Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Thames (NZ): Amazing Trains at The Thames 2019

Trains are in my blood, paintings and sketches reminders of my father's addiction to the steam machine! So I never tire of trying to spread the word on train matters!

Have you visited the Thames Small Gauge Railway?

Trains live on at The Thames, be they somewhat a smaller scale!!!
Trains still run along the foreshore of our town and provide hours of pleasure to young and old!

So next time you are in town, stop for a look and a ride.

In the meantime, take a look at these wonderful videos hot off the press.

Special thanks to Andy / Russell for sharing these 'Videos' taken at the Thames Small Gauge Railway, at Brown Street:  & (this last one allows 360 degree views as you can move the 'view'.

More information at the Thames Small Gauge Railway facebook site.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now views of Jacob's Ladder

View looking west down Jacob's Ladder c1910s.
Where is Jacob's Ladder?
Located between Grey Street and Mount Pleasant Road (previously known as Upper Grey Street). Jacob’s Ladder has been a vital link for Mount Pleasant residents for decades. 

Before the steps
One of the earliest photos of Grey Street was taken c1868, and allows us to view the ‘street’ that is now Jacob’s Ladder. It is evident that people, animals and carts had been negotiating the track, winding back and forth to try and make the journey easier. When the streets of Thames were laid out in 1867, it was envisaged that Grey Street would extend from the flat to the hills in the east. 

The 1868 section of Grey Street that lead to Mount Pleasant on the left. 
On the right, the area where the concrete steps are located, surrounded by trees (aka Jacob's Ladder).

Why was the track /steps called Jacob's Ladder?
Jacob’s Ladder is a term that is often used for steep steps in other parts of New Zealand. Even at Thames another reference is found to steps at Tararu. A report on the Tararu Gardens in 1878 mentions, “The zig-zags, Jacob’s Ladder, the pagoda, and the swings, besides the walks by the fountains, were the favourite resorts of pleasure seekers in this cool retreat.”

When was Jacob's Ladder constructed?
By 1884 the residents of Mount Pleasant had made a series of steps on three sides of the hill. 

In 1907 the County Council ruled that horses and cattle could no longer go up or down “Jacob’s Ladder.” This was due to the state of the road “It is over your boot-tops in mud.” Cattle-stops were installed at the steps around the town to prevent this continuing. Also Jacob’s Ladder was re-pegged and re-gravelled.

Over the years the structure of the steps proved a problem against the elements, with dirt and gravel constantly being washed away. An advancement came when Jacobs Ladder and the Edward Street steps were concreted - along with other steps around the town. More on those in another blog!!

When were they painted?
In 2014-15 the steps were given a new lease of life by the pupils of nearby Thames South School. The school has long used the steps as part of their sports programme and a new initiative saw pupils undertake a project in conjunction with TCDC to paint the steps. Today they stand impressively leading to Mount Pleasant and are safer due to the painting and handrail.

Then & Now: 1868 & 2015 View of Jacob's Ladder, Grey Street, Thames

Background: Streets of Thames by A Barker

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Pollen Street (Mary to Walter St) c1960 - 2019

Then & Now view looking south along Pollen Street - the Walter Street intersect is on the right.

The cars in the postcard on the left, whats your estimate as to age of the cars? Early 1960s?

Whats differences can you spot?

     1. Concrete strip up the centre of Pollen Street. In the 1910s there were several concrete crossings at intersections along the street. This was considered a great advancement at the time. In 1924 the concrete strip tender process was underway.

     2. Chestnut tree at the corner of Pollen and Mary Street - North West intersect. Look at the photo below and you can see the tree standing tall, where the courtyard by the ANZ (old National) Bank is today. This tree was the focus of attention at Christmas, when it was decorated with lights. It was also a gathering place with several seats under the shade of the tree.

     3. From Walter Street intersect south there were several residential houses. In the 1955 Street Directory the properties from Walter St to Mary St intersect were: J LEWIS, Mrs May HANSEN, L A MOULDER, Chas DYER, R T CLARKE (publisher), Thames Trotting Club, A J RYAN (or BRYAN), T J COLWILL, and R OLIVER (dentist).  In the 1950s Directory my Grandfather Fred CORNES was living in one of these houses.

     4. Parking, while the angle and parallel parking is the same as today - from memory the parallel side was not divided into car parks as it is today. I can't make out the dividing lines in the postcard, but it could be that they just haven't shown up in the photo.

    5. The Trotting Club building, is the one with the verandah over the footpath, on the right (west side) of the postcard. The old Trotting Club building and adjacent house were demolished and a new building completed in 1969. The estimated cost at tender was $26,000.

Before & After: The Trotting Club building 1967 (prior to demolition). On the right the new Trotting Arcade 1969, made up of several offices and shops. 
ABOVE: Full view of the Pollen Street Postcard.

While looking for further photographs for this article, I went to "Google maps", next minute I know I am getting aerial views that I can rotate  and change the angles. Not your usual satellite views, or maybe I haven't be using the site properly. So in case you are like me, it may pay to have a play! You use Ctrl + Mouse to rotate for 3D Views. Google maps link to Thames, click HERE.

Here are some examples below.
View from behind the Una (Karaka) Hill towards the town.
Below, looking east towards the hills.

Don't the hills look beautiful, its so easy to forget the beautiful country behind our town!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Thames (NZ): Victoria Gold Mining Company Drilling on the Foreshore 1903

The previous post was on the Kuranui-Caledonian Drilling 1903; there is another 'drilling' photograph in the Auckland Libraries Sir George Grey Collection.

The Description given for the photo is: 
Source: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19031210-2-5

So what was happening? Here are some items from the newspapers about the drilling.

New Zealand Herald 28 October 1903: The Victoria Gold Mining Company was given permission to work the Favourite Special foreshore quartz claim. As a result the company had made a contract with the Goldfields Diamond Drilling Company for boring upon the claim to a depth of 3000 feet (with option of stopping at 1000 feet). The drilling was due to start at the beginning of November.

New Zealand Herald 6 November 1903: The derrick to be used for the drilling process had been moved into place. The structure was fifty foot high.

New Zealand Herald 9 November 1903: The drilling machine was due to arrive, the largest machine in the Australian colonies - capable of reaching a depth of 3000 feet.

New Zealand Herald 19 November 1903: Typical Thames weather, there had been a significant squall and the derrick structure over the bore hole was blown over! The damage was minimal and it was quickly re-erected.

New Zealand Herald 24 November 1903: A start was made with the borehole "by means of a calyx bit, and a depth  of 30ft was attained. In this instance the size of the casing used at the start is 7in in diameter, leaving the inside diameter of the hole at 6 1/2in."

By the 26th the depth was 50 feet, the 27th 80 feet - they had passed through clay and gravel.

New Zealand Herald 30 November 1903: Well the challenges were great, a log was encountered, they then started a new hole and another log was met preventing drilling. The use of gelignite shattered the log and drilling proceeded, reaching 87 feet in total. The following days more logs were hit!

New Zealand Herald 7 December 1903: The borehole was 165 feet deep. The decision was made to change to a diamond bit.

New Zealand Herald 17 December 1903: The depth was now 303 feet. The had now reached rubbly quartz, small boulders and clay.

A new year and the report from the New Zealand Herald 22 January 1904, a large boulder was now the problem. The expense of the operation was mounting! Nothing was easy on the Thames Goldfield.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thames (NZ): Kuranui - Caledonian Gold Mining Company Boring Operations

Boring Operations at The Thames 1903:

The Auckland Weekly News 17 September 1903, published photographs of the new boring / drilling operations being carried out for the Kuranui - Caledonian Goldmining Company.

The Thames Goldfields Improvement Committee (photo below) made the announcement early September that two drilling sites had been chosen. One near the entrance of the Albert low level near the Moanataiari Creek; and the second along the Tararu Road, near the entrance to the Moanataiari Main Tunnel.

The Kuranui - Caledonian Goldmining Company were working with the Committee and engaged an Australian company to carry out the drilling - the Goldfields Diamond Drilling Company of Kalgoorlie. The photograph below shows a crowd gathered around the drilling plant, installed ready for use. The boiler used to operate the drill was made by A & G Price of Thames. The drill was to be used to assess the worth of the second auriferous floor of Thames. The first official bore took place 12 September 1903. The photograph below is likely the official opening and start of the drilling.

Kuranui-Caledonian Goldmining Company's Drilling operation.
Source: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19030917-12-2 (3) and (4)
Above Left: Some of the Drilling experts, and assembled crowd.
Above Right: The Thames Goldfield Improvement Committee. Back Row: Messrs A Bruce (Hon Sec), T H Crawford, H Green, J McEnteer, J Stevenson, Wm Scott, and M Paul. Seated: Messrs F Trembath (Mayor), J M Lennox, T A Dunlop (Chair), E F Adams (Donor of the Hidden Treasure ground), Thos Radford.
Drilling Progress:
By the 18th September 1903, the drilling depth had reached 187 feet. The drill had passed to date through hard sandstone.On this day, the first ever 10 foot core in New Zealand had been lifted. The cores had broken, but it was envisaged that in the future the cores would be whole.

By the 5th October 1903, the bore had reached a depth of 614 feet on the Kuranui - Caledonian ground. By the 16th of the same month the depth reached was 785 feet, no further details were supplied.

Location of the Drill:
Thanks to Tom for indicating the exact location of the drilling operation in 1903.

Source: Figure 1: From Fraser C. 1910. Bulletin 10: The geology of the Thames Subdivision, Hauraki Auckland.

Background Reading:
New Zealand Herald 9 September 1903
Thames Star 11 September 1903

Friday, September 27, 2019

Thames (NZ): Miss Collard's Postcard Collection of Thames

The following post features a collection of postcards that were recently for sale on the Trade Me auction site. Rather than spread-out the postcards over multiple posts,its worthy to see them in total, while we learn a little about life in 1905.

The Collector:
While a few of the cards are not used, many have a message and are addressed to Miss Bretta Collard of Hikutaia.

In September 1898, Miss Collard was a pupil at the Hikutaia School and she performed a recitation. Bretta performed another recitation in 1900 at another social event at Hikutaia.

Then on 11 June 1919, Miss Breta [sic] Collard of Auckland married Mr George Ralph Howie of Morrinsville. (notice on right) 

Bretta Howie's death was registered in 1983 - her date of birth given as 29 March 1887.

The Postcards:

Posted 5 October 1905 Thames and received at Hikutaia 6 October
View of the Kauaeranga River
Message: Dear Bretta, Hope you like this view. Does it not put you in mind of the Hikutaia River. Kind Regards D.

Posted 5 October 1905 Thames and received at Hikutaia 6 October
View of the Kauaeranga River
Message: Dear Bretta, one more for the collection. This is not a bad picture of the Thames. Best wishes from D.

Posted 17 October 1905 Thames and received at Hikutaia 17 October 1905
Message: ? ? many thanks for sending will return jar by next week. A Symes

This postcard was sent to Bretta's sister Lillian (Lil).
Posted 21 October 1905 Thames
The Thames Public Library
Message: Dear Lil, Wishing you many happy returns of today. This is a photo of our new library. Kia Ora, Mot.

Posted 23 October 1905 Thames-Auckland
The Fishing Rocks at Tararu
Message: Best wishes ?? (is this Syms)

Posted 23 October 1905 Thames-Auckland
Looking over Thames Hospital
Message: May you never have any use for this place, Symes

Posted 23 October 1905 Thames-Auckland
Victoria Park
Message: How would a short time here go. Fred.

Posted 28 October 1905 Thames-Auckland
Thames Hauraki Pumping Plant

Posted 20 November 1905 Thames
Block 27
Message: My last resting place, Amen. (Shortland Cemetery is circled top left) FRONT
Dear Bret, Many thanks for can ? Symes BACK

Posted 20 November 1905 Thames
View along Pollen Street
Message: Will see you next week Mrs S passing through to Hamilton one day next week. Bring the mail down that morning + see the ? mail. ?Symes

Several other postcards appear to be from the same collection but have been "unused".

Left: The Fishing Rocks at Tararu.  Right: Looking down Grey Street from top Jacob's Ladder.

Do you believe everything you see on old postcards?

What first captured my attention with these postcards was the following two of the pumping plant at Thames.  Spot anything???

Well, did you guess where the Thames Orakei Plant was??? 
The photographer obviously interpreting the word HAURAKI as ORAKEI!!!
So you guessed it, these two magnificent photographs are of the Thames Hauraki Pumping plant.

A special collection of postcards, I hope the 'future buyers' enjoy them as much as Miss Collard obviously did.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Thames (NZ): Archaeology 'diggings' at The Thames

Professional terms such as 'Historian' and 'Archaeologist' are all too frequently used haphazardly by the keen amateur researcher. This can lead to people accepting information as 'gospel' when extensive fact checking and research may not have taken place.

The work of 'Historian's and 'Archaeologists' can help tell us more about the places where our relatives lived and what their daily lives were like.

We preciously looked at the wealth of archaeology reports that are available online at places such as  the Archaeological Reports Digital Library. One archaeologist who has multiple articles in these files is Dr Caroline Phillips - who has explored multiple sites around the town.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 25 September at the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre at 10.30am, Thamesites can attend a talk by Dr Caroline Phillips, Archaeologist.

Hope you can find to come along to this event that is organised by the Thames Continuing Education Group.

TITLE: "The Thames - Changes Through Time"

Door Charge: $3

Dr Caroline Phillips, Archaeologist & Researcher

Wednesday: 25 September 2019, 10.30am

Thames Hospital, Baillie Street. 
Dr Phillips carried out extensive field work when the hospital underwent major demolition and renovation projects.

Update 25 September 2019

There was a good turnout to hear Dr Phillips discuss " The Thames - Changes Through Time."

Dr Phillips started by showing drawings of what The Thames was like c1350. The land was different, covered with Kahikatea, swamps, but more importantly the shoreline was considerably further inland. In particular the Waihou River was considerably wider and there was an island north of Turua, which in Captain Cook's time he went up and down the river either side of. This information is in Dr Phillips book Waihou Journeys.

The geography of Captain Cook's map of the Firth of Thames (1), has changed when compared to present day maps. It was mentioned that while many Maori place names remain, the name for the gulf prior to Captain Cook's 1769 visit was Tikapa Moana. 

Dr Phillips outlined a few of the archaeology projects she had been involved with around Thames, and how her knowledge has grown allowing her to understand and interpret the findings at a given site examination. From Tararu to south the Kopu Bridge - along the Waihou River, have been the focus of her research. Sites discussed in depth were around Totara Palms, and the Pukehue Pa site at Kirikiri.

The closing portion of the talk dealt with Dr Phillips current work in the Bay of Plenty.

(1) Map: Cook Landmarks at 'The Thames' (New Zealand), November 1769
by Dave Wilton. The Treasury Journal

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Albert Street to Upper Albert Street

Albert Street, looking east 1906 & 2016

I always find views of Albert Street captivating. Why? You drive there today, and its relatively quiet and free of traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) and one can't help think what it was like up to the 1920s at least. From that time on Grahamstown truly ceased as a shopping district and the remaining businesses moved to Pollen Street.

1906 Albert Street - Whats happening?

The description given for the photo at the Auckland Libraries site is:

Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19060628-17-2

Premier Hon R J Seddon

The photo (above) appeared in the Auckland Weekly News 28 JUNE 1906 p017.

The Memorial service was one of many that were held around the country following the death of the Hon. R J Seddon (22 Jun 1845–10 Jun 1906). Seddon was New Zealand Premier 1 May 1893–10 Jun 1906.

"Richard Seddon’s nickname, ‘King Dick’, says it all. Our longest-serving and most famous leader not only led the government, many argued he was the government. For 13 years he completely dominated politics." NZ History

The Thames planned a large memorial procession for their beloved Premier. As there was no venue large enough to accommodate the crowds expected, it was decided to hold the event at Victoria Park.

On 21 June 1906, an impressive crowd gathered at the park, and eulogies were presented for the late Premier. There was high praise for achievements of 'King Dick' including the work he had done for Maori and Europeans throughout New Zealand.

Collage Views:

Below are a couple of 'collage mixes' that hopefully show you the changes to Albert Street over one hundred years.

While the Lady Bowen (aka Wharf / Park) Hotel building remains on the left, all the other two storey buildings that lined the street are gone. In particular the Bank of New Zealand (N-E intersection Albert and Brown Streets) and the Stock Exchange / Scrip Corner (S-E intersection Albert and Brown Streets).

Above & Below: Collage / combined views of Albert Street 1906 & 2016

 So, the next time you take a wander down Albert Street, stop and listen to the crowds of yesteryear that daily walked along the now quiet street.

Looking for more 'Then & Now' Views - Check out the Summary Page