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Karangahake in 1898. Photo: SUPPLIED

Quick build for billiard room

As part of a Valley Profile series, MEGHAN HAWKES searches through old newspapers to bring you the stories Thames Valley locals once read about themselves.


The billiard room at Waihī was almost finished, the building having been erected in the quickest time on record for the township. Waihī local amateur actors had been actively engaged rehearsing for a ‘screaming farce’. They promised to electrify the Karangahake people with it.

A resident of Hikutaia, a few minutes after stepping aboard the return steamer from Sydney was approached by a gentlemanly looking individual who casually remarked that he was going to Auckland on holiday.
The man gradually drew him into conversation and it was not long before the two were great friends. The man spoke of several leading Auckland men who he intended calling on as he was most intimately acquainted with them. He chatted pleasantly on until the steamer was about to leave, when he casually remarked that he had forgotten to cash a cheque.
Would the gentleman from Hikutaia oblige by kindly cashing a cheque for 15 pounds upon reaching Auckland? Such a pleasant gentleman, friend of leading Auckland citizens, could not be refused! His Hikutaia friend at once handed over fifteen pounds in hard cash, and placed the cheque carefully in his pocket book. Moments before the steamer began to depart for Auckland the gentleman vanished, having quietly stepped ashore again, the 15 pounds cash snugly stowed away in his pocket.
On arrival at Auckland the cheque was discovered to be worthless, but could be viewed in a neat frame in the drawing room of the Hikutaia resident, who vowed that he would never be ‘had’ again.
The long contemplated improvement in the lighting of Bagnall Bros’ Turua mill by electricity came to pass, the installation having been fitted up by Mr Crosher, an Auckland electrician. The electric current was generated by a Crompton dynamo, driven by an engine of 10 horse power, manufactured by Price Bros of Thames. The spectacle of the mill lit up at night was planned to be a treat for those on a steamer trip of behalf of Thames hospital. The visitors were to land at Turua and, although the mill was not working the night shift, Bagnall Bros had all the men mustered in readiness for lighting up the mill. But to the great disappointment of everyone at Turua, the steamer lights, which were seen approaching, faded away and disappeared.
At Tapu, the Hawkes brothers launched their cutter yacht on the evening tide. Their wives, sisters, cousins and aunts all put in an appearance. As the craft glided into her element, the traditional bottle was smashed on her nose by Miss Annie Hawkes, who christened her the John and Henry to deafening cheers. Local opinion was that it would take a clipper get away from her.
‘What would Christ see if he came to Paeroa?’ asked the Hauraki Tribune after observing shenanigans at the Paeroa Band of Hope and Temperance Society’s monthly meeting. Within earshot of the meeting were men playing billiards and occasionally swearing at which the Band of Hope and Temperance members made offensive imitations of the antics of drunken men.