Pre­servers of his­tory sorry foundry closed


Thames was es­tab­lished on the gold min­ing and kauri log­ging in­dus­tries over the past 150 years, and the A&G Price foundry was there ev­ery step of the way.

Its clo­sure marks the end of a his­toric chap­ter for the Coro­man­del. Mem­bers of the Hau­raki Prospec­tors As­so­ci­a­tion (HPA) are pre­serv­ing much of the district’s gold min­ing his­tory at the Thames Gold­mine Ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing ma­chines made in the A&G Price foundry in the 1800s.

In re­cent years, parts of the orig­i­nal stam­per bat­tery have gone back to the foundry to be re­stored.

On Au­gust 6, ThamesCoro­man­del District Mayor San­dra Goudie, to­gether with vet­eran HPA vice pres­i­dent Lawrie Cobb, will of­fi­cially start up a re­fur­bished stam­per bat­tery and other 19th cen­tury ma­chines.

Cobb said A&G Price Ltd was key in the de­vel­op­ment and restora­tion of what has be­come one of the most pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tions in Thames.

Cobb and fel­low HPA vice pres­i­dent Nel­son Valiant both worked at the foundry for 39 years com­bined. Valiant ran the de­sign of­fice and Cobb was in charge of the mo­bile ma­chin­ery, in­clud­ing fork­lifts and cranes.

They said A&G Price had been sup­port­ive of the group’s restora­tion of his­toric gold min­ing ma­chin­ery since the early 1970s.

‘‘If we hadn’t have been work­ing at Price’s, half of the stuff we’ve got here wouldn’t have gone up,’’ Cobb said.

‘‘We picked up a lot of stuff that was sur­plus to their re­quire­ments, [such as] old ma­chin­ery, and we could have the ma­chines any time on the week­end that they didn’t want them.

‘‘Hav­ing that ma­chin­ery was the bulk of get­ting any­thing done. It was never a prob­lem.’’

Valiant said the clo­sure was dis­ap­point­ing and was con­cerned im­por­tant skills would be lost.

Cobb said the ef­fect the clo­sure would have on Thames and those who worked there could be huge.

‘‘I’ll be sorry to see it go. It was a good place to work.’’

The foundry has pro­vided many gen­er­a­tions with jobs.

Whi­tianga res­i­dent Mark Al­loway said he com­pleted his fitter and turner ma­chin­ist ap­pren­tice­ship at the foundry from 1969 un­til 1973.

‘‘It was a won­der­ful job and, look­ing back, it was the best job I ever had.

‘‘The men were won­der­ful chaps I worked with, the best in the world, the best peo­ple I ever worked for and worked with. The trades­men were first class. They knew ev­ery­thing.’’

Al­loway said he got such good job sat­is­fac­tion from the foundry that he would turn up for work early and work as much over­time as he could.

‘‘I used to love go­ing to work. I couldn’t keep away from the place.’’

He was very up­set to hear about the clo­sure af­ter 149 years.

‘‘Price’s in its day was the big­gest en­gi­neer­ing com­pany in New Zealand and they made a lot of in­ter­est­ing things there.

‘‘I was look­ing for­ward to next year be­cause it would be 150 years.’’


Nel­son Valiant, left, and Lawrie Cobb with part of Stam­per Bat­tery built by A&G Price in 1896.

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