Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thames (NZ): Questioning the validity & reliability of Thames historical memorabilia

Cornes Family bible.
Every once and awhile you come across a photo that doesn't look right, or a document that just couldn't be correct. Some times it can be explained and other times not. As a genealogist or researcher, you will have found your own examples of this. A reminder though to be always looking for primary and original sources, while being aware that mistakes can still happen.

EXAMPLE 1: Part of my Thamesite story starts with Clement Augustus Cornes and Barbara Ellen Moran marrying in Thames in 1863. Clement was at this time mining in the Coromandel area, and wandering around the Thames. Was there a registrar in Thames to marry the couple / record the marriage? Well its immaterial because the answer is a little fudging in the 'Family Bible' show above - the couple was in fact married in 1868, after the Thames Goldfield opened. The date of 1863 in the bible did however allow the children to be all recorded as being born in wedlock on the subsequent bible pages!

EXAMPLE 2: I have raised previously how the colourised postcard has the high school building missing - it should be on the left (east side of road) of the Thames Hospital. Further details HERE.

ABOVE: The Photograph with the small buildings (centre) where the High School / later Maternity Annexe should be.
BELOW: The High School building circled from another photograph.

EXAMPLE 3: The Wakatere sailing along the street during the 1917 Great Flood, always has a few people take a second look. Yes Mr Wood's cleverly managed a version of photoshop many years past.
The photograph features on the cover of a book by Megan Hawkes,  A Line of Duckboards. (below left)

Above left is the adjusted photograph by Mr Wood, so you might speculate that the building sitting in Pollen Street (photo right) is another early photoshop. In this case the photo is 100% authentic - the building literally was pushed out into the street by the force of the Karaka Creek in flood! The first photo background is at the Grahamstown end of Pollen Street, north of Pahau Street. The photo on the right is taken south along Pollen Street, adjacent to the Walter Street intersect.

EXAMPLE 4: Now to the strangest postcard! A well known view taken from Upper Albert Street c1900, which looks over the town. Mile long Pollen Street on the right disappears to the Kauaeranga River in the south. On the left is Martha Street, and far left Mackay Street. The Waiokaraka School lower left. "Greetings from Thames, NZ" reads the title - nothing strange so far!

Keep going and look at what is on the back of the postcard.

On the back of the Thames Postcard is an overprinted menu for the "De Zon" Restaurant in Amsterdam. I have had the menu checked by an 'interpreter' who felt the information was valid. Restaurants by this name still exist, whether they are one named on this menu is impossible to know,

So, why was a New Zealand postcard overprinted with a menu from Amsterdam? A new mystery!

Keep looking, and see what unusual memorabilia you can find and mysteries that you can unravel.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Thames (NZ): WWI Book with Thamesite names

I have been remiss of late not updating the latest 100 year anniversary deaths from World War One. Although the war had finished in 1918, many men continued to die and were classified as war deaths. An update on that will follow in the near future. For now I want to remind all that we need to keep looking for any names we may have missed - a book at the Thames library contains the name of two new local men who served in the war.

The book is: Living with HIGH EXPLOSIVES, The 1st New Zealand Light Trench Mortar Battery 1916-1918 by Keith Sloane. Sloane Books NZ 2014. Available at the Thames Library shelved at: 940.412 SLO.

The book itself is an easy read and tells the story of the different battles and the men involved. With lots of photographs of the soldiers, that brings their experience to life.

There is a full list of soldiers at the end of the book, with two being identified as from Thames and one from Coromandel. Of course, chances are there will be more who have a Thames connection.

The two names I did not have on the Thames-Hauraki WWI register are: James Richard ALLEN (Serial No 44671) and James Henry BAIN (Serial No 11382).

Allen was born in Coromandel, and was working as a boilermaker in Auckland when he enlisted. His total war service was three years and 60 days.

Bain was born in Thames, a roman catholic, his sister Delia was named as next-of-kin on his attestation form. Before the war started, James was self-employed as a farm contractor at Kaihere.

In the book mentioned above, Jim Bain gets numerous mention,many related to the sport played by the group. In one particular game of rugby 3 November 1917 (described as the lull before the storm) - the Trench Mortars beat the 1st NZ Infantry Brigade 8 - 0. "Jim Bain played easily the best game on the ground." page 224. Bain served three years 92 days in the war and was awarded the Military Medal.

Another Thamesite is also featured in the book, in a sad series of events that led to him being Killed in Action 28 September 1918. Private William Claude Parsons (Serial No 34425) was born at Thames, the third son of John and Lucy Parsons of Thames (later Waihi). The family lived in Grey Street, and John worked as a miner (1896 Electoral Roll). Parsons was one four brothers who all served in World War One.

The Sloane's book Living with HIGH EXPLOSIVES covers the events that led to Private Parsons death on the battlefield. Along with his war file, there is a sad sequence of events in and out of hospital. Many absences, that ended in an 18 month imprisonment sentence with hard labour. In September 1918, William's "sentence was suspended and he was marched out to the Entrenching Battalion. Within six days of his attachment there, he was killed in action near Trescault on 28 September 1918." page 191.
Waihi Daily Telegraph, 15 October 1918

Friday, February 15, 2019

Thames (NZ): 'Brits at the Beach' on the Kopu Bridge

What a glorious day it was at The Thames today, the old Kopu Bridge standing proud to the north of the new bridge.  The bridge gates were open awaiting a special event for those participating in the "Brits at Beach". The British cars gathered at Grahamstown before heading to the Kopu Bridge for 'Brits in the Bridge'.

Sixty classic British cars took the unique opportunity to drive and park on one of New Zealand's longest single lane bridges. A world record! Drivers, passengers and onlookers were all happy to have been part of the day. The cars rolled onto the bridge from just after midday before stopping at the western end - the cars reached from the end of the bridge, back to the end of the swing span.

 Cars waited at the Kopu end before coming onto the bridge - just like the old days of waiting for the bridge to be clear.


Even 'Mr Whippy' ventured onto the bridge and was an instant hit - the snow freeze cones a welcome relief in the heat of the midday sun.


A wonderful prelude to the Thames Heritage Festival weekend event - Pre-dinner Promenade on the Historic Kopu Bridge Saturday 16 March 5 to 7pm. SEE YOU THERE!

More Photographs and Videos:
Available at the Brits at the Beach Facebook Page.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now - North end of Queen Street

I have just got hold of a Wm Coad (Thames bookseller) card - that is taken at the north end of Queen Street, and shows the mining activity around the Moanataiari / Grahamstown area.

ABOVE: From the vicinity of Moanataiari Creek Road looking South. Pollen Street left, Queen Street centre, then Davy Street and Owen Street / Brown Street far right (out of view).
William Coad, was a bookseller at the corner of Sealey and Pollen Streets, where an optician currently occupies the building. It was quite normal for the booksellers in town to publish their own postcards - they were popular to send to people in New Zealand and overseas.

A closer look at the Coad Postcard.
Top left of Postcard: Prince Imperial Mine, Saxon Mine along Pollen Street.
Top left is St George's Church and centre right is the St James Church.
Centre of Postcard: View along Queen Street. Past the Queen's Hotel, Government Buildings - to Chas Judd Ltd centre left. Top right the South / Shortland Railway Station and the Shortland Wharf. Totara Point can be seen top left.
Lower left of Postcard: The area now known as the Gold Discovery - Hauraki Prospectors' Association.

THEN & NOW: 1880s to 2018
ABOVE: Changing views from the North end of Thames - looking south.

Transportation Theme for Heritage Week 2019.

What is disappointing in many postcards is the lack of activity! I was hopeful that enlarged views should show a horse and cart along the road, but alas nothing. What can we see?The footpaths are wide along Queen Street, and appear in good condition, so the 'walker' appears well catered for.

The deep drains on the side of the verge would have posed a problem for walker and driver if they ventured close to the edge of the road!

The roads tend to be used in the middle, and the edges appear rough and even grassed in parts. This would no doubt have made travel a challenge at times - especially during winter. As you get to the Moanataiari area the road is very much just a dirt track and the cart lines are clearly visible. Are they even tramlines? or the remnants of lines.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Thames (NZ): Transportation - Getting around the Thames pre 1867

Description: View of the harbour and area from Mechanics Bay
to Smales Point. Printed by E Clark and Company (London). 
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-623


The following blog, highlights the modes of transport around the River Thames pre 1867. The names of key ships are noted, as they were the prime means of 'getting around' for the settlers and visitors to the shores. The principal destination for settlers was back and forth to Auckland

Tangata Whenua travelled by foot and waka. They also played a vital role guiding the settlers to different districts over tracks they had identified. It was not long before surveyors were employed as the country was colonised, and land ownership became a priority for the new arrivals.

In Caroline Phillips' Waihou Journeys, the archaeology of 400 years of Maori settlements on the lower Waihou River is explored in depth.  It includes an interesting table (page 81) that summarises the European visitors and residents 1769 to 1850. Visitors famous and not so famous who came to the settlements that were scattered along the river. Captain Cook via the Endeavour in 1769; the Fancy 1794, the Hunter 1798 and 1799, the El Plumier and Royal Admiral in 1801 and Samuel Marsden on the Coromandel in 1820. The names of traders, settlers and others are given along with the purpose of their visit and the length of stay.

This 1848 sketch shows a kāinga (village) at Ōpita, Thames. Historically a kāinga would comprise a number of whānau groups.

When the Admiral visited in 1801 they spent eight weeks in the Firth of Thames - during this time James Wilson produced a chart of the area. This and other early sketch charts / maps, were the forerunner to more detailed survey maps, that marked tracks and landmarks and in turn greatly aided movement around the district.
Part of Wilson's 1801 Chart of the River Thames - full copy details:
Ref: MapColl-832.15aj/1801/Acc.538. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22783019

TRAVEL 1840 to 1867
A variety of reports and advertisements in the newspapers provide an insight into the methods of transport and the ease of getting around the greater Thames area.

Boats were sailing around New Zealand with passengers and cargo pre 1850. For instance in November 1849, Mr Nicholas went from the River Thames to Auckland aboard the Alexander. A few of the other early commercial ships mentioned were: the Bon Accord, Charles, Forager, Mary and Piako Lass.

1850s: Land travel was possible over a limited number of 'tracks' but still required forcing through thick bush at times, and was best done with locals as guides. The Plains and River Thames was crossed on a trek from Auckland to Tauranga.

1854: the Gulf of Thames was described as being a commercial world in miniature. On a good day accessible by sea from Auckland by canoe or open boat. The rivers 'The Thames' and 'The Piako' "navigable for barges or steamers for a distance 50 miles at least." NEW ZEALANDER, 27 SEPTEMBER 1854

Local Iwi travelled around the country as required, in 1863 more than 300 Thames Maori were reported to have travelled to Wairoa, during the unsettled years of the 'Land Wars.' By foot and / or by waka, distance was not a problem. During the Land Wars, soldiers also travelled by boat around the Firth of Thames.

So far horses have not been mentioned, but they were around the greater Thames Valley, particularly at the large estates that were owned by men such as Mr McCaskill  (he had settled at Hikutaia in 1839).

Mr MCCASKILL's Estate was being sold with one horse.

To conclude, early transport involved walking, use of waka / canoes and private boats; and an increasing numbers of commercial boats. Horses were mainly used on farms, and increasingly in the sport of racing!

Coming next: Transport to / on the Goldfield post 1867.

Background Reading:

Description: A drawing looking south across the Auckland Harbour showing the race of the Maori war canoes during the Auckland Anniversary Regatta of January 1862 with the flagships H M S Miranda left and the H M S Fawn right of centre, taken from 'Views in the Province of Auckland New Zealand' by F R Stack
                  Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 863-RB586

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Thames (NZ): Statue of Sir Keith Park

Exciting news - Thames is to get a statue of Sir Keith Park. While the nearby aerodrome is named in Sir Keith's honour, to have such a prominent reminder of this famous soldier is amazing.

The unveiling of the statue is to take place 11am 27 April 2019 (full details below).

Background: The following article appeared in the book "From Gold Mine to Firing Line."

WWI: Thames’ Special Soldier 
There are many men and women from the wider Thames area who deserve a special mention for the services they rendered during World War One. The names of some will be found in the awards section, indicating they received official recognition. Many more will have gone unrecorded and their deeds never officially acknowledged. There is however one soldier who first made a mark in World War One and subsequently went onto to serve at the highest level in World War Two. His name was Keith Rodney Park, Serial Number 2/1254.
   On 15 June 1892, at Thames, Keith Rodney Park was born. He was the son of Frances and James Park. James Park was from Scotland and had attended the Royal School of Mines in London. In New Zealand he married Frances Olive Rogers in 1880, they had seven daughters and three sons. In 1889, James Park was appointed director of the Thames School of Mines and was responsible for many innovations and developments at the school.
   The Park family lived out at Totara just south of Thames, locals recalled in 1946 that the house was a two-storied building on the Thames side of the cemetery – looking over the lower Kauaeranga Valley. The house was known as the Park house and later occupied by the Northcroft family.
   More details on the young Keith Park’s time at Thames can be found in the school records of his siblings. They attended various schools in the town including: Kauaeranga Boys and Girls, Parawai, Thames High and Tararu Schools. From 1889 to 1900 the family’s address varied from: Mt Pleasant, Moanataiari Battery, Queen St, Tararu and Totara. This was not uncommon in the lives of many Thamesites who travelled around the township and the schools at somewhat regular intervals.
   In early 1899 [1], Keith’s father James worked for the Moanataiari Goldmining Company and the family address was care of the Moanataiari Battery. Several of the Park children started school at the nearby Tararu School, just north of the Thames township. One of these children was Keith Rodney Park. On 10 April 1899, he was enrolled at Tararu School, register number 1260. Guardian was Jas Park, address Moanataiari Battery. His previous school was given as ‘Private School’ – no details given as to where this was located. Ironically the birthdate given is incorrect, but this was not an uncommon event in early school registers. Although later reports state that Park was six years old when he left Thames, these school records show that he was six years old when he started at Tararu School, where he stayed until leaving on 17 July 1900 aged eight years of age. Leaving destination was given as Nelson. His father James didn’t officially leave Thames until March 1901 when he was appointed Professor of Mining at the University of Otago School of Mines in 1901.[i]
   The last record for the Park family at the Thames, is in the Thames Electoral roll of 1900. Frances and James Park’s residence was given as Tararu Foreshore, Thames.
   Keith Park received his later education at King’s College in Auckland and the Otago Boys’ High school in Dunedin. Like many young boys he served in the cadets and then was a territorial soldier in the Army. In 1911 he worked at sea as a purser. At the start of the war he enlisted and commenced duty 14 December 1914. Park’s enlistment address was 77 Saint David Street in Dunedin and his father was named as next-of-kin. Serial Number 2/1254, he was a member of the Field Artillery, promoted to Corporal on 1 February 1915 and he embarked from New Zealand on 14 February 1915 from Wellington. Park was aboard Transport ship No 17, the HMNZT Maunganui, which arrived at Suez 26 March 1915.
   Little information is contained in the New Zealand war file, the next entry states that 2nd Lieutenant Park was transferred to the Royal Field Artillery on 3 September 1915. He was at this stage discharged from the New Zealand Army – a total service of 264 days.
   What happened next is featured in a multitude of sources and summarised on the Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph database.[ii] During WWI he served with the British Army, Royal Artillery 1915-January 1916; Royal Flying Corps 1916; 48 Squadron July 1917,1918.
“At the outbreak of the First World War he became a gunner in the New Zealand Artillery. Park's commission was granted in Gallipoli in August 1915 for services in the field and was transferred to the 29th Division. He stayed in Gallipoli until the evacuation and, as Lieutenant, went to the Western Front. He was wounded at the Somme and relegated to home service as an Artillery Officer Instructor at Woolwich.
He applied to the Royal Flying Corps and was accepted in December 1916, completed training and became an instructor. In July 1917 he joined 48 Squadron to fly Bristol Fighters. He became flight commander in September 1917, receiving the Military Cross and Bar. He also received a French Croix de Guerre.” Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph
   After the war, Major Keith Park received his awards and decorations from the King at Buckingham Palace in May 1920. He had been awarded the Military Cross, Military Cross and Bar, Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Croix de Guerre,[iii]
   What happened next is beyond the scope of this book, but needless to say, the ‘boy from Thames’ went on to be remembered forever for the part he played in World War Two and key events such as the Battle of Britain.
   After WWII, the then Sir Keith Park returned to Thames for the first time in nearly 40 years. Sir Keith and Lady Park were treated like royalty in the town. They were driven around to places that he would have known as a child – visiting homes in the Moanataiari, Sandes Street and Totara where he lived. He was then given a civic luncheon at the Hotel Imperial and in the afternoon addressed the pupils at Thames High School. During the information speech he mentioned Churchill, Eisenhower and Montgomery – who had all been great scholars. “Speaking of Mr Churchill, whom he had known personally, Sir Keith described him as a ‘ball of fire.’”
   Sir Keith had these comments to make about the town. “It is a great honour to come back to receive a welcome like this from Thames.”  He remarked the town had changed little. “My recollections of the town are that it was full of bustle and noise…It seemed very busy and prosperous.” Remarking that this was 46 years ago during the gold period.[iv]
   Sir Keith Park died in Auckland on 6 February 1975. He is remembered at the Thames airfield which in 2010 was renamed the ‘Sir Keith Park Memorial Thames Airfield’. This was at the same time as the unveiling of Sir Keith Park’s statue in London to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. A Thames boy who left his mark on history.

[1] In 1896 James Park had been employed by the Anglo-Continental Goldmining Syndicate.
[i] & Thames Star, 4 March 1901, pg 2.
[iii] Otago Daily Times, Issue 17988, 15 July 1920, page 7.
[iv] Thames Star 5-19 June 1946, at The Thames Library

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Thames (NZ): Memories of Hospital Patient meals - from trolley to trayline 1982

When the Thames Hospital 150 Commemorations were held in November 2018, a common memory for many was 'dishing up' the patients meals. The great stainless steel trolleys that the hospital orderly delivered around the wards. Chaos would reign if they were early or late! Ready or not the patients' needed serving.

Trays preset for the appropriate meal, plates warming, the ritual would begin. Either dished up in the main kitchen or the more adventurous would push the great beast around the ward - many a plate broken along the way. The Ward Sister would preside over the midday meal, assisted by another who got to dish up the vegies and / or desserts.

Mr Balfour Campbell (left) and his son, retiring
Chief Executive Doug Campbell (right)
Many were horrified the day this system changed to pre-prepared trays, where patients completed their menu choices in advance. The True Tales of Thames Hospital has many a related tale about meals at Thames Hospital as well as articles by the late Doug Campbell who was Chief Executive at the time of the change 1981-82.

When the meal delivery system changed, the impact was felt in many areas - physical changes and duties in the kitchen; wardsmaids and nursing staffs duties also changed. Compartments of food in a big tray, to be dished out and collected, with no washing of utensils/plates in the ward.

The newspaper featured a major article on the change which thankfully was discovered in the late Doug Campbell's vast collection of hospital memorabilia. On the right is a photo of Doug when the change took place, and fittingly, with his father Mr Balfour Campbell who was a patient at the time in Thames Hospital.

ABOVE: Kitchen staff busy on the trayline, preparing the food portions, before loading them into the tray and to the large trolleys for delivery to the wards.
 BELOW: Final menu checks and additions, the the food trays were ready for delivery.

ABOVE: Charge Nurse Day checks the meal before it is taken to the patient by Student Nurse Koopen. Right: The Hospital's chef checks a patient's meal at the bedside.

Was the change popular? Memory has it that there were teething problems. Things to do with menu selection, temperature of the meal and managing the big tray. Some liked it from the start, others not. It was a loss of one of those special touches, where you as a nurse could give the patient the amount and what they liked, and yes seconds for those that wanted more! Plus no more 'sneaking' into the kitchen to see what leftovers remained!!!

An unexpected loss, was patient's sadness at losing their traycovers, which used to be placed on the old wooden trays. Many a patient took these home as a souvenir. A sample below. IT featured the hospitals run by the Thames Hospital Board: District Homes, Coromandel Hospital, Mercury Bay Hospital, Waihi Hospital, Paeroa Hospital and the base hospital at Thames. When the 150th Commemoration Dinner was held, the traycover featured on the place-mat, so got to be showcased one last time!

Thames Hospital Board Tray Cover used pre 1982.