THE old Bendigo Mining Exchange is only about one third of the Beehive building complex, but its history mirrors Bendigo’s ebbs and flows of famous folks and their fortunes.
Falling into a parlous state over the decades, when it was boarded up and mostly forgotten, the City of Greater Bendigo bought it to rescue in 1999, and with assistance of a State Government grant, works were undertaken to halt the decay.
The time has come for this magnificent Victorian galleried arcade to once again operate as a charming walkway, to hold its weight against the grandeur of the Royal Arcade and the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne, all designed by the renowned Charles Webb.
Under the City’s stewardship, a Conservation Management Plan was prepared which has guided a significant program of structural repair and conservation works.
“The building is now ready to return to private ownership to allow it to be fully restored, reused and managed to the standard that befits its heritage significance,” said DCK director, Robert Ketterer.
“For its sale, we’re looking to identify the right person with the right track record and ability with heritage buildings to bring it to vibrant life.
“Once restored it has the potential to become one of Bendigo’s most visited heritage buildings and is expected to drive private sector investment into the heart of the city centre,” Mr Ketterer added.
The history of the site makes compelling reading. The 1870s were a boom time in mining in Bendigo and much of the activity above ground - the buying of shares and other mining business was done in and around the Bendigo Stock Exchange.
A fire broke out in 1871, during a period of hectic trading and 40 to 50 offices occupied by legal managers of the mining companies, and stock and share brokers, including their records, were destroyed.
With no safes all descriptions of valuable papers relating to mining were lost in the flames.
In spite of offers of temporary offices elsewhere, in Bath Lane and at the Shamrock, mining brokers continued to meet under the verandah fronting Pall Mall.
Even after the Exchange was rebuilt, the crowds would spill over from the footpath and into Pall Mall, where the roadway was often obstructed.
Within nine months of the fire, the present building designed by Charles Webb, had risen from the ashes.
Most recently, and for the first time since the original drawings were produced (which have never been found), detailed architectural drawings have been prepared.
Guided by the Conservation Management Plan, many discussions with Heritage Victoria and various experts who have a passion for this building, the restoration plans incorporate elements from both the original 1872 layout as well as from the 1929 layout, when the Allan’s Walk shopfronts were introduced.
This is the preferred restoration approach as it helps tell the history of the building and its various stages of life.
The proposed layout retains the shopfronts at either end of the building and opens up into an open plan layout in the centre, where you can look up and see the upper level and the glass lantern roof above.
The original decorative cast iron columns, decorative brackets and balustrades will also be put back.
A Heritage Victoria permit has been obtained to facilitate the refurbishment and redevelopment of the building.
Acting Director Planning and Development Ross Douglas said as a result of the works the BME is now “investment ready”.
“Critical repair works have been carried out, including replacing the glass lantern roof, installing storm water drainage, rebuilding all chimneys and replacing a main supporting beam between the first and second floor.
“Williams Boag Architects have developed architectural drawings of how the BME could look when it is fully renovated and we look forward to a potential purchaser retaining the integrity of this important heritage building and adding to our vibrant city streetscape.”
Colliers International Senior Executive Travis Hurst said, “We expect there will be great interest in the Bendigo Mining Exchange and many will want the opportunity to develop this ideally-placed heritage asset.”
Following the marketing period and subject to the expressions of interest received, the City will then choose an applicant to purchase and redevelop the Exchange.
It’s not quite the sale of the Alexandra Fountain, but it’s been such a big 18 months for Bendigo’s notable buildings – Colliers Corner, the Webb building and Fortuna - the sale of another Bendigo icon prompt’s the thought…what’s next!
WHAT: Expressions of interest called for the purchase of former Bendigo Mining Exchange Circa 1872
SIZE: Land area 651m2. Gross floor area (GFA) 1400m2.
ZONING: Zoned C1Z. Prime CBD location
WHEN: Tenders to close Friday November 7 at 5pm
WHERE: 24 – 26 Pall Mall, Bendigo
CONTACT: DCK Robert Ketterer on 0418 509 771 or
Colliers International Travis Hurst on 0423 388 932