Book to map mine engine christenings

February 18, 2024 BY

Drawing from history: Ladies Start Your Engines features illustrations by the book’s author depicting the goldmines featured in the work. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE history behind the construction and christenings of goldmine engines in the region is at the forefront of a new book to be launched at the Meredith History Interest Group’s next annual meeting.

The event will see the launch of titled Ladies Start Your Engines compiled by writer Darren Guthrie.

Based at Steiglitz for more than 20 years, he said he was drawn to create the work through a lifelong interest.

“I’ve always had an interest in the engines of the goldrush era that drove the mines and powered everything,” he said.

“I’d found an article about christening the engines and how they named them and that got me to collecting their names and going from there.

“It led me to look at the types of engines constructed, where they were made, how big they were and how they functioned.”

Guthrie said the scope of the work expanded to capture the human element behind the mechanical creations.

“It’s also a story of the people involved and their journey to these goldmines to do the christening or baptisms as they called it,” he said.

“It’s stories about breakdowns, getting bogged or lost, the ordeals these people went through to attend these ceremonies where the banquets were quite lavish too.”

Highlighting 150 goldmines from Creswick to Geelong, work began on the book in 2022, with the finished product about 400 pages long.

Meredith History Interest Group president Margaret Cooper said the book is covering new territory not usually explored for the region.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “These christening ceremonies were written up in the paper and I’d never heard of them. It was like the christening of a boat.

“We’ve launched books before of course, but this subject matter is definitely something different. It’s probably more wide-ranging for us than just Meredith.”

The book launch will begin at 2.30pm on Sunday 25 February at the Meredith Memorial Hall with copies available for purchase with cash only.

Ladies Start Your Engines can be bought via the Meredith History Interest Group website or in-person at their 31 Staughton Street building following the event.