Machinery recalls golden age of Thames


Gold-processing machinery restored after a half-century of voluntary work is about to roar back to life as part of the 150th anniversary of the Thames goldfields.
A refurbished stamper battery and other historic plant at the Hauraki Prospectors’ Association’s Goldmine Experience site will be started up on Sunday.
HPA says it will mark the first operation of a complete 19th century processing plant in modern times in New Zealand.
Five stamps will run on opening day and five more will be installed later.
A prospector, William Hunt, made the first major gold discovery in the region on August 10, 1867, and the population of Thames swelled to 18,000 at the height of the rush a year later.
A programme of events marking the anniversary started this week and are set to run for 12 months.
HPA president Carl Jensen says the battery project began in the 1960s, when parts were recovered from high in the Coromandel Ranges at Neavesville.
Heavy stamps, line shafts and berdans were disassembled, winched and carried by volunteers to the top of the “Neavesville Stairway”.
HPA tourism income provided most of the funding for the project, while Thames Community Board last year granted it $22,000.
Businesses and tradesmen also chipped in by donating materials and time.

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