James Vallins

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James Vallins was a gold digger in Ballarat in 1851.[1] He was from Kent, England, and first dug for gold on the Ballarat district at Jewellers Shop. He later lived in Ligar St, Ballarat.

He was married to Grace Vallins.

He was a member of the Old Colonists' Association of Ballarat.



Another of the pioneers of Ballarat has been removed in the person of James Vallins, who died at his residence in Ballarat North on Saturday night, after a long and painful illness. By his death Ballarat loses one of the most familiar connecting links with the past. Indeed, it may be said that there were very few of the men of 50 years ago who were better known to all classes than, was Mr Vallins. The fact that he had for a quarter of a century been valuer to the City Council accounted to a great extent for this; but apart from that he had so closely identified himself with the growth and progress of Ballarat that all generations of the inhabitants were acquainted with him. The late Mr Vallins was born in Berkshire, England, in 1831, and was, therefore, 73 years of age at the time of his death. He was the son of a clergyman, and at an early age evinced such a strong predilection for the sea that after many attempts on the part of his parents to dissuade him, he was apprenticed to a sailing vessel, and made many voyages. In 1854 he arrived at Geelong in the clipper ship The Banker's Daughter, and shortly afterwards came to Ballarat. After a period spent in mining, during which he worked for some time in the Old Koh-i-noor mine, Mr Vallins entered into contracting, and with Messrs J. Quayle and Blaikie, formed a firm which carried out many big works in the early days. The firm built the railway from Ararat to Buangor, which was recognised as one of the toughest railway jobs of its time. The contract price was 40,000 pounds per mile, and though the line was only a short.one, the work was exceedingly heavy, there being many deep cuttings and steep embankments. The firm also carried out the building of the walls of the Caledonian and Yarrowee Channels, when that work was undertaken in order to cope with, the sludge difficulty. Other large contracts were undertaken successfully by the firm. It may be stated that in the railway contract mentioned above Mr J. W. Graham, the veteran secretary of the Old Colonists' Association, was the firm's timber foreman. Mr Quayle is now the only survivor of the firm. Mr Vallins took a keen interest in the young and rising city, and every movement for its benefit had in him a keen and practical sup porter. He was one of the founders of the City Free Library, and prior to his death was, with Mr Graham and Mr E. H.L. Swifte, only survivors of the originators of that institution. For close upon 40 years he acted as committeeman and librarian, and his excellent discrimination in the choice of literature and sym pathy with the tastes of the subscribers made him a most valuable officer. He was also one of tho earliest members of the Old Colonists’ Association, and was a trustee of that institution. He was a keen political student, and in the old days of the stormier history of Victorian politics was a familiar figure. In later years Mr Vallins essayed to enter Parliament. but was unsuccessful. He was a prolific writer on political matters, and. indeed, on almost every question of pub lic interest, and was looked upon as an authority on the art of self-defence. He had for many years written on boxing, under the nom do plume of “Pioneer.' in the “Sporting World.” He was also until a couple of years ago a member of the City Board of Advice, and, indeed, was always a keen advocate of the broad-er education of children. He possessed an innate sympathy with young people and their aims and aspirations, and was always particularly happy when in their company. In the earlier days of the South street competitions, of which he was a committeeman, he coached many successful competitors in elocution, an art in which he was much interested. The South street committee had from the earliest days of its competitions always had the benefit of his knowledge and ex perience, and the elocutionary, and oratorical portion of the competitions were alwavs a delight to him. He threw his whole heart into the development of the City Free Library, and it was owing in a great measure to his energy that that institution has reached its present high standard. He was, up to his last illness a votary of Ihe cycle as a means of locomotion, and one of the most familiar sights on the street was the figure of the veteran placidly riding the tricycle to and from his office. Although the late Mr Vallins took a keen interest in public matters in the City he never sought municipal honors, though several times approached on the question. The deceased gentleman leave a widow, two daughters, and a step-daughter to mourn their loss. One of the daughters is married to Mr G. Peverill of the Lands Department; another is Mrs A. E Knight, wife of Mr Knight, school teacher of Barry’s Reef; and the third is Mrs J. Robins of St. Arnaud. On the news of his death becoming known yesterday morning flags were hoisted at half-mast on the City Hall, the City Public Library, and the Old Colonists' Association, and very general regret was expressed throughout both City and Town. It may be stated that the bellringers in the City Hall yesterday refrained from the usual ringing of chimes and confined themselves to the playing of a few well-known hymns.[2]

See also

Harriett Powell

Old Colonists' Association of Ballarat


Old Colonists' Association

William B. Withers wrote of the Old Colonists' Association:

The objects of the association are to form a bond of brotherhood among those whose long connection with commercial or mining pursuits on the Victorian goldfields so ultimately associate them with the early history of the colony; men to whose indomitable energy and perseverance Ballarat and other mining centres are so largely indebted for their development and material prosperity; some of whose names, also, are closely identified with that memorable and sanguinary struggle for freedom and constitutional liberty in ’54. To gather together in one fold those who survive these stirring times; to meet occasionally in social and friendly intercourse; to relieve our brethren who are overtaken by sickness or affliction; to pro vide the shelter of a home for those pioneers of the goldfields whom the reverses of for tune have deprived of the means of procuring the comforts of life in their declining years; to assist the widow and succor the orphan; to mutually cheer and support each other in our temporary trials and vicissitudes as we journey onward to the grave; and, lastly, to render a tribute of respect to the memory of a departed brother, by following his remains to their final resting place. The receipts from all sources during the past-year, amount to £292 4s 9d. Expenditure (including £65 17s 6d for relief votes and donations to local charitable institutions), £224 18s 4d. In crease of fuuds for the year, £67 6s sd. The total general receipts to date (19th August, 1886), amount to £463 63 l0d. The expenditure, £316 14s 6d. Balance to credit of association, £146 12s 4d. There are 122 contributing and 139 honorary members — including four ladies; total, 261. The qualification for membership is residence on any of the Victorian goldfields for not less than twenty-five years. The fees for admission are — For contributing member, 4s entrance; contributions, 6d per week, for twelve months, 31 per week afterwards; yearly honorary members, 10s per annum, payable in advance; life honorary members, £2 2s. The site for a hall and offices, comprising 2r 2 2 l0p, situated in Camp street, was gazetted, as reserved for the association, on the 9th July, 1886. The site is one of the oldest local landmarks, being a portion of the old Government Camp, and as such forms an appropriate gift to an association composed of Old Identities of Ballarat. Owing to some obstacle existing, which prevented the Lands Department granting the land to a body calling themselves ‘Old Identities,’it was resolved, at a special meeting of the association, held on the 18th May last, to alter the name to ‘The Old Colonists’ Association of Ballarat.’ Thus far Mr Fraser in 1887. The office bearers for the current year I887-8 are : President, John Paul Murray; Vice-presidents, James William Graham and Thomas Stoddart; treasurer, Daniel Fern; trustees, William Irwin, J. W. Graham, and John McCafferty; council, Charles Dyte, James Ward, Frederick Ramsden, and James Vallins; honorary solicitor, Charles Salter; medical officer, Dr Holthouse; dispenser, W. H. Malyon; auditors, Thomas Richards and David Christy; bankers, Bank of New South Wales; secretary, John Fraser. Since Mr Fraser’s communication of 1887 great changes have come to the association. The Camp street site has been given up, and a much more valuable site in Lydiard street obtained, namely, that on which stood the old bluestone dungeon known originally as the local sub treasury, aud lately as the den of the mining registrar. Upon this site the association has erected, from designs by Mr A. G. Legge, a two-story-building, as an Old Colonists’ Hall, the following description of which I take from The Star columns: —“The lower portion is built in Waurn Ponds freestone, while the upper part is of brick, cemented, stained dark, and tuck-pointed. The centre bay is supported by two three-quarter columns, with lonic caps, which are surmounted by a pediment on which rests an excellent cast of the Ballarat coat of arms. There are four other bays, which are carried by partly fluted pilasters, with Corinthian caps. The keystone of the arch that caps the main en trance displays, in marble, a very excellent representation of the head of the president of the association, Mr John Murray, J.P. The space within the walls has been utilised to the best advantage. On the either side of the ample hall that leads to the stairway are — on the ground floor, shops, which are already occupied. The first floor is devoted entirely to the uses of the association. The principal room is the hall, where the meetings will be held. This is 44 feet x 33 feet, and is 17 feet high. Opposite this are the committee room (14 feet x 16 feet) and secretary’s room (14 feet x 17 feet 6 inches), while provision is also made for a kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, &c. Fronting the street are two large rooms that can be let for offices or utilised for club purposes. The first floor is reached lay a wide stone stair case, handsomely balustered, which termi nates on a spacious landing, over the centre of which is a dome, with cornice and ornaments. The walls around are panelled with marble slabs, on which the names of officers and other prominent members will be inscribed from time to time. Ample provision has been made for lighting and ventilating the rooms, while the requirements of the Central Board of Health in the matter of providing means of egress have been carefully attended to. The gas fittings are unique in pattern, and very handsome. The graining of the doors and windows has been done most artistically, and the colors have been selected with a view to their thorough harmonisation. In fact, the whole of the work has been carried out in a thorough and tasteful manner, and re flects considerable credit on all connected with it. The contractors for the work were Messrs Whitelaw and Atkinson, Irving and Glover, Reynolds, and J. Donaldson. The building has costsa trifle over £4000.” On the 30th August, 1888, the building was formally opened, and 150 guests sat down to a feast in the hall, under the chairman ship of Mr Murray, the president of the association. The Star reports that he “had on his right hand the Hon. J. L. Dow, ALL. A., Minister of Lands; the Hon. D. Ham, M.L.C.; and Mr J. M‘Donald, mayor of the city. Amongst others present were the Hons. Henry Gore and J. B. Macpherson, M’s.L-C.; Dr Rose, and Messrs D. Gaunson, C. E. Jones, R. T. Vale, J. Russell, and E. Murphy, M’s.L.A.; Mr N. Melville, M.L.A., of Sydney; Mr Elsworth, mayor of Ballarat East; Archdeacon Julius, and other leading citizens. Apologies received from the follow ing were read by Mr C. Dyte:—His Excellency the Governor; the Hon. D. Gillies, Premier; the Hon. A. Deakin, Chief Secre tary; the Hon. Hy. Cuthbert, Minister of Justice; the Hons. W. C. Smith, M.L.A.; Mr M. H. Davies, Speaker; Messrs L. L. Smith, M.L.A.; J. N. Wilson, R. M‘Gregor, and Dr Holthouse. The gathering broke up shortly after midnight with the National Anthem.” This is all a sign of life in the association, whose roll of members numbered 505 at the end of August, I888, when the finances showed a credit balance of £377 193 3d for the general or relief fund. The building cost £4074 13s 8d, raised by loan for seven years, at 7 per cent, per annum, the annual revenue from the four shops alone being £46S, whilst the whole of the upper storey is still available for revenue purposes. It is proposed that an Old Colonists’ Club shall be formed, and already (November, 1888) all of the required 50 club members’ names have been obtained, so that the completion of the busi ness would seem to be mere matter of brief time now. If the project be carried out the premises will be duly licensed as a club hotel, and will be provided with ordinary club accommodation.[3]


  1. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~carrick/Ballarat%20a%20to%20b.html accessed 15 March 2013.
  2. Ballarat Star, 18 July 1904.
  3. Ballarat Star, 17 November 1888.

Further Reading

External links

--Beth Kicinski 13:32, 24 March 2015 (AEDT)

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