Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thames (NZ): 150 Years ago - GOLD at the THAMES

In the New Zealand Herald Thursday 15 August 1867, the correspondent reported on the dramatic news of a gold find at the Thames. The discovery date was the 10th August 1867, the claim would become known as the Shotover. The lives of the four prospectors - Messrs Cobley, Hunt, White and Clarkson would be changed forever.
The First Photograph of the Shotover taken shortly after the reef was discovered.

Description: Showing workers at the Shotover claim in the Thames goldfields where the first significant amounts of gold were discovered.
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19170802-34-8
Description: Showing men and women at the Shotover Mine, Kuranui, Thames. "The men photographed here probably include the discoverers of the claim - George Clarkson, W A Hunt, William Cobley and John Ebenezer White".
Source: Alexander Turnbull Library record, reference number: 1/1-003165-G.   
ABOVE: Today the area is marked by a Lions Club Heritage sign at the bottom of a driveway/track that leads to the old Shotover Claim
BELOW: Satellite view of the Kuranui-Eureka Road, sign located at sea-end.

Online 10 August 2017

1 comment:

  1. In February 1977 I visited the long overgrown site of the Shotover. From that visit came this:

    THE SHOTOVER CLAIM. New Zealand No 4.

    Near the town of Thames, in the North Island of New Zealand,
    there once operated a gold mine bearing the name, “The Shotover Claim”.
    Discovered on the tenth of August 1867, the claim produced gold worth half
    a million pounds sterling.
    A century later, and the area has largely gone back to nature.

    In a valley stands a mine-house - clapperboard built, with a corrugated iron roof now turning up at the corners - like a week old take-away sandwich.

    The floorboards rotten, broken; the walls torn out, or falling in; a remnant of paint peels off a remnant of decaying wood.

    At one time, the two main rooms of the house looked out over a spacious, well-kept garden, one that sloped with the valley. Now, they are invaded by moss-draped apple trees, trees planted to shade the dwellers of the house as much as to produce their Granny Smiths, or Orange Pippins.

    To the rear of the building, the lean-to kitchen and scullery have likewise surrendered to the passing of time - native bush climbs in through their unglazed windows, through their doorless doorways.

    Blackberry bushes bear ripe fruit; the grapevine has a crop this year, sweet and succulent.
    There’s a head of seed on a garlic stalk, and the hydrangeas are a catalogue picture of purple and pink.

    Delicate, long petalled, on three foot wands leaping from long bladed leaves of green, some red flower matches the colour, but not the hue, of the berries clustered - like corn on the cob - at the head of span-high short stubby stalks.

    Grasses and shrubs are everywhere.
    Further down the valley stand the fronds of giant ferns,
    while fir trees overtop all.

    The ever-chattering cicadas, and the plaintive tweeting of a lonely bird are the only true sounds of the bush.

    For, far below, motor traffic powers along the coastal tar seal.
    And a tractor works a distant paddock.

    Back up at the house, where the meat safe lies in the wilderness that was the garden, and the route to the outside lavatory is now camouflaged and obstacle strewn - like the paths to the walled-up mine adits themselves - all is at peace.

    There will be no new strike this year.

    © Eric C. Hayman. 10th February 1977 and afterwards.
    Thames, New Zealand.

    (The name “Shotover Claim”, common in mine names in New Zealand, originated with the first find under a waterfall, the actual vein of gold-bearing quartz running through the boundary of the land agreed with the local Maoris to be opened up for mining. The boundary was moved to include the find in the mining claim.)