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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 18, June 1974

 

HAPPY DAYS AT WAIHI EAST Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 18, June 1974

By ELSIE SYMONS

As a child some 60 years ago, I lived at the Barry Road end of Walmsley Road (the Wallnut family lived behind us in Roycroft Street), so of course we all attended the original East School of which I have such happy memories. Naturally it stood for all my elementary learning but also for the foundation of life-long friendships and associations such as sporting activities which I so much enjoyed and many musical evenings were spent at our home.

My Mother's cousin, Georgina Handcock, taught at the Mataura Maori School 9 miles away and we children looked forward to spending a holiday at the Beach in the School-house where three aunts lived. Georgina had a fine horse which she rode side-saddle to Waihi for stores. When they moved to Rotorua we enjoyed plenty of good picnic spots nearer home, black-berrying or in Walmsley's Bush swinging on Rata vines or gathering ferns to add to Mother's lovely garden. Many times we swam at the Willows [Ohinemuri River about the junction with the Walmsley Stream – E] or climbed Black Hill, crossing to Union Hill through the saw mill near Barry Road.

My brother Charles and I often walked to Bulltown from Martha Hill, past the PowerHouse, Pump House, Change House, and No.4 Poppet Head where our father Albert Williams was an engine driver. I liked to watch the signals there and listen to the bells that signified the different levels where the cage must stop for men to get on or off. It was important that Dad kept his mind on the bells and large "Silence" signs were everywhere. The place was spotless and I would watch quietly while machinery was oiled and wiped. But in the Battery the noise was terrific and we were glad to get outside again.

The Recreation Ground on Kenny Street with its wonderful facilities for Games was very near to us and I learned to play Tennis there. I remember playing with Walter Quintal one Sat. morning during the 1918 Flu Epidemic and being shocked to hear on the Monday that he had passed away - so sudden was the onslaught. It was a proud day for me when I became a Rep. Hockey player and Captained the Thames Valley Team that played Auckland. The Baths backed on to the popular Bowling Green where Passion flowers covered the fence. Other amenities included an octagonal Band Rotunda, Football fields, Basket Ball Courts and a Cricket Pitch. Teams travelled throughout the district over shocking roads and from Paeroa to Auckland by boat. When a return match was played guests would be entertained at the Rob Roy Hotel for dinner followed by a dance in the King's Theatre - (now Pye T.V.)

Music was an important part of our lives. My father's cousin Joe Hemus lived at Karangahake and gave Violin lessons. My widowed Grandmother, Hannah Williams (nee Hemus) came to live with us after being in Auckland and previously Coromandel where they had a Shoe Shop. When she died -- (about 1920) we sold our home and lived in one of her properties in Union Street. Our old kauri house was moved to Hamilton. All so long ago!