Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thames (NZ): Update for Henry A Severn and the 1874 Transit of Venus

An update on an update! Yes another photo relating to Henry Severn and the 1874 Transit of Venus. (see Past blog entry)

A wonderful photo thanks to 'Kete West Coast' and the Buller, Grey and Westland District Libraries. Just another example of the need to look far and wide, you never know where these treasures will turn up.
The attached info reads:

Caption: This image was possibly taken at Thames, and shows the telescope used to (hopefully) track Venus.  Surnames include TYLER, WARD, VEITCH, SPENCER, GORRIE, those on the right-hand side of the image are illegible due to fading.

A report - THE TRANSIT OF VENUS.  - is in the newspaper - Thames Advertiser, Volume VII, Issue 1915, 10 December 1874, Page 2

There is some interesting discussion on the photo at the Kete West Coast site.

Thames (NZ): Waihi and Waihi Beach connections

Many Thames families have connections to the Waihi-Waihi Beach area. When the Ohinemuri Goldfield opened, many Thames miners moved south and then ended up staying in the Waihi area working at places like the Martha Mine.

Waihi Beach was always a popular place for a day trip or holiday. How strange people would find it today, to see cars driving along the beach or parking at the waters edge. It was not without its danger, as many a car got stuck and needed assistance to get free. We all were skilled at getting a car out by digging around the tyres. Yes, and we realise now that environmentally it wasn't a great thing to do!!

What memories do you have of the greater Thames area?

The Treasury at Thames is co-ordinating a series of 'True Tales' books from right around the Coromandel-Hauraki District. They would love stories from these areas, both recent and old.
They must be about the name of the town or area in the title.  They mustn’t be longer than 1500 words (about 2 typewritten pages or three handwritten pages) and need to contain some photos.  They can be early or recent tales.  They can be about people, places, organisations, buildings, memories, events, humour, tragedy. These little snippets are a great way of recording interesting community history which won’t make it into the history books and will be forgotten if not recorded in some way. CONTACT the TREASURY for more information.

Source: Auckland Weekly News 18 JANUARY 1939

Further information:
The northern Coromandel area have three 'True Tales" books that are available to purchase at The Treasury, Thames.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thames (NZ): Gold mining related videos on Youtube

When you visit old goldmining towns like Thames, it is well worth the visit to go and see examples of the mining process. Whether it be to the Goldmine experience, the Thames School of Mines or the Bella Street Pumphouse - you will learn a little of what the town was like and what the miners did at Thames.

There are also videos on 'youtube' that demonstrate and explain some of the mining equipment used by early miners. Below are some wonderful examples from Kae and Evan:

Berdan Grinder

Five Head Quartz Battery

How to use a gold pan

Pelton Wheel Operation

Water sluicing used in gold mining

There is also a copy of a talk given by Kae on "Thames Goldfields Now and Then."
This is well worth a look, as it takes you on a walk to the mines in the hills behind Thames, you have the chance to hear what it would have been like for the miners and their families who lived in places like Punga Flat, Moanataiari Creek and up the Karaka.
Moanataiari Valley Batteries, mines, shops and residences
Source: Alexander Turnbull Library Collection PAColl-7395-1
 I couldn't resist adding this crop of the centre of the photo. Query the Mine Manager's house - fully fenced, a small garden and a wonderful little bay window to attract all the northerly sun.

Further information on mining also available: at Kae's Gold Miners database and at The Treasury.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thames (NZ): Shortland Landing c1867

The question came up this week, as to what the area at the Shortland Wharf area looked like when the goldfield opened in August 1867.
Above: Shortland (now known as Thames), photographed from the Hauraki Mission station in 1868 by Daniel Manders Beere.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: 1/2-096135-G
 A close-up view shows the landing area, more easterly than the present structure, as the river mouth to the Kauaeranga River has changed over the years from silting and debris build-up. The Duke of Edinburgh Hotel standing proudly by the waters edge - previously Nichol's Store, the first business from pre-proclamation days.

The Thames Old Boy's Association Reunion booklet of 1917, has an artistic drawing of the Shortland landing as it was known. (see below)

In September 1867, William Nicholls was granted a bush license to sell alcohol from his premises. William was one of the oldest colonists in New Zealand, having arrived in 1840 and he settled at the Thames in 1866. (Obituary below) Nicholls married Hera Te Whakaawaa, a chieftainess of the Ngatirangi and Ngatihaua tribes. He was born in Cornwall in 1818 and died near Te Aroha December 1900. William Nicholls is buried in the Te Aroha Cemetery, Te Aroha.
Auckland Star 17/12/1900
Further information: on the Shortland Wharf
Family tree information for William Nicholls: at and at The Treasury

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thames (NZ): Poppies for Hauraki WWI soldiers

Many towns and groups in New Zealand (and overseas), are busy making poppies as part of the WW100 commemorations.

One example being 5000 Poppies NZ: As part of the 2015 Anzac Commemoration, the 5000 Poppies Project (NZ) will be creating a wall of more than 5000 poppies as a stunning visual tribute to New Zealand servicemen and women.  The 5000+ poppies will be displayed at the Air force Museum in Christchurch from February - July 2015.

The Treasury at Thames, is also asking for contributions of handcrafted poppies that can be used to commemorate the men from the greater Thames area who died in or as a consequence of their World War One service. There are a wide variety of patterns available on the internet.

Background on the poppy:
In the Thames Star 27 August 1918 it was noted that wildflowers grew on the battlefields. Thames men were sending poppies and anemenes (sic) back home to their families. Later, for sentimental reasons many towns wanted to plant poppies from Europe - many were reminded that thy were actually considered a noxious weed.

The red poppy has become a symbol of war remembrance the world over. People in many countries wear the poppy to remember those who died in war or who still serve. In many countries, the poppy is worn around Armistice Day (11 November), but in New Zealand it is most commonly seen around Anzac Day, 25 April. Source: NZ History

The first Poppy Day was held 25 April 1922, having originally been planned for Armistice Day 1921.
The Returned Soldiers’ Association planned to hold its first Poppy Day appeal around the time of Armistice Day 1921 as other countries were doing. The ship carrying the poppies from France arrived in New Zealand too late for the scheme to be properly publicised. The association decided to wait until the next Anzac Day, 1922. Source: NZ History
The money raised being used towards helping unemployed WWI soldiers.
1923 Auckland Poppy Day
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19230503-48-5

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thames (NZ): Then & Now - Queen Street Government buildings

The influx of people following the proclamation and opening of the Thames Goldfields on 1 August 1967, must have stunned many of the early town planners. The old courthouse and police buildings at the southern end of Shortland were soon inadequate. A new courthouse and Government offices were opened at Queen Street, Grahamstown in 1870. The conditions were noted to be greatly improved!

"The government buildings were built at a cost of £3941, tenders having being called in September 1869. They comprised four interconnected pavilions with the courthouse on the northern end and the telegraph office to the south. Tenders of an as yet unknown nature to alter the courthouse were called in 1914 by the District Engineer [F Bigg-Wither]. All but the courthouse was demolished in 1955, the Post Office having been replaced by a new building in Pollen Street in 1938. The Crown vacated the courthouse in 1981." Source: TCDC Heritage Report by D A McEwan.
A grand group of buildings, that would hold various government offices such as Post & Telegraph and the Courthouse. The photo below shows some verandah extensions over two sections of the building and the old boarding-house to the far left, which would later become the site of the Police Station.

One hundred and forty-four years later...just one part of the Government Building remains on the site at 726 Queen Street, Thames. The building is on the Historic Places Register as a Category 2.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thames (NZ): Opening of the Arras Tunnel in Wellington 27/09/2014

An update on the opening ceremony for the Arras Tunnel in Wellington can be found at the New Zealand Tunnelling Company Community facebook page.

Please take a few minutes to watch this very moving digital photo story of the march through the tunnel, look to see the names of the tunnellers who served in WWI.

Background on the opening can be found also on previous blog post.
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19160629-42-1