Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962
by H. A. (King) MEAGHER
The first club was formed by the Miners' Union and a great gathering was held in Worth's paddock on Labour Day 1893. It catered for athletics of all kinds — foot racing, jumping, wrestling, boxing, shot putting, shooting, dancing, etc. Athletes came from all over New Zealand and even from Australia. The prizes were good and there was plenty of betting. (Bookies in those days). Such meetings were frequently held in Worth's paddock subsequently.
From its very beginning Waihi was always sports-minded and its athletic club is still turning out young men and women any town could be proud of, as we are of our Valerie Morgan who qualified to go to the Olympic Games, but of course we now have a well equipped Recreation Ground.
HORSE RACING - THE FIRST MEETING
Round about 1894 some sporting gentlemen got together and decided to hold a race meeting. They had no race course, or any other amenities. They really had no race horses either — just horses — but why should such little difficulties hold up a day's sport?
It was decided that Waihi South was a suitable site, all nice and level and cleared of tea-tree by perpetual traffic. A track was staked out, a number of buggies installed to act as a grandstand — and there was a good attendance.
Old "king wind" was mercifully absent, and it was hoped that he would remain so. Suddenly he arrived in full force. Soon the whole place was under a yellow pall, and it was almost impossible to recognise even close friends, especially towards the end of the day when perspiration had left runnels down their faces through the heavy coating of dust.
From the jockeys' point of view it was said to be ideal. In the murk they were safely able to arrange their finishes exactly as they wanted them. J. B. Beeche.
More Racing Recollections
The first unregistered body was formed in 1894 the Committee remembered by Dick Toomey, being Archie Scott, D. Darby, G. Colebrook and Charlie Lloyd, and the first meeting was held in McRae's paddock — between the railway yards and Seddon Street. The Cup was won by "Tickey Queen" owned by Dr Forbes.
Dick recalls an amusing incident at one meeting. A Maori who liked a horse called "The Bat" couldn't handle English very well so he asked the Bookie the odds in Maori. Being sure there wasn't a horse by that name the Bookie gave him a ticket £20 to £2 — and smiled to himself. When "The Bat" won the Bookie wouldn't pay out. The Maori complained to a Steward who could read and speak Maori — and the Bookie paid.
The Waihi Jockey Club evolved from the old club in 1899 when the new officers were Jackson Palmer, M.P. (patron), D. Campbell, J.P. (president), W. Corbett (Clerk of Scales), D. Carnachan (Clerk of Course), J. Graham (Starter), J. FIett (treasurer). The clubof about 60 members moved to a property in Tauranga Road, but wound up in 1900.
When the Waihi Cycling and Touring Club was formed in 1898 it was most popular notwithstanding the state of the roads. (We hear that men cycled to Thames and back during change of shift). By 1900 there was a membership of 60 and sports were held. The officers then were A. M. Myers (president), T. Stewart (captain and treasurer), E. W. McRae (deputy-captain), and Evan Morgan (hon. secretary). When the story of cycling is brought up to date such men as Doug. Kingsford, W. Hewson and a host of others will come into their own.
The first gym was formed and run by the late Daldy McWilliams in 1908. It was in the sample rooms behind the old Stirling Hotel and some of the pupils reached championship class, e.g. Billie and Dinnie Hogan and Bob Moore. Two boxers of the late 1920's and early 1930's were Waihi's own Neville Mudgway and Jim Broadfoot. Neville battled his way to the top finally winning the New Zealand Welter-weight championship. (Oh, if only his opponents had but known, he had sight in one eye only.) That clever tough fighter Jim Broadfoot still lives in Waihi, 55 now, but still very strong. He joined Bill Stansbury's gym at the age of 15, fought 60 fights as an amateur and won 48 of them. As a professional he defeated such men as Norm Young, Nelson McKnight. Eddie Parker, Dick Loveridge and Cyril Thompson gaining the light heavy-weight title in 1929, losing to Roy Nicol in 1932. On one occasion when Jim was several pounds overweight before his fight with McKnight in Hamilton, he ran from Cambridge to Hamilton and arrived 1 lb under weight. He expressed a desire for sleep, and McKnight quipped back, "You'll get all the sleep you want tonight." But Jim beat him. One time when Jim was receiving a good drumming his trainer suggested that he should stop some of the punches. Jim — the wit — replied, "Tell me one I haven't stopped."
Well, Waihi is still turning out good boys.
The Waihi Golf Club was formed about 60 years ago. Its members, drawn almost entirely from mine officials and professional men, played a nine hole course on Hollis' farm — now Waihi College Grounds. Despite the primitive conditions some good golfers learned their games (with Sam Shergold and others) at the old links, the most outstanding being Sloan Morpeth, who won the New Zealand title several times in the 'twenties. After the last war golf gained so large a following, that a move was made 10 years ago to a new 18-hole links on Woodlands Road, Waimata. The entire membership took up debentures, working bees were formed and now the links are in first class condition. Visiting golfers have been impressed by their excellence, and Walter Godfrey, who recently lowered the course record by scoring 69 in an exhibition match congratulated the greenkeeper on the putting surface he had prepared.
The Waihi Gun Club held its first live shoot in 1902. (Committee, J. Dobson, Andrew, J. Allen). E. King won the New Zealand (Sparrow) championship in 1912 and the single rise in 1912 and 1915. He and A. Sparke represented Waihi in most New Zealand shoots, both defending the Ballistete Cup on five occasions. The cup was then handed to the late Mr J. Gilmour (president). Mr J. A. Gordon, one time manager of the Consolidated Mine won the Carbine Champ. Belt in 1879, 1881, 1882 making it his own property. Other famous shots were the late James Noble and Harry Marks.
The bowling green was opened on the 23rd December, 1905, by Cr J. Foster who pointed out that it was the Borough Council's aim to bring the game within the reach of everybody who wished to play. Much criticism, he said, had been directed at the Council for establishing the green, but he felt sure that it would justify its existence. The subscription was fixed at 10/- per year.
For many years trouble was experienced because of the swampy ground at the eastern end slowly subsiding, but the game flourished, and in the 1930's the membership was about 50. Today there are 120 members, and like other Bowling Clubs, the trend is for younger men to take up the game. In September, 1953, a Ladies' Club was formed with a membership of 24, which by 1962 has grown to 56. A new pavilion of 2684 square feet was erected by the members in 1958,andin 1961 a new eight-rink green was opened.
The Rugby Union was formed in 1896 with Mr W. Corbett as first president, and E. McLeay, J. Garvey, W. McConnachie members of the Committee. Waihi produced some wonderful players in those early days. W. Cunningham, G. Gillett and R. McGregor reached All Black standard while Dick Landy, who still lives in Waihi, and others too numerous to mention represented Goldfields.
Further mention of Dick is a must in any story of Waihi Rugby. Although he lost the fingers of his left hand in a sawmill accident when a boy he was an outstanding player from 1896 to 1906. He captained the senior representatives in 1896 and the Goldfields in 1897 when playing against Thames (3 — all).
Charlie Dillimore was another brilliant footballer playing for Waihi from 1915 till well into the late 1930's. He captained Waihi on numerous occasions and the Goldfields against Auckland, scoring a win.
Another outstanding player of old Waihi is W. Heath, who still lives here. While playing for the Waitete team in 1919 he was picked and played for Auckland against Wellington for the Ranfurly Shield, and in 1921 was a member of the New Zealand Maori All Black team.
Tennis was a great favourite in the early days and still is today. The first club was formed about 1898, among the first committee being Messrs Kendrick, Mueller and Johnston. At that time the courts were behind the Commercial Hotel. In 1920 splendid new courts were formed at the back of the Recreation Ground and Waihi has a strong club.
Some of the early players were Mrs May Coutts, Mrs W. Holdsworth, Miss B. Forsyth, Mrs S. Brown, Mrs C. Dawson, Miss Donnelly, Dawson Boles, Tom Donnelly, Stan Collier, J. Donnelly, Cliff Dawson, G. Chappell and S. Brown.
Waihi had a very strong cricket team before the turn of the century, Mr W. E. Roberts of Hamilton being one of its foundation members. Interest has been keen over the years and one remembers that the late Mr Wallnutt was always a great supporter. Among the most prominent cricketers were Scotty King, Bob Wagstaff, Pundy Neil, F. Sykes, R. Carter (better known as Bendigo Bob), J. Walters (Calico Jack), J. Gannon, Lenny Reid, Hilgrove and Phil Toyer. The local teams now are busily clearing the deck for the coming season.
WAIHI BRASS BAND
This was established in 1895, and in 1900 had 28 performing members. It won the New Zealand contest at Te Aroha in 1897. Mr A. E. Johns was then secretary.
That splendid cornet player, Bert Carlyon, who has been connected with the band for about 60 years is still living in Waihi and still plays the cornet. He has conducted both the Federal and the Salvation Army Band over the years and has written a full and interesting account of the life of the band — a worthy contribution for the Historical Society. It proves that the band has done very well on contest fields and has been a great asset to Waihi.
For some years now the band has had a very hard time, in spite of the efforts of such stalwarts as R. Vickory, the present Band Master. C. G. (Jumbo) Lloyd, joined about 40 years ago, Bill Heath in 1910, and J. Beeston was a member for 41 years and served in every department. He is at present secretary, librarian, Band-Sergeant and social secretary. The band is slowly coming to the fore again, and merits our warmest support, while we pay homage to the faithful few who have given their services for so long.
SALVATION ARMY BAND
The Salvationists started their band in Waihi in 1897. Lieutenant Webber, a good cornet player, was in command and Mr Arthur Lindsay was one of the first members. To this day there has always been a Lindsay in the band. The Salvation and Federal Bands have always been very close, helping each other out on numerous occasions — even with conductors.
MR A. (Bert) CARLYON
Mr Carlyon arrived in Waihi at 13 years of age, in 1900, after several years of playing in a Salvation Army Band in Australia, so one might say he has lived with a band all his life. The following are a few of his memories:—
"I'll begin by stating how the Waihi Federated Band got its name. It certainly suggests a union or federation and that is exactly what happened. The Waihi Town Band was formed in the nineties and soon after the Waihi Martha Band came into existence. It was fortunate in obtaining the services of the McMahon brothers, Harry, Bill and Alex, members of Australia's Champion Band, 'Hillgrove,' which was conducted by their father, Hugh McMahon, the world's champion cornetist. Of course the result was electrifying and 'Martha' revelled in supremacy. But it was short-lived for the brothers returned to Australia and left Waihi listening to the very good Salvation Army Band.
"Eventually the Martha and the Town Bands decided to amalgamate and after much discussion offered a prize for a suitable name, the final choice being The Waihi Federal Band. One of my bright memories of it is connected with the name 'Smith,' and I vividly call to mind one of the Eb bass players, Tom Smith. He had two sons who have made their mark not only in New Zealand but in the whole World of Music. K. G. L. Smith, on two occasions, took representative brass bands to England and Europe, while Wynn Smith gained a wide reputation in radio circles as a pianist, especially in U.S.A. and Great Britain. He was playing with Stanley Black at the B.B.C. London about two years ago when he received word that his father was seriously ill, so he hurried home to farewell dear old Tom (of Smith Street, Waihi), the father of a remarkable flock. Then there is Ken, son of K. G. L. Smith, who recently took the world by storm as a cornetist and trumpeter.
"There are other families that have made a great contribution to band music and I would like to say in conclusion that the Waihi Federal Band has done very well on contest fields and has helped Waihi in lots of ways."
Hockey was first played at Worth's Paddock in the 1909-10 season, Mrs Irene Bell (nee Mooney) and Mr J. Whitehead, being two of the original players. In 1914 an area was used at the Hospital Park but about 1920 provision was made for the game at the Recreation Ground where it was played till 1939. Stalwart enthusiasts in the past were Charlie Dunstan and his son Eric, Clem Burt, Warwick Williams and Bill Wotherspoon, who was on the Committee for 20 years.
The first trout were liberated in the Walmsley Creek by H. Roach and H. P. Barry in 1903, and W. H. Ross stocked the Waiharakeke and Parakawai Streams with trout ova. Since the mines closed and the Ohinemuri River is free from cyanide, anglers are finding good trout fishing there and also in the Waitewheta [Waitawheta – E] Stream.
The following quotation is from the local newspaper this month: "Some good catches of rainbow trout were taken from the Mine Lake on the Martha Hill, the first averaging two to three pounds. Some brown trout were taken from the Ohinemuri and adjacent streams, many young anglers trying their luck early in the morning."
Croquet began as early as 1911, when a club was formed and application was made to the Borough Council for the use of the eastern portion of the tennis lawns for the start of the 1911 croquet season. In the main, bowlers' wives were the foundation members, at least two of whom are still resident in Waihi, namely Mesdames Brady and Whitehead. The first president was Mrs Fisk and Mrs Smith was the first secretary. Membership was good and at times the club had a waiting list.
Upkeep of the lawn in early days was the responsibility of the Borough and with the Bowling Club they donated the first equipment, hoops, mallets, balls, etc. Later the Croquet Club purchased a mower and maintained its own lawns. In 1958 the club took over the pavilion vacated by the Bowling Club. Over the years players have maintained a good standard of play, one member, Mrs S. Fallwell being a New Zealand Council Referee and District Referee for Thames Valley.
THE WAIHI GYNASIUM
For 20 years from 1930 to 1950 Harry Cowan's gymnasium served the young men of Waihi who were interested in physical training. At a wrestling school in a shed, Harry, who was a past master at all holds, trained many champions, including Jack Armitt (British Empire title). Rod Osborne (New Zealand title holder), Rawiri, W. Weston, J. Frewin, Ron Anderson, D. Robertson, Frank Beach and Robbie Williams. These men and others were very fit and often travelled to tournaments in many parts of New Zealand.
The Waihi public always gave great support and in the war years tournaments were held for patriotic purposes. During the depression no charge was made and many young men on relief work took up the sport, some of them becoming very good wrestlers and proving formidable opponents for Harry himself, who had wrestled Ken Kenneth, Jack McLean and even Lofty Blomfield.
Other activities came later, gymnastics, tumbling and weight-lifting, and it became necessary to use the Drill Hall, the Physical Welfare Department giving a grant to equip it and helping to supply instructors, indoor basketball and girls' matching [marching – E] teams now being catered for. The Rev. Gribble and Rev. Day joined with their young men, and the late Mr Wallnutt was most generous and helpful. The use of the Drill Hall was lost during the war but in a lesser way the sport was carried on at Harry Cowan's gym, Waitete Road.
WAIHI SURF AND LIFE-SAVING CLUB
The Club was formed in 1935 with F. Rudding (president) and C. Collier (instructor) and including J. Cornthwaite and P. McLeay, who are still members. It has given yeoman service in the 27 years of its existence, and there has not been a life lost in the patrol area, although as many as 12 rescues have been made in a single morning. There are both ladies and men members, and their training is excellent.
A surf reel, with small cart wheels, a heavy canvas and cork belt, and a stout coir line was on the beach from about 1920, manned by the late W. M. Wallnutt and local swimming club boys. On New Year's Day, 1926, it was used to rescue Jim Keoghan and George Morton from extra heavy surf.
Recently the New Zealand Surf Live-saving Championships were held at Waihi Beach, there being nearly 5000 spectators. The host club dominated the surf ski events and by only a narrow margin failed to gain first place in the march past. There were over 400 visiting competitors from more than 30 clubs.
Note: Mr Doug McLeay (Waihi), a former New Zealand surf ski champion, was awarded a bronze medal in 1961 for the part he played in a sea rescue after a dinghy mishap.
This comparatively new sport that has taken New Zealand by storm has a very strong following in Waihi. About 12 years ago the Returned Soldiers formed the first club with about a dozen members while now there are roughly 70, forming at least five strong clubs in Waihi. A splendid clean sport for both young and old.
In the early days of Waihi there was little or no compensation for accidents which were frequent, and even fatalities were common. In these cases "the hat" went round the mines and the results were always generous.
Lodges were very strong and played a big part in supporting the hospital and doctors.
Lodge Waihi No. 112 N.Z.C. (Masonic): Established 1898. Owned its hall in Kenny Street, erected at a cost of £300.
Loyal John Leyden Lodge, I.O.O.F., M.U.: Established 1897. There were over 200 members in 1900.
Court Waihi, A.O.F. 7597: Established 1895. Harry Armour of Waihi has been a member for 58 years.
Pride of Waihi Lodge, U.A.O.D. 20: Established 1897.
The Hibernian and the Rachabite were also early lodges.