There is some confusion in the literature regarding the early history of mining in Waihi. Matters are further complicated because both Nicholl and McCombie, during their lifetimes, wrote several different versions of early events (Philip Hart attempts to sort them out).
Two batteries were built more or less concurrently in 1882. The “Martha” (15 stamps) was on the eastern side of Martha Hill, for the Martha Company. The other (“Manukau” Jones’) was on the Ohinemuri River upstream of the present Victoria Street Bridge (20 stamps) for the Waihi Gold Mining Company. This Ohinemuri River battery was briefly called the “Waihi Battery”, but soon took over the name of the defective Martha Battery.
So, the battery at the Ohinemuri became known as the “Martha Battery” (30 stamps), and processed ore from Martha Hill for the Martha Extended Gold Mining Company (an amalgamation of the Martha and Waihi Companies). It was the only battery operating in the Waihi district until 1888 when the new Waihi Gold and Silver Mining Company, formed to work claims on Union Hill, started to build their Waihi Battery at the base of Union Hill.
In 1890 Thomas H. Russell purchased the Martha Company’s mine and battery, and ownership was transferred to the new Waihi Gold Mining Company. The battery was surplus to requirements, and sold to the Silverton Company, who remodelled it, and renamed it the “Silverton Battery” (40 stamps). Ore was transported by tram from their mine at Silverton Hill.
In due course (1899), the Silverton Company (and battery) was bought by the Union-Waihi Company, who renamed the battery: “Union Battery”. The Union-Waihi Company sent ore to this battery from 1899 to 1901 (from Union Hill and Silverton).
The battery on this site was progressively enlarged and modified during its life. As the Silverton Battery (initially 10 or 15 stamps) it was converted to the cyanide process (1893, before the Waihi Battery), and as the Union Battery it was expanded to 40 stamps.
Water power was obtained by dams, water races and long trestled flume from the Waimata and Mangakiri Streams, damming the Ohinemuri at what is now known as Coffey’s Creek, and a dam and water race on the Mangatoetoe Stream.
The Waihi Gold Mining Company took over the Union-Waihi Company and battery in 1901 (sending ore from Martha), and closed the “Union Battery” in 1911. It was demolished in 1915.
Some of the foundations still present at this site will be the oldest (1882) building foundations still in Waihi.
Despite latter day confusion, the battery built in 1888 on Union Hill was never called the “Union Battery”, but always the “Waihi Battery”, or “Waihi Mill”. There was no battery on Union Hill prior to the Waihi Battery. It was built by the Waihi Gold-and Silver-Mining Company, or Waihi Gold Mining Company, as it was known, to treat their ore from the Union Hill area (Union, Rosemont, Amaranth and the smaller Trio, Nelson, and Winner claims). This company acquired the Martha mine in 1890. (The Waihi Gold Mining Company was established in December 1887, and became the Martha Gold Mining Company (Waihi) Ltd. in 1935.)
The Victoria Battery at Waikino commenced crushing in 1898, and by 1902 the Waihi Gold Mining Company had 330 head of stamps crushing Martha ore (Waihi: 90, Union: 40, Victoria: 200).
The Waihi Battery was closed in 1913, though the Melthouse and Refinery at this site (Union Hill) continued in use until closure in 1953.