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 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Land adjacent to the Pacific Ocean has a slightly more benign climate than land further away from the sea, and vegetable crops are harvested from lands just metres away from the beach. North Otago has a very interesting geological history and small volcanic cores of black weathered basalt extruded up through a limestone base and a covering of Loess have contributed to a local friable and rich dark soil that supports intensive cropping of vegetable plants. Further inland where the soils are more alluvial and "normal" but still highly fertile, cropping of grains, brassicas, flowers (for seed)dominated where moisture levels would support these activities. In the dryer, elevated downlands, sheep farming (dryland farming) used to dominate the pastoral activities but with the advent of one or two massive irrigation schemes where water is pumped uphill from the Waitaki River, intensive dairy farming enterprises dominate the landscape.

On the vegetable growing lands crop rotation is continuous and it is unusual to see any of the worked plots lying fallow. There is however, clear evidence, especially when looking down from elevated positions, that the area(s) under intensive vegetable farming are now less than half what would have been the once cultivated.

The land between Oamaru and Kakanui, on the seaward side of the main highway, has been a vegetable growing area for over 100 years.

Mainly but not exclusively owned and worked by second generation Cantonese Chinese families from the Kaiping and Toisan area (See Yip clans)this area of dark brown volcanic soil known locally as Tar Soil has produced green vegetables and potatoes for local and national markets.

Patterns of vegetable growing have altered radically since the middle of the 1900s and not as much land is now under cultivation as was previously, and the number of families involved in the enterprise has diminished.

Still enough Chinese families live and work in the area to support a reasonably vibrant branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association and the local school Totara Primary School, is visibly proud of the Chinese heritage of lots of its past and present pupils.

Here the raised form of the reservoirs becomes more obvious, however they are also dug into the surface, with the floor of the reservoir being approximately as far below grade as the rim is above. In this method of construction, the excavated material is used in the bunds. The design drawings do show the bunds to have an impervious clay core but to what extent that was carried out cannot be seen. The small corrugated iron shed on the East rim covers the deep concrete shaft that housed the outlet valves. The shafts that hold the valves to control flushing and run off are housed at grade level near the berm. The concrete structure is an access pit to inspect the overflow culvert which runs some 400 metres below ground in 450mm earthenware pipes to a diversion and grate structure (picture VVVV) at ground level near a small creek which obviously took flushing and overflow flows.

This material (the basalt outflow from Mt Horrible which is endemic around Timaru and visible at a number of places as lava cills) lines this reservoir. The blocks are split rough blocks mainly cubic but very variable (see pic 66199693) and have been impact fractured or split with wedge and feather. Although the basalt has no structure it will break to produce flat faces in most cases, in the hands of a good stone cutter. Even through the haze of seeding rank pasture grasses the carefully laid blocks can be discerned. Given that the block shape and size varies (as evidenced by the harvested stone) you can see how skillfully fitted the blocks were to minimise movement after filling and contamination by clays and silt.

Despite these reservoirs having obvious historic and civil engineering significance and possibly despite them having Historic Places protection (not sure when that was conferred) rock from the North West corner of the No1 reservoir was harvested by the Timaru City Council (details to be confirmed) for use in the harbour before they were "tumbled" by someone and made to bring the rock back - where the five truck-loads were unceremoniously dumped at the rim of the bund. The only upside of this appalling vandalism being that we can now have a good look at the stones and get an appreciation of the work involved in cutting and placing them.

A rough estimate of the number of blocks needed to line the reservoir up to its original height will give you about 122,000 blocks. This assumes the floor is lined which I did not confirm from the drawings.

These large earthenware pipes are the overflow from the weir in the No2 reservoir.

This is one of the few in-reservoir structures that is not plastered, so it may have been erected after the construction period around 1910. It is a small weir with overflow falling vertically into pipework that is buried in the bund - so some sort of overflow must have been constructed at this place as the bund was built up - it may have been an open vertical tube - these are notoriously less efficient at spilling water than a horizontal weir.

The rim of the bund is up just 600 above the weir - sufficient to have "caught" most but not all of the waves on the surface if the reservoir was full on a windy day!

Before 1910, water would have entered the reservoir via gravity, and via the exit end of the race, probably directly below this point by some 5 or 6 metres. By increasing the rim (bund height) of the reservoir, its whole dynamic design would have been changed - water almost certainly would not have been able to enter the reservoir without massive reconstruction of the race, however at this time (1910 approximately) the race was piped from its source at the Pareora River and may (no research) have even been sourced further up the river and thus blessed with more head at the same time. Timaru's current town water supply is piped from that upstream point at this time.

The water from the pipe appears to have just been discharged down the slope of the reservoir without any special protection.

Looking upstream from Ardgowan road onto the last section of the race before it enters the reservoir reserve. The tunnel entrance is in the blackberries at the right edge of the picture and the concrete diversion system is in the middle of the frame.

Some idea of the extent of the easement (land acquired by the Borough Council on which to locate the Borough Race) can be gained in this picture. The black hut is modern.

Note also the extent of the concrete works for this important facility. Before the water was even filtered before being sent into Oamaru through the reticulation system, let alone treated! the control of water quality depended very much on the vigilance and work of the Reservoir Raceman at this diversion.

As an aside, the diversion of water into Mill Creek would have been of benefit to the operators of The Phoenix Mill (see photo No.57210209)

Looking downstream to the upstream portal of the short tunnel (in the scrub) which runs under Ardgowan Road. Within the reservoir reserve there is about 140 metres of race before the water enters the reservoir. To the right in this photo, water could be discharged to Mill Creek and was, whenever the race was delivering water which was below acceptable standards. The raceman who looked after the reservoir and a few km of race upstream from here, lived at the reservoir in a very modest 3 bedroom limestone block house which still stands. This structure included two sluice gates and a screen to remove (entrap) sticks and branches that were swept down the race.


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