Gate Valve

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Bruce Comfort on September 28, 2011

This gate valve in the public atrium of the apartment block built in Wellington Harbour Board Shed 21 may be a valve associated with the hydraulic machinery (wool presses) which were in this building when it was a Harbour Board Wool Store. The "double dumping" of wool bales which arrived in wool stores at points of export like Wellington's wharves was a huge and lucrative business for firstly the Wellington City Council (truly - hardly what we would call core business for a local authority these days) and later for the newly constituted Harbour Board. Double dumping squeezed two relatively soft bales of wool into the space occupied by one (or less) in an hydraulic press. The two bales were secured together with multiple high tensile wires before the pressure was released. The space saving reduced freight charges and was and still is essential for shipping textile fibre of all sorts around the world. By the 1950s most of the presses in Wellington were running on electricity and oil, but in the early 20 century they ran off the Harbour Board's hydraulic network which used pressurised water.

Other such networks with water as the power transmission fluid, were constructed in London, Melbourne, Sydney and Manchester and most of these were "public networks" run commercially and from which customers bought pressurised water in gallons at 1000psi, just as today we buy electricity in killowatts at 230 volts.

The Wellington Harbour Board network was private and the Port of Greymouth too, had a small one with two or three cranes. No others are known to have been built in New Zealand.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on September 26, 2011
  • Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works
    by Bruce Comfort
    • Camera: SAMSUNG ES65, ES67 / VLUU ES65, ES67 / SAMSUNG SL50
    • Taken on 2011/09/05 10:16:59
    • Exposure: 0.022s (1/45)
    • Focal Length: 4.90mm
    • F/Stop: f/3.500
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: -1.30 EV
    • Flash fired