Some of the bricks used in the building came from the old Black Diamond-Austral Coal Mine at Korumburra and will be saved for a miners’ memorial.

 

THE 120-year-old Korumburra landmark, the ‘Top of the Town’ building wasn’t prepared to go quietly this week when demolition crews set to work on Tuesday, November 16.

In fact, that was just the point when heavy machinery on site was called to a halt after it was revealed that a VCE Music Exam was taking place in the Korumburra Masonic Hall, just a few doors further along Bridge Street.

“There were a few delays on the day,” said an interested onlooker.

“They were paying for all that expensive equipment by the hour and they couldn’t get on with it.”

But by the end of the day on Tuesday, half of the historic building had come down, to make way for the new Korumburra Community Hub, and work continued at-a-pace on Wednesday.

But it wasn’t without a good deal of regret on the part of Korumburra residents and the Korumburra and District Historical Society Archivist Doug Boston.

“It’s a shame to see another of Korumburra’s historic buildings lost,” Doug Boston said today, watching as a huge excavator took large bites out of the interior of the old building.

“The site and the building has quite a lot of Korumburra history surrounding it,” Mr Boston said.

“It was the site of one of the very earliest commercial buildings, the old Temperance Hotel, and when that was burnt down in 1898, part of the present building was built.

“It had a lot of roles over its life; as a hotel, as a grocery store operated by Duncan Robertson, there was a dentist and in some of the shops a variety of other uses including a bike shop.”

Parts of the building also had a strong connection with the town’s coal mining history when a large number of bricks from the old Black Diamond-Austral Coal Mine at Korumburra South were used in the walls of the building.

“You can see some of those white bricks in the back wall there. They came from the firebox from the furnace and chimney of the old Boiler House at the coal mine,” Mr Boston said.

“We’re going to be given 500 of the coal-mine bricks which we plan to put into a coal mining memorial sometime in the future, when we can get the funding.

“When Bill Fisher took over the building and extended it in the 1960s, it was a hardware shop, one of the uses that many people in the town remember.

“But it’s disappointing to be losing the history and a prominent building like this.

“It was the same when we lost the Bottom Pub which was a beautiful old building and an important part of Korumburra’s heritage, just another one lost I suppose.”

There’s been a lot of conversation around the base of the building in the past few days as locals come out for a look and a memory or two.

But the agent who sold the property to the shire, for $480,000, Jack Gilchrist of Spencer Dunlop Real Estate said there was absolutely no truth to the rumor that there was anything structurally wrong with the building.

“It was solid as a rock. Certainly it was a 100-year-old building and work has been done to strengthen it over the years, but it would easily have lasted another 100 years.

“There was still a bit of interest in it when the shire ultimately purchased it. It was just a matter of getting approval for some of those proposed uses and it would have been up and running again.”

Mr Gilchrist said the property was purchased by an intermediary for the shire and it wasn’t clear they were purchasing the site right up until the end.

Mr Gilchrist said there was a pre-existing overlay on half of the site, that it could be compulsorily acquired for a highway deviation.

There’s been quite a bit of local interest, and regret, with the Top of the Town building coming down.