Detail of the Entrance to the Former Ballarat Mining Exchange – Lydiard Street, Ballarat
The former Mining Exchange, 6 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat, is one of the few mining exchanges extant in Australia and is illustrative of a fundamental part of Ballarat's early history. The splendid two storey Victorian building of classical proportions and design was built between 1887 and 1889 to replace an earlier building on the site. Designed by architect Charles Douglas Figgis, who also designed the Ballarat Presbyterian church, it is lined with forty offices, which were once bustling with mining agents, and share brokers. It also housed shops along the ground floor, including Bickart’s Coffee Shop, whose elegantly painted windows with gilt lettering and bobbled curtain swags can still be seen today. There is also a large single storey exchange hall at the rear. Architecturally the building is a most important example of Boom style Classicism. Its planning and form is almost unique and the detailing of the exchange is unusual and highly distinctive. Prominent rusticated arches, elaborate window hoods and the parapet distinguish the facade. Light trusses, a bull nose roof and arched openings characterise the hall. The ornate verandah seen today was painstakingly reconstructed from old photographs, and was replaced in 1987.
When it opened, the Mining Exchange had ninety-eight registered members. However, as gold mining declined as the gold rush turned to bust, the elaborate Mining Exchange found a new life as a garage, a bus depot, and today is a craft market.