R. T. Vale

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Invoice from R.T. Vale Bookseller and Stationer,, 1890. Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 4825)



Richard Taylor Vale (born 30 August 1836 in London) arrived in Victoria in March 1853 and briefly mined for gold at Castlemaine before opening a bookshop. He moved his business to Beechworth in 1854 or 1855. Vale returned to England in 1860 to 1862 before establishing a bookshop at Smythesdale, finally settling in Ballarat in 1869. In 1865 he married Gertrude Campbell at Scarsdale, with whom he had seven children.

Richard Vale was a bookseller, newsagent and stationer supply shop at 1 Sturt Street, Ballarat.[1]

Vale was one of the first students of the Ballarat School of Mines studying Metallurgy and Assaying from 1873 to 1875, and later became Vice President of the Ballarat School of Mines Council.[2]

In 1882 Richard Vale was a committee member of the Ballarat Science and Field Naturalists Club.

R. T. Vale was a council member of the Ballarat School of Mines in 1886, and a Director of the Star of the East Co., Gay’s Freehold Co., Carroll Co., South Star Co., and Owen’s and Band of Hope Freehold and Leasehold Co. in 1887.[3] He was also member of the Ballarat Old Colonists' Association.</ref>

In 1886 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the member for Ballarat West, serving until 1889 and again from 1892 to 1902. From 1894 to 1896 he was a minister without portfolio. Vale died on 18 June 1916 1916 at Ballarat.

The Ballarat School of Mines recognised his death in the following way:

Moved by Cr T. Hurley
Seconded by Cr G. Filcher:-
That this Council expresses its deepest sympathy with the family and relatives of the late Hon. R.T. Vale, and desires to place on record the high esteem in which that gentleman has always been held and to express appreciation of the generous and valuable service rendered by him to this institution.[4]


Vale Street, Sebastopol is named after The Honourable R. T. Vale, MP. [5]

In the News

COAL AND LIMESTONE AT SKIPTON. SOME four years ago it was reported that coal-had been discovered in the valley of the Emu Creek at Skipton by miners engaged in in sinking upon the land of Mr. Philip Russell \for a quartz reef, the outcrop of which was evident from a quarter to half a mile away. Somewhat under twenty years ago Mr. R.T.R. Vale, as the result of his reading and careful & study of geological facts, had predicted in the columns of the Smythesdale paper that coal to would in all probability be found in the valley. The formation of the country justified the belief, but it remained for the miners in search of gold to prove the theory correct. Mr. Lynch, the mining surveyor and registrar, immediately upon the fact becoming known, informed the Department that coal had been found at Skipton. The Department sent Mr. F.M. Krause to report upon the discovery, at and that gentleman, as we are informed, after a cursory examination, declared the substance it not to be coal at all, but a species of lignite. A thorough "damper' was thus put upon the in search for coal. Mr. Vale, however, preserved his faith in the existence of the coal, and Mr. Lynch also retained his belief that the substance shown him was true coal. An excellent opportunity of authenticating the true nature of the material cut offered upon the arrival of Professor Denton, the eminent geologist, and accordingly Mr. Vale invited that gentleman to take a trip to the ground where the coal had been struck, and whilst reporting upon the carboniferous deposit, to also give an opinion upon an extensive deposit of limestone which had been found in the same locality, upon the land of Mr. Cameron. From the township the party went in a northerly direction to the banks of the Emu Creek, where the coal discovery was made. After walking over a mile the " burn" was reached. It runs along across heavy boulders of basalt and between steep banks, which make of the place a regular ravine. Basalt crops out in the headlands, and fifty feet above the spot where the small shaft has been sunk a in which the coal seam has been struck there are bold rocks of the familiar bluestone. The place seemed unlikely to be the scene of a coal discovery, and the Professor thought and said as much, but there, sure enough, on the surface at the mouth of the 12 feet deep pit lay blocks of a substance which 999 out of a thousand persons would not hesitate to pronounce to be coal. Down the shaft, by means of a ladder, went first of all the Professor and Mr. Vale. Ten minutes elapsed, and they emerged again, and the anxious and important question was solved-was the material coal or lignite? Not a doubt of it, said Mr. Denton, the material was coal. He would stake his existence upon it, if ever coal came from Newcastle. No wonder, Messrs. Lynch and Vale were proud of the circumstance that they had been proved to be correct in their opinions, and the Government geologist (Mr. Krause) had been convicted of hasty speaking. Whether the coal was bituminous and valuable was, of course, not a matter for discussion. There it was true coal, a seam at least two feet in width, and although when brought to the surface and exposed to the air it crumbled away, it yet had the lustre and general appearance of the very best coal. Its non-combustibility was easily explained; it was mere surface coal, obtained at 12ft. depth, just on the bank of a creek, and consequently all bitumen had been washed out of it and it had "perished." Followed further, there was every reason to believe that it would prove of excellent quality, and Mr Denton committed himself to an expression of belief that a valuable seam might yet be opened up. The depth of the shaft, we may remark, is 12 feet, and the coal seam, which dips west, is well defined, and is found in conjunction with sandstone and fine clay, which usually accompany carboniferous deposits. A wash, the value of which has not so far as we can learn, been tried, is to be found in the shaft. The coal, as we have said, has a bright lustre, but as it is near the surface, it contains a considerable quantity of a earthy matter which detracts from its inflammable qualities, and although there are stories told of its excellent character as a fuel, we incline to the belief that it will be necessary to procure it at a greater depth and freer for impurities before it will prove of value for burning. Samples of the coal were brought to Ballarat by Mr. Denton and Mr. Vale. After having left the valley of the Emu Creek the Professor and party were driven in traps provided by the people of Skipton to see a deposit of limestone some three or four miles further west, on the land of Mr. Cameron. The bed of limestone in the locality was pronounced by Professor Denton to be very compact, and of considerable value. The coal he believes will ultimately be the fuel for the purpose of reducing the limestone. The stone crops up for hundreds of yards, and a splendid quarry of stone is also to be seen. Cost of carriage appears, however, to be the principal obstacle to the lime being brought into use. It has been burnt and used, but so far it is not a profitable market article, although capital and enterprise should speedily operate to secure practical results from a so fine a deposit of stone. Leaving the limestone beds, the question of visiting the basaltic caves in the locality was debated, but time pressing, a start was made for home, which was reached at half-past 5, the party being fully assured on the word of Professor Denton that good coal and lime will be among the future products of Skipton.-Ballarat Star. [6]

See also

Ballarat School of Mines

Skipton Coal Mining Company, Limited


The rules of the Ballarat Field Club and Science Society were printed in the Ballarat School of Mines Annual Report 1882.

President - James Oddie
Vice-Presidents - William Henry Nicholls, Alfred Mica Smith
Treasurer - Frederick Martell
Secretary - Ferdinand Krause
Assistant Secretary - I.J. Jones
Committee - R. T. Vale, J. Wall, T. Potter, I.J. Jones, R. Lorimer, Dr Whitcombe, Herman Ritz.[7]


  1. Federation University Biographical Collection
  2. Federation University Biographical Collection
  3. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~carrick/Ballarat%20a%20to%20b.html accessed 15 March 2013.
  4. Ballarat School of Mines Council Minutes, 30 June 1916.
  5. Evan D. Jenkins and Arthur J. Jenkins, A History of Sebastopol with Special Reference to Gold and Mining, 1980, p. 131.
  6. Bacchus Marsh Express, 05 November 1881.
  7. Ballarat School of Mines Annual Report, 1882.

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