunks, a little thieving and the odd murder most were happy to stay until closure of the mine put an end to their income and a reason to stay.


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