Monday 9 July 2018

23 July to 29 July, 1868

The Golden Valley of the Thames.
The Waiotahi Valley. Water race on the left running down from the dammed stream, and a tramway up to the middle of the valley. Messenger Hill is at the extreme top left.
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 536-Album-285-8-1' 

Thursday, 23 July
The steamer the Duke of Edinburgh leaves the Kauaeranga creek with 60 passengers for Auckland.

The first crushing at the Goldfinder battery continues with unabated success, both in the amount of yield and in the working of the machine.  The battery performs its work as smoothly as if in use for some time past.  The retorting is busily proceeded with by Mr Muir, of the Union Bank.  Three ingots of smelted gold ready for export containing 1,800 ozs have already been turned out.

Du Moulin and Johnson’s machine on the Break O Day claim, Waiotahi Creek,  is now at work and is found to be a most compact and successful battery possessing several advantages over the other machines in use on the Thames goldfield.  Considerable delay occurred in building the battery due to  the excavation necessary for the site, felling trees and the slow process of getting machinery on the spot owing to the almost impassable state of the roads along the Waiotahi.  These difficulties have been overcome by sheer determination and at a great outlay of capital and labour.  All of the timber for the building has been sawn on the spot because of the expense of carriage along the roads during the present season and this has considerably slowed the progress of the work.  The sawyers are now cutting timber for the retorting house.  

In the Success, a claim on the Shellback (Tararu),  which was only pegged off about ten days ago, a first rate reef is found. This is another proof that the value of the ground on and about the Shellback has been very greatly underrated.

Whangarei laments the attractions of the “Golden Valley of the Thames” which has caused many to leave for that paradise of diggers.  “We have been in hopes for some time to be able to entice them back again to the diggings of our own.”

The paddle steamer Bruce, which has done good service on the West Coast, is receiving considerable repairs and alterations, prior to leaving for Auckland.  On arrival there the Bruce will run between Auckland and the Thames.  The Bruce is a very fast boat and of extremely light draught of water.

The Duke of Edinburgh, after a good passage of 5 ½ hours from Shortland against a strong NE gale and heavy sea, arrives at Auckland.  Despite the wind the steamer went through the water capitally – increasing her speed with almost every mile.  Her engines worked much better than when on her trial trip.   Captain McDougall states that she behaved remarkably well and proved herself a good sea boat against the heavy seas. The Duke of Edinburgh brings the news that up to last evening the yield of gold from the Shotover claim reached the amazing quantity of nearly 5,000 ozs.  If the yield continues to be as rich as that from the quartz crushed since the starting of the Goldfinder, Mr Hunt will most assuredly win the bet he has made that the yield will be 12,000 oz.

The Lady Bird arrives in the Manukau from Otago with a large number of miners for the Thames. The captain, Edwin Lusher, is presented with a testimonial. “We, the undersigned passengers on the voyage by your vessel to the Thames goldfields from Otago, cannot part with you without expressing our gratitude for your kindness and gentlemanly behaviour to us on the voyage, and request you to convey to your officers our thanks for their kindness, as also to the NZSN Co for the comfort provided to both saloon and steerage.  In conclusion, we hope, when we again travel, we may be under such an able commander as yourself and in parting we wish you every success, health and happiness.” Signed by 48 saloon and steerage passengers.

At the Queen Street wharf vessels from foreign ports are loading or discharging cargo from London, Valparaiso, Sydney, New Caledonia, San Francisco and Rarotonga.  In addition there are four or five of the Thames steamers which add to the  activity and business at the lower end of the wharf.  In the stream are vessels from London, France, Lyttleton and the East Coast.  The upper end of the wharf and the Custom house and timber wharves are completely lined with coasting vessels, there being between 20 and 40 craft.  The Queen Street wharf and harbour have not presented the same appearance of prosperity for many months past.

DSC 23 July, 1868

NZH 23 July, 1868

Friday, 24 July
The Tauranga resumes her trading to the Thames today having had a thorough overhaul. In addition to the fleet of steamers constantly plying between Auckland and Shortland seldom a day now passes without witnessing the departure of two or three sailing vessels with full cargoes.

Stag for Shortland with 9,000 ft timber

The Paisley Rose claim strikes gold of a very rich appearance today.  The leaders are generally little and good in this vicinity.  The Paisley Rose adjoins the Blooming Rose and Happy Go Lucky. The Kentucky claim, Moanataiari Creek, also strike gold today in a leader extending nearly three feet wide.

The Daily Southern Cross comments on the “reality of the Thames diggings – there are many, especially in the southern provinces, who have been very sceptical in relation to the genuineness of the Thames goldfields.  They have looked upon them with a jaundiced eye, and a very jealous frame of mind. Such are the assertions of those who delight in Auckland’s late troubles, and who are alarmed at the signs of the good time coming, and now, though they have chuckled and laughed, with an almost demonical earnestness, though they would almost make themselves believe that Auckland can never rise like a phoenix from the flames, they are invited calmly and very dispassionately to look at the following facts. The trade to the Thames is of such a magnitude that it has taken to itself almost the whole of the vessels which have hitherto been engaged in the coasting trade to the delight and profit of the owners . . . those who deal in firewood are at their wits end to know how to supply the wants of Auckland, and have raised the price about 40 per cent . . . the ship building trades were never so busy, and craft of all dimensions were never in such demand as at present, while the value of vessels is rapidly advancing.”

The Lady Bowen leaves on her trial trip, having on board a large number of Auckland gentlemen. She casts off from the steamboat jetty on Queen Street wharf and steams up the river as far as Stokes Point, after which she slews round and heads down the harbour under full steam.  The tide is ebbing and the wind is light. Her engines run a little stiff.  When about opposite Niccol's patent slip a temporary block occurrs in her engines and she is detained for 12 ½ minutes until her machinery is adjusted when she is again put on full steam and continues without mishap. Refreshments are on the saloon tables during the trip. About 4pm the cloth is removed and toasts are made to the Queen and Royal Family, the Governor and Lady Bowen and the builders and owners of the Lady BowenAfter speeches and a round of “He’s a jolly good fellow” the boat approaches the wharf and the guests go on deck and are shortly afterwards landed, having spent an agreeable afternoon together.  The smart little boat returned to Queen Street wharf in remarkably good style.

The Lady Bowen was built by Mr Niccol on the North Shore.   She is coppered and copper fastened and built of New Zealand timber.  The Lady Bowen is commanded by Captain Cunningham, formerly of the schooner Gazelle and the brig Flying Cloud.  She possesses a very handsome saloon, paneled and grained, with comfortable cushion seats and tables and mirrors.  The forward cabin is spacious and well ventilated.  There is a well fitted bar and on either side are convenient water closets.  She will carry about five tons of coal in her bunkers which is outside the amount that the furnaces will consume in 24 hours.

The first crushing of the Golden Crown claim at the Thames is completed tonight at Goodall’s battery.

DSC 24 July, 1868

Astonishing the civilised world.

Saturday, 25 July
The Lady Bowen begins her trade to and from the Thames today.

The first crushing of retorted gold of the Golden Crown claim is taken to the Bank of Australasia to be smelted.

The Happy-Go-Lucky’s two stamper battery and water wheel are set in motion for the first time and work very satisfactorily.

The Thames Advertiser correspondent while doing his rounds,  observes the Marquis of Waterford claim, six men, in the Waiotahi, next to El Dorado.  He cannot speak in any terms of praise of the way in which this claim is worked; in fact there is an utter want of mining experience.

A claim of six men’s ground situated in Wiseman’s gully, Punga Flat, and called the Domain View, crushes a sample of 50 lb of quartz taken off the heap at Bull’s machine this week, the yield is 3 dwt.  The claim is near the El Dorado and Lundon’s ground.

At Tapu nothing has been done in the way of the numerous machine sites which have been pegged off during the past two months.  Most of the available sites have been selected, but it is aggravating that the parties taking them up still have the right to them after a month has elapsed during which time objections may be sent to the Warden.  Such sites should be considered as abandoned and the deposit forfeited so as to prevent the country being blocked up by persons who do not intend to erect machinery at once to the detriment and inconvenience of those who would do so.  A great deal of blasting powder is being used in the claims north and south of Tapu Creek, some of the shots are of great power and shake the ground for a considerable distance.  Business is very brisk and a new public house is to be opened tonight.  This will make the sixth at Tapu. Numbers of miners are getting their wives and families down from Auckland and female faces are to be seen now on nearly all parts of the goldfield.  

At the Shotover battery the four head of stampers continue their work with unparalleled success since steam was got up last Monday. 

It is mis-reported that William Hunt, of the Shotover, intends to establish a line of express, on the American principle, for the conveyance and delivery of mail and parcels of all descriptions between the Thames and Auckland, where there will be kept messengers and means to facilitate the discharge of business.  Branch offices of Mr Hunt’s 'steamboat and city express line' will be established at every place on the goldfield, and a round trip made daily, which will be a great convenience to parties doing business.  The proprietor is actually a Mr Robert Hunt and his parcel's delivery company guarantee's to deliver all mail entrusted to his charge with safety and dispatch.  This will be a great improvement on the old system of putting parcels on board the steamers and not knowing whether they reach their proper destination or not.

A few hundred weight of stuff from the Golden Crown at Puriri  is crushed at Bull’s machine and gives a prospect of 14 oz to the ton. 

John Robertson writes to the Daily Southern Cross  of the new rush to Puriri – “I have just returned from Puriri, having gone up there a few days ago.  When I went there I found about 300 diggers on the ground, and nearly the same number I met on my way coming back, making their way to Puriri.  There are six or seven claims on good gold. The gold is in the quartz reefs and leaders . . . but in the new Prospectors claim they struck a rich mullocky leader which they sluiced and the tailings they put to one side, and intend to crush them as soon as a machine is on the ground.  The original prospectors have a reef in their ground from four to five ft thick . . .  they also have a good looking leader, which I think will surpass the reef in richness . . .  The claim next to them, on the east side, held by Messrs Beetham and Walker is also a good claim, but, owing to some mismanagement, is not at present worked . . . There are a few more claims on gold . . . the ground on each side of both Prospectors is marked out to a considerable distance.”

A waiter at one of the Thames hotels finds a cheque for £5 which has been dropped in one of the passages of the house.  The cheque is handed to a gentleman at the hotel, for the owner, but once claimed the waiter is not even rewarded with  any thanks.

Stag for Shortland with 9,000 ft timber etc

  Rosina for Shortland with 6,000 bricks

  Diamond for the Thames with 3 horses and 10 tons cargo

  Sumter for Shortland with stores

 Rangatira for Tapu Creek with stores

Beetham, Walker and Co’s Shortland report notes that business has not been as brisk as some previous weeks but prices are firmly maintained, and many claims little known are taking position in the front ranks.  A considerable number of men have gone up to Puriri during the week.  It has been no precipitous rush, but rather the deliberate movement at the first favourable weather of a number of cautious and steady men.  No great results have been shown, and no amazingly rich ground has at present been opened, but there is reason to believe a large extent of country to be rich there.

The Westport Star publishes an extract from a letter about the Thames goldfield from a miner in Auckland to his mate “I would not advise you to come here, anyhow, if you can struggle on unless you have a mind to go prospecting, which is the only show.  For goodness sake pay no attention to the glowing anticipations shadowed forth in the Auckland papers as the people here, having had dull times and trade stagnating, are anxious for a rush at any price.  Even now, the returned miners from Rangiriri are talking of getting up a demonstration condemnatory of those who must have fabricated the report of the goldfield . . .  There is, in my opinion, a show at Shortland for one or two smart coast (West Coast) publicans, that is, if  a rush should set in . . . I think prospecting is the best game, if a man chances a period of six or 12 months.  As for store keeping, butchering and baking things are so ridiculously cheap, the profits would be next to nil.  Indeed business is like carpentry – a dead letter . . .  This will give you an idea of the position that skilled artisans are supposed to occupy in the social structure of this very select community.

William Hunt, of the Shotover,  arrives in Auckland and lodges 5,270 ozs of gold in the Union Bank  the result of one week's crushing.  Besides this there still remains over 2,000 ozs which have been retorted but require to be smelted so the total yield of the Shotover claim from one week's crushing is between 7,000 and 8,000 ozs.   Mr Hunt may now safely congratulate himself on having won his bet of £100 that the yield of gold from the claim would exceed 10,000 ozs within one month of commencing crushing.  When the requirements of the Thames goldfield  in the way of machinery have been adequately supplied, and the extensive network of known auriferous quartz veins developed – the returns of this goldfield looks set to astonish the civilised world.

The Thames’ Golden Crown claim completes smelting.  There is an enormous yield of gold. Two large ingots and some odd pieces are obtained, making a total weight of 877 oz. 

At Butt’s American Theatre the performance tonight proves very attractive judging from the crowded state of the house.  ‘Black eyed Susan’ and ‘The Irish Tutor’ are acted out and keep the house in a continual state of merriment.  Mr and Mrs Hall carry off their parts remarkably well as do the other performers.

Black Eyed Susan performance

Around Midnight
The cutter Tay leaves Shortland with six passengers.  About an hour after starting out a heavy gale of wind and rain springs up.  The night is pitch dark.  At quarter to 2 the mainsail is lowered to half mast and the boom nearly amidships, for fear she should give.  A few minutes later, with land close, she grates on boulders and at 2am the vessel goes ashore at half tide. The Tay sends out distress signals for nearly an hour until the sail halyards give way.  Passengers on the Midge, passing, see the signals.  At low water Captain Marks lays both anchors out but they won't hold.  He places about two tons of stone on each anchor, but this does not prevent the anchors coming home at flood tide and the Tay goes further up the beach.  The Tay beaches at a place called Tuwhitu. The captain and passengers are found by Maori who provide them with potatoes and shelter.

DSC 25 July, 1868

Sunday, 26 July
Early this morning the Tickler is engaged in bringing a cargo of firewood to Shortland from Taupo (Kawakawa Bay).  She experiences very heavy weather crossing the Thames.   As she arrives off Tararu Point a fierce squall strikes the vessel, instantly capsizing her and plunging her crew and passengers into the water.  Captain Stuart, of the Midge, which is lying at anchor off the point, immediately despatches two boats to the scene of the catastrophe, and two other boats from cutters lying at anchor also go to the assistance of the drowning people.  John Tiller, master of one of the cutters, is one of the first on the scene followed by the Midge’s boats.  The crew of three and a passenger named Marks are all saved, the latter gentleman experiencing an almost miraculous escape, having just arrived on deck from below when the vessel capsized.  Marks is picked up almost insensible. After the crew have been rescued, the firewood from the vessel floats out and she is gradually righted, but her hold being full of water, her gunwales are level with the waves.  The cutter then drifts towards the land but is subsequently anchored, Captain Stuart having bent a kedge for that purpose.  This is the second time this boat has come to grief, having been beached during a previous gale and severely damaged. 

A great quantity of rain falls today and the creeks rise rapidly.  The Karaka creek cuts a new channel through the beach.  The shipping in harbour at Shortland suffers from the gale, several vessels dragging their anchors.  The Shotover battery takes advantage of the rainfall to work their 12 head of stampers.

At Wellington Mr Swan has brought down with him some splendid specimens from the Thames.   They almost make the mouth water.  Specimens of various degrees of richness are being exhibited in the shop windows.  Mr Swan is said to be sending up to Shortland for a large chest of more specimens.  These are looked anxiously for.

Small footprints.

Monday, 27 July
At Shortland’s Resident Magistrates court an action is brought to recover the sum of 1s for damages done to the lock of a house.  The case is dismissed.  A boy, in the employ of Mr Orme, builder, pleads guilty to a charge of furiously riding on the footpath in Pollen Street.  He is fined 10s and costs, in consideration of the boy’s youth and it being his first offence.  James C Boyd is charged with being drunk and disorderly but does not appear.

This morning the Union Bank of Australia ships per the Tauranga on account of the Shotover party 5,207 ozs 12 dwts 12 grains of melted gold, the result of the first four days of work.  The gold is made up into 15 ingots. Besides that, the bank has 1,000 ozs from other claims for shipment this week.  The Bank of Australasia also received 877 ozs from the Golden Crown claim yesterday making the total product of the week above 10,000 ozs.
The great complaint about the Thames goldfield has been the insignificance of its gold exports.  The amount passed through customs at the Thames is very small in comparison with the extent and richness of the field and even allowing for the quantity taken up to Auckland in private hands, of which no record is kept, the figures quoted do not represent the actual amount produced on the field.  There are constantly amounts produced, and in some cases melted on the claim, of which the public hear nothing, and the banks are usually very solicitous that the actual amount passed through their hands should be kept secret.  There is a feeling of rivalry as to the amount of business transacted by each branch established to which the withholding of actual gold purchases is attributed.  The heavy rate of duty may have something to do with keeping back the actual returns.  During the week three nameless claims have deposited gold at the banks and refused to disclose the locality of their ground or the nature of their yield.

At her residence, Hauraki Cottage, Willoughby Street, Thames
 Mrs Claude F Corlett, of a daughter.

The first installment of the Tapu Creek Tramway and Crushing Co’s machinery is ready to start today and will, until the water power arrangements are completed, be driven by a portable 14 hp engine.  The batteries are two of five stamps each and a third will be added on its arrival from Sydney.

A new rush between the Shellback Creek and Madman’s Gully has been fortunate for the lucky finders and now they christen the claim.  They have sent to the Flat for half a dozen of Martell’s best, and bread and cheese is there by the square yard.  The prospectors name their claim the Isabella, which is drunk with all the honours of a true Briton, afterwards the next claim on the same line of reef is christened Annabella.  First class specimens are admired  in which the gold is as thick in the stone as if it had been peppered.

The Enterprise leaves the Auckland wharf this afternoon for the Thames literally crowded with diggers.  The Tauranga leaves shortly afterward, also carrying a large complement of passengers.  The Halcyon and Duke of Edinburgh were both to have started for the Thames today, but not being able to secure a supply of coal – which is not to be had in Auckland either for love or money – were unavoidably detained in harbour.  It seems remarkable that in such a place as Auckland a sufficient supply of fuel cannot be obtained to enable the Thames boats to keep working.

The Lady Bowen has been chartered to leave Shortland for Manaia today and will consequently not return to Auckland before next Thursday.

At Tuwhitu the stranded passengers and captain of the Tay leave for Auckland in Mr Baker’s open boat.

Tuesday, 28 July
The Tay’s exhausted passengers and crew arrive in Auckland in an open boat after nearly 12 hours and a heavy pull with intermittent use of sails.

The North Otago Times observes that the accounts from the Thames goldfield "give almost fabulous news of the extraordinary richness of the finds, and if half that we read be reliable, we should say that the hundreds of diggers now rushing to Queensland would do better by turning their steps Aucklandwards.  In going to Queensland they will probably 'go farther and fare worse.'"

Rain sets in at the Thames today.

The cutter Tickler, which capsized on Sunday morning, is lying with her masthead barely out of the water as the Enterprise leaves the Thames today.  She remains a dangerous impediment in the passage of steamers, especially at night – no attempt has been made to warn captains of steamers of the danger by placing a light on the mast.

At the Police Court, Auckland, Thomas Hall is charged with having, on 27 July, taken from the Auckland Hotel,  one pair of elastic sided boots, a box of collars and a cap, value £1.  The prisoner pleads guilty and says he is very sorry.  He came to New Zealand in the Strathallen from London to Wanganui and was now a digger at Shortland.  He is sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour.

A theatre is planned for Tookey’s Flat and tenders are already issued for building a new one at the back of Butt’s Hotel.

A reef is discovered near Tararu Point and several claims are pegged out.  The Pioneer, the name of the first claim taken up there, strikes gold.

The Aquila sails today for Tairua to load with timber for the Thames.

NZH  28 July, 1868

The schooner Aspasia arrives at the Thames with a cargo of sawn timber from Whangapoua.

A meeting is held at Mulligan’s Governor Bowen Hotel, Tookey’s Flat, for those interested in getting up races to celebrate the first anniversary of the Thames diggings.  There are not many present.  Robert Graham is voted chairman and says that he is very sorry to see so few present, the meeting has been advertised twice in the Thames Advertiser and he fully expected to see a larger attendance.  A committee is to be appointed to draw up a programme of the races and another meeting is to be held in the same place at 4pm tomorrow for the purpose of electing stewards and office bearers.  Subscription lists are to be prepared and distributed to various parts of the diggings.  It is proposed to hold the races on Tararu Flat  - this will be a capital spot as the ground is in fair condition and the hills at the back will afford spectators a fine view of the sports. The Daily Southern Cross correspondent writes “It is to be hoped that people here will bestir themselves to do their best to make these races a success.  As this is the first anniversary of the diggings, it should be in every respect worthy of the place and everybody should feel more or less interested as a result.”  

Around noon Isabella Turner, living in a tent at the Digger’s Camp, Shortland, with her husband William and their son, William junior, aged two years nine months, gives the child a piece of bread which he has asked for.  He then toddles off in the direction of the bush, towards the hill.  She calls him back and he turns round.  She watches him coming home and once he has safely crossed the creek she thinks he is all right and will be back soon. Quarter of an hour after calling him he is not back and she goes out to look for him but he has vanished. Charles Hodson, miner at the Digger’s Camp, lives about 50 yards from Mrs Turner’s tent. He had seen William pass the opening of his tent and asked him where he was going. Charles tells Isabella he has just seen William junior and he can't be far away. A search is got up.

The schooner Huntress discharges her cargo of much needed coal at the Thames and is then towed out by the Enterprise.  She proceeds to the Bay of Islands to reload.

Charles Hodson has been to town and has returned to discover the child Turner has not been found.   He joins the search. Small footprints are seen within two feet of the edge of a waterhole which is about 30 yards from the Turner’s tent.  Charles gets a long pole and makes a grapnel with some spikes and a line and drags the hole. The hole is about 33 or 34 feet deep and full of water.  The men who try the hole fancy they can feel something but the grapnel is not strong enough. The search continues all through the night with only two hours rest being taken.

DSC 28 July, 1868

Wednesday, 29 July
The search for little William Turner continues.  A proper grapnel is procured. William Ashby, miner, who lives on the Star of Auckland claim in Madman’s Gully, has called round at Mrs Turner's and hears she has lost her boy. He has an impression that the boy has fallen in the open shaft and decides to drag it.  He gets a rope and a hook and brings up the child’s body about 12 noon.   He sends for the father, who is out searching, and carries the body to the tent of his parents, then goes with the father to the police station.

A Thames goldfields anniversary meeting is held at the Governor Bowen hotel.  Robert Graham is again voted to the chair.  In a very pithy and appropriate speech he explains the origins of horse racing and his belief that the Thames' first anniversary will prove eminently successful.  He alludes to his connections with the racing movement in Auckland for the previous 20 years and is delighted to see so much interest now displayed in the anniversary preparations.  He is confident they will be able to gather ample funds.  The business of electing stewards and office bearers is proceeded with. A well arranged programme is drawn up, containing five events for each day.  Subscription lists are handed to the newly elected stewards. It is hoped the public will contribute towards celebrating in the good old English style, the first anniversary of the goldfield.  All future management now rests with the stewards.

The Presbyterians of the Thames meet in the church at Shortland this evening to elect a preacher. The Reverend J A Taylor of Hamilton presides.  The Reverend Messrs Hill and Bruce, and the Reverend Dr Wallis are proposed.  Scotsman Reverend Mr James Hill is duly chosen. Although suffering from ill health, Reverend Hill accepts the call.  From Mr Hill’s ability as a preacher and general popularity there can be no doubt there will soon be a flourishing congregation of Presbyterians at the Thames.

Reverend James Hill.
NZ Electronic Text Collection

A benefit is given at Shortland's American Theatre this evening in aid of the funds for a hospital at the Thames.  The house is crowded to excess.  'Othello' was to have been performed but owing to the difficulty experienced in procuring suitable scenery another programme is substituted which proves a very attractive one.   The first piece is the musical comediatta ‘The Waterman’ followed by a piece called ‘Snapping Turtles’.  Mr and Mrs Hall act with their usual ability and the other characters are carried off most effectually.  The result of the benefit is highly gratifying; the sum collected amounting to between £40 and £50, which will be handed over to the hospital trustees.

DSC 29 July, 1868


Papers Past 

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018
Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.

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