Saturday, March 17, 2018

Thames (NZ): Opening of new exhibition at Thames Museum

Last August (2017), the Thames Museum opened a successful exhibition on Thames 150 Years a Goldfield, and today saw a new display featuring A & G Price.

"The official opening of the A. & G. PRICE STORY [was] held at 11.00am. In 1871 brothers Alfred and George Price opened a foundry and engineering workshop near the booming gold mining industry in Thames. They developed a thriving business manufacturing ore stampers, crushers & feeders, steam engines, boilers, timber jacks, and Pelton wheels. In the late 1880's they built a steam locomotive for the local industry, and a whole new industry was born supplying steam and diesel locomotives for NZ Rail." Source: Thames Heritage Festival.

The opening started with a short speech by Thames Museum President Morgan Lewis, who thanked all those who had contributed, including the Thames Community Board for a grant to cover the costs of setting up the exhibition. Anne - Laure Guillaumat (photo right), was responsible for the research and layout of the various displays.

The ribbon was officially cut by a descendant of the Price family, thereby officially opening the "A & G Price Story" Exhibition. 

Story boards and photos, along with old relics from the foundry fill the room. The visitor can wander around reading the history of the business and the people who worked there. The business closed last year, just missing the milestone of 150 years on the Thames Goldfield.

Scattered amongst the displays are cartoons by Doug Barker. Doug worked in later years around the 1970s early '80s at the foundry. A carpenter by trade, he became an odd jobs man at the foundry after his partnership of Cornes & Barker was disbanded.  A train enthusiast and part-time artist, Doug loved working at the foundry and being surrounded by the trains and their history. While his passion was for the trains, he also loved sketching, in particular doing cartoons on topical issues. Yes and by today's standards they were not 'pc' but should be taken in context of the time they were drawn!

Many of the old staff can be recognised in the drawings. One particular series, was on the history of Prices, or Rices as it came to be known and in the sketch below you will see that Doug has crossed out the P. One interesting aspect to these old drawings, is that it is only after Doug died that I found out that his Great Grandfather Richard Bach had one of the first foundry's on the corner of Burke and Owen Street. Bach moved back to Auckland just before the Price brother's arrived. So in actual fact Doug's ancestor was on the site of A & G Price first.

Doug drew many of the trains that were manufactured at Prices, and two of these is shown below.

Congratulations again to the Thames Museum, and may many visitors and Thamesites alike, take the time to visit the 'A & G Price Story' exhibition.
For more information: Thames Museum on facebook