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Lucknow, NSW

Historic gold mining town on the Mitchell Highway.

Lucknow is one of those 'now you see it, now you don't' kind of towns. The traveller, journeying between Bathurst and Orange, rushes through the town, notices a strange piece of machinery beside the road (it is a poppet head) and keeps driving on the Mitchell Highway believing that this faux township with a prominent skin shop has little to offer. In reality they are missing out on an opportunity to explore a town made rich by gold which once prospered, had a major period of successful mining involving crushing the ore and processing it and, over a period of eighty years, yielded a staggering 14,000 kg of gold. It is worth stopping and exploring.


Lucknow is located on the Mitchell Highway 9 km south-east of Orange and 245 km north-west of Sydney.


Origin of Name

No one knows exactly how the town got its unusual name. Some explanations suggest that it was named after Lucknow in India because the bookkeeper at one of the mines had been wounded at the Seige of Lucknow in 1857. Others suggest it was named Lucknow as a contraction of 'luck now' which was what had happened to so many of the gold mining residents. It is known that the name was first used in 1863.


Things to See and Do

Wentworth Mines
The Wentworth Main Mine, located at the eastern end of the town, is easily recognised by its landmark poppet head, which still has part of the winding gear attached. The poppet head was built in 1935 to bail water from the mine workings into the creek. The problem with rising water continued to plague the mines which are now all flooded. The plant ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but the mine’s main income came from the cyanide vats where gold and other ore were extracted from the old tailings dump. The corrugated iron buildings near the poppet head were built early in the twentieth century. Today the site has an equipment store, medical room, blacksmith, machinery building, stamper battery shed, mine office and mine manager's cottage. It is a compliment to their commitment to the history of Lucknow that the Orange City Council purchased the Wentworth Main Mine and is slowly developing the site as a tourism and educational facility. It is opened to the public Saturday and Sunday once a month. For times of opening, and much more information, check http://www.wentworthmine.com.au/

Lucknow Heritage Trail
The Heritage Trail is a circular journey around the town which begins at the Wentworth Gold Mine. The trail then identifies a total of 17 places of interest (it provides some fascinating anecdotes about many of the town's historic residents and buildings) and takes the visitor from the Wentworth Gold Mine to a number of miner's cottages, the Reform Mine which has been described as "the richest small gold field of its type in the world" and around the town's important mining heritage sites. The brochure is available from the Orange Visitor Centre or it can be downloaded at http://www.bookeasy.com.au/website/images/orange/lucknowheritagetrail.pdf

Historic Buildings
The town has many historic buildings of which the most significant are:

* The Reform Mine - the Heritage Trail brochure notes of its very prominent poppet head (it is on the Mitchell Highway and can't be missed) that "The Reform Mine has been described as the richest small gold field of its type in the world. Mining began here in the 1870s or earlier and prospered until the late 1890s. In 1935 the Wentworth Company built a new poppet head over the shaft to pump water in conjunction with the Wentworth Main shaft. At the height of the gold rush the whole hillside beyond the Reform site was a hive of activity, including a battery, foundry and grand two-storey mine office, along with houses, stables and numerous shafts and tunnels. Behind the Reform poppet head, impressive remains of bluestone walls can still be seen. Built on a series of levels, these formed the foundations of the mill, or battery. The small corrugated iron shed behind the poppet head, old equipment and overgrown mullock heaps are other reminders of years of toil by hundreds of men."

* Bark Hut - In the town's earliest years a bark hut was built to operate both as a school and a church for both Anglican and Wesleyan services. It was replaced in 1873 by the  bluestone and sandstone St John's Anglican Church. It is in Newman Street.

* Schoolhouse - In 1864, a schoolhouse which had been built to replace the bark hut, blew down and it was replaced in 1878 by a brick and stone building. In 1900 new wooden classrooms were added. The school closed in 1971 and is now a community hall.

* 'Mamhead' is recognised as the town's most significant private building. It was constructed as the residence of mine owner and entrepreneur, Henry Newman, in 1879. It was named after Newman's family home in England and was home to his 14 children. The building is an esoteric mixture of styles, with rendered masonry, hipped and gambrel roofs, numerous chimneys featuring decorative moulding, cast-iron veranda columns and timber louvred shutters. It is located by the corner of the Mitchell Highway and Carroll Street.

* School of Arts - On the Mitchell Highway between Newman and Carroll Street is the School of Arts which was built in 1887 and, over the years, has served as a library, dance hall, silent movie theatre, garage and general meeting place. A function for Governor-General Northcote was held in the hall in 1906 and the Gilgandra Coo-ee marchers stopped at the hall during their march to Sydney. It was restored by Orange City Council in 1999.


Other Attractions in the Area

Huntley Berry Farm
Huntley Berry Farm is operated as an Australian Disability Enterprise. It has a cafe and sells directly to the public. The great attraction is that visitors can pick their own berries from November to May, tel: (02) 6365 5282. Check out http://www.huntleyberryfarm.com.au



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the district was home to the Wiradjuri people.

* The first European to pass through the area was Lieutenant Percy Simpson who was heading towards Wellington where he established a settlement for convicts.

* By 1824 a government station-cum-garrison had been established near modern day Lucknow as a resting place for those travelling to the Wentworth penal settlement.

* In 1838 the explorer William Charles Wentworth had purchased property in the area which he subsequently leased to a Captain Raine.

* In May, 1851 Wentworth's estate became the site of Australia's second gold discovery. The gold was discovered by two local farmers on a hill behind what is now the village but, as the land was owned by Wentworth, he demanded they pay monthly royalties. This arrangement was short-lived as Wentworth kept raising the rates.

* In April, 1852 Wentworth sold his estate to the Wentworth Gold Field Company. They were the first gold mining company to be formed in Australia but they were short-lived. They went into liquidation in 1860 and two years later the land was opened to the public on monthly leases.

* Through the 1860s the town boomed. The village was formally named 'Lucknow' in 1863. The following year a Catholic church was built. By 1866 there were four hotels, a public school (built in 1864),  a police station, general store, a butcher, blacksmith, bootmaker and baker.

* Between April 1862 and February 1867 the Bank of New South Wales and the Commercial Bank purchased 1,962 kg of gold with the largest nugget weighing 76 kg.

* In 1873 the Uncle Tom Company was formed but it closed due to lack of funds. It was subsequently purchased by Henry Newman who reopened it in 1878, made a fortune, and then lost it all.

* Lucknow was run by private mining companies until 1913 when the land was subdivided into smaller parcels.

* After World War I the Bismarck Group recommenced mining and operated  successfully between 1929-1937. There has been no further commercial mining since 1937. It has been estimated Lucknow yielded around 14,000 kg of gold between 1851-1937.


Visitor Information

Lucknow has no visitor information. For information and a copy of the Lucknow Heritage Trail check out Orange Visitor Centre, 151 Byng St, tel: (02) 6393 8226.


Useful Websites

The Heritage Trail PDF - http://www.bookeasy.com.au/website/images/orange/lucknowheritagetrail.pdf - is the best overview of the town.

Got something to add?

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28 suggestions
  • From 1952 as a 17yr old newly arrived from England, i remember Bill Lawrie and Wok Wells.

    pat lambert
  • My Grandfather, Mr Alfred Joseph Mellen spent some time in the Lucknow area during the gold rush time. Can you please tell me if his name appears anywhere in the history of Lucknow?

    I’m going to have to leave that to local experts. Over to them.

    Philip Sheedy.
  • A mispronunciation that occurs continuously, sadly even by younger locals, is with Lucknow.
    The most historically correct pronunciation is Luck No, after the mutiny and subsequent siege of Lucknow, India in 1857. Engineers, sappers, made extensive use of mining to dig under and blow up defensive works. Some of those soldiers ended up in the Lucknow gold mines.
    It is only in recent times that pronunciation has drifted towards luck now. My family first settled in the area in the 1870’s and among others with history in the region it has always been Luck No, after the Indian siege.

    Ken Dally
  • It is named after a town in north India. Please do let me know the connection. I ask as I was born & lived there for the first 40 years before I migrated to Australia.

    The answer is probably: “No one knows exactly how the town got its unusual name. Some explanations suggest that it was named after Lucknow in India because the bookkeeper at one of the mines had been wounded at the Seige of Lucknow in 1857. Others suggest it was named Lucknow as a contraction of ‘luck now’ which was what had happened to so many of the gold mining residents. It is known that the name was first used in 1863.”

    Dinesh Chopra
  • I drive through Lucknow every time I go to visit my parents, next time I’m going to throw in a few extra hours so I can stop and have a good look around. Always been intrigued by the mining equipment you can see from the road too, but was always in a hurry.

  • My grandmother was farmed out in Lucknow in 1896 after the death of her mother. Does anyone know anything about this? Her name was Louisa Hazel and I think the family was Agland or Agnew.

    Maureen Moss
    • Hi Maureen Moss,
      My mother’s maiden name was Bowyer. She was related to Aglands in Lucknow. Mum lived in Lucknow for most of her younger life. I actually went to local school there many years ago. Send your details Mum is 80 now she will give details of what you require of the Aglands. I have spoken to Mum she did state you knew the surname of Hazel.

      • Hi Maureen and Greg. You may be aware that the names of two local farmers who found the gold in 1851 were William Agland and Thomas Townsend – I happen to descended from the latter. I would love to hear from you both about the pair and their gold find. Thanks, Glenn.

        Glenn Townsend
        • HI Glenn my great grandmother was Jane Agland born 1856 fredrick’s vally. here father was William Agland she married Phillip Barker lived in Lucknow all there lives.

          Philip barker
  • In 1952 I came to Australia from England and worked on Bill Lawrie’s dairy farm. Wok Wells had a farm next door. Bill had several brothers also with a dairy farm. He also had an orchard, various stone fruit. I also recall a field of tomatoes. pat lambert.

    pat lambert
    • Bill ‘Lawrie’ was William Henry Westly Lawry. Lawry is the correct spelling. Walter Wells was known as Wock Wells and was married to Bill Lawry’s sister Beryl. Pat, Paddy, Edgar was an artist working in oils who lived on Bill Lawry’s land. Pat often signed his work ‘E P Edgar’.

      Kath G
      • Kath G, thanks for the re bill wok & paddy. have nor can use computer, this is a samsung SMTV. a postcard if you like. Pat. 17 barry st gracemere qld 4702.

        pat lambert
  • It would seem my Great Grandfather was born in Lucknow in 1878. Hebert Henry Green. If anyone knows any information on him I would be interested. Thank you.

    • SANDRA LOUISE WANDREI, did you attend Lucknow Public in the late 1950s early 1960s. And have a sister Kay Green? Please reply if this is so as I often wonder about you, esp Kay who was in my year at the Lucknow school. I’d just like to be in touch enough to know how things have been, and are for you.

      Kath G. (Nee L.)
    • Valerie and Kay Green. Sandra, I’m mistaken in my previous reply. The older girls name is Valerie, not Sandra. Valerie and Kay.

      Kath G (Nee L)
  • Have just found out that my great grand Mother, Sarah Elizabeth Walsh was born 1868 in Lucknow. Parents being William Walsh and Clara McKay. Sarah married George Rayner at Beneree on 12 May 1888. Just a little bit of information to add to your memories.

    Harry S Brien
  • Wow!!! Dear Lucknow, I grew up there, went to a school, 13 students, what wonderful memories, Mum and Dad had an orchard, we walked to school rain, snow, and the little shop, friday we ordered meat pie, only to have the simple life again. Miss it all. Dellwyn Hodgson nee Lawry.

    Dellwyn Hodgson
  • My grandmother Eileen Carson lived there all her life. She was living in the miner shack when she died. She lived most if her life across the road in the house at the front of where the dog boarding kennels were. My mother Rose Carson grew up there.

    Marie Hill
  • My grandmother’s sister Kitty lived up behind the petrol station.

    Marie Hill
  • Henry William Newman, my great grandfather, according to family verbally passed down history was having no luck searching for gold. He and those with him drew water from a creek to make tea. When reeds were removed from the Billy gold was found caught it the roots and this is why it was named Lucknow.
    His son, also named Henry William Newman was, along with all is siblings, thrown out of the home by his aunty who had become his step mother following the demise of his mother. He supported himself financially by taking photographs of local people and charging admission to see them on screen at the Lucknow School of Arts hall. He later upgraded his business to showing silent movies.

    Adrian (Tigger) Newman
    • Hi Adrian,
      My great great grandfather John Perry found a nugget weighing just under 1kg in Cadia in February 1885 before he moved to Lucknow. At the time, there had just been a ship/ferry disaster in Sydney Harbour and calls went out to help the survivors of the tragedy. John Perry decided to raffle the nugget to help the survivors and your great grandfather conducted the raffle which raised £150. At the time, the nugget was worth £116. I am trying to discover more information about raffle (e.g. the winner), how they may have come into contact with Mrs AG Goodman who made a cast of the nugget and of course information on the ship disaster (e.g. the name of the ship) and the survivors. If anyone in your family has any information, I would be very appreciative if you got in contact. Kind regards, Karina

      Karina McLachalin
  • Can you tell me anything about the Croft brothers? I am told they operated a mine up behind the pub (the pub thats there now) back in the 1920s and early 1930s.
    Any information would help thank you

    Robbie Nelson
  • Hello my name is Susan, I have my Great Great Grandmothers death certificate stating she was born in Lucknow, NSW, 1845 her maiden name was Mary Castle she went on to Marry John Dickie in Mudgee 1868. Can anyone help with information re her parents?
    Reply to smhartley36@gmail.com
    Regards Susan

    Susan Hartley
  • I attended Lucknow school in the early 1960’s. I’m trying to find some girls I went to school with. My name was Lesley Campbell. I’m looking for Barbara Floyd, Wendy Trotman or Kerry Trotman. I would love to be in contact.

    Les Barry
  • Was there a St. Aiginaw mine in Lucknow… referenced in a family letter.. hard to read

    Rieky Heyden
  • My great grandfather Phillip Barker was an alluvial miner in Ophir and ran the batterys on the mines in Lucknow. He lived in Lucknow 1870 until his death in 1930 aged 89 years. He was one of the first miners on the Ophir fields. His wife was Jane Agland

    Philip barker