A busy town grew up at Bangor 150 years ago, supported by a large slate mining operation.
It began with George Whitton, a stonemason who had a stoneyard in Brisbane St. One line he sold was imported slate.
In 1872 he and a painter friend, John Mallinson, began searching the Piper's River districts for good quality slate they could extract to supply the market as an import replacement.
They talked to John Barrett, who was the original settler at Bangor. His sons took them to a hill they quickly realised was a small mountain of building quality slate.
It's development needed capital, and to get it Whitton went into partnership with William Tyson - a builder and timber merchant noted for developing the Piper's River Saw Mill in the 1850s.
They brought over several Welsh slate quarrymen from Melbourne to begin opening out the deposit.
The interest stimulated the owner of the Cornwall Chronicle newspaper, Tom Just, to develop another deposit at Slatey Ford nearby.
Then the famous Philosopher Smith dropped in to see the action, and discovered a rich oil shale deposit on a hilltop at Karoola!
Whitton and Tyson sent a slab up to Alcock Co, the Melbourne billiard table makers, who milled it and said they'd take 5000 large slabs for their factory when it was available.
Bangor slate was better than the Castlemaine product they were using.
By 1874, 100 men were working at Mt Direction, building a 16km tramway from a new jetty at Hillwood to the quarry.
Governor Du Cane came up to see and found 23 splitters hard at work on Bangor Hill, making roof tiles for the Melbourne market.
Then the Launceston financial crisis hit in early 1875.
Its timing was disastrous, as the Bangor company's cashflow wasn't yet established. The company folded.
The quality of the slate was so good though, that by 1880 George Whitton found a buyer and was back digging a 200ft tunnel to access best material.
The tramway was repaired in 1882 and in early 1883 they started sinking a shaft from the top of hill.
The new owner was revealed as Tasmanian-born millionaire Joe Clarke, then living in Toorak.
By 1884 they were well underway. Bangor was a town again, this time located at the top of the hill next to the shaft.
The operations were assuming "vast proportions". Miners were coming over from Beaconsfield, but it wasn't enough, and they in 1885 the company brought out 210 Welsh and Cornish slate workers.
Two ships were fully employed in taking their product to Melbourne.
Sadly, Welsh slate then began coming into Melbourne as ballast on ships and was dumped on the market.
Bangor couldn't compete. Sackings began in 1886, and in 1888 the whole town was sold up.
Even the school was auctioned off.