Sunday, July 28, 2019

Thames (NZ): Ten Pound Poms at A & G Price 1950s

There was an interesting article on page 17 of the Herald on Sunday (28 July 2019), 'Ten Pound Pom' Legacy by Cherie Howie. The article highlighted two famous NZ'ers connected to this scheme - Sir Peter Jackson (who's parents came) and Roger Hall who himself came to the country in 1958.

"Between 1947 and 1975, a total of 77,000 women, children and men arrived from Great Britain under the assisted immigration scheme. Smaller numbers came from the Netherlands and some other European countries. Non-British immigrants in particular introduced new customs, foods, ideas and practices, and together with later arrivals helped shape modern New Zealand society."Source: New Zealand History

Thames has a strong connection to this immigration scheme, as many immigrants came to the town in the early 1950s, the men destined to work at A & G Price Foundry. The men were loyal, long serving employees at the foundry, and their families involved in the community.

This weekend genealogy site is providing free access to immigration records, and the Herald article highlighted that the names of the immigrants could be searched and the passenger details could be seen The key record source being: UK Outward Passenger List 1890-1960.

I have tested this out, with some names that I know who were part of the scheme and parts of their passenger records are below.

ABOVE: the heading on the passenger lists pages, this one is for the Atlantis that came to New Zealand in 1951.

ABOVE: snip of the record for a family that came to Thames. This man came as a 'fitter' to work at the foundry under the 'Ten Pound Pom' scheme.

Many of the first families that came to Thames were initially accommodated in the old Royal Hotel that was purchased by Price's and converted into apartments. There were houses later built around Prices Avenue Tararu, which housed many foundry families over the decades.

The 1950s were a busy time for the foundry. "By 1954 the total productive area was 100,000 square feet making the Thames plant one of the largest engineering works in New Zealand. It then comprised a machine shop, fitting shop, a locomotive and erection shop, a steel foundry, grader assembly shop, pattern shop and blacksmith/s shop." Page 46 Men of Steel by C W Vennell

So, whether your family came to Thames as part of the immigrant scheme to work at places like the foundry, or maybe they came independently - take a moment to search the resources available at ancestry. Especially during the free offer times, or at your local library.

ABOVE: 35mm colour slide showing the former Royal Hotel 
at the corner of Brown Street and Williamson Street, Thames
Copyright Source: Di Stewart (Photographer 1990s), Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1200-9
Latest view of the old Royal Hotel and A & G Price Boarding house & Storage area 2019
Now a Private residence. Apologies for the sun being exactly at the wrong angle!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Thames (NZ): 'Sculpture' miner near Albert Street

Thames has  a growing number of artworks placed along the walkway / cycleway. While many are complicated and in some cases controversial as to their relevance, some of the best ones shine in their simplicity.

The ones in question have been made by Bruce Harper of Thames. Sadly they are so good, that they are often stolen or damaged!

ABOVE: The sculpture north of the Victoria Park tennis courts.

ABOVE Left: an old Digger up the Karaka Creek 1909
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-19090721-20-1
ABOVE Right: A close-up of the 'digger' sculpture, Thames Foreshore.

Prospectors were a hardy breed, always hopeful that the 'big find' was in the next spot they mined.

So as you wander around the town keep a look-out for the other sculptures made by Bruce. Out by the "Welcome sign' to Thames, at the end of Albert Street, by the Croquet club, and sitting on the remains of the old Burke Street wharf.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Thames (NZ): New seat and plaque at Victoria Park

We often groan about the mangroves and how our view of the Firth has disappeared - so its nice to go somewhere and be reminded that YES we do live beside the seaside!

Parts of the coastal walkway along the foreshore of Thames allow us to find glimpses of the sea. Not much joy on the stretch from the Shortland Wharf, north to Pak'n Save...but then there are open views by the bird hide. Venture further north to the small gauge railway and you get to see the sea at last, on the pathway to Albert Street.

A perfect place for a seat or two, has often been my plea. Like the old days, when Thamesites relaxed at the park. (photographs below)

The walkway in the early 1900s, did the circuit around the park, small trees dotted the grounds, and beautiful seats lined the pathway.

Today the coastal walkway shelters behind the rock wall adjacent to the Firth. Thamesites have again found their love of walking, and you very rarely ever wander along with out meeting someone (and a few dogs).

Between the tennis courts and Albert Street, there now is a grand, sturdy seat - which allows the pedestrian to pause and view the sea, or face towards the Waiotahi Hill and the Peace Memorial.

Jean Helen Harison (1933-1995) & Christopher Stratford Harison (1929-2018)

There is a plaque on both sides of the seat which simply reads "In Memory of Chris & Jean Harison."
The Harison's came to Thames in 1975, both had jobs at Thames Hospital. Mr Harison was the first fulltime obstetrician / gynaecologist for the Thames Hospital Board and worked tirelessly to advance obstetric care on the Coromandel Peninsula. Chris retired in 1992.

Next time you are out walking, stop for a minute and enjoy the views from 'our' new seat.
Special thanks to everyone who is involved with establishing the seating along the walkway.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Richmond Street (1900s & 2019)

Around the town are dotted some grand old villas - high ceilings, a bay window or two, a wrap around terrace and wide staircase leading up to the front door. They were built in the late 19th century to early 1900s.

"A villa was a suburban house that was larger (at least four or five rooms) and more expensive and ornate than a cottage. Villas usually featured two- or four-pane double-hung windows and could be built in Gothic or (neoclassical) Italianate styles." Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand

The 'Then & Now' photographs below are firstly of importance for the view of the grand villa on the North-East corner of Richmond and Sandes Street. When the 1900s photo was taken the house belonged to the Court family - the family owned the dress and haberdashery store at the corners of Mary and Pollen Streets.  In the 1923 Street Directory, Alfred Court jnr is recorded as owning the house.  Over the decades the house has been maintained, renovated, but always in keeping with the original features of the home.

Then & Now N-E corner Richmond & Pollen Streets, Thames. Above 1900s, Below 2019.
Top photo Source (copyright): J Vedder-Price Collection

The second thing to look at is the state of the roads! The street itself has always been wide (compared to many), running from the foot of the Karaka (Una) Hill to the foreshore in the west. Many of the streets were little more than tracks until well into the 20th century. Richmond Street running up the hill is grass and scrub, a footpath clearly visible running across the road. Sandes Street runs across the photo - and the track looks barely one carriage wide.

Further Then & Now Street Views CLICK HERE

Friday, July 19, 2019

Thames (NZ): The moon landing memories from The Thames 1969

Fifty years ago (1969) what were you doing? Did you live in Thames or have family that did? I remember the excitement growing around an event we had not seen before...more on that soon

Maybe your family had bought a new house? There was a good house for sale at The Hape for $10,000!

Or for $6,000 you could buy two 2 bedroom flats at Tararu.

The town was growing, reclamation work was well underway all along the foreshore. Danby Field stood out in an aerial photograph taken in 1968 - and guess what there were no mangroves at the park's western seaward wall!

Thames, Hauraki Gulf, showing debouchement of the Waihou River. 
Ref: WA-67391-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22824930
Life was a seemingly easier pace, children played carefree along the streets - no computer or mobile phone distractions in those days. Trikes and pedal cars had free reign on the footpaths - no motorised scooters in those days.
Three boys watched roadworks on Tararu Road. 
L to R: Alan Hutchins (2), Gavin Searle (3) and Noel Hutchins (4).

As the month of July progressed, Thamesites began talking about the moon and waited to see what would happen when astronauts headed into space. Then the big day came, 20 June 1969, Man walked on the moon!

"July 20 marks 50 years since NASA's Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the Moon. This week Kiwis remember where they were when they heard those famous small steps.

"Houston, Tranquillity Base here," astronaut Neil Armstrong said as his lunar module, Eagle, touched down on the Sea of Tranquillity on Sunday, July 20, 1969.

"The Eagle has landed." Stuff nz

Those lucky enough to have a television, (or friends with one) got to see the landing on the television news Monday 21 July 1969.

The Tuesday edition of the Thames Star reported on Thamesites reaction to the moon landing. People were amazed with the landing, but even more so, the fact that advancements to technology has allowed "people right around the world to see and hear this landing on the moon."

One young Thames boy had the last word: "Gee its fab" was all he said.

Where were you when men first walked on the moon?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Thames (NZ): Historic Tararu Cemetery CLOSED Temporarily

Yes, you guessed it! The heavy downpours of rain and strong winds, has resulted in some damage to the access at our historic Tararu Cemetery.

News from TCDC Facebook:
"Tararu Cemetery closed until further notice - A tree has blown down across the access way and there are slips on the stair case. Access to the site will be closed until further notice. - Amber"

Graeme has been to check the area today, and the good news is that it doesn't look like it will be too long in re-opening. One large pine has come down, the rest are relatively small branches. The massive step construction proved its worth and appears to have minimal debris with no major slips.

 The driveway to the Tararu Cemetery 17 July 2019
Photo thanks to G Pearce

In the meantime, you can continue your research of your ancestors interred at Tararu via the Find A Grave site. Also via the Thames Cemetery blog page.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Rolleston Street & the Deep Sinker Mine

The Grahamstown end of the town was the home of countless mining ventures. While at the southern end (Shortland), the mining was at times less obvious - with tunnels hidden underground.  The exception being the adits that dottted the western.face of the Karaka (Una) Hill.

Wander along Rolleston Street, head south from the hospital, pass the shops and Bateman's Butcher shop on the corner of Sealey Street. Cross the road and over one hundred years ago you would have seen the Deep Sinker mining venture.

The photograph below, is taken standing on Rolleston Street, looking north towards Sealey and Edward Streets. Spot the houses on the hill centre left - that is Edward Street. While at the far right of the poppet head, the house you can see is at the top of the Sealey Street hill at the corner of Lambert Street.

Then & Now: Rolleston Street, by the Thames High School swimming pool

The photograph (2019) above shows the old Deep Sinker Mine area it is now a car park for Thames High School and the community gymnasium. While the school's swimming pool sits on the brow of the hill above the parking area.

Background on the Deep Sinker Mine:
·        The Deep Sinker was part of the Thames Hauraki Scheme. It was located off Rolleston Street and operated from 1896, to explore the southern part of town.
·        The Deep Sinker claim was 93 acres, along the foot of the hills between Shortland and the Una Hill, and adjoining the Queen of Beauty.
·        Difficulties led to the shaft lying dormant until 1906, when the Vanguard Company took over and made extensions to the crosscut with no success. The mine was flooded in 1906.
·        In 1917 tenders were called for to remove buildings and plant at the old Deep Sinker site.
·        In December 1961, there was subsidence at the northern end of the Thames High School Swimming Pool (in the area of the old Deep Sinker Shaft and workings) – a reminder to the town of the danger of old tunnels and shafts.

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!