Friday, July 12, 2019

Thames (NZ): The Bella Street Pumphouse

For some time I have had 'story on the pumphouse' on the urgent to-do list.While it has been covered before, a new photo allows us to take a second look at the Bella Street attraction.

Just as I was about to start I got the latest New Zealand Memories Magazine from the Thames Library. (Issue 138) There is a four page article "The Bella Street Pumphouse" by Bella Street Pumphouse Society.

The problems of groundwater and the impact it had on mining are discussed. Hence the "Hauraki Mining Company constructed the Thames Hauraki Pump House (now called the Bella Street Pumphouse) at the site of the Queen of Beauty Mine, in 1898." page 8
Thames Hauraki Pump and Shaft c1900 (St James Church Spire built 1898 can be seen top left)
The Bella Street Pumphouse Society bought the old building in 1990 and have worked tirelessly to restore and replicate many of the old pumphouse features. Replacing the poppet head is the next thing on the agenda for the hardworking society.

The poppet heads that were dotted around the town, were built over mine shafts and housed the mechanism to lower cages up and down the shaft - carrying miners to and fro, along with transporting ore to the surface.

The Poppet head and Pump House under Construction
Now at last to the photo that triggered the need for the post. The poppet head looks near completed, while the boilers are just arriving - the building of the pumphouse underway.

Big Pump under construction, corner Bella, Cochrane Streets and Waiokaraka Road.
Source: Thames Museum Collection

The men atop the poppet head.
There is so much to see in the photo: the houses along Bella and Mackay Street at the top; the boiler and team of horses that had just come from A & G Price Foundry: and the second St James Church has been moved to face Pahau Street (awaiting the building of a new church). Plus much more!

Poppet Head facts:
"The four legs of the poppet head were made of kauri. They were approximately 19.8m long measuring 76cm at the base and tapering to 45cm at the top. Each leg was set in sole pieces and were firmly embedded in concrete. The whole structure was firmly braced together. On top were two sheave wheels 2.7m in diameter. The whole structure was capable of bearing a transverse working strain of 400 tons."

Delivery of a boiler, Bella Street, Thames.

Background news reports:
THAMES STAR, 14 DECEMBER 1896: Work was ready to begin on the new poppet head.

THAMES STAR, 31 MAY 1897: Work on concrete foundations for pumping plant advanced, plus good progress on the brickworks which included the large chimney.

THAMES STAR, 26 JUNE 1897: The third boiler had been delivered. Photographer Mr Foy was on hand to take photographs including some of the poppet head and chimney.

THAMES STAR, 20 DECEMBER 1898: Opening of the Thames - Hauraki Pumping Plant.

Crowds assembled outside the Thames Hauraki Pumping Works for the opening 19 December 1898.
Source: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-18981230-3-2

Below: 2016 view of the Bella Street Pumphouse.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Thames (NZ): Early Gymnastic Sports at the Thames

Sport played an important part in the life of the settlers on the Thames Goldfield. Times may have been hard but as a community, both young and old, Thamesites relished coming together and participating in the wide range of sports that were on offer.

One of these sports was Gymnastics. Below is an excerpt from Playing Sports on the Thames Goldfield.

"In 1889 a group got together and formed an athletics class which was known as the Thames Amateur Gymnasium Club. By December 1890 the membership was 100, Mr H Cordes was club secretary. The leader/instructor was Mr Daldy McWilliams.

On 3rd December 1890, the club gave their first private exhibition in the Volunteer Hall at Shortland, which was then followed by a social. The exhibition included: dumbbell exercises to music, roman rings, horizontal bar, trapeze, Indian clubs and boxing. A highlight was the performance by Mr A Gubb when he, “did a most daring performance, making a flying leap from the single and landing in a sitting position on the double trapeze, which was received with great applause.”

Daldy McWilliams
March 1891, the Thames Amateur Gymnasium Club had a large athletic sports gathering at Mr Manning’s Paddock. As previously mentioned, the early disciplines of Gymnastics and Athletics, overlapped considerably.

In January 1893 there was a social to open the Thames Amateur Gymnasium Club’s season at their Richmond Street clubrooms, and a benefit night was planned for Mr Daldy McWilliams, as a thank-you for his services as instructor. There was also a Ladies’ Calisthenics Class, giving a performance of Indian clubs. The junior boys (8-14) were a junior division of dumb-bellists. Mention is made of the delight that the children had for this sport, noting that this education was lacking in the schools. “Apart from the value of the instruction imparted and its importance to health, the club also exercises a great moral influence, in as much as it cannot fail to keep many lads off the streets at night time, and consequently out of mischief.”
Advertisements for the club cease July 1894; did they become part of the Athletic Club or disband? There was another gym group, operating out of the Naval Hall in February 1891, run by Mr Wm Connon, with the aim of helping their members to become very efficient gymnasts.      

Then in 1897 Messrs Von Rotter and Meehan opened a gymnasium in the Hibernian Hall, Shortland. The gymnasium catered for: Indian clubs, dumbells, horizontal bar, roman rings, trapeze, tumbling, marching and boxing.

Other clubs in the town, such as rowing were also advertising gymnasium facilities. In May 1900 there was mention of another new club, the Thames Gymnasium & Athletic Club (Grahamstown), to be run by W Woodward and T Tasker.

The Thames Young Men’s Club opened next to the Post and Telegraph Office in Queen Street in 1904, and they also had a gymnasium.

Later in 1915, the Thames High School Gymnasium, which was part of the new school in Sealey Street, provided much needed gymnastic facilities for the community. Over the years a wide range of gymnastic disciplines were undertaken in Thames, at multiple venues. It would appear this was very popular sport, with many Thamesites."

Children holding the Indian Clubs - Presumably part of a display team.
Source: Thames Museum
Indian Clubs:
Now to the real reason for the post! When I first researched the sports on offer in the town it was hard to find accompanying photographs of early events. Now thanks to some treasures emerging in the Thames Museum Collection, one of the disciplines mentioned now has an accompanying photograph.

The gymnastic discipline featured is Indian clubs. This was one of the most popular display performances at the Thames; and regularly practiced at schools and clubs.

The photograph shows children proudly posed with their 'Indian Clubs'. Were they a display team, members if a group? Are the older girls the leaders, or instructors?

While we have talked about Gymnastics, for women the term Calisthenics was more often used. In the Thames Advertiser 25 August 1892 women from the local Calisthenic class wielded the clubs with great skill.
Thames Advertiser 25 August 1892. Paperspast.
The importance of exercise was an early part of our school curriculum, in Thames and throughout New Zealand. In 1884, it was noted that Indian Clubs were to be added to the apparatus used in schools in the Auckland District. Mr Sullivan, the school Inspector noted, "I become everyday more and more impressed with the value of gymnastic exercises, especially for girls."

Monday, July 1, 2019

Thames (NZ): Have you used all the 'Thames' search options at Papers Past?

I am sure you all agree, Papers Past has completely changed the way we research our Thames history. But do you explore all the options available?
Home page at Papers Past

The tendency may be to click on the newspaper option (far left) and happily find a never ending treasure trove of information. However, there is more to find under the other section tabs: Magazines and Journals; Letters and Diaries; and Parliamentary Papers.

One of the most useful publications for Thames Research in this section is the New Zealand Tablet - a Catholic periodical that was published weekly in Dunedin from 1873 to 1996. Online copies are available 1873 to 1925. News of the town and parishioners abound, from death notices to school and general church news.
Funeral Report for late Mr E Twohill of the Brian Boru Hotel.

The Kai Tiaki Journal 1908 to 1929 is available to search and is full of Thames Hospital news and in particular news related to present and past nurses. Their work history, transfers, marriages, plus birth of their children.
Birth notice in Kai Tiaki Journal

A general search of all publications produces a wide range of results for the search term "Thames".

Moanataiari Battery in the Progress.

A general search using 'Thames' brings 156 results to check out.

There are letters from Thamesites such as Edward Puckey, on matters relating to the land court proceedings in particular.
Letter from Mr Puckey 2 November 1870.

While we have mentioned these before, they are always worth another look whether you are looking for general history topics or undertaking surname / ancestor research.

The first result for "Thames' shows the amount of native land purchased by the Government and Private individuals up to 1883.

Once you enter your search item in any of the sections mentioned above. You can quickly see if anything shows in the other sections by merely clicking on the top tabs - your search item is already entered in the respective search field. So while the example below is searching 'Magazines and Journals' click on the other tabs at the top of the page to see what results can be found across the entire Papers Past website! Trouble is - its very addictive! But lots of 'gold' can be found on any Thames topic!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Thames (NZ): Have you seen your Thamesite's signature?

Do you love to find new snippets on your ancestors who lived in Thames pre 1900?
Do you look for information? Photographs? Special mentions?
Well, do you know what your Thamesite's signature/s looked like?

I have seen a few signatures of my female line, on documents relating to the suffrage petitions, The signatures allow you to stop and imagine the circumstances surrounding the event.

Now thanks to the Kura Heritage Collection at Auckland Library you can see the signatures of possibly hundreds of Thamesites.

The resource in question is:
Addresses to Sir George Grey, K.C.B. on his seventy-fourth birthday. (Cover photo on right) 
Details given are: Addresses presented to Sir George Grey K C B by the European and Maori residents in the Provincial District of Auckland on his seventy-fourth birthday, 14 April 1886. Consists mainly of autograph signatures to the illuminated addresses. Illustrated by James Slator
Produced by Wilson and Horton, Auckland.
Creative Commons Attribution: CC BY

Pages from the book.

The good news is that you can search for the surname you are after, or you can merely browse and read each page. There are 307 pages in total. The bonus is that each person signs their name and also the date of their arrival in New Zealand. Tangata whenua and women also sign the book. The term native NZ includes those who were born in New Zealand of European parents.

Names from Kiri Kiri Hauraki on page 299.

Signatures of Priscilla Williams, Mary Paull, C T Quinn, and Annie Curtis. Page 158.

If you are unsure of the signature, each page has been transcribed. 
Well known Thames names on page 158 include:

James Adams, First Headmaster at Thames High School.


Why am I interested in page 158? 
Well this is where I found my Great, Great Grandfather's signature - Clement Augustus Cornes. In the crop below, at the top of the left column is C A Cornes, he arrived in New Zealand in 1862.

Search or Browse and see if you can find your Thamesites in the book presented to Sir George Grey in 1886.

Part of Page 8, introduction dated 14 April 1886.

In total there are 12, 919 Signatures.
European 12,780; Maori 106; and Committee 33.

UPDATE 7 July 2019
Special thanks to Helen at Auckland Libraries for information on how to just search the Sir George Grey Manuscript - GNZMS 275:

To search GNZMS 275 only:

- Under Enter Search Term, type into the search box the image title with a wildcard asterix * after the item number, e.g. GNZMS_275*

- Then Add Row

- Type the name you want to search for in the search box. (sample below)

- Click on Search (sample result below)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Thames (NZ): Thamesites feel earthquake 90 years ago

Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0
Ninety years ago, 17 June 1929, Thamesites had a mid morning 'shake'. Reports soon circulated of an earthquake that was felt by many at 10.21a.m.

While at nearby Turua, there were reports of cars parked at a local garage, moving backwards and forwards four inches. Water in the drains also moved considerably.

While the reports said that earthquakes were uncommon at Thames, they could hardly be overlooked given the fault lines that surround the town, and across the Hauraki Plains.

The earthquake was felt all over New Zealand, the epicentre at the top of the South Island. The magnitude given was 7.3 or 7.8 on a different scale. Fifteen people were killed and one injured.

"The earthquake that struck Murchison on 17 June 1929 was felt all over New Zealand. Fortunately, the most intense shaking occurred in a mountainous and densely wooded area extending ~65 km north of Murchison that was sparsely populated. Casualties were therefore comparatively light and the damage was mostly confined to the surrounding landscape, where the shaking triggered extensive landslides over thousands of square kilometres, and surface faulting on the White Creek Fault in Buller Gorge."  Source: Geonet

Thames Fault Lines:
In 1897 the Thames Star covered a report by Mr James Park of the School of Mines concerning the three fault lines of interest. The Moanataiari Fault, the Collarbone Fault, and the Beach Slide Fault. Many disputed the Beach Slide Fault, but Park was adamant of its existence. He also went onto explain the importance of the faults in relation to the gold bearing reefs around the town.

Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 New Zealand
Indepth reports on the Goldfields of New Zealand feature in the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives 1894 Session 1; and includes James Park's 1894 map: Geological Map of the Thames Goldfield 1894. Snip of map below, click the link for full file. The faults are marked as dash lines ------.

If you read any of the mining material and reports in the Thames Star there are frequent mentions of the different faults, especially the Moanataiari. In 1925 Mr J S Jobe, felt the Kuranui Mine on the south side of the fault was the best proposition for mining at the Thames.

Another report in 1929, mentions the Punga Flat Fault - entitled the Geology of Thames, A Volcanic Upheaval.

Many will remember the swarms of faults in the 1970s that led to the demise of the A Block at Thames High School. The iconic building was cracked during a series of earthquakes and later demolished. As was the old primer block at Thames South School.

ABOVE: 'A' Block, Thames High School - under demolition (query year).
Source: Thames Museum Photographic Collection

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Pollen & Richmond St 1940s - 2019

The corner of Pollen and Richmond Streets, iconic for the old Brian Boru Hotel. What difference does eighty years make? Take a look below and see whats the same and what changes are apparent.

Many of the shops on the east side of the street between Sealey and Richmond Street are the same from the 1950s, but with new front facades...often it just means a sliding door and large windows,

It is on the north-east intersect that the biggest change has taken place, several shops replaced many years back with a garage and car yard. Previous buildings have housed Bobbet the butcher, bakers and a dry cleaning shop.

Just as well the south-east intersect has remained unchanged, while no longer a hotel, the classic Brian Boru Hotel remains, and is at least a bar/cafe on the western frontage.

My favourite landmark from this 1940s time period is the concrete strip that ran down the middle of Pollen Street. Something that heralded Thames had emerged from the depression and gold year slump and invested in this great new technology. Old photos show the cars (as traffic was not great) drove along the need for centre-line marking in those days.

THEN & NOW: Corner Pollen & Richmond Streets 1940s & 2019

Further reading:
Past Blog entries featuring Then & Now views around Thames.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Thames (NZ): Local heritage features in two magazines

Heritage stories related to the Thames, appear in two national publications this month. Articles appear in the New Zealand Legacy, the journal of the New Zealand History Federation; and secondly in the winter edition of New Zealand Heritage.

In New Zealand Legacy (Vol 31, no 1), is a story by David Verran entitled James Cook (1728-1779) and New Zealand. Then a follow-on by Robin Astridge Preparation for a 250th Commemoration. The story centres around Cook's furtherest landing up the Waihou River and the monument that now sits near Netherton on Hauraki Road. Interestingly no mention is made of the memorial cairn that was at Kopu.

A comprehensive and well researched article on Captain Cook's 1769 visit to the Firth of Thames appears in The Treasury Journal. Written by Thamesite Dave Wilton - Cook Landmarks at 'The Thames' (New Zealand), November 1769
Dave has recreated details of Cook's visit using his expertise of maps and archaeology - mixed with extensive field work. The mystery of the whereabouts of the Kahikatea tree measured by Cook is also discussed.

Cook's Landing Memorial near Netherton 

Further Reading: Blog story on the Hauraki Road Monument.

In the New Zealand Heritage Magazine (Issue 153 Winter 2019), there is a two page story on our three pillar boxes, titled Stay Posted by Jamie Douglas. The category two heritage items are the oldest in the North Island and second oldest behind one located in Nelson. The new thing in this article is that two of the pillar boxes were installed in 1869 and the third in 1877. Confirmation of this date would be of interest if anyone has found those details.

There is also an article in The Treasury Journal related to these letterboxes and the family connection to letter carrier Charles Rowley. Title Thames Letter Carrier and Entrepreneur, Goldminer and Miners' Advocate by Lisa Donnelly.

From Thames Firsts by Althea Barker:
 "The Pillar Box had been first introduced in 1848 in Belgium, followed by Paris (1850) and England (1852). The ability to buy stamps in New Zealand in the 1860s, led to the introduction of public letterboxes or Street Letter Receivers as they were known. Only a handful survive, with the majority having been replaced many years back by modern designs – deemed to be easier to keep clean and empty. When The Thames was settled, many residents suggested the need for the Pillar boxes that they had seen in Australia – based on the French design they “had three vertical apertures placed near the top of the receiver, which was the height that a person on horseback could post a letter, without having to dismount.”

It is believed that the Thames boxes were designed and made based on the British model by J H Penfold. The exact date of their establishment c1878. In 1881 the one at the corner of Albert and Brown Streets was moved to corner Mary and Pollen Streets on 7th February 1881. In 1894 there is an advertisement concerning mail clearance that names the pillar letter receivers at Shortland as being at: Rolleston, Willoughby and Mary Streets.The Rolleston Street one was on the south corner of Richmond Street and had been erected September 1878.  It would appear then that the iron pillar boxes were in Thames pre 1880, with several being moved around to different street locations.

Today (2019) there remain three Red Pillar (Post) Boxes in Thames and they have an Historic Place’s rating of Category 2. Their register numbers are: 717 (Pollen Street), 7242 (Cnr Mary & Pollen Streets) and 7244 (Queen Street)."

The pillar boxes have proved so popular over the decades that shops like Coakley's even used the location in their advertisements.
Coakley's Shop at the corner of Pollen & Willoughby Streets - the iconic Pillar Box far right.

Further Reading: Blog Story on the Pillar Boxes including further photos.

I forgot to mention that one of the best places to find information on The Post Office and Postal History is via the reports in the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives available at PapersPast.

  • 1877: In the Post Office Department Annual Report January 1877, there were 20 Iron Pillar boxes in New Zealand, plus 45 receiving houses.
  • 1879: In the January 1879 Report, one of Thames' pillar boxes was replaced with a receiving box. In New Zealand there were 21 Iron Pillar boxes and 59 receiving houses.
  • 1881: In the January 1881 Report, there were 29 Iron Pillar boxes in New Zealand, and 100 receiving boxes.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Poppet heads at north end of Pollen Street

The Kura Heritage Collections Online, (Auckland Council Libraries) continues to have a wealth of information. One can even download a copy of Mr Isdale's iconic booklet - History of 'The River Thames' NZ.

We have looked at some of the 'new' photographs, but wanted to take another look at the one of Poppet heads at Thames.

The Record description includes: Record id, 1596-362A, Title Poppet heads, Thames, Photographer unknown. Decades: 1910-1929, a lantern slide. Attribution: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1596-362A; No known copyright restrictions.

 ABOVE: THEN - Poppet heads, Thames c1910
BELOW: NOW - Northern end of Pollen Street by the Williamson Street intersect. The 'old' Imperal Mine site left and the Saxon Mine in the distance at the intersect of Pollen & Albert Streets.

Poppet Head - The Bella Street Pumphouse have a plan to build a poppet head. The definition of a Poppet head is: the framework above a mining shaft that supports the winding mechanism.

What a different time, with structures such as these dotted around the old mining town.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Burke Street and the Foundry

What a difference one hundred years makes! An iconic Thames corner - the intersect of Burke Street (running to the water top right) and Owen Street (left) and Golden Crown Street (right) under the aqueduct structure. Now this section of the road is named Brown Street until it reaches Burke Street, then to the north the small section of road is labelled Owen Street.

 THEN & NOW: 1910s & 2019 Burke Street, Thames

Thames Star 12 December 1913
Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 New Zealand licence
The shop on the corner of the street is J Hague Smith & Co, a large hardware business with branches at Paeroa, Waihi and Netherton.  They later went on to have a large shop in Shortland south of the Hotel Imperial (where Mitre 10 is today).

The business had been started by Mr John Hague Smith, who came to the Thames in 1874. Initially working for hardware merchant Mr Stone.

Hague Smith passed away at Paeroa  1 April 1916 and was interred at Tararu Cemetery. The business carried on for many years.

THEN & NOW: J Hague Smith & Co 1910s (left) and A & G Price Ltd 2019
Corner Burke and Owen Street, Thames

While we usually dismay at the lack of traffic and people in our old Thames scenes, we are in luck with this old Dunnage postcard No 60. Mr Dunnage was a Bookseller and Stationer, and published a large number of cards during the 1910s. A reader, has recently explained how this lack of people occurs due to the exposure time for many early cameras - so anything moving can simply occur as a blur if movement occurs during the time the image is being captured.

In the photo above left, a horse and cart appear to be waiting patiently for the customer within Hague Smith's hardware shop. More excitement when the rest of the photo is examined, and the Burke Street and wharf area is awash with activity! There are two horse and carts by the Harbour Board Office at the corner of Beach Road, along with two cabs, who's passengers are no doubt catching the next ship to Auckland. Plus we have some people walking along the aqueduct or are they disposing of mine tailings. A reminder to always looks closely at the photo and see what wonders are hidden beyond the first glance.
ABOVE: A closer look past A & G Price Ltd to the Beach Road intersect.