Friday, July 12, 2019

Thames (NZ): The Bella Street Pumphouse

For some time I have had 'story on the pumphouse' on the urgent to-do list.While it has been covered before, a new photo allows us to take a second look at the Bella Street attraction.

Just as I was about to start I got the latest New Zealand Memories Magazine from the Thames Library. (Issue 138) There is a four page article "The Bella Street Pumphouse" by Bella Street Pumphouse Society.

The problems of groundwater and the impact it had on mining are discussed. Hence the "Hauraki Mining Company constructed the Thames Hauraki Pump House (now called the Bella Street Pumphouse) at the site of the Queen of Beauty Mine, in 1898." page 8
Thames Hauraki Pump and Shaft c1900 (St James Church Spire built 1898 can be seen top left)
The Bella Street Pumphouse Society bought the old building in 1990 and have worked tirelessly to restore and replicate many of the old pumphouse features. Replacing the poppet head is the next thing on the agenda for the hardworking society.

The poppet heads that were dotted around the town, were built over mine shafts and housed the mechanism to lower cages up and down the shaft - carrying miners to and fro, along with transporting ore to the surface.

The Poppet head and Pump House under Construction
Now at last to the photo that triggered the need for the post. The poppet head looks near completed, while the boilers are just arriving - the building of the pumphouse underway.

Big Pump under construction, corner Bella, Cochrane Streets and Waiokaraka Road.
Source: Thames Museum Collection

The men atop the poppet head.
There is so much to see in the photo: the houses along Bella and Mackay Street at the top; the boiler and team of horses that had just come from A & G Price Foundry: and the second St James Church has been moved to face Pahau Street (awaiting the building of a new church). Plus much more!

Poppet Head facts:
"The four legs of the poppet head were made of kauri. They were approximately 19.8m long measuring 76cm at the base and tapering to 45cm at the top. Each leg was set in sole pieces and were firmly embedded in concrete. The whole structure was firmly braced together. On top were two sheave wheels 2.7m in diameter. The whole structure was capable of bearing a transverse working strain of 400 tons."

Delivery of a boiler, Bella Street, Thames.

Background news reports:
THAMES STAR, 14 DECEMBER 1896: Work was ready to begin on the new poppet head.

THAMES STAR, 31 MAY 1897: Work on concrete foundations for pumping plant advanced, plus good progress on the brickworks which included the large chimney.

THAMES STAR, 26 JUNE 1897: The third boiler had been delivered. Photographer Mr Foy was on hand to take photographs including some of the poppet head and chimney.

THAMES STAR, 20 DECEMBER 1898: Opening of the Thames - Hauraki Pumping Plant.

Crowds assembled outside the Thames Hauraki Pumping Works for the opening 19 December 1898.
Source: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-18981230-3-2

Below: 2016 view of the Bella Street Pumphouse.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Thames (NZ): Early Gymnastic Sports at the Thames

Sport played an important part in the life of the settlers on the Thames Goldfield. Times may have been hard but as a community, both young and old, Thamesites relished coming together and participating in the wide range of sports that were on offer.

One of these sports was Gymnastics. Below is an excerpt from Playing Sports on the Thames Goldfield.

"In 1889 a group got together and formed an athletics class which was known as the Thames Amateur Gymnasium Club. By December 1890 the membership was 100, Mr H Cordes was club secretary. The leader/instructor was Mr Daldy McWilliams.

On 3rd December 1890, the club gave their first private exhibition in the Volunteer Hall at Shortland, which was then followed by a social. The exhibition included: dumbbell exercises to music, roman rings, horizontal bar, trapeze, Indian clubs and boxing. A highlight was the performance by Mr A Gubb when he, “did a most daring performance, making a flying leap from the single and landing in a sitting position on the double trapeze, which was received with great applause.”

Daldy McWilliams
March 1891, the Thames Amateur Gymnasium Club had a large athletic sports gathering at Mr Manning’s Paddock. As previously mentioned, the early disciplines of Gymnastics and Athletics, overlapped considerably.

In January 1893 there was a social to open the Thames Amateur Gymnasium Club’s season at their Richmond Street clubrooms, and a benefit night was planned for Mr Daldy McWilliams, as a thank-you for his services as instructor. There was also a Ladies’ Calisthenics Class, giving a performance of Indian clubs. The junior boys (8-14) were a junior division of dumb-bellists. Mention is made of the delight that the children had for this sport, noting that this education was lacking in the schools. “Apart from the value of the instruction imparted and its importance to health, the club also exercises a great moral influence, in as much as it cannot fail to keep many lads off the streets at night time, and consequently out of mischief.”
Advertisements for the club cease July 1894; did they become part of the Athletic Club or disband? There was another gym group, operating out of the Naval Hall in February 1891, run by Mr Wm Connon, with the aim of helping their members to become very efficient gymnasts.      

Then in 1897 Messrs Von Rotter and Meehan opened a gymnasium in the Hibernian Hall, Shortland. The gymnasium catered for: Indian clubs, dumbells, horizontal bar, roman rings, trapeze, tumbling, marching and boxing.

Other clubs in the town, such as rowing were also advertising gymnasium facilities. In May 1900 there was mention of another new club, the Thames Gymnasium & Athletic Club (Grahamstown), to be run by W Woodward and T Tasker.

The Thames Young Men’s Club opened next to the Post and Telegraph Office in Queen Street in 1904, and they also had a gymnasium.

Later in 1915, the Thames High School Gymnasium, which was part of the new school in Sealey Street, provided much needed gymnastic facilities for the community. Over the years a wide range of gymnastic disciplines were undertaken in Thames, at multiple venues. It would appear this was very popular sport, with many Thamesites."

Children holding the Indian Clubs - Presumably part of a display team.
Source: Thames Museum
Indian Clubs:
Now to the real reason for the post! When I first researched the sports on offer in the town it was hard to find accompanying photographs of early events. Now thanks to some treasures emerging in the Thames Museum Collection, one of the disciplines mentioned now has an accompanying photograph.

The gymnastic discipline featured is Indian clubs. This was one of the most popular display performances at the Thames; and regularly practiced at schools and clubs.

The photograph shows children proudly posed with their 'Indian Clubs'. Were they a display team, members if a group? Are the older girls the leaders, or instructors?

While we have talked about Gymnastics, for women the term Calisthenics was more often used. In the Thames Advertiser 25 August 1892 women from the local Calisthenic class wielded the clubs with great skill.
Thames Advertiser 25 August 1892. Paperspast.
The importance of exercise was an early part of our school curriculum, in Thames and throughout New Zealand. In 1884, it was noted that Indian Clubs were to be added to the apparatus used in schools in the Auckland District. Mr Sullivan, the school Inspector noted, "I become everyday more and more impressed with the value of gymnastic exercises, especially for girls."

Monday, July 1, 2019

Thames (NZ): Have you used all the 'Thames' search options at Papers Past?

I am sure you all agree, Papers Past has completely changed the way we research our Thames history. But do you explore all the options available?
Home page at Papers Past

The tendency may be to click on the newspaper option (far left) and happily find a never ending treasure trove of information. However, there is more to find under the other section tabs: Magazines and Journals; Letters and Diaries; and Parliamentary Papers.

One of the most useful publications for Thames Research in this section is the New Zealand Tablet - a Catholic periodical that was published weekly in Dunedin from 1873 to 1996. Online copies are available 1873 to 1925. News of the town and parishioners abound, from death notices to school and general church news.
Funeral Report for late Mr E Twohill of the Brian Boru Hotel.

The Kai Tiaki Journal 1908 to 1929 is available to search and is full of Thames Hospital news and in particular news related to present and past nurses. Their work history, transfers, marriages, plus birth of their children.
Birth notice in Kai Tiaki Journal

A general search of all publications produces a wide range of results for the search term "Thames".

Moanataiari Battery in the Progress.

A general search using 'Thames' brings 156 results to check out.

There are letters from Thamesites such as Edward Puckey, on matters relating to the land court proceedings in particular.
Letter from Mr Puckey 2 November 1870.

While we have mentioned these before, they are always worth another look whether you are looking for general history topics or undertaking surname / ancestor research.

The first result for "Thames' shows the amount of native land purchased by the Government and Private individuals up to 1883.

Once you enter your search item in any of the sections mentioned above. You can quickly see if anything shows in the other sections by merely clicking on the top tabs - your search item is already entered in the respective search field. So while the example below is searching 'Magazines and Journals' click on the other tabs at the top of the page to see what results can be found across the entire Papers Past website! Trouble is - its very addictive! But lots of 'gold' can be found on any Thames topic!