Beechworth was the first district township to grow as a result of gold, November 1852 gold escorts began fortnightly journeys to Melbourne.
In addition to the English, Irish and Scottish in search for gold, settlers came to Beechworth from around the globe - Italians, Americans, Indians, Syrians, Germans - going into businesses ranging from viticulture to stagecoaches, shopkeeping and medicine.
Beechworth Declared a Town
Fredrick Brown, James Ingram and George Kerferd arrived in 1853. Along with local shopkeepers who had come to sell goods to the miners, they sent a deputation to the Government with request that the May Day Hills goldfields be surveyed and a township established. The Government surveyor completed his work and on 1st July 1853 Beechworth was declared a town. No-one knows the exact origin of the name.
Because of the amount of petty and serious crime on the goldfields a gaol was considered a priority. Long wooden buildings, surrounded by a stockade were completed towards the end of 1853.
Robert O'Hara Burke arrived in Beechworth in 1855, the same year the Ovens and Murray Advertiser began publication, the law courts opened and the flour mill began operating.
The First Council
In 1856 Beechworth was declared a District and elections took place for the first Council and a land grant was received from the Government for what is now the site of the Shire Hall and the Visitor Information Centre. That same year the layout of the town's roads and footpaths was formalised and the Council passed a measure prohibiting the erection of canvas-built shops or homes.
Beechworth became the major administrative centre for the whole of north-east Victoria; by then there were five courts held in the town (Police, Petty Sessions, Mining Board, County and Supreme Court).
Beechworth on the Melbourne to Sydney
In the 1850's the main Melbourne to Sydney road included Wangaratta and Beechworth before heading to Wodonga and Albury. Coaches ran daily from Beechworth to Melbourne, Yackandandah and Albury. When, in 1873, Wangaratta secured the passage of the North-Eastern railway, Beechworth's influence began to decline (the rail was extended to Beechworth in 1876).