Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day Four LOCKDOWN: 29 March 2020.
Take the challenge! Do you know Thames History?

1. Which canoe c1350 from the 'Great Fleet', anchored north of Thames?

2. When did the 'old' Kopu Bridge open?

3. What month / Year was the Influenza Epidemic in Thames / New Zealand.

4. When was Jeanette Fitzsimons MP of the local Electorate?

5. What year was Thames gazetted as a Borough?

6. When did Thames celebrate 150 Years since the goldfield opened?

7. Where is the WWI Peace Memorial located - what road do you drive up?

8. Where is the John William Hall Arboretum located? Who was J W Hall?

9. When was the official opening of the Thames Railway Line?

10. When did the School of Mines, Cochrane Street, close?

11. Where was the first Thames High School building located? What building is on the site today?

12. Where was Eyre Street, Shortland Town?

13. Who was Mayor of Thames 1959 to 1975.

14. Name two All Black Rugby players who have come from Thames?

1.  According to legend it was the Tainui waka. 
2. The bridge also known as the Hauraki Bridge opened 11 May 1928.
3. The majority of cases were in November 1918.
4. Ms Fitzsimons was MP for Coromandel 1999-2002
5. In 1873.
6. The goldfield opened 1 August 1867,  on 1 August 2017 Thames held the 150 commemorations.
7. The monument is on the Waiotahi Spur, you drive up Monument Road.
8. Access via Mount Sea Road, Kororo Crescent or Brunton Crescent. Hall was a Chemist.
9. Official opening 19 December 1898.
10. Closed 3 May 1954, had inaugurated 1885/86 and first lectures 1890.
11. The first Thames High School building was on Baillie Street (1880), now part of Thames Hospital complex. Only part of Baillie Street remains south of Richmond Street.
12. The Southern section of what is now known as Queen Street was called EYRE STREET.
13. Wallace (Wally) Brunton. The last Mayor before the TCDC amalgamation.
14. There have been seven playersJack (J K) McLean, Davie Stewart NZ Native Team 1888-1889, R (Dick) McGregor 1901-1904, H (Circus) Hayward 1908, A R (Mick) Lomas 1925-1926, L S (Lew) Hook 1928-1929, and G W (Red) Delamore 1949.

Well Done if you got to the finish, and even if you took the initiative to just read the answers!! Follow the links for further information.
PS. A few links are playing up, I suspect some maintenance is happening on Paperspast!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Thames (NZ): Looking back to 1970 in Thames

Day Three LOCKDOWN: 28 March 2020.
Take the challenge to remember what you were doing FIFTY YEARS AGO!

Okay, a difficult challenge for those not born before 1970, if so where were your parents living fifty years ago? What jobs did they do? Do you know what their lives were like eg Did they own a Car?

For many, this enforced 'lockdown' has meant we can't socialise and celebrate special events..

On this day, I was attending my sister's wedding at St James Church, Thames. The 'kitchen evening' held at the Osmond home. A good used car cost around $2000 (see advert below).

What else happened in March 1970 - as per reports from The Thames Star (TS) Newspaper:

TS 2 March: The National Party Rooms were being demolished to make for a new building (central Pollen Street).

TS 9 March: The new Coromandel State Forest Park had been opened Saturday 7 March.

TS 12 March: The Captain Cook Memorial was moved from the Kopu Bridge site to outside the Kopu Hall. (Photo right)

TS 16 March: A tramcar from Mr Newton's property at Kopu was taken to the Museum of Technology and Transport (MOTAT) for use in a display.

TS 18 March: Thames Shop-rite Supermarket owned by the Rolfe family, joined forces to become part of the New World Supermarket group. The business had originally started as William Scott's Bakery in 1880, before branching out into a grocery business in 1888.

TS 20 March: Twenty-four nurses and two radiographers graduated at Thames Hospital - this included Registered Nurses, Maternity Nurses and Community Nurses. (Photo below)

LOOKING BACK at January / February 1970

Major news was the production of the 1000th car at Campbell Industries Ltd. The Fishing Fleet reported Good catches. The new playground at Porritt Park was very popular over the summer months.


While the future at present is uncertain, take some time to think back. 
Even better jot down your memories! Who knows it may be the start of an article or book!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thames (NZ): Building family connections at Findagrave

Day Two: LOCKDOWN 27 March 2020.
Take the challenge to explore and add information on Findagrave!

Yes, I do go on and on about this site, but I witness regularly the amazing connections that come from this site. The information is linked to the Ancestry, so when researchers hunt for information they get hints and links where their relatives are interred.

The Thames Findagrave sites are: Shortland, Totara and Tararu Cemeteries.

In the days leading up to lockdown, we had several requests for photographs from descendants of Thamesites interred at Shortland Cemetery. Plus a challenge to check out the status of Thames war graves as part of The NZ Remembrance Army nationwide project.

We came across some long forgotten graves, where it was suspected WWI soldier #14655 Wellington Infantry Rifles  John Miln was interred.

What happened next was amazing, Graeme stepped in to find and clear the plot area. On the same day another request came for the adjacent grave, and soon this too was cleared.

Above: The area surrounding Plots 4142 and 4143. The challenge about to begin!
Below: John Miln's grave cleared, then some more work and John James Lee's plot revealed.


What is today's Challenge?
Do you have a relative interred at one of the Thames Cemeteries? 

Go to the Cemetery (Shortland, Totara and Tararu) and enter the SURNAME you are connected to.

Select the memorial for a relative. 
Do you have some more information? Where they were Born, Deceased, a photo. Are they linked to their Spouse or Parents?

For example, Here is a screenshot for JOHN BARKER's Memorial.

If this memorial wasn't under my management (Yes you need to register to be able to suggest changes), I could Click EDITS or SUGGEST EDITS and add some new information. For now for John I have updated a few things.

The other day I tried to match up some relatives of the PRICE FAMILY the REDDISH FAMILY

The list goes on, so even if they are not "YOUR FAMILY" you can still match known relatives, or I make use of ancestry trees or other family sites to add further "MATCHES".

Okay, if Thamesites aren't your thing to follow up on, Go to the main page of Findagrave and search by Surname/Memorial or Cemetery and find some names to "adopt" and add information to.

Go to it! Make one addition and you are doing your bit to help preserve the memories of those who walked this Goldfield town before US. Plus for another moment in time, they are not forgotten.

Stay Strong, Kia Kaha from The Thames

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thames (NZ): Journal Articles at JSTOR

Day One: LOCKDOWN 26 March 2020.
Take the challenge to read or explore a new source on the internet!
Have You ANY Read Articles at JSTOR?

Thanks to Tom for the alert on articles related to Thames at the JSTOR site.

Due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, an increasing number of articles are free to read / download.

Searching Thames New Zealand, there are hundreds of results, covering a wide range of topics, and of varying relevance.


One of the first articles I looked at was an article that mentioned our astronomer John Grigg: Source Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 11, No. 66 (February 1, 1899), pp. 48-50 (3 pages) Published by: Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Here are some snips of the details of just a handful of interesting topics:



Page link at JSTOR

Page link at JSTOR

ADDING the term mining to the search terms reduces the number of hits:

Page link at JSTOR
With this one you will see that you can read FREE online, 
if you register you can read SIX articles free a month.

You can also limit your searches to the FREE ACCESS articles.

Mabberley, David J. “THE COMING OF THE KAURIS.” Curtis's Botanical Magazine, vol. 19, no. 4, 2002, pp. 252–264. JSTOR, Accessed 26 Mar. 2020.

NATIVE NURSING: Nurse Dawson gets a mention during her time nursing on the Hauraki Plains.
 Bryder, Linda. “‘They Do What You Wish; They like You; You the Good Nurse!’: Colonialism and Native Health Nursing in New Zealand, 1900–40.” Colonial Caring: A History of Colonial and Post-Colonial Nursing, edited by HELEN SWEET and SUE HAWKINS, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2015, pp. 84–103. JSTOR, Accessed 26 Mar. 2020.

See what goodies you can locate, for Thames and other topics - Happy & Safe Reading

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Thames (NZ): Grahamstown shop closures

Reality hit for many today, the once vibrant Grahamstown end of Pollen Street, a literal ghost town, as shops had predominantly closed.

The Junction Hotel aka GBD: Left Sept 2019 (Google maps) and Right 24 March 2020
The iconic hotel closed for business, ready for lockdown.

Left September 2019 (google maps) and Right 24 March 2020. The shops closed and sidewalks and cafes empty.

We pray that the life and spirit of the town returns in the near future.
Keep safe everyone.

1910s gathering Pollen Street North.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Thames (NZ): The start of a new history

On Sunday 23 March 2020, the reality that the impact of Covid-19 would soon change our lives for ever became apparent.

The St James (Thames Union Parish) Church members gathered for the weekly service at 10am. While we updated contact details and parishioners were asked to sit scattered around the beautiful church.

Leaving the church I went to the foreshore, the once busy walkway was deserted - people already wary of contact.

Driving back home past Reverend Lush's grand St George's Church - the service had been cancelled.

Now the reality is hitting, we are soon to enter a month long lockdown - at least to start with, who knows how long, who knows who will still be here. What a strange time in the history of the town and the world.

How would our ancestors have reacted? They certainly were braver than me. My grandparents like many, lived through two long wars, years of rationing, the Great Depression, and yes the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Plus various outbreaks of measles, chickenpox and polio. You were amazing people. I wonder how future generations will look back at us. As many fight for supplies, and shop till they drop, forgetting the needs of others.

Kia Kaha Thamesites, may history record that we cared for each other and that the toll was small.

If there are topics you would like to see on the blog, let me know.
Or if you have something special to share from your family history related to Thames.
Together, lets make it through this unbelievable time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Thames (NZ): A look inside A & G Price 1906

Thanks to the photography of Mr W H Bell, and the Auckland War Memorial Museum Collection, we are able to see what it was like to be working at A & G Price in 1906.

"A &G Price Thames Pattern Shop in Golden Crown Shed"
Written on verso "I'll be writing to Hill sometime within the next month about that favourite topic of his [addressed to] Mrs W. Goldie Pakatoa Is. Auckland"

 "The Firm's Latest Production"
 "Built for N.Z.R. A&G Price Thames"
Written on verso "Wishing you many happy returns of the day if I do not write again before then. F.H.B. [addressed to] Mrs W. Goldie Pakatoa Is. Auckland"

 "A &G Price Thames Erecting Shop"
Written on verso "Give my love to the family. I will send some more cards next week [addressed to] Mrs W. Goldie Pakatoa Is. Auckland"

"A &G Price Thames Machine Shop"
Written on verso "I am sending you another batch of card of my own manufacturer [addressed to] Mrs W. Goldie Pakatoa Is. Auckland"

"A &G Price Thames Cnr of Fitting Shop"
Written on verso "A corner of the fitting shop showing an oil engine in course of constructions [addressed to] Mrs W. Goldie Pakatoa Is. Auckland"

Below: a close-up from the postcard above.

Who was Mr BELL?
In the source record, the photographers name is given as F E BELL, BUT on the reverse side of the postcards it is noted as an addendum that the photographer is Mr F H Bell, and the cards are addressed to his sister Mrs W Goldie.

Mrs William Thomas Goldie, was  Rosalinda Mary Bell, the sister of FRANK HAMILTON BELL (1880-1956).

In the 1905 electoral roll, Mr Bell was a draftsman of Thames. By 1938, occupation is given as engineer. In 1954, Mr Bell is living at 181 Queen Street, Thames. He was married to Daisy May Carter.

Frank Hamilton Bell, the photographer who took the above photos worked at A & G Price and lived in the Owen / Queen Street area. Bell is interred at Totara Cemetery, Thames.

Further information on Mr Bell is available in the Thames Star at Paperspast:
Involved in Steam Bus development 1931.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Thames (NZ): Bookselling on the Thames Goldfield

What a delight to find a 'new' book that has a section on Thames Booksellers.

The book is Turning the Pages: The Story of Bookselling in New Zealand by Anna Rogers and Max Rogers. Published in 1993 by Reed Books - hardcover, 300 pages. (cover right)

The Thames section is on pages 134-35.

The heading is COROMANDEL! The introduction is: "The Coromandel town we know as Thames was originally two settlements called Grahamstown and Shortland." There are some discrepancies, such as stating the amalgamation of towns took place in 1870, please note that it was in fact 1873.

Early Booksellers named in the book are:
Edward Wayte , J Jefferson (Pollen St); J F Carter, T Watters (Brown St).

The highlighted booksellers' in the book are:
Robert BURRA, John NODDER, William COAD, William CARSON, Stan BROWN, Pat MRAVICICH Arnold & Phil BROKENSHIRE.

ROBERT BURRA, came to New Zealand in 1863, and Thames in 1869. Robert ran a bookshop from 1874 to the 1890s in Brown Street, Grahamstown. [The business then moved to Pollen Street opposite the Salvation Army Barracks.] While it was a bookshop, these early shops were typically much more than the seller of books. For instance the shop sold stationery, fancy goods and music items. [Burra drowned at Devonport June 1910.]

JOHN NODDER, was from England and several years after his arrival settled in Thames in 1869. Nodder's bookshop opened in 1872 and continued until his retirement November 1913.

WILLIAM COAD, started in 1904.. (See W C Gribble below). The business was later run and named  Mrs Coad's; the business was sold to F A Springhall in 1929.
CARSON'S BOOKSHOP, situated north of the Pollen & Mary Street intersect the business was started in 1906 by Mr William Carson. The shop was later run by Carson's children Ross and Beryl. In 1975, Stan Brown bought the business and later it was sold to Pat and Vince Mravicich. The shop moved to the corner site previously occupied by Court's. The business still operates today.

BROKENSHIRE'S BOOKSHOP.  The business was started by Arnold Brokenshire at the north end of town, in a shop by Battson's plumbing premises. The business moved south to the central part of Pollen Street in the late 1930s, and new premises were built in the 1960s. The business was later run by Arnold's son Phil Brokenshire. The premises remain as a bookshop in 2020.

Left: The shop at 554 Pollen Street, Thames. Right: Inside the shop 1941.

OTHER BOOKSELLERS Pre 1930 - Not mentioned in the above book:
  • ARDERN, Mrs: Pollen Street, was Mrs Jefferson's, then sold to Gribble. Mrs Ardern had the shop around 1885-86.
  • DUNNAGE's VARIETY DEPOT: Pollen Street, Established 1913 and continued through to 1925, when W H Richardson took over the business. While a seller of books, Dunnage appears to have specialised in Stationery plus other variety items.
  • GRIBBLE, W C: Near the Karaka Bridge Pollen Street, was Mrs Ardern's old shop, operated from 1886 to around 1904 when it was taken over by Mr Coad. It was at that stage located at corner of Pollen and Sealey Streets.

Lots of goodies apart from books at W C Gribble's of Pollen Street, Thames.
THAMES STAR,  6 FEBRUARY 1896 at Paperspast
  • MCLIVER, C: Brown Street, a bookseller and tobacconist 1879 to 1886 when he went bankrupt. When the Thames Orphanage and Training School opened in 1879, Mr McLiver supplied maps and schoolbooks for the school.
  • OSBORNE, J Miss: Pollen Street, was previously the Manager for Mrs Jefferson before she started her own business in 1885.
THAMES STAR,  29 APRIL 1885 at PapersPast
  • WEEKS, Mr: Brown Street, open for business around 1875-76.
  • WOOD, H J: Brown Street, was open c1868 to around 1870. Typical of many business owners who came to the goldfield to make their fortune, while the miners hunted for gold! Many lasted but a few years before moving on.

In conclusion, the above names are just a handful of the booksellers of early Thames. As can be seen, many businesses had a wide range of products, if we were to add Stationers, the list would explode!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Thames (NZ): 1877 Letter to England

 An interesting item on Trademe, an 1877 postal envelope stamped in Thames in 1877. Destined for Miss C H Pepper of 7 White Rock, Hastings, England. Travelling via San Francisco!

If only the sender had put their name on the back!!! But alas, they have not, there is however a Hastings postmark dated 12 SP 77.

Originally I planned to look at mail collections and how a letter got from Thames to England...but the genealogy detective in me got the better of the day, so I have set about to find out who COULD have been the sender of the letter/ Pure speculation, but read on.

Who was the letter addressed to?
Miss Catherine Harriet Pepper, lived at 7 White Rock Place, Hastings with her sister Anne. They ran a boardinghouse. Their parents were Moses and Mary Pepper. Both were unmarried - both were born in Romsey, Hampshire.

Miss Pepper was born 28 February 1821 and died 16 March 1886, her estate of over 864 Pounds was left to her sister Anne.

Who wrote the letter?
According to family trees on, the sisters' had several siblings including a brother named John who was born at Romsey in 1824.

In Tapu on the Thames Coast around the time the letter was written there were several Pepper's including John and William, plus a solicitor in Thames.

My hunch for the best candidate presents in the death notice of Mr John Pepper in 1894, leaving me to believe that he may well have been the writer of the letter. The age and place of birth fits with the fact that he was probably Catherine and Anne's brother! 

Thames Star 25 October 1894 at Paperspast
Mr John Pepper was a well respected member of the Tapu community and involved in the Church and Sunday School. Pepper was also involved with mining and had a Battery at Tapu.

Speculation on my part has it that the letter to Miss C H of Hastings in 1877, was written by her brother John Pepper of  Tapu, Thames Coast.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Thames (NZ): John Grigg's grave restored

One of the most famous men to have lived in Thames, John Grigg - from music shop owner, music teacher and composer, Baptist Church member to astronomer extraordinaire.

Mr Grigg's grave for many years has shown the wear and tear that comes from the instability of ground at Shortland Cemetery Thames, along with natural deterioration.

This is how the grave looked for decades,lying on the western slope of Shortland Cemetery, Danby Street, Thames. (Plot 3987)


Now, look at the grave and headstone of Mr John Grigg (1838-1920)  of Thames. Sincere thanks to whoever was responsible, now one of Thames' greatest once again has an honourable resting place.

The headstone of John Grigg, FRAS Plot 3987, Shortland Cemetery, Thames (NZ).