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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]



Denniston is the principal site of the Westport Coal Company's extensive operations. It stands on a hill, which is from 2,000 to page 193 2,300 feet above sea-level, and settlement began about the year 1882. Denniston is in the Wareatea riding of the county of Buller, in the electoral district of Buller, and in the provincial district of Nelson. At the census of 1901 its population was returned at 793, and that of Coalbrookdale village at 111; but in 1905 it was estimated that the population had increased to 1,500, including the residents of Burnett's Face. Denniston is connected by an incline, one mile and a-half in length, with Conn's Creek; the incline is used chiefly for forwarding the coal, and bringing back stores and an occasional passenger. From Conn's Creek the coal is conveyed by the Westport Company's branch railway—a distance of two miles—to Inangahua Junction, and thence—ten miles— to Westport by the Government line of railway. Foot passengers and equestrians traved by a good horse track, from many points of which magnificent views of land and sea are obtainable; the distance by this track is three miles from Denniston to Conn's Creek. Residents on Denniston Hill have many of the advantages of a city; especially with respect to electric light, which is supplied from the Company's works. There are four hotels in the settlement, two stores, two drapers, bootmakers' and butchers' establishments, and three fancy goods and fruiterers' shops. The local Post Office is in charge of a departmental officer, who is assisted by two messengers, who make two deliveries a day. There is an excellent Working Men's Club, and a Public Library, with reading and billiard rooms, in a building erected by the Coal Company, and mining classes are also held under the same roof. There is a public school in charge of a headmaster, who is supported by two assistants and two pupil teachers. Denniston also has its Masonic Lodge (Aorangi, No. 89, New Zealand Constitution), and its brass band. The health and social condition of the miners are watched over by the Denniston Collieries Accident and Relief Fund Association, with a resident medical officer. Several mountains are all at about equal distances from the town of Denniston; namely, Mount Frederick, to the north-east, 2,849 feet high; Mount William, to the south-east, 3,482 feet; Mount Rochfort, to the south-west, 3,382 feet.

Group of Well-Known Riders on the Top of Denniston Hill.

Group of Well-Known Riders on the Top of Denniston Hill.

See page 178.

See page 178.

Cordial Factory and Residence of Mr. H. Pain.

Cordial Factory and Residence of Mr. H. Pain.

Denniston Post Office , which includes a Money Order Office and Savings Bank, is a wooden building built at the lower end of the township. The office also transacts Government Life Insurance business, and is connected with Westport and all surrounding offices by telephone. There are two mails, one arriving and one departing daily, and the Denniston sub-office is the largest sub-office on the West Coast.

page 194

Miss Josephine Lempfert took charge of the Denniston Post Office in June, 1897, when she was not quite eighteen years of age, and was then the youngest postmistress on record in charge of such a large and busy office.

The Denniston Public School consists of two wooden buildings, in one of which infants are taught, and in the other pupils from standard I up to standard VII. The schools are built on separate blocks, and owing to the rugged nature of the locality they have practically no playground. There are about 200 names on the rolls, and there is a good average attendance.

Mr. A. Trevella , Headmaster of the Denniston Public School, was born in 1874 in Christchurch, where he was educated and trained at the Normal School. He has been assistant teacher at Little River, and headmaster at Takaka, Brooklyn, and Motueka. In 1898, he became headmaster at Burnett's Face, whence he was appointed to his present position. Mr. Trevella is a successful teacher, and he is an old member of the Linwood Football Club.

Royal Hotel (Charles Allington, proprietor), Denniston. This hotel contains fourteen rooms, and has good accommodation. The best liquors are kept, and the tariff is a moderate one.

Mr. Charles Allington , the proprietor of the Royal Hotel, was born in Warwickshire, England, in the year 1862. He came to New Zealand at an early age, and landed at Lyttelton. For a number of years he was engaged in bricklaying in the Canterbury district, and afterwards turned his attention to goldmining, at which he spent about nine years, principally in Marlborough, and in the Thames district, Auckland. Mr. Allington subsequently removed to the West Coast, and in the year 1903 became the proprietor of the Royal Hotel. He is married, and has one son and two daughters.

Butchery Of The Denniston Co-Operative Society, Limited . This business is a branch of the Denniston Co-operative Society, and is managed by Mr. William Arthur Augustus Steer.

Mr. Steer , Manager of the Butchery of the Denniston Co-operative Society, was born in Wellington in the year 1879, and educated in Blenheim. He learned blacksmithing, and was afterwards for a short time at the joinery trade with his father. Mr. Steer has been at the butchery business since 1898, and was appointed to his present position in the year 1905. He is a member of the Greymouth Battalion Band, and also of the Denniston Band.

Ring, photo. Mr. W. A. A. Steer.

Ring, photo.
Mr. W. A. A. Steer.

Ward, James, Butcher, Denniston. This business is conducted in a commodious building of three stories, and there is a three and a-half horse-power Olin oil engine in connection with the establishment. Mr. Ward was born at the Thames in the year 1872, was educated at Denniston, and was employed in the butchery business of the Denniston Co-operative Society for four years. He was afterwards employed by Mr. Austin for about three years, and in January, 1904, started business on his own account. Mr. Ward married a daughter of the late Mr. Alfred Turley, of Westport, and has one daughter.

Grigg, Hubert Steven, Bootmaker, Denniston. This business is conducted by Mr. Grigg, who was born at Ironbark, in Victoria, Australia, in the year 1875. He was apprenticed to bootmaking, and worked at his trade in New South Wales for some years. In November, 1903, Mr. Grigg came to New Zealand, went to the West Coast, and started business in Denniston.

Denniston Co-Operative Society, Limited . This society was founded in the year 1888. The capital at the end of 1904 was about £1,800, with assets amounting to £3,433. The profits are divided among the shareholders, and non-shareholders dealing with the society receive half dividends. The society conducts a general merchandise business, including a butchery at Denniston, and has a branch at Burnett's Face. There is a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. About seven persons are employed in connection with the society's business.

Mr. Mark Stevens , Manager of the Denniston Co-operative Society, was born at Invercargill, in the year 1865, and educated in Nelson. He was brought up to the drapery and grocery trades, and has worked at these in various parts of New Zealand. In 1898, Mr. Stevens entered the employment of the Denniston Co-Operative Society, and in the year 1900 was appointed manager. He has been for some years a member of the Denniston school committee, and is a member of the committee of the Workingmen's Club. Mr. Stevens has been Provincial Grand Master of the Order of Oddfellows, and is secretary of the Royal Waimangaroa Lodge, Manchester Unity. He has also been connected with the Denniston Brass Band and Orchestral Society. Mr. Stevens married in 1888, and has three daughters.

Denniston Mines of the Westport Coal Company. These mines, and the various works and plant in connection with them, are situated at Denniston and at Burnett's Face, two miles distant from Denniston, and about 2000 feet above sea level. The output of over 1000 tons per day is the largest on single shift in New Zealand. The actual mines are beyond at Burnett's Face, and the coal is conveyed by an endless rope system over a main haulage road of a mile page 195 and a half. The mines are known as Coalbrookdale and Iron Bridge, and the subsidiary haulage systems of one mile and three-quarters, and one mile, respectively, join the main haulage road at what is known as the Wooden Bridge. The haulage road is capable of dealing with an output of upwards of 1500 tons in a working day of eight hours. The tubs of coal, as taken from the mine, are attached to the main haulage rope, and conveyed to the “break head,” where the coal is loaded into trucks for conveyance to Westport. Denniston is situated on a high, steep hill, and the coal is taken down over the Denniston incline, a clever piece of engineering work. The length of the incline, from the “break head” to the junction with the Government railway at Conn's Creek, is ninety-three chains, in two sections; the vertical height between the two points is about 1800feet. The waggons which run down the incline, are taken in suitable numbers by Government locomotives, to the shipping staiths and cranes at Westport. The steel ropes used for raising and lowering the waggons on the incline have a diameter of four inches, and the gravity of the full load raises the empty waggons to the top of the incline. The work of the incline averages sixteen waggons per hour, and each waggon contains, approximately, seven tons of coal. The control is by hydraulic brake power. Four boilers, at Denniston, aggregating 496 horse power, supply power for all purposes, including the main haulage and coal sorting plant, also the dynamos for electric light. The township is lighted by electric light supplied by the company. The coal seams are from five to forty feet in thickness, and the board and pillar system is used for working. Coal-cutting machinery is used in portions of the mines, the motive power being compressed air. Ventilation is by exhaust fans; the fan at the Coalbrookdale mine was made by Johnston and Sons, Invercargill, from a design by Mr. J. Hayes, the Government Inspecting Engineer, and is the largest in NewZealand. The drainage of the mines is by water drives. In 1905, great improvements were effected at Denniston for dealing with the coal. Large storage bins, capable of holding 2000 tons, were erected, principally to meet Admiralty requirements, and the loading is effected by modern mechanical appliances. About 440 persons are employed. The company in every way studies the welfare of its employees, and has erected a Working Men's Club, and residences are provided for the officials. The Denniston Volunteer Rifle Corps has a drill hall that is second to none in New Zealand, outside of the large towns; and the workmen's homes generally give evidence of comfort and cleanliness.

Kindly lent by Mr. T. Murray, Seddonville. Warrigal Island, Mokihinui River. Protected. Muir and Moodie, photo.

Kindly lent by Mr. T. Murray, Seddonville.
Warrigal Island, Mokihinui River.
Protected. Muir and Moodie, photo.

Mr. Jonathan Dixon , the Westport Coal Company's Mining Manager at the Denniston Coal Mines, was born in Durham, England, in the year 1853, went to Australia at an early age, and was educated in Sydney. For some time he was in the employment of the Australian Agricultural Company, and for about sixteen years was page 196 a mine manager in New South Wales. At the time of the disaster in the Stockton colliery, New South Wales, in 1896, Mr. Dixon was appointed to restore the mine to working condition. He also took a prominent part in recovery and restoration work during disasters which occurred at Dudley, Greta, East Greta, and Burwood collieries, and his practical knowledge and professional skill enabled him to render signal service on these occasions. Mr. Dixon came to New Zealand in the early part of 1899, and entered the Westport Coal Company's service as manager of the Millerton mines at Granity. He returned in 1900 to New South Wales, where he was for about two years a Government Inspector of Mines. Mr. Dixon returned to New Zealand in the year 1902, and took charge of the Denniston mines in July of that year. He is a member of the Federated Institute of Mining Engineers, England, is the holder of a first-class certificate of competency, and is a member of the Board of Examiners for New Zealand. An interesting article, “Coalcutting by Machinery,” in the Inspection of Coal Mines Report, is from Mr. Dixon's pen. He is vice-president of the Working Men's Club, and takes a keen interest in the progress of the township. Mr. Dixon has been married about thirty years, and has seven children.

Vinsen, photo. Mr. J. Dixon.

Vinsen, photo.
Mr. J. Dixon.

Mr. David Penman , Chief Clerk and Cashier of the Westport Coal Company's mines at Denniston, was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, in the year 1881, and came to New Zealand with his parents in 1885. He was educated at Lawrence District High school and at Denniston. Mr. Penman afterwards entered the service of the Westport Coal Company as a workman, but in 1897 was transferred to the office as a cadet. He received his present appointment in September, 1902. Mr. Penman is secretary of the Workingmen's Club—an institution conducted in a building built by the Westport Coal Company for the benefit of its employees—and he was for some time a member of the Denniston Rifle Company.

Vinsen, photo. Mr. D. Penman.

Vinsen, photo.
Mr. D. Penman.

Denniston Collieries Medical And Accident Relief Fund Association . This society was formed in the year 1890 to (1) provide medical attendance to men, wives and families of all those in the employment of the Westport Coal Company; (2) to ensure payment of 25s a week in the case of an accident causing disablement from work; (3) in case of total disablement to grant a sum of £50; (4) in the event of death through accident, to pay a sum of £45 to the widow. The association guarantees a salary to a resident medical officer, and is in a flourishing condition.