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?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thames (NZ): Special Visits - Rob & Thea Muldoon

SPECIAL VISITS: In 1978 Prime Minister Robert and Mrs Thea Muldoon were in Thames, as guest of honours for the March Thames Hospital Nurses' Graduation. On 24 February 2015, Dame Thea Muldoon died. More information at:

Right Honourable Robert Muldoon and Thea Muldoon at Thames for the nurses' graduation March 1978. The photograph is taken in the Nurses' Dining Room where the graduations were normally held.
Source: Thames Hospital Pictorial CD, by Waikato Health Board. 
Cartoon drawings by Doug Barker of Thames in 1975 - of Rob Muldoon and Bill Rowlings. They appeared on the front page of the Sunday News Newspaper in 1975. (exact date not recorded)
 Source: A Barker Collection 

Thames (NZ): Train Memories - Price 16-wheeler Steam Locomotive

TRAIN MEMORIES. Price 16-wheeler steam locomotive, run by the Mountain Rimu Timber Company, Mamaku.

Photograph taken by Albert Percy Godber, circa 1916.
Locomotive built by A & G Price Ltd., Thames, built specifically as a bush tramway steam locomotive. Came under the Railways Department when the Stores Branch took over the Mountain Rimu Timber Company's mill and tramway at Mamaku.

In 1928 this locomotive was sold to the Marton Sash and Door Company at Waione. See "Cavalcade of New Zealand locomotives" by A N Palmer & W W Stewart.

Source: Price 16-wheeler steam locomotive. Godber, Albert Percy, 1875-1949 :Collection of albums, prints and negatives. Ref: APG-0697-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thames (NZ): Thames Aero Club 1947

In previous 1947 photographs, I was alerted to a large gathering at the Aero Club grounds. At first we thought it was a funeral. Now perhaps the mystery is solved, was this the day a new plane arrived, or the day when it was known that aerial photographs of the town would be taken.

Thames Aero Club, aircraft in flight, individuals unidentified 1947
Source: Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-05798-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

A closer look at the crowd we see a policeman present t o control the crowds. A tent is pitched and a car visible (in the larger view above). Children eagerly await the plane, or is there more than one? Everyone is dressed for the occasion and the obligatory hats worn by some of the older men and women. The lady on the right keeping a close eye on the policeman's exchange with the young men.

ZK-AOB flies proudly in the sky above Thames.
According to the web page linked below, this Auster aircraft was registered on 19th Feb 1947
 Full view Below
Source; Hauraki Aerodrome, Thames-Coromandel district, including crowds of people, motorcars and aircraft. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-05702-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thames (NZ): First Car to Thames was an Oldsmobile 1903

Previous research had 1904 as possibly the first time a motor car was seen in Thames. Now  new information dates the event as 1903.

Mr Brookes began his motoring adventure in Thames on 11 February 1903. Brookes worked for Campbell and Ehrenfried Co Ltd, so was no stranger to Thames. The Oldsmobile car was driven by Mr J Begg an expert from London. In 1922, Mr Brookes reminded the folk of Thames about this great adventure and made the claim that he indeed was in the first car to be seen at The Thames.

The car arrived in Thames by steamer, and the public of Thames crowded to see it. Mr Brookes said it felt like the whole town had turned out for a view. The car had a 5 hp motor single cylinder motor, wire wheels and was steered by a tiller handle like a boat. It was quiet and horses bolted when they saw it! (Thames Star 17 February 1922)

While we do not as yet have  a photo of Mr Brookes on his great adventure, below is a gathering of Oldsmobile cars in 1904 at Auckland.

Taken from the NZ Graphic, 05 November 1904, p31

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Thames (NZ): Second Look at corner Pahau & Pollen Street Postcard

This is a postcard that has always fascinated me. The gathering of people, the man on the roof, so many scenarios to think about as to what was happening on the day.

On the right is J Paul who was a saddler from c1894 to 1919, near the corner of Pahau and Pollen Street. On the left is the verandah of the King's Theatre which opened in 1913. Next to it is the Junction Hotel that had been on the goldfield for years, although the building had changed several times. The St James Church stands on the next corner and further along is Taylor's butcher shop.

The man up the pole could be another photographer waiting to take a photo or a repairman on the wires. The horse and wagon laying stone down the centre of the road, later these would be concrete strips.  What about all the wires - telegraph, telephone, electricity?

Description Looking along Pollen Street, Thames. Showing (on left) The Junction Hotel; St James' Presbyterian Church. At right is J Paul - saddler. With cyclists, horse and cart and a man sitting at the top of a telegraph pole.
Above: 1927 Advertisement in the Thames Diamond Jubilee book
Below the view 2012 

UPDATE: View before the King's Theatre was built.
Look to left side of Pahau Street, Junction Hotel and the single storey building that is replaced by the King's Theatre.
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19050921-13-2

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thames (NZ): Thames Scouts' trek to Coromandel 1921

There are reports of the Dominion Boy Scout movement in Thames from 1909. Details of packs were outlined in the paper, the leaders at that time were: A Conway, H Adams, E Morman, and A Casey. (see below)
Thames Star 21 May 1909
Over the following years the boys participated in a  wide range of scouting activities, helping with WWI activities in the town and during the influenza epidemic of 1918.
One thing they looked forward to each year was the annual trek to Coromandel. Some details of the 1921 event were provided in the Thames Star during January 1921. Some Snippets are below:
Thames Star 8 January: “Whilst every Scout undertakes the trek with the understanding that he is expected to walk, it was very funny to see the eagerness with which they accepted the offer of lift as far as Puru, on a motor ‘bus which happened along.” There were about thirty boys and they sang a song with a few word alterations:
“It’s a long way to Coromandel, It’s a long way to go; Good-bye dear old Pollen St, Good-bye Grahamstown, It’s a long long way to Coromandel, And my heart’s right there.”
The first night was spent at Tapu. Tea was cold pickled pork, potatoes, bread and butter, and cups of tea. Breakfast was at 6am and they set out for Kerita at 7.30.
They arrived at lunchtime and spent the afternoon swimming and involved in scoutcraft. For tea they had irish stew.
Thames Star 11 January: News of arrival at Coromandel on the third day – from Kerita 15 miles and two high hills. The Coromandel Boy Scouts met the group and led them into town. (details right)
Thames Star 12 January: While in Coromandel, the scouts played sports and undertook other activities. A cricket match against the Coromandel boys, was a close match but Coromandel won 57 to 45. There was a church parade as well.
On the Monday there was to be a football match and scout concert. Tuesday was to be sports, then the following day the trek back home. Planned stops were Kerita, Puru and back home in Thames!
Thames Star 18 January: Good news reported, the Thames boys won the football! The sports day went well, with the boys winning t tug-of-war and some relays. The Coromandel Brass Band played on the day. On the way home they stayed in Mr Jamieson's barn at Kerita and at Mr Paul's property at Puru. Some boys wanted to create a record and push on to Thames, but many were exhausted so the decision was made to rest and go home the following day.

Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 10 February 1921 p041
Source:  ' Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19210210-41-1 '

Description 1921 - THE COMPANY ON THE MARCH.
Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 10 February 1921 p041
Source:  ' Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19210210-41-2 '

At Wikipedia - Dominion Boy Scouts: Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) David Cossgrove centrally organised Boy Scouts in 1908 and formed the Dominion Boy Scouts. The Dominion Boy Scouts and Robert Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts Association affiliated in 1913 in an uneasy relationship. Cossgrove's Dominion Boy Scouts introduced "Junior Scouts" in 1913 with "Bull Pups" programs. After 1916 some Junior Scouts operated "Wolf Cub" programs. Cossgrove died in 1920 and in 1923 the majority of the executive of the Dominion Boy Scouts reconstituted themselves as a branch of The Boy Scouts Association.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thames NZ: Shoprite Supermarket 1966

1966 was a big year for Thames, the arrival of a "modern" Supermarket was front page news and the talk of the town. The Thames Star 20 September 1966, dropped by the day before the grand opening to see the preparations. Work was frantic, shelves being stocked and different trades making last minute adjustments.

The Shoprite Supermarket was located on the ground floor of the newly opened Municipal Building, on the corner of Mary and Pollen Streets.

A large advertisement for the shop appeared the following year, in the "1867-1967 Thames Centennial" Book. (Photos below)

Mr Dick Rolfe said: Our aim is to please the customer and to offer an all-round, modern, efficient shopping service.

They claimed that thousands of  money saving specials. Also that parking was never a problem, as there was parking at the back of the building by the Thames War Memorial.

The photos hopefully will bring back memories - it certainly seemed amazing at the time, and to have so much on offer!


Today, the shop is used by Sterling Sports. Over the years it has seen many other businesses. Including: The Goldmine Bar, Trustbank, Evans-Keane (Furnishing), Kenton Interiors, and Paki Paki Bikes.
Source: Google Maps 2012 view - Corner Pollen and Mary Streets.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thames (NZ): BARKER - BACH Wedding 1871

A message for all the family researchers/genealogists - keep looking for new information. I spend hours looking at old papers and once in awhile something happens that makes it worthwhile.

Today I found a new family notice for my Great-Grandparents. They married in 1871, in the St George's Church in Rolleston Street.

Their Golden Wedding notice was in the Thames Star 7 June 1921.

They lived at several locations around Thames, moved away for some time and then returned to the town. They lived up the Kauaeranga near the Big Pool and later in Mackay Street, Thames.

Maria and John are buried at Shortland Cemetery, Thames.

Thames (NZ): THAMES PLAYGROUND, Queen Street

The Thames Playground, on Queen Street has been around since the mid 1900s (at least). There was talk after World War One that the town should place the Thames Peace Memorial here and establish a Peace Playground. For whatever reason this did not eventuate and the Memorial was placed up on the Waiotahi Spur.

In the 1920s as part of fundraising connected with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 1927, money was set aside to establish a playground on Queen Street. To area to be known as the Diamond Jubilee Reserve. The Auckland Star, 8 February 1929, reported that work was to finally commence on the playground. Money from the Jubilee had been allocated to other projects leaving 280 Pounds for the playground. The Government were giving a subsidy of 560 Pounds, this left a deficit of 124 Pounds. It was thought that the shortfall could be overcome. With regards to equipment for the playground, many donations had been promised.
Above: 1929 Proposed plan for Thames Playground.
Source: C Harrison, TCDC
The 1929 plans above, have items that certainly were at the later playground. The 'large chute'  is probably the large slide; swings and see saw; and merry go-round are all familiar. Interesting that the item 'ocean wave' is mentioned, many of us call it a merry-go-round, but ocean wave would fit with the way it went 'in and out' in a usually circular motion.

The playground was officially opened on Thursday 19 December 1929. It was known as the Diamond Jubilee Children's Playground. Opened by the Mayor Mr W Bongard.
The park must have proved popular, because there was a deputation of church ministers to the Thames Borough Council in January 1930 requesting that the swings and other apparatus be locked up on Sundays. "The council later considered the matter. Members said they considered that the issue lay with the parents and not with the council, which should not exercise jurisdiction on the point raised. There was nothing at the playground that would corrupt a child's morals. It was unanimously resolved that no action be taken." (New Zealand Herald, 24 January 1930)

In the 1940s, Thamesites memories recall the playground on Queen Street, south of Mary Street. The photo below is a 1947 of the Playground and toilet area.

In the 1965 view below, the playground apparatus are all centred around the tree in the centre. Swings, slides, see-saw, roundabout (big and small).

By 25 August 1972 the playground had been redeveloped and the Lions' Club project had built the Lighthouse slide and the Wakatere paddle steamer replica with surrounding paddling pool.
Thames, Thames-Coromandel District. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-70401-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Over the years the park has been revitalised and updated many times. Later given the title of Porritt Park - named after Governor-General Sir Arthur Porritt (1967-1972).
Late 1970s-early 1980s view of the Playground - see the large open slide and swings behind the Information Centre building.

Above: 1983 aerial view of the playground.
1980s Postcard gives a 3-in-1 bonus. Porritt Park Playground features in two with the old tunnels, lighthouse and of course the Wakatere. Plus a view of Thames looking south over the town.

Another view. In this you can see the Thames Information Centre is in the Park, later used by Citizens' Advice Bureau. Safety concerns no doubt led tot he demise of the lighthouse and tunnels - there are horror stories about what one would find within both. A large slide had previously been in a more northerly situation at the park.

In later years the boat has been slightly altered and masts removed. It now has the shopping mall as a backdrop. (2012 photos below)
 2013 view from Google maps of the Thames Playground, new equipment and fenced for safety.

Full article also in THE TREASURY JOURNAL

Monday, February 16, 2015

Thames (NZ): Lost Landmark - Wood's Store

LOST LANDMARK: WOOD'S Store, Grahamstown, Thames. A Family business that operated for 100 years, until it closed in 1977. The building was demolished by the new owners and three shops constructed on the site. Full history at Treasury Journal.

The advertisement below appeared in many editions of the Wises Directory, Thames listings. Thames Central Cheap Stores, Wholesale & Retail. Run by the Wood's family foe several generations, the store stocked a wide variety of products.

Left: Old View of the shop. Right: the site of the shop today.