Thursday, 21 November 2013


I have had requests for my Hawkeye column - quaint and quirky snippets dug up from old local newspapers -  so each Friday they will now be added to this blog.

Brawling barmaids in a Thames hotel “allowed their angry passions to overcome their discretion” resulting in one of them seizing a tumbler and hurling it at the other who promptly ducked out of the way. Observed by someone wearing beer goggles, these “nymphs” weren’t dispensing their usual “nectar and pleasant smiles” and the consequences he felt could have been most serious.

Turbulence in Thames continued at Scrip Corner.  Mr Charles Rowley, known as the ‘great goldfields agitator’, was holding forth so vocally and vehemently he attracted a large crowd and created a disturbance in a public thoroughfare.  He was evidently “labouring under some strong excitement” of the alcoholic kind and the police sergeant, with some difficulty, persuaded him to accompany him to the police station where free accommodation was provided.

Sad salmon were liberated at Omahu into the Waihou River.  They had been transported on the steamer ‘Ruby’, but despite the fact that the greatest care had been taken, some of the fish appeared sea sick.   The experiment, though, was thought likely to be a complete success.

Although things were looking dismal in the mining world locally, there were visible signs of progress through the district.  Near Paeroa several settlers had fenced and grassed their sections.  The green fields and “verdure of the peach trees” presented a cheering appearance which would shortly make the area “assume the aspect of a beautiful country village" prophesised the Thames Advertiser.  Towards Waitawheta, the Waitekauri Valley and on to Waihi the agricultural settlers were also energetically fencing and cultivating.  Several of them possessed good fat cattle and young stock and next year “the juicy flanks of Ohinemuri beef should gladden the hearts of the Thames epicures."  It was a great pity Waihi could not make better use of the present fern plains and raupo swamps and turn them into excellent sheep raising country.  The government should be induced to extend the area entitled to be taken up under leasing regulations – up to 500 or 1000 acres, not the miserable 50 acres allowed by law which was far too small for sheep farmers.

The timber trade at Tairua was as brisk was ever.  The river sawmill was busily engaged on Kahikatea and one or more vessels were nearly always on the berth loading.  Auckland’s Union Sash and Door Company were spending a large sum enlarging the plants and making extensive alterations.  Nearly 7,000 logs were in the creeks awaiting a fresh to bring them to the mill and all hands were busy erecting new booms.  A considerable kauri gum trade was also being done from the port; several old Kauaeranga gum diggers had migrated to Tairua and seemed well satisfied with their prospects.  The glory of the Tairua goldfield though was over.  The whole field wore a very woe begone aspect and seemed deserted apart from the Alma company’s battery which was working 10 to 12 hour shifts.

A little boy named Frank Godlington was mysteriously placed on board the steamer Rotomahana at Auckland bound for Thames.  His mother could not be found and police inquiries discovered Frank and his mother had been residing with a Mrs Byres in Lorne Street, Auckland.  Mrs Godlington departed to Thames leaving her son behind her.  Some days later Mrs Byres took sick and, feeling unable to attend to Frank, “resolved to forward him to his mother.”  She wrote to Mrs Godlington and asked her to meet little Frank on arrival.  He was subsequently dispatched on the Rotomahana and sailed away to Thames. Police began a diligent search for his mother.  “Little Frank the Rotomahana waif”,  as the Advertiser described him, after a week’s suspense, was restored to his lost parent.  Mrs Goldington was actually Mrs Proctor and was from Southland.  She and he husband had proceeded to Ohinemuri via Thames– her husband in search of work.  It was only on her return that she heard of her little sons adventures.  She had left him with Mrs Byres and had no idea he would be sent on.  She had paid Mrs Byres to look after the little fellow and wrote to her about it but received no answer to the three letters forwarded.

REWARD: LOST, on Saturday evening last, on the Goods Wharf, a small flax kit containing instruments and tools used in the construction and erection of Organs.  Any person leaving the same with Mr F A Pulleine will be liberally rewarded.

© Meghan Hawkes and Dead Cert, 2013


Anonymous said...

Dead Cert 1877; Thursday, 21 November 2013: "Turbulance in Thames continued"....Charles Rowley drunk on Scrips Corner.....he is my Gt Gt GF! haha He seems an interesting fellow and was a man of his times. Unfortunately he drowned after falling off Queen Street wharf in Akld at night on 14 June 1877. He was in the city on Thames mining business and yes he had been drinking. He left a pregnant widow and several chn in very straightened circumstances.

Meghan Hawkes said...

Hi there - thanks for your comment. Your Gt Gt GF sounds a character alright! A shame how things turned out though, especially for his widow and children, but obviously the family line has continued and lived to tell the tale. Nice to hear from you.

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