Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thames (NZ): First Tight Rope walk over Pollen Street

When looking for events unique to Thames, one always hopes to find something a little different.

Well, heres one to ponder you know about the time someone crossed Pollen Street on a tight rope???

Thomas ROWLEY in 1936 recalled the time in 1876 when CHARLES BLONDIN crossed the street, at the corner of Grey and Pollen Streets. Rowley a 12 year old at the time, remembered the rope stretched from Butt's Shortland Hotel to Barnett's Warwick Arms Hotel! Papers of the time do not specifically record the event, but during the year of 1876 Blondin was busy doing similar performances in Auckland.
Auckland Star 16 April 1937
Further investigation of the event are necessary, as it stands it must have been an amazing sight. A possible view in the photo below...the red line showing where the tightrope could have been, based on Rowley's memories of the day Charles BLONDIN walked the tight rope across Pollen Street.
Background on Charles BLONDIN:
On June 30, 1859, the “Great Blondin” walked along a tightrope suspended above the rapids of Niagara Falls, becoming the first man to walk across the Falls.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thames (NZ): Nurses of Thames Hospital

Over the past year, a lot of people assisted with research I was doing on the nurses of Thames Hospital. Relatives and past nurses provided information and photos, along with countless memories.
I want to put out a special thank you to everyone I spoke to and whom contributed in some way. As the old saying goes - without you none of this would have been possible!

Well, guess what...the booklet is finally in print! It may not what people expected but the main thing is that it has been completed! Hindsight is a terrible thing, and now I can see things that could have been changed...I hope that it may be of interest to some of you. Maybe you trained and registered at Thames Hospital, Maybe you have a relative that was a nurse at Thames.

The booklet is a fundraiser for The Treasury at Thames (The Coromandel Heritage Trust) and will sell for $25. Details of how it can be purchased will be on their website soon, for those who can't call into the research centre in person.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thames (NZ): 'The First Time' Women voted

A new claim has emerged from the people of Thames past, that they were in fact the first area in New Zealand to allow women to vote. Very specific details are made in a Newspaper article in the THAMES ADVERTISER dated 10 Sept 1875.

At the Annual Elections for the Thames Borough Council women were able to vote. The names included: Mesdames DAVY, BULL, SAWYER, FERGUSON, ZEIGLER and COOLAHAN.
The paper noting that no one objected and that, "in so far as the Thames is concerned, female suffrage may be introduced successfully, not only in municipal elections, but in every other election where property gives the title to vote."
Thames Advertiser 10 Sept 1875
They note interestingly that years previously a women had voted in a mining board election, because she held a miner's right. That was Mrs HAGIN, whos husband at the time had the New Caledonia Hotel in Mackay Street, near the Shortland Courthouse.

The New Caledonia Hotel, near the corner of Mackay & Grey Streets which opened in 1868

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thames (NZ): The first hotels

With the number of hotels found to date soaring above 140, it was interesting to find at paperspast yesterday the entry for the first hotels. After all, how could Mackay and his associates entice the men of the dominion to come to The Thames, if there were no basic amenities.

The mention of the RUTLAND HOTEL run by Captain BUTT was the SHORTLAND HOTEL on the corner of Grey & Pollen Streets. The majority of which still stands today.

The Digger's Rest Hotel I don't currently have associated with MULLIGAN. There were three Digger's Rest Hotels which adds to the complexity - one of which is more usually called the Miner's Rest up the Hape Creek. Michael MULLIGAN is a well known hotelier in the town and is named at many hotels around the field.

Mr NICHOLL's was an established shopkeeper and his DUKE OF EDINBURGH Hotel was well positioned to catch the trade offloading at the Shortland landing later wharf area.


Looking north from the landing place on the Kauaeranga River showing part of Shortland, Thames with Grey Street (left to right, centre) and Butt's Shortland Hotel and American Theatre, (centre), on the corner of Pollen Street

Thames Coromandel Region (N.Z.)
Source: 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-857'

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thames (NZ): The many hotels of The Thames

Whether a family researcher or someone with an interest in the history of Thames, there is one topic that is usually explored - that of the Hotels of Thames. A few of the hotels have been listed in previous posts and there is a now an up-to-date article in the Treasury Journal.

As more papers have been released on Papers past, it has become so much easier to verify and find the existence of new, previously unknown hotels. Previous figures were that there were about 100 hotels in old Thames at Shortland, Grahamstown, Tararu, Parawai or the hills behind the township. A more realistic number will add tens more - and this will be released when my latest research is complete.

In the year 1870 alone there were 102 hotels operating at that time. There were 39 in SHORTLAND, 43 in GRAHAMSTOWN and 20 in the outlying suburbs of The Thames. A photo around this time of the COURT HOUSE HOTEL in Queen Street, is an example of an early hotel of Thames. Hotels took their name from a wide variety of sources. This hotel named as it was opposite the new Court House and Government buildings on Queen Street (between Albert and Cochrane Streets).

Thames Advertiser 3 Oct 1876

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thames (NZ): First death on the goldfields

A few years back I was asked by several family researchers, whether Brown Street was named after their relation who was possibly one of the first drowning at The Thames, following the opening of the goldfields. Tonight by chance, I found this report in the New Zealand Herald, where the correspondent claims it was the first death since they had arrived on the field.

Sadly this new information is in contradiction to a note in "Thames the first 100 years" where the John Brown is said to be the first President of the Miners Association.
"Named in the memory of Mr John Brown, who was the first president of the Miners' Association in Thames He was also largely responsible for the formation of a club to aid the sick and injured."
NZH 28/9/1867
Was the JOHN BROWN above the first death...when did the John BROWN of the Miners' Association die? Mr John BROWN of the MINERS' ASSOCIATION was at a meeting 14 January 1869.
The early BROWN death in 1867 is more consistent with the naming of BROWN STREET which appears on the c1868 Thames' Illustrated Mining Map.
Part of Grahamstown, showing BROWN STREET, named after a JOHN BROWN who drowned at the Thames