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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

The Springfield Colliery and Pottery Works

The Springfield Colliery and Pottery Works.

The Springfield Colliery is the most important one on this side of the ranges, and a large amount of capital has been sunk in the purchase of complete plant for making the potteries and for working the coal pits. The first object that strikes the eye on nearing the ground is the winding machinery, standing fifty feet high, with its wire rope, of the kind with which the illustrated Home papers make us familiar when they have to record the frequent accidents at coal mines; for the Springfield colliery possesses a shaft 300 feet deep, and is unlike most others in New Zealand, which are worked by means of level drives into hill sides. Round the opening of the shaft are congregated the buildings and appurtenances of coal-raising—the trucks, the shed with the winding engine, the smithy, heaps of black refuse, &c.

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A short distance from the pit are the pottery works, consisting of a large brick building, the kilns, sheds, offices, cottages for manager and employees, altogether quite a little village. The large brick building contains a "pug" machine for breaking up and mixing up the clay; a hydraulic pipe machine, capable of making drain pipes, &c., of from 3 to 18 inches in diameter under a pressure of 800 lbs. to the square inch; and a pan mill, almost a fac simile of the machine used for grinding chocolate, for grinding up clay for fine work. Besides these, the place is fitted up with the most perfect appliances for the manipulation and manufacturing of every description of clay work, from the coarsest of drain pipes to the most delicate of terra cotta ware, so that Springfield may be said to unite in itself the qualifications of industrial and artistic work. A powerful boiler, by Roby and Co., supplies steam for the machinery, the waste steam from it being also utilized in the drying-room. The clay used is obtained from a splendid deposit, 7 feet 8 inches in thickness, found in the deep pit close to the coal seam, nearly 300 feet below the surface. It is really excellent, almost too good for ordinary work, remarkably pure, free from any trace of iron, and withstands the fierce attacks of the hot nor'-west winds when worked up without cracking. The seam from which it is drawn being at such a depth, is presumably older than surface clays; a result of this is that the clay is an exceedingly close, heavy one, and scarcely shrinks at all in the burning—a most valuable property. Fire bricks (no common ones are made), pipes, junctions, traps, &c., made from it are lighter in colour than those made from other clays, and harder. A supply of fire-bricks obtained from the far-famed Stourbridge manufactory, with which to line the kiln near the firing points where the most tremendous heat is developed, have been completely melted, and run into an indistinguishable mass; while locally-made bricks, put in at the same time, have withstood the crucial test, and are still fairly perfect in form. The work-room is 70 feet by 60 feet. Here we saw some specimens of work proving the capabilities of the clay for the most delicate artistic work. Among them are some very beautiful flowers, made by hand, very closely approaching in excellence some of the exhibits in the Bohemian section of the Austrian Court in the New Zealand "International" of 1882. No large stock of the company's manufactures were on hand at the time of our visit, but the kilns were quite full, and afforded a good idea of the excellence and variety of the articles turned out at these works. The company were awarded a gold medal for their clay exhibits at the Exhibition held in Christchurch in 1882, and have since regularly taken first prizes at agricultural shows held in Christchurch and elsewhere for fire-bricks, drain-pipes, sanitary appliances, &c.

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Coal exists in quantity and quality upon the Company's estate It has been estimated by the Government Geologist that the seams extends over about 900 acres of land; and by means of a diamond drill, which this enterprising company imported specially for the purpose of proving this ground, they have ascertained the existence of two large seams, besides several smaller ones, and have proved that they extend over a large area at no great depth.

The coal is a useful coal for household and factory purposes, and is largely used by the Government on the railways. But it is not equal to that found on the West Coast for ocean steam purposes.

The same class of coal is found throughout the east side of the mountain ranges, running through the Middle Island, and is of about the same quality and character.