Bruce Comfort
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I'm a retired engineer. I ride a 400cc Suzuki Burgman motorscooter and I live in Oamaru, South Island of New Zealand. I have two adult daughters. My interests (if you haven't worked it out) include New Zealand's heritage of engineering works, snapshot photography of the built environment and recording pastoral farming activities around here. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLEASE NOTE THAT MANY PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PANORAMIO SITE HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY ACCESSING HERITAGE BUILDINGS, STRUCTURES, AND ENGINEERING ARTIFACTS WHICH LIE ON PRIVATE LAND. PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS SITE DOES NOT IMPLY ANY PUBLIC RIGHTS OF ACCESS. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLEASE ALSO NOTE THAT A FEW PHOTOS ON THIS SITE ARE NOT MINE, AND THAT MANY ARE TAKEN INDOORS AND ARE OF MACHINERY AND THAT THIS APPARENTLY CONTRADICTS THE TERMS OF USE OF THE PANORAMIO WEBSITE. I HAVE HAD THE SITE MODERATORS' APPROVAL FOR USING THE SITE THIS WAY AS ALL SUCH PHOTOS LINK IN SOME FASHION TO MY OWN PHOTOGRAPHS OF PLACES IN NEW ZEALAND WHERE ARTIFACTS OF ENGINEERING OR PASTORAL OR INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE CAN STILL BE FOUND. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MY INTENTION IS NOT TO USURP THE RIGHTS OF THE HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHERS NOR OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS, AND CREDIT IS GIVEN WHERE I CAN. I have made an endeavour to contact copyright holders of material published on these pages and where appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where the permission is still being sought, I have decided, in good faith, to proceed with publication. I would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of item. IF YOU GO TO THE PLACES WHERE MY OWN PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED BY THE MODERATORS TO BE IN THE PHOTOS LAYER ON GOOGLE EARTH, MY HOPE IS THAT THE OTHER HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS (which will not have been accepted by the moderators of Google Earth but which appear on these pages) WILL STIMULATE YOU TO THINK ABOUT THE ENGINEERS, ENTREPRENEURS, INVESTORS, THE WORKERS AND OPERATORS AND ALL THE PEOPLE, NOW GONE, WHOSE LIVES WERE INEXTRICABLY TIED TO THESE PLACES AND THESE ENDEAVOURS. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MY E-MAIL ADDRESS IS AND I WELCOME INPUT INTO THIS WORK -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bruce Comfort's conversations

This pic for instance. When you uploaded it you will have seen an option to "describe" the photo and "map this photograph" click that and then it'll bring up a map of the world search for Oamaru and pan around until you can identify the land feature and click the map. Then if the Google Earth administrators agree, the picture will appear in Google Earth at that spot - the club gets the qudos and so does North Otago. You may have to remove that logos.

The "sinkholes" (called Dolines) at Craigmore Station for instance would be agreat photo to have geo-located so people can see the feature both in your pic and in Google earth.

Bruce Comfort Oamaru

This set of photos has been linked to on the IPENZ Engineering Heritage web page, which anyone interested in the heritage of engineering should be aware of

Subsequent to posting this photograph, I have learned of the existence of a very old fellmongery in the Oamaru suburb of Evelyne. In the 1940s this fellmongery was operated by the Hedges family after which the road it's on is named.

The photos of the fellmongery are at . I have also learned that Mr Hedges had "informal" permission to open the sluice gate on this aqueduct when the water in the stream he used for processing at his works was getting low in Landon Creek. It may be that this is not a picture with the raceman visible, but Mt Hedges getting his free water.!

Panoramio's terms of use specifically excludes pictures that are not your own, pictures taken indoors and pictures of machinery. I have had contact with the site moderators who however have agreed that the pictures maps old photos etc which I am publishing and particularly machinery in-situ and "on the ground" will be accepted and occasionally end up on Google Earth because they are supportive of Panoramio and Google earth being utilised like I am using it to elucidate and explain heritage - I'm very pleased as you might guess.


During World War II, when Eastern Europe was invaded, an important source of linen fibre for the production of textiles and cordage for the UK was denied the British Government. The British Ministry of Supply, searching for alternative sources, asked New Zealand to produce linen flax - and defined the amount it could use as the production of some 15,000 acres.

Investigations into the possibility of growing linen flax in New Zealand had been made by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research at Lincoln Agricultural College in 1936 and field trials had followed with a small experimental factory set up there.

However, up till 1940 no fibre had been produced commercially. To grow 15,000 acres was a formidable task.

The growing and processing of this linen flax was essentially a NZ Government undertaking. Private farmers who co-operated were initially guaranteed a basic payment per acre sown, as a protection against loss. The Government built a number of mills (the number reported seems to vary from between ten and seventeen ) to process the crop.

All the necessary machinery was manufactured and installed by the New Zealand Railways Department which was the most capable and best tooled up Department of the Crown at the time.

In 1940 – 41, 12,000 acres were grown, and, in the following season, 22,000 acres. In earlier years about 30 per cent of the acreage grown proved to be too short for fibre and was harvested for seed only.  

In the next two seasons the need for fibre was less urgent, and the area planted fell to about 10,000 acres.

The industry was plagued by cumbersome management arrangements, which impaired its efficiency and raised its costs. Apparently the control of the industry was vested in an interdepartmental committee on which were represented a surprisingly large number of State Departments.

Although on the face of it, the controlling powers of this Committee appeared adequate, they were not and all recommendations had to be approved by a Cabinet Minister. Seriously overburdened with far too many administrative details these men were set up to fail and on many occasions repairs or alterations were found necessary but were difficult to put in train.

Purchases and changes could not be undertaken until the managers of the factories concerned and the director of the whole industry had received the sympathetic approval of the “controlling” committee and the final approval of the Minister, who was often absent from the country on matters of national importance.

It would have only been Kiwi ingenuity and a disdain for bureaucracy that enabled shipments to depart for the UK.

The linen flax fibre was used for a variety of wartime textile products - the most famous being the fabric covering of the wings and fuselage of a number of the seminal British fighter aircraft and bombers.

Flax grown in New Zealand and fibre sent to the UK for spinning and weaving filled an urgent wartime need.

Plans to continue the production of linen flax after the end of the war came to nothing as we couldn't compete on a commercial basis once other traditional countries got back up to speed.

Note that the flax plant Linum usitatissimum comes in two varieties one used for seed and then oil - the other for fibre. The last New Zealand factory was at Geraldine in South Canterbury.

This is how the sluicing was to be carried out. From the Tuapeka Times October 1906.


We have been favoured with the following appreciative description of the Tamaiti Sluicing Co.'s claim and plant from Mr John E. Keeuan, of Tuapeka Mouth.

For many years it has been known that the terraces on both sides of the Tuapeka River are of a highly auriferous nature, but, owing to the enormous difficulties to be faced in bringing them under the command of an adequate water supply, no systematic effort has ever been made to work them In favourable positions, however, some mining on primitive methods has from time to time been carried on, but for some years even this system of mining has been abandoned owing to the enormous labor entailed.

Some time ago Messrs W. Hogg and A. N. Wakefield, of Lawrence, secured a large area of the land referred to and also the right to erect a dam across the Tuapeka River. Having obtained these rights, they worked assiduously on an idea of which they (and not Mr R. McIntosh, Assistant Inspector of Mines, as stated in the New Zealand Mines Record) are the originators. A private company was formed for the purpose of providing the capital, and Mr A. N. Wakefield, whose resourcefulness and ingenuity in mining matters are "well known", was appointed manager, and "he quickly got to work in carrying out the ideas on which it was proposed to work the claim, and he now has the satisfaction of seeing his work the first of the kind in the Southern Hemisphere carried to a successful issue".

The company is known by the euphonious Maori appellation The Tamaiti Sluicing Company, and its claim is situated on the banks of the Tuapeka River about nine miles from Lawrence.

The system by winch it is going to be worked is, now that it has been demonstrated, ridiculously simple, and the wonder is that it had not been adopted years ago. The water of the river, having been raised to the height of 30ft by means of the dam, it is concentrated by means of a fluming to work a turbine, which, in turn, generates the power for working the pumps to lift the water on to the terrace. The dam is built on the crib principle, that is the framework is constructed of logs placed in such a position as to form squares, which were then filled with rock and debris. The logs are all firmly bolted together. No fewer than 400 logs 15 to 40 feet in length and of an average diameter of 2ft were used in its construction. It is a dam of formidable proportions. The width of the dam at the base is 38ft and at the top 12ft. The height of the dam is 30ft. A flume capable of carrying 70 cubic feet of water per second has been built in at a height of 25ft. This conveys the water on to the 26in Samson single discharge horizontal turbine made by the James Leffel Company, Ohio, U.S.A.

Messrs Robison Bros., Melbourne, had a contract to supply the pumps but failed to do so, and the company had to have them manufactured in Dunedin by Messrs A. and T. Burt, who carried out their manufacture under the supervision of Mr R. Murie and Mr A. N. Wakefield. There are four Tangey pumps connected in a series on one shaft mounted on a dredge ladder. They are at present throwing 60 heads of water to a height of 200 ft, with the turbine only at half-gate. The powerhouse and claim is lighted with an 800-candle power electric light, the generator being Westinghouse make. There are at present about 600 ft of pipes on the claim. The cost of the dam, which took about 10 months to construct, with between 15 and 20 men employed, was £1,300. The capital of the company is £3,000. The work of this Company is looked upon by all miners as being of material benefit in the development of the mining industry in the colony, as in places where the conditions are similar it dispenses with long races. The system of raising the water is equally serviceable for irrigation purposes, and I have no doubt that the Government officials will be prompt to make a note of its advantages for that purpose.

Mr Highly is the claim manager. It is to be hoped the enterprising shareholders will be rewarded for their pluck. The works will, I understand, be formally opened on the 9th November.

Here bagged cement is coming off the bagging plant. a few? rejects have been tossed aside of the conveyor.

The urban myth central to the closing of this plant after its take-over by Milburn Lime and Cement focuses on the high quality of the cement and the threat that this posed to Milburn who were making and inferior product but at a higher cost. In truth, it is more likely that the location of the Southland Cement Company at Orawia - which was not near any substantial market for the produce, and its low quality, combined with heavy discounts, was the greater factor in its eventual insolvency and disposal.

NZ Journal of Science and Technology, May 1918 published a long article by M A Elliot called "The Frozen Meat Industry of New Zealand" in which this quotation prefaced the paper.

"It is difficult to realise that only about thirty-five years have elapsed since one of the most important of the world's industries was inaugurated, resulting in the enormous and increasing trade of the present day. And yet the whole of this great industry, and to a very great extent the general prosperity and advancement of New Zealand, hangs on the slender piston rod of a refrigerating machine".

Such was the impact of refrigeration and particularly refrigerated sea transport on the economy of New Zealand. Admittedly it was skewed trade and hardly "international" exporting as we had really just one customer in the United Kingdom (Great Britain) and the sheep processing businesses in New Zealand were by 1920 pretty much dominated by English based companies. By the 1950s New Zealand was awash with money being at that time one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

The story of the Haslam machines themselves is told on photographs of the 1886 built Oamaru Freezing Works of The New Zealand Refrigerating Company

Salvaged pretty much complete from the Islington freezing works, this machine which started its life in Derby UK as a dry air machine (refrigerating compressor without refrigerant) was converted to an ammonia compressor once the cost of ammonia came down and the technology for welding pipelines instead of screwing them together (leaks were a problem) was in place.

The works are described like this, on the NZETC web pages. NZETC has digitised The Newzealand Cyclopedia of 1903.

THE FREEZING WORKS (the Christchurch Meat Company, proprietor), Islington. It may be said that the frozen meat industry in New Zealand was begun late in 1881 and early in 1882. The first shipment left Port Chalmers on the 15th of February, 1882, in the Shaw, Savill Company's ship “Dunedin,” and the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, under the auspices of its general manager, Mr. Thomas Brydone, was the shipper. The success of the shipment led to the establishment of the New Zealand Refrigerating Company at Dunedin, and of the Canterbury Frozen Meat and Dairy Company at Christchurch. Other companies were afterwards established, and the progress of the industry has been such, that the total value of the products of meat freezing, and preserving and boiling down works increased from £543,878 in 1885 to £3,834,891 in 1900. Canterbury stands at the head of this great industry, on account of the superior quality of its meat, which commands the highest price in the Home market. The Christchurch Meat Company, which has helped in a large measure to develop the industry, started in 1889, and its promoters, seeing the possibilities connected with by-products, devoted special attention to this branch, with the result that the company now annually turns out about four thousand tons of manures and fertilisers, manufactured from the offal, viscera and blood. Another most important branch of the business is in the manufacture of table delicacies and tinned meats, such as sheeps' tongues, corned, boiled, roasted, spiced and curried mutton, with the same varieties of beef, lambs' feet, liver and bacon, brawn, potted head, meat extract and stock for soups. The buildings at Islington, about eight miles south of Christchurch, on the main south line, cover five acres of ground, and have a freezing and killing capacity of 10,000 sheep per diem, and a storage capacity for 140,000 carcases of frozen mutton and lamb. Over 500 persons are employed at the works, and the various departments are presided over by thoroughly experienced and competent men. The whole of the buildings are lighted with electric light, and there is telephonic communication throughout the various departments. The engines in use are of the very latest design. There is a splendid system of hydrants throughout the building, with an unlimited supply of water; and there is also a fine ice plant capable of manufacturing five tons of crystal ice per day, from pure artesian water, obtained at a depth of 100 feet, and carefully purified previous to freezing. This ice is sold at a nominal price to the shipping, the households and hotels in Lyttelton, Christchurch, and throughout Canterbury. The Christchurch Meat Company is further referred to at page 79 of the general introduction to this volume, and also at page 325 in the section devoted to the meat trade. At its works at Islington, Smithfield and Picton the company put through 1,305,132 head of stock in the year 1902.


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