Just before his marriage, David Mitchell had established his brickworks at Burnley Street and brick making became a vital part of his business.
In 1886 David Mitchell had the chance to return to Scotland when he was appointed Commissioner for Australia to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London.
Back in Australia, he continued his busy schedule, overseeing the erection of new building projects. In December 1887 his tender for the erection of two buildings for F.W. Prell was accepted.
One was on the south-east corner of Queen and Collins streets for the Bank of New Zealand and the second on the south-east corner of Queen Street and Flinders Lane. By August 1888 he had also completed the Masonic Hall in Collins Street.
However, disaster struck when on October 20 1888 his brickworks, iron workers shop, blacksmiths shop and large carpenters and joiners shop at the rear of his home at Burnley Street were destroyed by fire.
The losses were estimated at about £15,000 and included the fittings for three Mitchell projects – the Palace Hotel, Bank of New Zealand and Prells’ buildings. Workers lost their tools and their jobs until the works could be re-built.
His brickworks operated until the land boom of the late 1880s. More people set up manufacturing to meet the demand and prices fell so by 1889, David Mitchell had stopped brick making but certainly left his mark.
During his 35 years in the industry about three million bricks were made each year or a staggering 105 million bricks were made at his brickworks.
The Lilydale Express in its 1891 article described the operations of the Burnley Street premises which had started making cement.
By the mid 1890s, David Mitchell’s interests were diversifying. In July he established a cement manufactory and sawmill at the Burnley Street property.
In the same month, David Mitchell started manufacturing ‘Adamant’ plaster at Burnley street under the Victorian Adamant Company and had paid for the sole rights to the manufacture in Victoria and South Australia.
David Mitchell’s Building Projects
Architect John Mitchell in his article on his great-grandfather, lists his major buildings from 1856 to his retirement in 1893.
My thanks to John Mitchell for his valuable research on David Mitchell’s numerous building projects.
David Mitchell’s Life Story: