THE STORY BEHIND THE OLD BROWN COAL MINE MUSEUM
This building in Yallourn North was known to many local people as the YMCA or youth club hall. It’s a relatively young building compared with others around our state of Victoria. Built in 1948 for the former State Electricity Commission of Victoria, the building was used as a recreation building for the residents of the single men’s camp.
Known as north camp and run for the SECV by the YMCA , the recreation building served a useful purpose, providing facilities for young men, many of whom were migrants who came to the area to work on the new power station and open cut works.
After work the men could relax and play a game of snooker in the pool room, bounce a ball around the large games room or just sit and write a letter to send back home. The building even had a barbers shop.
In 1950 part of the main street of Brown Coal Mine slipped into the encroaching open cut leaving the bakers shop on the edge of the mine. This bought about the removal of the old township. The building then became a temporary home for some of the shop keepers including the post office.
With work now intensifying in the Yallourn areas all the camp residents were transferred to the west camp or eastern hostel, which were closer to the work areas. The north camp closed completely in 1952 as did the YMCA.
The building then took on a new role as a youth club building, and over the next forty years many committees ran various activities for the youth of the town at the club. In later years the building remained vacant and deteriorated nearly to the point of no return.
A NEW BEGINNING
In 1999 the Society made enquiries to Latrobe City Council to use the building, and in October 2000 work started to restore the building. With support from local industry, Latrobe City Council, community groups and society members the renovations were completed in sixteen months. The building was officially opened on the 21st of April 2001 by Ian Maxfield MP.
Immediately following the official opening a dedication ceremony was conducted. Two former residents of Brown Coal Mine, the late Kath Ringin and the late George Seear dedicated the building to the early settlers of Brown Coal Mine, their families, current and future residents.