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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Auckland Provincial District]



The Victoria Battery, Waikino, the property of the Waihi Gold Mining Company, started in the early part of 1898. The buildings, of which there are a large number, are all constructed of corrugated iron, and concrete floors are in use throughout. The motive power of the battery is derived from (1) the Ohinemuri river, the fall being 50 feet, equal to 500 horse-power or 100 sluice heads; (2) the Waitekauri river, with a fall of 200 feet, equal to 200 horse-power or twenty sluice heads; and (3) the Owharoa Falls, having a fall of over 100 feet, which is equal to 100 horse-power, or twenty sluice heads. Turbines and Pelton wheels are in use in connection with the water power, and there is also a compound Fowler steam engine, with an indicated capacity of 150 horse-power, the steam for which is supplied from a Babcock water tube boiler, of 158 horse-power. In May, 1900, an additional hundred-head of stampers was being erected, and a new steam compound side-by-side jet condensing engine of 600 horse-power was being fitted up. The steam for this engine is to be produced in five Babcock boilers, with a working pressure of 150 pounds each, and the power will be transmitted from the engine by thirteen steel ropes. The stampers are in two sets of fifty, on the back-to-back principle, with hopper between them, and are intended for crushing by the wet process. Each stamper has a drop weight of 1250 pounds. The product from the stamps will be elevated 72 feet by four specially designed rain-pumps. Twenty head of the stampers are to be fixed with copper-plated tables, and a set of six Union concentrators, with six belts for treating the mineralised ore experimentally. The first hundred head of stampers at the Victoria battery is worked by the dry crushing process, the ore being first passed through a stone-breaking plant, consisting of two No. 5 and two No. 3 Gates' crushers, and one Blake-Marsden crusher. The stuff is reduced in these machines to inch and a half pieces, and is conveyed by an elevator to the top of the building, where it is taken by a cable-tram into hoppers, and is fed automatically to the stamps. The sand and slimes are passed on from the stamps to the treatment plant, where there are five vats, each 38 feet in diameter by 8 feet deep, capable of holding 480 tons each. After treatment by the cyanide process the produce passes through filter presses, and the solution containing the gold is treated in zinc towers, where the bullion is extracted. The entire plant is up to date in every respect. Mr. S. Fraser, the battery manager, designed the original mill, and has supervised its erection, and he has also largely designed now (1901) in course of completion.

Mr. Samuel Fraser, Engineer and Battery Manager, who has been in charge of the Victoria Battery since its opening, is a younger son of Mr. George page 496 Fraser, engineer, of Auckland, and was born in Auckland in 1870, receiving his early education at Wellesley Street School, under Mr. Henry Worthington. On leaving school he was apprenticed to the engineering with Messrs. G. Fraser and Sons. During his connection with that firm he received a thorough course of training in the various branches of engineering, and for some years had charge of their experimental plant for gold and silver ores, thereby gaining a practical knowledge of the necessary treatment of the various classes of ore, he was also connected with several mining companies, conducting experiments on their behalf. In February, 1896, Mr. Fraser joined the Waitekauri Gold Mining Company, Ltd., prior to the erection of their new mill, on the completion of which he accepted an engagement with the Waihi Gold Mining Company, Ltd., to design the plans for their new 100 stamp mill, erected at Walkino. Since then he has been appointed to the position of superintending engineer for the new mill. Mr. Fraser, although a young man, has come into prominence, and has before him a brilliant professional career.

Mr. S. Fraser.

Mr. S. Fraser.

Mr. Henry Benner, Accountant for the Victoria Battery, Waikino, was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, in 1868. He was educated in Cork, and was brought up to a mercantile life. Mr. Benner came to Wellington by the s.s. “Rumutaka,” and settled in Te Puke, where he was engaged in farming for several years. He was appointed to his present position in November, 1896, and had been for one year previously accountant at Brown's sawmills, Waihi.

Mr. James Alfred McKenna, Battery Foreman at the Victoria Battery, Waikino, was born in 1873 at the Thames, where he was educated, and brought up to mining. In 1891 he settld at Waihi, where he entered the employment of the Waihi Company, and was engaged in the general work in the fitting shop and yards for about three years. He became assistant battery foreman at the Waihi battery in 1895, but owing to an accident at football, which, resulted in a broken leg, he was laid up for seven months. After his recovery he was appointed foreman at the Victoria battery on the 24th of January, 1898. Mr. McKenna still takes considerable interest in athletics, and is vice-president of the Waikino Football Club. He is also a Druid, and is attached to Lodge Pride of the Waihi.

Mr. Thomas Archibald Dickson, Outside Foreman at the Victoria Battery, Waikino, was born in Bedfordshire, England, in 1870. He came to Wellington with his parents in 1880, was educated in the Rangitikei district, and was employed for some time as a flaxmiller in Te Aroha and the Rangitikei district. Mr. Dickson afterwards worked on his own account for some years in Rangitikei and in Hawke's Bay, and removed in 1896 to Waikino, where he has since occupied his present position. He was married on the 31st of January, 1900, to a daughter of Mr. W. McLaren, of Mary borough, Victoria.

Mr. John Tracy Knight, Electrician at the Victoria Battery, Waikino, was born in London, in 1857. He gained his early education at Bishop Stortford, Herts, and in Zurich, Switzerland, where he served his time as a mechanical engineer with the firm of Escher, Wyss, and Company, with whom he was for four years; and also at the locomotive works, Winterthur, near Zurich. Mr. Knight was afterwards employed as a mechanical engineer at Geneva, where he got his first experience in electrical work, with a company formed for promoting and carrying out scientific investigations. In 1876. Mr. Knight was sent by the company to the South Kensington Science and Art Exhibition, London, in charge of exhibits of ice-making machinery, dynamos, and other exhibits. Two years later Mr. Knight came to Port Chalmers by the ship “Wanganui,” and was for eighteen months employed by Mr. John Anderson at his foundry in Christchurch. In 1880, Mr. Knight took up music as a profession, and found congenial employment for about fourteen years in Christchurch, Lyttelton, and Auckland. In 1895 he entered the service of Messrs John Chambers and Son, by whom he was sent to Ohinemuri and Thames, to fit up electrical instalments at page 497 various plants in the district. He afterwards entereu the service of the Waihi Company, became pattern-maker at the Victoria battery, and was appointed electrician in January, 1900. Mr. Knight was married, in 1885, to a daughter of Mr. J. Sandford, of Heath-cote Valley, Christchurch, but she died in 1886, leaving one daughter.

Mr. William Edwards, Foreman Carpenter at the Victoria Battery, Waikino, was born in London in 1854. At the age of fifteen he went to the Brazils as a boy before the mast, but left his vessel at Rio, and went into the interior and worked for nine months on the Sandhurst and San Paulo railroad. Mr. Edwards afterwards rounded. Cape Horn and went to California, where he worked as a carpenter on the Central Pacific railway for eight years, and was for two years of that time foreman carpenter. After a year in the Eastern States of America, he came to Auckland in 1879, and was engaged in the building trade at Auckland and Cambridge. He was afterwards foreman for Mr. D. Fallon, contractor for the Thames Valley railway. Subsequently he went to Victoria, and was engaged in the building trade in Melbourne. On returning to Auckland in 1894, he was employed at Morrinsville and at Waitekauri, and has been at the Victoria battery since 1897. Mr. Edwards was married in October, 1882, to a daughter of the late Mr. G. P. Priestly, of Parnell, Auckland, and has two daughters and two sons.

Mr. W. Edwards.

Mr. W. Edwards.

Mr. George Yearbury, who is one of the staff of carpenters at the Victoria Battery, was born in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1865. He came to Auckland with his parents in 1877, and learned his trade with Messrs Philcox and Son, builders. In 1889 he went to Melbourne and had two years' experience in connection with his trade, and on his return to the Colony he was on the Kuaotunu goldfield for three years. With a partner, he built the Kuaotunu Quartz Crushing Company's battery, and afterwards erected, on his own account, additions to the Try Fluke battery, and was engaged in other work in the district. After a year in Auckland, where he was engaged in housebuilding, Mr. Yearbury settled at Waihi. In 1891, he entered the employment of the Waihi Company, for which he built a number of cyanide vats, and was afterwards engaged in the building of the Waitekauri battery. In 1897 he was appointed to the position he still holds at the Victoria battery. He was married, in March, 1891, to a daughter of Mr. T. Barnaby, of Auckland, and has two sons and one daughter.