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President Alan Young inside the new Thames Goldmine Experience geology display which opened on November 12. Photo: GORDON PREECE

Blacksmith and geology attractions open at Goldmine

A spark of history and education at Thames Goldmine Experience has opened for the public as part of the ongoing development of the popular tourist attraction.
The new blacksmith shop and geology display were officially opened on November 12 after three and a half years of “hard and heavy work” by six to eight of its volunteers.
Thames Goldmine Experience president Alan Young told The Profile the new attractions were a “really great achievement” and would deliver history and education of what Thames was like between 1860 to 1880 to its 20,000 annual visitors.
“We decided to have a blacksmith shop because most of the mines had a blacksmith shop and actually needed a blacksmith shop for the sharpening and forging of all their tools,” he said.
“[The geology display] has graphics on the wall explaining how certain rocks are formed, the structures of certain areas, volcanic activity and we have samples on the wall in appropriate places as to what it is.
“We have about 2500 school kids come through here on organised trips so it’s a good study and reference point for them.”
Alan said the blacksmith shop will also include blacksmithing classes, and the geology display, located in the old morgue building, will have rock saws and rock polishing equipment for visitors to use.
“There’s also ongoing work to get a steam driven power hammer installed and furnaces and forges,” he said.
“I expect visitors to be able to go away and say it has satisfied their curiosity and hopefully they spread the word.
“Because a lot of people in New Zealand have a huge connection to Thames.”
Alan said the project experienced rocky delays due to Covid-19 and project costs were paid through volunteers and tourist entry fees and a lot of the materials had “fallen off the back of a truck”. “We don’t have a real cost but I would think if you were to build a building like this today through a construction company, you would be up for $500,000,” he said.
“We also had to mill some timber ourselves because we couldn’t go to Placemakers and buy big timber. “We would like to thank every volunteer for all their hard work and hopefully we can beat out any anxieties or bad omens with the blacksmith shop.” The grand opening was attended by Thames-Coromandel mayor Len Salt, councillors, A&G Price staff and volunteers and friends of Thames Goldmine Experience.