Sunday, January 10, 2016

THAMES (NZ): New memorabilia - postcards and bookmarks

How will The Thames be remembered in another 50 years, or less? As we enter an age where everything is digital and many value hard copies less and less - its fun to make some 'new' memorabilia of the town and it's history. I have put the challenge out to a few other groups to have a go and design something for their organisations.
POSTCARDS - Collage of Then and Now (left) and Then & Now (right)



BOOKMARKS of different locations, some before and after, others use the collage method of mixing photos together to help visualise how the town looked in the eyes of our old Thamesites.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thames (NZ): Memories, Memorabilia wanted for TV Show

Wow....Exciting news for those of us who love Thames History.
Maybe you can help, participate, share some memories...
Read below for the full story how you can contribute to this upcoming TV show:

"Top Shelf Productions are working on a brand new factual TV series about revitalising small town museums and historical sites around New Zealand. The series will screen on Choice TV next year.
There are more than 500 heritage sites and museums in New Zealand with over ninety percent of them in desperate need ...of help. Usually run by local volunteers, these caretakers of our history are not only struggling for funds, but struggling to get people to see their exhibits. The show's presenter will visit these small towns and with support from the local community, they will help revitalise each site’s collections and reveal some of New Zealand’s most fascinating forgotten stories and treasures.

The first episode will focus on the Thames Historical Museum, and will work collectively with the museum on an exciting new exhibit. This will be a display for Ted Egan’s beautifully carved scale model collection of early Thames buildings. They are looking for locals to help tell the stories of these buildings to help bring them back to life! Did you have a relative who worked in or help build one of those buildings? Do you have an item that belonged to the building or even old photographs? If you know of any fascinating stories of these early buildings or have some association with them, Top Shelf would like to hear from you!

Some of the buildings in the collection are: Royal Hotel, Phoenix Brewery, Old Court House, Scrip Corner, James Mackay’s House and Hansen’s Haunted House.

If you would like to see the full list of models, are interested in contributing stories, photographs or other information, or know of someone that Top Shelf should get in touch with,
please contact Justine

Facebook page:  for Heritage Rescue TV Show

One of Mr Egan's amazing models - this is the Baillie Street Thames Hospital built 1900. It is in eastern foyer of Thames Hospital. This is similar to the models that Top Shelf Productions will be using to tell the history of Thames heritage sites.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thames (NZ): Thames nurses with a military connection

There is a new book available that contains information on our Thames Nurses who served in the military service. This covers the years 1915-2015.

The title is: 100 Years  New Zealand Military Nursing, New Zealand Army Nursing Service - Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps 1915 - 2015. The book is written by Sherayl McNabb. It builds on a previous title "New Zealand Military Nursing" that was co-written with David Corbett in 1990.

Considerable information and photos that cover the history of military nursing. On the front cover is one of 'our' Thames trained nurses, Clara Hawkins. Clara returned to the hospital after the war, where she completed a couple of years as Matron of the Thames Hospital. In the top photo (right), Sister Clara Hawkins is seated in the front row, first on the left.

For more information go to Sherayl's website:
New Zealand Military Nursing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Thames (NZ): W H REED Early Grahamstown Photographer

Its not everyday one comes across a photograph from early Thames, so imagine my delight in being given a copy of this early photograph card. Initially you may think its just an unknown cricket name, but what other secrets does it hold. The card has a hard backing and measures 6.5 by 10.5cms.
There were many cricket teams on the Thames Goldfield, groups of individuals and business groups formed cricket teams. The men are posed for a group photograph. Is the man in a suit the team manager or business sponsor?
When was the photo taken? W H Reed as the back of the card reveals - was a photographic artist in Grahamstown, Thames. Mr Reed died in 1878, so this card is before that date.
What do we know of W H Reed? In 1865, Reed was a photographer in Shortland Street, Auckland. The Thames newspapers are online from 1874, and Reed appears in them performing concerts, selling instruments and working as a tuner. Reed is active in the social scene performing at numerous entertainment programmes. An example in the Thames Star 21 December 1875, where he was performing some of his own local songs for which he was renown for. He was also playing a wide range of musical instruments.
At this time in 1875, Mr Reed's skill as a photographer was noted in the local papers. He had taken and presented photographs of the Wesleyan Women's Bible Class. Then in the Thames Advertiser,  9 October 1876 W H Reed was advertising his business as a photographer. "The newest and best thing in Photography."
In 1877 Mr Reed made the news for taking a photograph of  painting.
"We have seen a very good photograph of the oil painting done by Mr Calder of Paeroa, of the Gorge and the Ohinemuri river. The photograph is the work of Mr W. H. Reed, and gives an excellent representation of the picture, being about 8 inches by 6. The details are truthfully set forth, as is also the back ground, and it is an excellent work of photography, and much credit is due to Mr Heed. We hear that a copy of the picture will be given to every subscriber to Mr Calder's Art Union, whether he be successful in drawing the big prize or not, so that subscribers will have something for their money." Thames Star, 25 January 1877 
During the 1870s Mr Reed appears to be either managing or working from the Academy of Music. Applications made to the borough council have his name as the applicant and contact. Then in May 1877 Mr Reed advertised in the paper that he was resuming his photographic business in Brown Street - the details of where he had been are not given.
In January 1878, Mr Reed was singing with Miss Leef at Tauranga. Miss Leef was a well known singer of Auckland, whom he married on 13 March 1878. "Mr W. H. Reed, of the Thames, has tied in the connubial knot with Miss Leaf, the Auckland nightingale, this morning. They have gone to spend the honeymoon at Waipawa." The couple performed in musical programmes around the Wanganui area before returning to Thames a few months later. (Thames Advertiser, 25 July 1878)
In September 1878, it was with deep regret that the people of Thames learnt that Mr Reed was again leaving the town. Thames Advertiser,  18 September 1878:
"The Thames is about to lose another useful citizen in the person of Mr W. H. Reed, the talented musician and photographer of Brown Street, Mr Reed is about to enter into business as a musical instrument dealer in Queen Street, Auckland, succeeding to the business now conducted by Mr Turrell. The Thames can ill afford to lose such a useful as well as gifted musician as Mr Reed, who has always been foremost in offering his valuable services in aid of tiny' charitable object, or to assist in amateur entertainments got up on the Thames, Mr and Mrs Reed have likewise sustained a very prominent part in the choir of St George's Church for some time past, and here their valuable assistance will be greatly missed."
Mr Reed had intended to return to The Thames for visits and business, but the unexpected happened.
Mr William Henry Reed died in Auckland on 23 October 1878, his obituary appeared in the Thames Star 25 October 1878:
"A painful feeling was caused on Wednesday night by the circulation of the report that the relatives of Mr W. H. Reed had received a telegram stating that he was dead. The news proved to be true. Yesterday's Herald contains an obituary notice of Mr Reed's death, but beyond that he died "on October 23, at the residence of his father-in-law (Mr Robert Leaf), Parnell," no particulars are given. Mr W. H. Reed was well known on the Thames as a photographer, and as a musician and singer of ability, possessing talents of a versatile character, and being especially happy in hitting off local topics in songs of his own composing. Only a few weeks ago Mr Reed purchased a business in Auckland, and at the time of his death a notification appeared in our contemporary's columns stating that he was about to visit the Thames on business. His death was very sudden - after a few days' illness, we understand, and the cause was an acute attack of dysentery. Mr Reed will be much missed in a large circle of acquaintances. Whether in entertainments of his own as a professional, or when giving his services in the cause of charity, he was always appreciated, and his unexpected demise will be sincerely regretted by all who knew him, and by none more than those for whom he has so often exerted his powers in this district. Mr Reed was to be buried to-day, and as he was a member of Lodge Sir Walter Scott, members of the different lodges in Auckland were invited to attend the funeral. "
A closer look at Mr W H Reed's cricket photo
(Courtesy of G Farquhar)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

THAMES (NZ): Thames Hospital Sports Day 1899

When the hospital needed new buildings, the town rallied around to fundraise, and to assist where they could. One such event was a sports day in Te Aroha.

On 4 May 1899, an excursion to Te Aroha was arranged by Messrs R R Menzies, J M Foy, and Thomas Cantley.  Along with other committee members in Thames and Te Aroha.
(see Photos below)


It must have been quite a sight at the Grahamstown Railway Station, on May 4th.
“At five minutes to nine the train, which, consisted of 22 carriages and two engines, left the Grahamstown station.  Quite a number also embarked at Shortland and Kopu, until there were about 600 on board, some 25 or 30 more joining the train at  Paeroa.”
 During the day the Hauraki Rifles Band played to the crowd, who were joined by 400 residents of Te Aroha and the surrounding district. Money was raised from the train tickets, and also gate fees. The Thames Amateur Athletic Club acted as handicapper for the amateur events.

Events ranged from running to bike races. The 75yds Handicap Final Heat was won by Leonard, with Coote second and Lloyd third. The Schoolboys’ Championship 75yds was won by Rickit of Thames High School. The one-mile Bicycle Handicap was won by Hayward, with Herival in second place. There was a tug-of-War for schoolboys between Thames and Te Aroha, which was won by Thames. Results of some of the other events are shown below.
Photo sources: Auckland Weekly News 12 MAY 1899 p005
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-18990512-5-1'

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thames (NZ): Chief Taipari's residences 1868-1870

Sometimes you look at a photo and make it into what you think it should be, rather than looking for other clues and 'truths'. There are not a lot of early photographs of the Shortland area looking towards the Una Hill and dating them can be the next challenge.

View of Chief Taipari’s House & Grounds.
From the album: Views of the Thames Gold Fields; American Photographic Company
Source: Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand Collection
At a quick this glance scene is looking east along Clarence Street towards Chief Taipari's residence on the eastern slopes of Bowen (Rolleston Street). Then you will look closer and see that this is not the house we know as Taipari's, and where is James Mackay's house that should be on the left?

Another view also shows that the Una Hill is relatively untouched from mining, so this in fact makes the photo 1868 before the houses were built. The Daily Southern Cross newspaper holds the answer concerning the house - Chief Taipari had built a home on the hill and then in the early part of 1869, had it replaced with a larger house. This then is the house we recognise in later photographs, and was at the site into the 1950s.

Part of the report on the new  (2nd house) appears in Daily Southern Cross, 19 April 1869:
Conspicuous amongst the private dwellings in course of erection at Shortland stands the handsome dwelling-house just completed to the order of W. H. Taipari, the lord of the soil at this place. The site is the brow of the hill near the Hape, and immediately behind the township, adjoining the handsome residence of Mr. Commissioner Mackay. The first decent dwelling put up at the Thames was erected on this site for Taipari, but it has recently been removed to make room for the present handsome building. Mr. D. M. Beere is the architect, and the model is highly creditable to that gentleman. It occupies an area of 40ft. by 42ft., and comprises ten rooms, with a verandah round three sides, and when completed is to cost some £1,200. The grounds are to be laid out in first-class style, and four or five Europeans are at present employed on their improvement and laying out. The dwelling is approached from the carriageway in Willoughby street, and the private way leading out of Baillie street, the same road likewise leading to the residence of Mr. Commissioner Mackay adjoining. The building has been put up by Mr. Thorpe, the builder of Mr. Mackay's residence, which is a sufficient guarantee of the excellence of the workmanship and superior finish of the building."
Full report at: Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXV, Issue 3666, 19 April 1869, Page 4

Using the cottage on the right hand side of the photos, the two residences of Chief Taipari can be readily identified. The top photo has the pre April 1869 residence and the lower photo the post April 1869 house.
Below then, are the adjacent homes of  Mackay (left) and Taipari (right) - post April 1869
So next time you look at an early Thames photo - Stop, look and look again and see what else you can find in the view.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thames (NZ): Kingsford Smith says hello to Thames 1933

Australian Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was an aviator who set numerous flying records in Australia and other parts of the world.

In January 1933, the people of Thames eagerly awaited the chance to see Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s world-famous monoplace called the ‘Southern Cross’. In the latter part of the 1920s previous efforts had been made to have Thames included in a visit, but this does not seem to have taken place.
Mayor of Thames, Mr S Ensor tried vigorously to get Thames included in a touchdown visit during the January 1933 New Zealand visit. Alas this could not be arranged, so Mayor Ensor sent a special telegram to Sir Charles at Rotorua.
“Citizens regret Thames cannot be included in your itinerary, and would appreciate your circling above Thames during flight from Waihi to Auckland. A favourable reply would afford great pleasure.” (Thames Star 19 Jan 1933).
To everyone's delight a reply was received: “Pleased to fly over Thames approximately 3 o’clock Friday, 27th instant. – Kingsford Smith.”

The town went into a frenzy of preparation led by Mayor Ensor. The Thames High School grounds were chosen as the suitable venue for the town gathering to watch the ‘Southern Cross’ circle Thames. The word “WELCOME” to be painted in white 20 foot letters across the ground at the school. Thamesites were urged to attend with flags and other emblems of greeting. Also that buntings and flags be flown on businesses around the town where possible.
The big day arrived and an altered schedule meant that the plane did not arrive until just before 5pm 27 January 1933. People had gathered at the Thames High School and other vantage points around the town.
“Sir Charles Kingsford Smith had notified his approximate time of arrival over Thames as 5.15pm; but shortly before five o’clock the machine was sighted coming from the south-east from the direction of Paeroa, and the news quickly spread.  As the big ‘plane, flying low, swept closer into view the majority of residents were afforded their first glimpse of the world-famous “old bus,” as Sir Charles affectionately terms her,

Dipping low over the High School ground and rising sharply to circle over the town, the Southern Cross revealed her graceful lines to the many watchers below, the passengers being distinctly seen waving through the windows of the ‘plane, and the registered lettering, VH-USU, showing up boldly. Amid the cheers from the younger brigade and much hand-waving, Sir Charles manoeuvred his big machine as easily as the smallest Moth, and the impression gained was one of great latent power in the three engines which roared out their response to the welcome from the people of Thames.

A handkerchief fluttered from the side of the Southern Cross, and with a final dip of the wing Sir Charles soared higher and was away once again across the Gulf in the direction of Auckland.” (Thames Star 28 Jan 1933)
A telegram was sent from Sir Charles to Mayor Ensor the following day: “Many thanks for beautiful emblems of welcome, which were sincerely appreciated.”

Maybe amongst your family memorabilia photos you may have a picture of the day Thamesites saw the great Southern Cross fly over Thames?

Monday, April 13, 2015

THAMES NZ: W H Newton, Scout and Headmaster of Thames

For sale today on an auction site, is a scout badge that belonged to W H Newton of Thames. Who was W H Newton? His full name was William Henry Newton and as well as being involved with the Scout movement at Thames, in 1916, he was the headmaster at Central aka Waiokaraka School.

The badge was awarded in 1916.  Newton was in the newspaper on 30 March 1916, This was concerning the recent visit by the Ponsonby Boy Scout troop to Thames. Following that visit it was noted that 30 boys joined the Thames troop.

 In April 1920, Headmaster Newton left Thames to take up the role of headmaster at the Grey Lynn School in Auckland. A farewell was put on by the Baptist and Congregational Church, of which Mr Newton had been an active member of, especially in the area of the Sunday school. It was reported that Newton had been headmaster at the Thames schools for 30 years. In 1906, Newton was appointed headmaster at the Waiokaraka School, at that time he was in the same position at Tararu School.

Auckland Star 19 June 1920
Mr W H Newton, left the town in 1920, having been active in the community, sports, church and the schools of Thames.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thames (NZ): Calendar of the town's history.

New blog page to keep an eye on, it is a work in progress - first step finally taken after years of being on the 'must do' list!  The page can be found in the top right column.

Thames (NZ): 1936 Flood

Even by Thames standards, this was a major flood. Described as a cyclonic storm, which resulted in three deaths, which included a man an Waiomo on the Thames Coast. The street in the photo is Albert Street, looking towards Queen Street at the far right.

New Zealand Herald 3 February 1936