Meet at Shortland Wharf, 3pm Sun 2nd April 2017. Move by own vehicle to the other three wharf sites, finishing at Burke St around low tide (approx 4pm). Guides will be David Wilton and Graeme Robinson.
When the Thames goldfield opened in 1867, the only practicable way of getting mining equipment, people and supplies to the rapidly-expanding town was by sea from Auckland. The tidal waters at the shallow end of the gulf meant that ships could only approach for a couple of hours a day, at high tide. To cope with the volume of traffic, four wharves were built (and another at Tararu). The tour will commence at Shortland wharf, the first to be used, as the natural channel of the Kauaeranga River provided some deep water. We will then briefly stop at the Timber Wharf (aka Holdship’s) at Cochrane St and the Passenger Wharf (aka Grahamstown and, later, Curtis’s) at Albert St.
The last stop will be at what was originally known as the Goods Wharf at Burke St. The original wharf was built in 1876 and used until c.1900, when goldfield production waned and the structure was damaged by storms. In the 1920s, a scheme was mooted to develop a new wharf, and a deep-water harbour, to transport produce from the recently-drained Hauraki Plains. The scheme failed, due to silting, and Thames Borough went under Commissioner control for 15 years (effectively, the town was bankrupt). Recent archaeological work has investigated original (1870s) timber piles amongst the 1920s concrete piles and the harbour basin wall, which is partly below low tide level.
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