Friday, February 27, 2015

Thames NZ: Kurunui Bay 1868 - a Second Look

A lovely photo used on many early postcards, taken from different angles, but essentially the Kurunui Hotel features as the dominant subject. Maybe because of that I skim over it and think of it only as the hotel photo...but there is much more to see on a second look.
Thames Goldfield, NZ.
Source: J Vedder-Price Collection

Where to start? Lets look first at the hotel. There is some type of window covering upstairs and the windows upstairs facing south are open. Two of the lower centre windows have a net like curtain seemingly knotted or pulled together. Note the small building attached at the back, was this the first part of hotel and then the main two storey section was built. We know that the hotel was opened by 1868 and later burnt down in 1876.

Known Publicans: George M(A)CDONALD: 1868, Henry CARROLL: 1868, Samuel STRAW: 1869, Mr SLACK 1869, Robert Hugh THOMAS: 1870-76, Michael MCMAHON 1875, and  Chas MORROW 1875.

Note the most distinguishing feature of a hotel - the large lamp over the main front door. A hotel could lose its license for not having this lit. Also see that the front or main door is always traditionally on an angle. Quite possible that the building that was built on the area known as the beach, could have had water lap up to it in a storm. The large pole - is it a flagpole? To alert new visitors to the bay that a hotel and accommodation was on offer.
Residential houses and shop. The houses are fenced off. The traditional quick Thames miner's cottage design. Two windows at front and the door in the centre. The shop on the right probably has some living accommodation out the back, sadly the signage can not be read.

Shops and equipment or more housing. Given the front location, one could speculate these are shops or workmen's cottages. There is a lot of wood and wagons nearby. A large mining structure is underway at back right. The roof appears to be a wooden shingle. The small top window is interesting on the right-hand building, possibly an upstairs sleeping area.
The hill. Now to the interesting part, what is happening on the hill!! Lots of tunnels and evidence of diggings literally dumped outside. A step structure can be seen on the centre left going to the main digging area. What of the long chute, would it be water, tailings?
A Photo full of things to look at and ponder. More of interest where is everyone?
All at work or gone to town?

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