Sunday, May 27, 2012

Murals at Drury, and celebrating an early tramway

The Farmers' Hotel, Drury, late 1860s to early 1870s, 4-RIC314, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

"Drury was selected as a settlement early in the history of Auckland. It is connected by rail with the city, from which it is distant twenty-two miles southward, on the sea coast, and in the county of Manukau. The district is agricultural, and dairying is carried on by the settlers with much advantage. Flaxmilling, too, is successful as a local industry. Game abounds in the district, which has a public school, a post, telegraph and money order office, and a daily mail service." (Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902)

My good friends Bill and Barbara Ellis popped along to the 150th anniversary celebration for the Drury Tramway, held on 6 May this year. These are their images.

While there, they took some shots of murals on the Drury Community Library, and nearby.

The tramway was built to service coal mining operations at Drury -- but it was also the first step toward Auckland's rail network.
 It is our pleasing duty to record in to day's issue the first great step towards developing the coal-field that exists near Drury, in the province of Auckland. In our last we reported the very successful result that attended the operations of the Bank of New Zealand, since its establishment a few months ago, and the notice of the opening of the tramway connecting the Waihoihoi coal mines with the sea at Slippery Creek, following so soon afterwards, shows that at least our fellow-colonists are actively persevering in their endeavours to advance the material prosperity of the province. It is only a few years since the existence of coal was verified in the Drury district ... But owing to the want of roads, and the cost of transit, it was not possible for the directors to continue their operations until something had been done to lessen the cost of production, and accelerate the delivery in Auckland of the produce of the mines ... it was wisely determined to lay down a tramway, thus lessening the charge for carriage to one-sixth its original cost, and ensuring a regular supply of coal to meet the demand of the market ...

Having these objects in view the Waihoihoi tramway was commenced about twelve months ago. For six months the works were suspended owing to the bad state of the roads during the winter and spring seasons, which rendered the carting of timber all but impossible. At length, however, the line was completed and on Thursday last, the 1st of May, it was formally opened by the directors. 

The entire length of the line is 3 1/4 miles. The gauge is 4 feet 8| inches, and the rails are of rimu, which is a timber admirably suited for this purpose. In the construction of this tramway 105,000 feet of sawn timber has been used besides which the following go to make up the total of the materials, and will give some idea of the magnitude of the work:
45,000 sleepers of puriri, rata, and mati 
6,000 puriri trenails 
20,000 feet squared timber for viaducts, &c. 
4,000 split slabs for covering ditto 
200 short and 40 long puriri piles 
2 tons nails and spikes 
2 tons iron fixings. 

There are about 1,000 feet in length of bridges and viaducts, which is occasioned by the swampy nature of the ground. Upwards of 3,000 yards of earth cuttings have been executed, and 10 miles of drains formed. 

At present the rolling stock consists of eight trucks, each carrying 1 ton coal, but these will be increased as he business requires extension. Mr Vickery, of Auckland, did the castings for these trucks, Mr. Young, of Drury, supplying the remaining iron work. The works on the tramway were let in sub-sections, the whole being carried out in a most creditable manner under the direction of Mr. Thomas Hyde, the manager, whose practical talents are well attested by the stability and completeness of the line. This tramway cost the company about £400 a mile and will be worked by horse power. Owing to the incline from the mouth of the pit, which is a drive into the side of the hill, the trucks laden with coal will run half the distance to Slippery Creek 'most easily, so that the horse labour will not be so much as at first sight may appear. The cost of carriage from the pit to the landing at Slippery Creek will not exceed 1s. per ton hitherto it was nearly 6s. The directors have therefore determined on reducing the price of their coal, fixing the rates at the Great South Road, Drury, 15s. per ton at terminus of tramway, 15s at Onehunga, 25s. and in Auckland, at 32s. 6d. If in large quantities for steam purposes the Drury coals will be sold at 30s. per ton in Auckland. The company now possesses facilities for meeting the demand...
Southern Cross, 6 May 1862

From 16 March 1905: "A new coal seam is now being opened up and worked a short distance from Drury. And a railway line is being laid down from the Drury Station to the new mine." Auckland Weekly News, AWNS-1905-0316-12-3, 
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Library

1 comment:

  1. Great post Lisa the photos of the murals are wonderful. Really lovely of Bill and Barbara to let you post them on Timespanner

    Love the heritage images as well