The Act to Regulate the Importation, Carriage and Custody of Gunpowder was passed in 1857 in a period when increasing deep mining for gold engendered a requirement for safe storage of large quantities of explosives. Under the Act, public powder magazines were financed by Government and administered locally. After 1857 over twenty five new magazines were erected in Victoria and older magazines extended. The McIvor diggings, with which the Heathcote Powder Magazine is associated, were a pivotal point of mining activities in the central goldfields area and ensured the development of Heathcote as a township. The Heathcote Powder Magazine was constructed by the Public Works Department in 1864, in high quality quarry faced local stone laid in coursed ashlar. Like several other magazines built during the 1860's, the Heathcote Powder Magazine features a brick vaulted space inside a buttressed rectangular building, with a small used entry and office space. The vault, buttressing and baffled air vents were a manifestation of the (erroneous) belief prevalent at the time that massive masonry would help to contain explosives. The gable roof over the vault was originally of slate. Sawn Oregon racks remain in the main room, together with a two door iron safe with decorative stencilling.
How is it significant?
The Heathcote Powder Magazine is of historic and architectural importance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Heathcote Powder Magazine is of historic significance as an example of a building type, which played an important part in the development of deep alluvial and quartz mining activities in the goldfields of Victoria in the late 1850s and the 1860s.
The Heathcote Powder Magazine is of architectural significance as a fine example of a rare building type. Set in the picturesque surrounds of the McIvor Range Reserve, the building demonstrates particularly fine stone masonry and brick vaulting work and is an excellent example of a Public Works department designed powder magazine.
Powder Magazines in Victoria were primarily intended to store explosives used in goldmining, quarrying and road-making. Publicly owned powder magazines were located outside many goldfields towns to avoid accidental explosions close to residential areas. By 1890 there were 22 public magazines in Victoria, but by 1921 all were closed, due to the decline in goldmining activity. They were replaced by a system of licensed private magazines.
Powder Magazines were also constructed inside forts to store gunpowder and other explosives.
EXEMPTIONS FROM PERMITS:
(Classes of works or activities which may be undertaken without a permit under
Part 4 of the Heritage Act 1995)
All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which
prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.
Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of
alterations that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the
place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or
object, then the exemption covering such alteration shall cease and the
Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible.
If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive Director,
all works shall be in accordance with it.
Nothing in this declaration prevents the Executive Director from amending or
rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.
Nothing in this declaration exempts owners or their agents from the
responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the
responsible authority where applicable.
Reinstatement and making good of the fire damaged roof in materials and form
to match the original.
Minor repairs and maintenance which replace like with like.
Regular landscape maintenance.