Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co. Ltd.

I have long been interested in the nineteenth-century underground gold mines of New Zealand’s  Coromandel Peninsula. The need to develop these mines to their fullest potential required very large amounts of money and the latest technology – at that time only available from London, the financial and mining-technology centre of the world. Thus were British capital, Victorian-era steam-powered machinery and British manufacturing skills brought to bear on the Coromandel.

However, two problems needed to be solved: how to remove the gold-bearing rock in the most efficient manner, and having done this, how to extract as much gold as possible. The pursuit of these aims constituted New Zealand’s first heavy industry of any consequence. Developing the necessary technology, especially the use of potassium cyanide for gold-extraction, meant that for a period the New Zealand quartz gold mining industry led the world.

In one way the Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co Ltd. layout is a homage to this era and industry. In another it is also a teaching tool, showing in miniature how things were in ‘the olden days’, and introducing the viewer to a little-known aspect of New Zealand history.

The Backstory

1893: While hunting Kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae; the New Zealand  Pigeon) in the hills of New Zealand’s Coromandel Penisula, W.V. James discovers a gold and silver-bearign reef (‘lode’) near Toi Toi Creek – somewhere north of Karanagahake, and south of Port Jackson.

1895: The Te Kereru Mining and Investment Company (Limited. is formed in London and is soon driving horizontal tunnels (or adits) into the reef to explore the size of the deposit and commence the mining of the ore it contains.

1897: The Company begins constructing a 40-stamp battery / reduction-works for use in conjunction with the recently-introduced MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process. The work includes the construction of a steam-powered railway to connect the mine workings with the battery. This required the construction of a short tunnel through an adjacent ridge.

1898 (November); Ore trains begin running.

1900:  Having found that the reef system descends much deeper than can be reached via horizontal adits, the Company sinks a shaft (the Toi Toi) to better mine the reef and to prospect further.

1901: The Toi Toi Shaft reveals that the reef system is increasing in value as it descends, and as a result, an additional 20 stamps are added to the battery.

1911: The cyanide plant is updated. This includes four tall Brown and McMiken (B&M) air-agitator tanks measuring 13.7 metres x 6.0 metres( 45 ft. x 20 ft.) placed towards the rear of the site. A vacuum-filtration  plant and hydraulic classifier are also added.

1913 (The present time): The Company’s upgrades are payign off and its gold and silver production is the alrgest within the district. The Toi Toi Shaft is currently 144.7 metres (475 ft.) deep and values are showing no sign of decreasing at this depth.

The Model

Te Kereru  (pronounced Tea -Care-Rare-Roo) was intended to portray by way of a small layout,  the main elements in this fictional history, a scenario that drew heavily on large-scale gold mines once found at Thames, Karangahake (Car-rang-ah-hack-ee) Komata (Co mah-tah), Coromandel and Waihi (Y-he) These and my own personal experiences provided the technical background.

My intention was always to make Te Kereru a technically and historically accurate portrayal of a neglected part of New Zealand’s history. I wanted the layout to be in N scale, portable, and able to fit between my car’s rear wheel arches. And it had to be ready for public exhibition within three months! It was, and at that and several other exhibitions has received encouraging comments from both the public and other modellers.

Of course I did not start from scratch. Te Kereru is the final development of a series of micro layouts beginning in 2006 with the Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co (NL) cutlery drawer-based layout seen at the 2008 New Zealand Model Railway Guild convention in Taradale (Napier).   I subsequently enlarged the ‘Kaiser’s concept, and created the Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co Ltd’ , (‘Te Kereru’ being pronounced: Tea Care-rare-roo), a portable ‘clockwork mouse’ layout designed for exhibitions and, for ease of transportation, capable of fitting in between the wheel arches of my Nissan Primera sedan’s rear seat.

Construction

The baseboard measures 1066mm x 508mm (3ft 6in x 2ft), comprising a sheet of MDF with strips of 20mm x 30mm pine glued on the outside edges to form a frame for a 12.7mm–thick sheet of ‘Pinex–brand  soft-board laid on top. A three-ply scenic divider conceals a small fiddle yard and work area, while a tall ridge separates the site of the Toi Toi (Toy-toy) Creek mining operations from the ore processing area. I have employed self-developed a New Zealand-specific variation of UK N scale (1:148), with suitably modified N-scale rolling stock.

Track and wiring

The track is roughly oval in shape, laid with Peco N scale Code 80 flextrack pinned to the Pinex. Exhibition-based experience and discussions with respected model railway peers convinced me that points can be a source of many problems, and since the viewing public rarely commented it seemed that omitting them would be a contribution to reliable running. The layout does however have three nominal sidings (at the mine, the battery and the locomotive shed beside the battery). These are supposedly one-blade mining tramway type units and are non-working.

Power feed is simply two wires attached to my veteran Hammant & Morgan power unit.

Scenery

Basic scenery was constructed from blocks of high-density plastic foam overlaid with kitchen towels. Pollyfilla was applied over this, followed by acrylic tube colours, predominantly white, black, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, yellow and blue.  Vegetation is Woodland Scenics Coarse Foliage. Ground cover consists of a variety of dried sawdusts, held in place by PVA and superglue.

The sky is deliberately white in colour — to help portray the anti-cyclonic gloom frequently found on the Coromandel Peninsula and emphasises the contrast between the bush and structures. Comments from residents of the area, indicate that I have successfully captured the atmosphere of the area.

Structures

All Te Kereru’s structures are scratch-built, designed to provide examples typical of the various evolutionary phases of large-scale nineteenth century underground goldmines in the Coromandel.

As well as the major mine and battery buildings there is a water-race, with race inspector’s hut, a locomotive shed; goods sheds at both the mine and battery, and various other tanks and buildings.

At Toi Toi there is a substantial amount of trestle work and a large dump for waste rock (mullock)  from the mine.

An abandoned traction engine remains at Toi Toi from when it served as a stationary boiler to power an air compressor in the mine’s early days. Contrast that with the new fangled telephone recently installed to connect the General Manager’s office at the battery Te Keruru office with the Mine Manager’s at Toi Toi.

The tall B&M (Brown and McMiken) air-agitator tanks at the battery form part of the battery’c cyanide plant and are typical of early examples, while the Toi Toi Shaft’s 65ft (20m)-tall head frame (or Poppett Head) is similar to those at Thames, Waihi and Coromandel.

Material and methods

A wide variety of discarded materials were used in constructing Te Kereru. Almost everything was made from off-cuts, such as the scraps of picture framer’s matte board used for buildings, or the discarded overhead transparency film used for window glazing.

The battery’s windows, having multiple panes, were first scribed to create the mullions, then covered with white paint, which when wiped off with a damp cloth left paint within the scribed lines – instant multi-paned windows!

Mining plant, having only a short life-expectancy, was constructed as cheaply as possible, and in New Zealand low-cost corrugated iron was the primary form of cladding. My ‘corrugated iron’ was 1970s-era embossed wallpaper and I made the B&M tanks from toilet-roll inners, with propelling-pencil leads being used for over-flow pipes and card for the deflectors installed at the tops of the tanks. . . The Toi Toi Shaft head frame was built from square-section strip balsa and card, and the mine ore trucks from cork roadbed, with propelling-pencil leads for the axles. Items I could not make, (such as track, people and animals), were purchased.

Detailing

I enjoy the possibilities for detailing, and as a result various small vignettes appear on the layout. These include a cage in the Toi Toi Shaft head frame with a worker putting a lot of effort into manoeuvreing an empty ore wagon back inside before it returns underground, two men using a pinch-bar to get an ore-truck back on the rails at the entrance to one of the tunnels, and the telephone-line repairman up a pole near the water-race, replacing a line that has been broken.  His two pack-horses (one carrying saddlebags) graze below him.  There are other similar mini scenes as well, though they may not be evident at first glance.

Rolling stock

Motive power is an N-scale Bachmann 0-6-0 Plymouth switcher reworked to look something like a Manning-Wardle street tramway locomotive.  This was supposedly imported by the company from a bankrupt British system.  Wagons are scratch-built, mainly of the mainly of the side-tipping-type and mounted on single N-scale bogies’.

Several flat-deck wagons do static duty at the goods sheds at Toi Toi and the battery.   Because of the severe curvature, a simple type of hook and pin coupler is used. At the standard N scale viewing distance of two feet (600mm), these rarely elicit comment.

People and creatures

Te Kereru has various people and animals within its boundaries.  People are doing a variety of jobs, from shovelling coal outside the battery’s boiler house, to the telephone-line repairman previously-mentioned.  At Toi Toi, pit ponies haul ore and timber wagons as needed.

Things that lurk in the forest

There is a resident dinosaur in the bush country between the battery and the mine. A reclusive creature, it is only seen at exhibitions, mainly by small children. He has proven singularly successful as an ice breaker with members of the public.  With the children indulging in a dinosaur hunt the parents can be engaged in conversation and left free to actually look at what is on the layout.

Is it narrow gauge?

I am frequently asked if the layout is 009 or some narrow gauge variation on Z gauge (Nn3 perhaps). The questioners are invariably surprised that it is in fact conventional N scale, rather than the apparent narrow gauge that prompted the question.  The narrow gauge look is not intentional, but seems to have evolved of its own accord. For that I have no explanation.

Public reaction

My wife accompanies me to exhibitions, and she has noted that because of the clockwise direction that model railway exhibitions tend to follow, members of the public mostly approach from the Te Kereru  or battery (left hand) end.  Having given the layout a quick once-over, and seeing little to interest them, they then move on, to suddenly notice Toi Toi at the other end, hiding behind some hills and trees.  The reaction is frequently one of surprise accompanied by a ’wow’ of amazement, and followed by a closer investigation. Some people have even been observed dragging their mates back to share in the discovery.

Frequent comment is made concerning the detail that has been incorporated into Te Kereru, along with surprise as to how much detail is possible in such a small scale  and space. We have also noticed that because of its height — it simply rests on a conventional trestle table — small children and people in wheelchairs seem to get the best of views.

The future?

Te Kereru has so far attended several exhibitions and been well received. It is reliable and fun and gets lots of positive comments from viewers, so its appearances will continue. In between times it is still being detailed and added to.

Layout at a glance

Name: Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co. Ltd.

Scale: N (1:148).

Size: 1.066.8mm x 508mm. (42″ x 24″).

Prototype: Various Coromandel Peninsula gold mining tramways.

Period: 1913.

Locale: Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand

Layout Style: Portable.

Height: Approximately 1m (height of trestle table).

Length of mainline: 2.72m.

Track: Peco code 80 flextrack

Points/Turnouts: None.

Control:  Conventional 240-volt transformer.

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layout-3

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

General view of layout showing Toi Toi mining area at bottom of layout and battery/ reduction-works site visible at upper LH corner.

(Scale: 1:148)

toi-toi-70

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Detail view of Toi Toi Mining area showing various adits and tramways. Poppett Head of Topi Toi shaft visible at center-right foreground.

(Scale: 1:148)

toi-toi-87

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

A view from Mullock heap (Waste rock) area showing surface buildings associated with the Toi Toi shaft. The tramway goods shed and the tracks of the steam-powered tramway. are visible at LH centre and at bottom of the image. Various adits and mining-related tramways are visible in the background.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

View along Mullock Heap trestle, looking towards Toi Toi shaft

(Scale: 1:148)

view-towards-upper-toi-toi-valley

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

View of Upper Toi Toi Valley showing various adits and mullock heaps (Waste rock dumps).

(Scale: 1:148)

toi-toi-115

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Braceman maneuvering ore wagon into cage on upper Brace of Toi Toi shaft.

(Scale: 1:148)

toi-toi-general-view-of-workings-looking-towards-toi-toi-shaft-winding-engine-house-no-6-adit-bins-in-foreground-no-2-adit-behind-it-steam-tramway-tunnel-portal-visisble-at-bottom-left

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

View of western section of Toi Toi mine workings, showing No.6 adit and ore-Bins and  steam-powered tramway tracks. The Toi Toi Shaft and Winding-Engine House is visible in background.

(Scale: 1:148)

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TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Steam-tramway locomotive No.1 arriving at the battery with a rake of wagons. General view of 60-stamp battery/reduction works and cyanide plant. B&M tanks visible at left, with tracks of steam-powered tramway visible at bottom of photograph.

(Scale: 1:148)

view-of-battery-from-access-road

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

A general view of the battery / reduction-works area  The 60-stamp battery is in the taller part of the large building that also houses the cyanide plant. There is a hand-fired boiler in the smaller foreground shed. The tracks of the steam tramway are just visible

(Scale: 1:148)

battery-bm-tanks-classifier-and-sttling-tanks-detail-dscf4898

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Detail image of the modern Brown and McMiken Air-agitator tanks installed at the Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co. Ltd.’s battery in 1912.

(Scale: 1:148)

battery-cyanide-plant-locomotive-shed-dscf4912

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Aerial view of Battery, Company offices, Cyanide plant B&M Tanks, Pump House Tailings Dam and Locomotive Shed.

(Scale: 1:148)

water-race-dscf5045-51

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

A detail view of the Company’s water-race headstock and siphon, with waste water discharging over the spillway to the right. The Water-race Inspector is visible on the bridge, while his hut is visible behind the telephone pole.

(Scale: 1:148)

battery-dscf5045-45

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

An image of the Company’s water-race  and its recently-installed and modern telephone system which connects the Battery with the mine. A recent storm has removed the wires so a repairman can be seen on top of the pole, reconnecting the line. His pack horses are grazing patiently below him.

(Scale: 1:148)

trmway-locomotive-shed2014-11-26-11-33-22

TE KERERU MINING AND INVESTMENT CO. LTD.

Tramway locomotive shed.

(Scale: 1:148)

__________________________

Note: No photographs of the dinosaur have been discovered.

Te Kereru Mining and Investment Co. Ltd.

Book Review: ‘British Battlecruisers 1905-1920’

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Reviewer: NZ Crown Mines)

Title:  British Battlecruisers 1905-1920

Author: John Roberts

Total Number of Pages: 128

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent): 6

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Compromise can sometimes have unexpected consequences, with ‘theory’ not being supported by actual experience. So it proved with the ‘Battlecruiser-type’ warship. In theory a warship which was fast enough to overtake its opponents and (by being equipped with very heavy gun armament), be able to then destroy them, was an excellent idea. The reality was somewhat different, and as with many compromises, it was ultimately unsuccessful in its application.

This volume was originally published in 1997, and revised and reprinted in 2016. It covers the rise and fall of the battlecruiser-type warship within the Royal Navy.  Unlike many other works on such vessels, this book concentrates on the technical aspects of the type. Numerous Photographs, Tables, Drawings, Plans and Diagrams, contribute to the narrative. In addition, a set of Original Plans In Colour of HMS Invincible appear in the middle of the work. Looking suitably nostalgic by virtue of the colours employed, these include a fold-out section and are supplemented by an additional monochrome plan (that of HMS Queen Mary, 1913). This resides in a specially-designed pocket inside the back cover.

The volume consists of 16 un-numbered sections. A Preface to New Edition [sic] section is followed by one titled Abbreviations which is devoted to the abbreviations used throughout the work. An Introduction provides details of the World War I operational service of Royal Navy battlecruisers. Three other sections cover the history, development and construction of the battlecruiser-type vessel within the Royal Navy. Additional sections provide detailed analysis of the machinery, armament and armour that such vessels carried. A Summary of Service section details the naval service of most of the vessels referred-to within the volume, although HMS Hood is conspicuously absent.   A Sources section serves as a Bibliography. Within each chapter, sequentially-numbered endnote markers are used to provide additional source information. The relevant sources appear in a separate Notes section. An Index is provided. The existence of the previously-mentioned Photographs, Tables, Drawings and Diagrams is not mentioned within the Contents section, while the Index states only that ‘Page references in Italics denote photographs / diagrams’.

To this reviewer, this volume’s title implied a full history of the battlecruiser type of vessel. Such was not the case. He found instead a work that concentrated almost exclusively on the technical details of the type, and ignored all post-World War I service of its subjects.  He was especially surprised to find  no mention of HMS Hood  (the ultimate, and most famous British battlecruiser) in the volume’s Summary of Service section; this despite photographs and technical details of this vessel appearing within the work. As the loss of this ship forms a major part of Great Britain’s recent naval history, this is a major omission which reduces the volume’s authority.

This volume is likely to appeal to several groups. These could include those seeking technical information concerning Royal Navy battlecruisers per se’. Those interested in sea-going artillery and naval design and Historians with an interest in World War I or in naval, and military matters may find it worthy of inspection.   Warship modellers seeking details about specific vessels may also find it a useful source of information. Those seeking details of the post-World War I service of these vessels, and of HMS Hood in particular, are however, likely to be disappointed.

On a Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent), I give it a 6.


nzcrownmines is also available for book reviewing: Contact nzcrownmines@gmail.com

Book Review: ‘British Battlecruisers 1905-1920’

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Britains Toy Soldiers: The History and Handbook 1893-2013’

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Reviewer: NZ Crown Mines

Title: Britains Toy Soldiers: The History and Handbook 1893-2013

Author: James Opie

Total Number of Printed Pages: 480

Total Number of Photographs: 400

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent):  8

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The hobby of ‘collecting’ is widespread and can range from full-size machinery to very minute items. Almost anything can be ‘collected. If the interest is sufficient and the collecting fraternity large enough, eventually ‘learned tomes’ are written about the subject. Such works can cover all and any aspects of the hobby, and can themselves be worthy of collecting; if only for the sheer volume and detail of their contents.

It is this reviewer’s opinion that James Opie’s Britains Toy Soldiers: The History and handbook 1893-2013 falls into this latter category; it’s comprehensiveness and encyclopaedic detail ensuring that it is worthy of attention on its own merit.

As will be evident from the title, this volume is essentially a history of Britains Ltd., internationally-renowned makers of the small-scale figures known colloquially as ‘Toy’ soldiers.  Britains do however make other figures and objects and these (and the aforementioned soldiers) are covered within the eight chapters (and a separate sub-chapter) which comprise the majority of this work’s pages.   The author believes that there have been seven separate stages in the evolution of the Britains organisation and its models. He designates these stages ‘Ages’ and uses them to form the basis for the volume’s seven main chapters.  Within each chapter the company’s activities during that time are detailed and the models created during that period, critiqued. The previously mentioned sub-chapter (2a) investigates in detail the many variations of a specific series within the larger Britains range of models. In addition (and to quote the author) , Chapter 8 provides ‘…An encyclopaedic glossary of subjects…that are of interest to Britains collectors’. It is a fair summary.  The work also contains a Foreword, an Introduction, a Bibliography, an Appendix and an Index. Four hundred high-quality photographs are also provided.  Regrettably, the Foreword, although subtitled Auctioneering, does not detail the Auctioneering process, but rather describes the author’s experiences as an auctioneer of both toy collections and Britains figures. As it broadly outlines what the author’s activities consist of, some readers may find it of interest.

That the author knows his subject is very evident, yet it is precisely that knowledge which caused this reviewer difficulties. The work contains an incredible amount of detail, with the photographs acting as aid memoirs for the text. The information appears to be accurate and as noted, it is both comprehensive and encyclopaedic. However, the sheer volume of information tends to overwhelm the casual reader, to the extent that it is almost information  ‘overload’. This is very definitely not a volume for light reading; but is rather (as with many encyclopaedia-type books), a work which can be dipped-into when seeking specific information about a specific item. Used in that manner, this volume will be a work of great value.

This reviewer believes that this work is very-much in the ‘niche market’ category and as such will be invaluable to any specialist collector of Britain’s material. In that context, it may well become a classic, and perhaps even a ‘Collectable’ in its own right. To a lesser extent, researchers interested in toy-history and toy companies may also find it of use. The information it contains notwithstanding, it is probable that the average reader will however only read it for its curiosity value. This is unfortunate, but is a fate not unknown for similar works in other fields.

On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I would give it an 8.

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nzcrownmines is also available for book reviewing: Contact nzcrownmines@gmail.com

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Britains Toy Soldiers: The History and Handbook 1893-2013’