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Collins House Site (360-366 Collins Street)

Sharing offices in the 360-366 Collins Street building from 1911 until 1951, the Collins House Group was three mining companies whose operations began in the 1890s and early 1900s, on the rich silver-lead-zinc lodes of Broken Hill. They had a significant impact on Australian mining, metallurgy and secondary industry.

Three men, W. L. Baillieu, Colin Fraser, and W. S. Robinson, were the force behind the Group’s formation. Although the Group remained tenants of legally separate companies, they were attracted to this location by the dual advantages of ease of communication and commonality of interest. The Group branched out to encompass gold mining and aircraft and hard wood paper production in the 1930s.

The Collins House Group was, however, based upon a loose alliance. Serious divisions emerged in the 1930s over the eclipse by the Zinc Corporation and its New Broken Hill Consolidated mine over the production from the old North and South mines, which was only aggravated by the retirement of the three leading directors who had enjoyed such an agreeable relationship. The three companies would increasingly pursue individual paths after the Second World War.

Prior to the current structure being erected, there were various small shops on the 360-66 Collins Street site. In the early 1850s one of these shops was the draper Charles Williamson, who on August 20 1851, was possibly the first shopkeeper to display Victorian gold in his window.

Sally Ruljancich