Been trying to find little bits of the early History of Huntly, not much still around. But this part will continually grow as more details come to hand. Any more information will be appreciated, Thanks!
The earliest record of coal that I can find in the Huntly Area dates back to 1842, when the Reverend B. Ashwell had established his Mission Station about opposite the Taupiri Mountain, He found an outcrop of coal nearby that had been uncovered by a landslide. And he found it to be of good quality.
In 1850 a Dr Purchas of the Mission spent time in this area and mapped out areas at Kupaki, another seam at Papahorohoro and another another nearby area. Dr Ferdinand van Hochsteller, on behalf of the N.Z. Goverment surveyed the Waikato Coalfields in 1858 and made the first official mention of coal in the Huntly area.
The 1860's War started before much work was done, however the seam at Kupakupa was opened up for use of the River boats using the Waikato River. This is recorded as being the first main use of coal in New Zealand.
1876 saw the beginning of the Waikato Steam Navigation Company. Coal mined at the time was barged north to Mercer and then railed to Auckland. 1878 saw the railhead advance to Huntly and coal was loaded for Auckland locally. Also Robert Ralph started mining at Huntly, first in the area of Raynor road, and then in 1878 sunk an underground shaft, where the present Bank of New Zealand building is now. Just before Christmas 1890 saw Huntly's first Mining disaster. Ralph's Mine (Raynor Rd) caved in and flooded, resulting in five deaths.
1883 saw the first merger between coalmines and in 1899 The Taupiri Coal Mines Ltd was formed with most of the others joining in. Then came the second worse disaster in New Zealand's mining history. September 12 1914 saw an underground explosion in Ralph's mine where 43 men lost their lives.
Huntly west grow after 1914 when the railway bridge was built across the Waikato River and a seven mile track opened up to the Pukemiro, Glen Afton and Waikokowai areas, and by 1918 the Roose Shipping Co. was barging coal from the west to Taupiri, Ngaruawahia and then to Hamilton. Then another disaster. September 1939 saw a fire and gas in another mine and this again saw the deaths of 11 men.
Coal mining was not a nice job in the early days!
Very Little is known about Huntly in the early days, Orginally known as Rahuipokeka, during the wars heavy fighting happened at Rangiriri and then further action at Ngaruawahia - missing out Huntly. It is believed that Huntly was named by the use of a rubber stamp (stamp cancellation?) brought by the Henry Family from their family home "Huntly Lodge" back in Scotland. Confusion does arrise because there was also a house at Ohinewai also known as Huntly Lodge. In 1879 the Lodge part was dropped and the Post Office was moved to the Railway Station.
Huntly showed very little progress for a long time. At the time of W.W.1 (1914) the Main Street was still very rough and ready. The only decent building was the new Post Office built in 1909, the Kings Hall 1912. Due to the lack of a Fire Brigade many of the older wooden Buildings were destroyed by fire - an event very common in small New Zealand Towns.
Huntly West was divided by the Waikato River, and for many years a small ferry went from about Garden Place to Punt Road (Now Parry Street). However once the railway bridge was formed, made access between the two much easier. But still the West side continued to grow. After W.W.2 the West side had a Hall, Butcher shop, 2 grocery shops, Doctor, Chemist, Garage. Post Office and Bank Agency. In the early '50's the Goverment of the day brought land in the area and built a lot of State Houses.
Back to Huntly itself, home mail deliveries did not start till 1909, The Telephone arrived in 1910 with 22 subscribers; and the orginal Railway Station was not replaced till 1939, and we still have the replacement!
The joint road/railway bridge across the River was finally finished in 1914. The Township of Huntly became a Town Board in 1908 and in 1931 progressed to a Borough. and in amalamated to become the Waikato Dristrict Council. Huntly did have it's own district paper from 1910 and even today we have our Weekly paper the Tatler.
Electric Power arrived in 1916 with our own Power Plant which was owned by the Huntly Town Board, however this was taken over in time by the Central Waikato Electric Power Board.
The "New" Road bridge was not finished till 1959 and was named the Tainui Bridge. The old Railway Bridge became rail only, and a footbridge was opened attached to the side of the rail bridge.
Also last century a Firm called Coates Ltd (Sorry - no relation) was making bricks and clay products; In 1911 became the Huntly Brick and Fire Clay Ltd. And is still operating today.
Huntly Coal Mines - Evelyn Stokes 1978 Uni of Waikato School of Social Sciences.
A History of Huntly - E.A.Farrell 1968.
100 Years of Mining 1842 - 1942 - Heather Edwards 1986.
A Crown for the Lady - C.V.Innes 1989.
Small Request! If anybody has these or any other Books on Huntly, would appreciate either borrowing or being able to Purchase these for my own collection! Thanks!
Want to know more about New Zealand History? Check out Robbies site in France! www.history-nz.org Yes, Robbie is a New Zealander living in France, and has built up a great site!
Has numerous links back to New Zealand. I can personally recommend!
Classified Adverts !!
Still to come a map of Huntly !!
About the Owners !!