Friday, 30 January 2015

Waihi Gold Mining Company Limited - " Tis Gold A Plenty"

A Heritage Icon -Pumphouse Waihi - Photo CRB 2010
The last two months have been one of travel backwards and forwards to Waihi and beyond - time spent with family and friends. Driving past the Pumphouse at Waihi has been a constant reminder as past photos and information  is sorted over the holiday break. Recording family history has threaded the story once more of the early days of the one of the giant mining companies of all - Waihi Gold Mining Company.
The remains of the Pumphouse seen today and the concrete relics of Victoria Battery at Waikino are reminders of that early era 1887 to 1905. A period  when the Directors and heads of a Mining Company dared to dream, plan and implement those plans into something that became one of the biggest Industrial Plants in Australasia. 

Concrete Relics Victoria Battery Waikino - Photo CRB 2010
Much has been written about the Waihi Strike in 1912, the lives of those working in the mine, Thomas Russell as Chairman of Directors of the Waihi Goldmining Company. However for some of the others also involved, their names and stories are scattered and some almost forgotten.
Exploration, Acquisition, Flotation and Company Beginnings:
Back in 1887 the Waikato times reported a visit to Waihi Mines by those connected with the Union Mine Waihi - including Hon Thomas Russell,  Messrs J. B. Russell, Henry Russell, Thomas Morrin, and J. W. Walker.
Thomas Russell In The New Zealand Insurance Company Limited. Bold Century. Auckland:
The New Zealand Insurance Company Limited, 1959

The intention was to float the Union Mine on the English Market as soon as possible.    By the end of 1887 it was reported that Union and Rosemont Mines were floated under names  of Waihi Gold Mining Company Ltd. Waihi Gold Mining Company Ltd was  registered in London in December, 1887, with  capital of £100,000 in £1 shares.  The New Zealand Herald ( 25/01/1888 )reported that the following were Directors of this newly floated Company: -
" Directors in London Thomas Russell, Esq., C.M.G., director, Bank of New Zealand, chairman; John Boustead, Esq. Director, Lambeth Waterworks Company, Limited; Henry Joseph Bristow, Esq. (Messrs Bowley and Bristow), director, New Zealand Land Mortgage Company, Limited Richard B. Huth, Esq., director, City of London Fire Insurance Company, Limited Sir Edward W. Stafford, G.C.M.G., Chairman Manitoba Mortgage and Investment Company. Limited. Directors in New Zealand David Hean, Esq., inspector of the National Bank of New Zealand, Limited, Auckland; James Russell, Esq. (Messrs Jackson and Russell), Auckland; Thomas Morrin, Esq. (Messrs T. and S. Morrin and Co., Limited), Auckland, director of the South British Insurance Company Seymour Thorne George, Esq., J. P. Auckland."

James Russell of Jackson and Russell

Thomas Morrin
In Chadwick, J. 1906. Men of Mark In the World of Sport in New Zealand. Brett Publishing Company Ltd.
Edinburgh born Sir Edward Stafford had also formerly been the third  premier and on three occasions between 1856 and 1872, of what was known in those days , the Colony of New Zealand.

 Thomas Russell in the chair at a meeting of the Waihi Gold Mining Company in May 1888 reported  that  shares allotted were 84,818 out of 100,000, and the remainder being gradually taken up.  By 1889 Thomas Henry Russell ( son of Thomas Russell) based at Waihi  was Superintendent of the Waihi Gold Mining Company, J.W. Walker ( John Watson Walker more well  known as "Long Drive Walker") the Mine Manager and Seymour Thorne George as the company's first General Manager based in Auckland.

The year  1890  marked a significant addition for the Waihi Gold Mining Company Ltd.   Thomas Henry Russell purchased mine and battery, the property of the Martha Extended Gold Mining Co. Ltd (The Martha Lode) for £3000. Later it was acquired by the Waihi Gold Mining Company Ltd.

Also in 1890 Robert Rose was appointed second General Manager of Waihi Gold Mining Company Ltd. In addition to being part of the era of capital growth and development for the Waihi Goldmining Company,  Rose was also a Director of NZI ( New Zealand Insurance Company ) from 1889 until his death in 1900; Director of the growing Northern Steam Ship Company 1999 to 1900 - a company Rose had been involved with since its formation in 1881 and Secretary of the NZ Mines Trust. His sudden death was a shock to many including those in Waihi and a loss to the company of who was someone known for level headed decision-making. 
Robert Rose - Photo Courtesy of
“Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. AWNS-18990609-1-3”
Capital Growth and Development

This era saw increase of capital, major construction - the outcome of adoption of a new process , and changes in personnel at the helm of the company because of deaths.

Henry Dale was appointed second Superintendent and Manager  of Mine and Plant in the place of T.H. Russell in 1890, following the purchase and sale of the Martha Mine.

The year 1891 marked another significant  Waihi Gold Mining Co. Ltd increase their capital by the issue of 50,000 new shares, raising the total to £150,000.
Also in this year Mr. Hubert Percy Barry was bought into the Company and by 1892 had become Superintendent - replacing Henry Dale and Mr. Thomas Gilmour also bought into the Company in 1891, was appointed Mine Manager of the Waihi Mine. Both were active in  community affairs, including establishment of Waihi Hospital and Waihi School of Mines. Barry was Chairman of the Ohinemuri District Council for a number of years and Gilmour, Mayor of Waihi for a term from 1904, just after his retirement from Waihi Gold Mining Company.
Hubert Percy Barry
Courtesy Papers Past National Library NZ
Photo Mr J. H. Barry, MANAGER WAIHI GOLD MINE. Observer, Volume XV, Issue 880, 2 November 1895, Page 17
 July 1894 marked another significant milestone for the Waihi Gold Mining Company when they adopted the cyanide process for gold extraction. By 1896 plans for major works were being outlined at the statutory meeting and in 1898  Victoria Battery construction had begun at Waikino.

Relics of Brickwork Victoria Battery Waikino - photo CRB 2010

 During this decade those who were at the helm of the Company and died were :
  • March 1891  David Kean Former Inspector of the National Bank and New Zealand Director died suddenly.
  • July 1892 Mr. Henry Dale, Superintendant and Manager died suddenly.
  • February 1894  John Benjamin Russell - brother of  Thomas Russell and James Russell died  after a long illness. J.B. Russell as two of his brothers was also a lawyer - a practicing Senor Member with the legal firm Russell and Campbell of Auckland.
  • September 1895 Richard Spratt died. Spratt was inspecting engineer  on a regular basis  for the Waihi, Waitekauri, and Crown Mines, and New Zealand Mines Trust, Limited. Spratt was  also a Director of Woodstock.
By 1896 the Organisational Structure of the Waihi Gold Mining Company Ltd looked like this:-

Charles Rhodes was appointed replacement  to  the position held by Robert Rose in 1900 . This was to be a long tenure with the Company until Rhodes died in 1932. Rhodes was as with several others at the helm of Waihi Gold Mining Company, on the Directorship of NZI ( New Zealand Insurance Company), Northern Steam Ship Company, NZ Mines Trust , NZ Portland Cement Company.
 and Auckland Electric Tramways Company Ltd. Rhodes took a keen and active  interest in the introduction of Rotary Clubs to New Zealand and along with Fowlds is known as one of the Founders of this movement.
Charles Rhodes photo courtesy Papers Past
N.Z. INSURANCE COMPANY. Mr. Charles Rhodes, who has been elected chairman of the New Zealand Insuran... [truncated] New Zealand Herald, , 8 August 1928, Page 8
In April 1904   - New directors to Waihi Gold Mining Company Ltd were appointed  - Messrs Beddington, Brutton ( AKA Button )  and Owen  making seven directors instead of five  - Thomas Russell CMG  Chairman , Arthur M Mitchison,  J Boustead  Henry J Bristow,  H. E. Beddington,  P. Berry Owen, E J Brutton. 

Less than six months later the  Chairman of Directors died 2 September 1904 - ending a significant influence and era for this company. His brother James Russell ( formerly  of the legal firm, Jackson and Russell ) was at the helm as Chairman  for but a few short months when he too died. Arthur Mitchison - son- in-law of Thomas Russell was voted to the chair and so started a new era of management.
In 1905 the Organisational Structure of the Waihi Gold Mining Company Ltd looked like this - back to a Directorship of five :-
Reference Source:
  •  Chadwick, J. 1906. Men of Mark In the World of Sport in New Zealand. Brett Publishing Company Ltd.
  • The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province.  Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902
  • The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Wellington Provincial District] The Cyclopedia Company, Limited, 1897, Wellington
  • New Zealand Mines Dept; Galvin,  The New Zealand mining handbook (with maps and illustrations) (1906) P J. Mackay, Government Printer Wellington, 1906
  • Downey, J.F., Gold Mines of the Hauraki District, originally published 1935, this edition Cadsonbury Publications, Christchurch, 2002
  • McLintock, A.H. An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand Volume 3. Wellington, New Zealand: R.E. Owen, Government Printer, 1966
  • The New Zealand Insurance Company Limited. Bold Century. Auckland: The New Zealand Insurance Company Limited, 1959. (Shareholders Copy)
  • Scheidel, A The cyanide process, its practical application and economical results (1894) Sacramento, A.J. Johnston, supt. State printing
  • Stone, R.C.J., Makers of Fortune, A Colonial Business Community and its Fall, Auckland University Press, 1973
  • In Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 21, June 1977 AUTHOR’S COMMENT: GOLD MINING AT WAIHI 1878 – 1952 J.B. McARA.
  • Edmund Bohan. 'Stafford, Edward William', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 19-Feb-2014 URL:
  • Newspapers
         OHINEMURI NEWS. Waikato Times,  31 May 1887, P 2
         CABLEGRAMS. Otago Witness , 16 December 1887, P 13
         The Union Mine, Waihi. Thames Advertiser, 17 December 1887, Page 2
          NEW ZEALAND AFFAIRS IN LONDON. New Zealand Herald, 25 January 1888, P 5
          THE LATE MR. DAVID HEAN. New Zealand Herald, 25 April 1891, Page 5
           DEATH OF MR. HENRY DALE New Zealand Herald, 28 June 1892, P 5
          DEATH OF MR J. B. RUSSELL. Auckland Star, 28 February 1894, Page 8
          OBITUARY. New Zealand Herald, 4 October 1895, P 3
          DEATH OF MR. ROBERT ROSE. New Zealand Herald, 25 April 1900, P 5
          DEATH OF MR. THOMAS RUSSELL. Auckland Star, 5 September 1904, Page 5
          DEATH OF MR. JAMES RUSSELL. New Zealand Herald, 20 February 1905, P 4
Thanks to Auckland Libraries for the wonderful Heritage Images

Also The Treasury Thames and Waihi Arts Centre & Museum are great places to visit if doing early Family History or about early  Coromandel Peninsula.