Hands off our diving bell


Jack Jefferies, Castlemaine

My background locally: I am 92 years old and I was born in the upstairs front room of building no. 184 Barker Street. I was educated at the Castlemaine South and the Castlemaine High School. My family has been in various businesses in Castlemaine for 107 years and is presently continuing. I suggest the above facts qualify me to write as a Castlemaine resident and I do so forthwith.
I’ve heard from a reliable source that plans are being drawn up to remove the iconic diving bell presently located in our magnificent Market (Building) to another town in the shire. This will cost the ratepayers (you and me) great expense as special heavy duty lifting equipment will be required to make the shift.
The contract to manufacture the diving bell was awarded to Thompson’s Foundry against strong competition from other Australian firms. It was crafted by skilful and dedicated tradesmen in the specialised shops that made up the foundry. 
The diving bell was designed to recover gold bullion from the ‘S.S. Niagara’ which was sunk off New Zealand by German mines during World War II. A remarkable 98 per cent of the gold was salvaged. On present day prices the gold would be valued at many millions of dollars.
I say it is outrageous to make moves to relocate the bell after a successful 37 years on display in our most impressive civic building.
Readers can readily see that the story is also part of the gold history of our grand old town.
I urge all readers of this letter to demand that plans to relocate the bell be scrapped.
Editor’s Note: See story on this subject on page 9 of today’s Castlemaine Mail, Friday, January 31, 2020.

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