Boats - on the road to Tekapo and Timaru

Stan Jones of Jones Motors, Fairlie got involved in boat building. It started off with a row boat, then more row boats, speed boats, fishing boats and cruise launches. A friend, Mr Wheeler, had asked him to build a clinker and that was in 1946. Clinker building is a method of constructing hulls of boats by overlapping wooden planks along their edges like the Viking vessels. Mr Stan Guard was in charge of design and construction work. An estimated 130 vessels ranging from 2.4m to 18.5m were built and refitted at Jomo Craft up until 1953 up the Main Street at what was a blacksmiths shop and now the Fairlie Heritage Museum. The enterprise had 50,000sq ft. of floor space.


Re-launch day Lake Alexandrina, Oct. 2011 for a Jomocraft of 1947 that was owned by a Hut Holder at Lake Alexandrina. Photo courtesy of George Empson. Beautiful. It took George many hours to restore. Mr Empson, George's father, once own a Jomocraft clinker from 1959-1962 and used it on Lake Alexandrina and sold it to a Fairlie man. It has also been restored and now owned by a Hut holder at Lake Alexandrina. Originally that boat was built for the Public Works Dept i.e. NZED by Jomocraft as a work boat as it is slightly bigger than the clinker above. The NZED decided to stop using it to inspect the gates on the dam and the water intake on Lake Tekapo. It was in bad shape when discovered under water at Lake Alexandrina. The Empson boat in 1959.

Stan Guard had learned the boat building trade in Pelorus Sound during the 1920s before moving to Fairlie during the 1930s. He worked as a saw miller then as a linen flax engineer during the war years.  Stan Guard said he built boats there in Fairlie because he happened to be there in Fairlie, which was his home and he liked the place. "He was a good builder." One 18 metre passenger launch was made for Te Anau and went by road named the Mt. Maury, 45 footer, delivered to Fiordland Travel 2 April 1952 and is still plying those waters but has been renamed (don’t know new name) and has been converted to a pleasure craft. Fred Miles, worked for Jomo Craft. Fred lived more or less across the Mt Cook Rd on Denmark St. Jomo Ltd also built a 30ft passenger launch the "Malibu", and the 40ft fishing launch "Joy" and a 3.2m row boat. The Oamaru and St. Michael OMU no. 11 and Fred. photo in Fairlie 1866 - 2000 pg64. The company went onto house building until the close of the wood work division in the early 70s.

Fairlie seems an unlikely place for a boatbuilding operation. It is nearly 60 kilometres inland.

 
Timaru Herald 1st Nov. 2011 The Timaru Herald - Golden days of the Fairlie boat trade, a Past Times article on the Stan Guard and the Fairlie boat building business and has the photo of the launch only the one in the newspaper photo shows the launch preparing to turn into Strathallan St from Stafford St. This photo was taken probably later the same day. The 60 foot pleasure boat was built in Fairlie for a Mr R.W. Butcher, of Auckland. The Lenora, a 60ft launch was built in Fairlie, 40 miles inland at Timaru in 20th February 1951.

Goliath Steam Crane

This Stothert and Pitt mobile steam crane was used during the years 1940 to 1944 to realign the North Mole (Marine Parade). The crane was used to lift the rocks out of the sea to make the basin of the harbour larger. The crane was owned by Mr E.S. Brookes the contractor for the job. For years it sat on railway tracks above Evans Bay, gradually deteriorating. It eventually ended up in a paddock on Washdyke Flat Road in the 1980s. The Traction Engine Club had it moved in the 1960s. It is not being restored. The 90 tonne crane was built in England in 1926 and shipped to New Zealand in 1927 costing £400. After completing 12 tonne block laying river work at Gisborne it was stripped and shipped to Timaru in 1930. It was capable of lifting 22 tonne. Working along a railway line it sat on four legs underneath the 24 metre crane arm and pivoted 360 degrees. It was the third of three steam cranes used by the Timaru Harbour Board for boulder work under Marine Parade and the eastern breakwaters.

March 2012. 15-20 years ago it was going to be restored but it never happened.
15-20 years ago the crane was going to be restored but it never happened.

Forward thinkers

Fairlie had Stan Jones and his brother Charlie, who died during the 1918 flu epidemic, both where extraordinary mechanical minded for without them the wheels of industry in the Mackenzie would have sized up. They hotted up Hamilton's racing car, they kept Tiny White's Spartan biplane ZK ABZ flying. This was the days before certified aero engine mechanics. If Stan couldn't do it, no one could. The kept Wigley's cars running, made electricity generators for the sheep stations off the beaten track all because of a searching mind and a capacity to mechanise everything, wrote James Maxwell in Discovering The legends of Mackenzie, Mt Cook Country in 1991. Jones Motors was where Mackenzie Motors and Caltex are today. Stan (b. 1894) also had a electrical shop on the Main St. He would build radios from scratch in the evening at home after working in the garage all day. The firm went to considerable trouble when TV was introduced putting a translator up on the Brothers to enable TV viewing to the town and district. Stan also kept my Dad's English Morris Twelve running. Our neighbour, the Wreford's had a Morris Ten. Those shingle roads were tough on vehicles. OB, 2013.

Lucy Wills was quite a remarkable women. I stood admiring her Bentley parked outside the CFCA, Fairlie in the early 1930s with the motor still hot from the drive down from Tekapo Station with that lovely (for boys) smell of hot oil and the steady popping sounds as the motor cooled down and perhaps the real clincher, seeing the hand brake lever on the outside of the body. On sunny Sunday mornings when Stan Jones, Billy Hamilton and Lucy Wills and occasionally Matthew Wills would tune their vehicles at Jones Motors and then go up to the Kimbell straight and try them out. What a great sound. Miss Lucy & Mrs Billy Hamilton were sisters and they all belonged to the Wills tobacco family. Lucy farmed Lake Tekapo Station and Mathew farmed Opawa near Albury.  wrote John Shears, Feb. 2014. Bill Hamilton also owned a Bentley. Lucy's Bentley NX3464 Reg. OB1929 4½ litre was purchased by Lucy in 1929 and taken to Snowden Station in 1946. The Bentley remains at Snowden with current owners Tony Tripp and Nikki Tripp (LeCren). Marjorie LeCren of Tekapo Station and later Snowdon also owned a Bentley.

Charles Reginald Jones
born: at Fairlie
Motor Engineer
died: 28 Nov. 1918
wife: Letitia Mary Jones

Ashburton Guardian, 12 July 1912, Page 4
Quite a novelty in motors passed through Ashburton by rail on Wednesday, in the shape of a motor sleigh. The sleigh was made by Mr C. Jones, of the Mount Cook Motor Company, and is intended for use at the Fairlie winter sports. One of the uses it will be put to will be to tow toboggans uphill, thereby saving much time and labour. It is constructed on two skids or skis, about 10ft. long, with engine and transmission gear swinging on a pivot from the centre. The engine is a twin-cylinder Rex, air-cooled, of 7.h.p., and is controlled, from the driver's seat, somewhat the same as a motor-bicycle. The transmission gear is controlled by chains, off a counter shaft on to what appears like two paddle wheels, which, in ascending a hill, grip the snow and propel the machine along. The motor is on a pivot in the centre, with the driver's seat immediately above the pivot, so that in going uphill the balance is toward the back, forcing the driving gear to grip on the snow, and when descending it is disengaged, so the toboggan slides down on its own skis. This novelty promises to prove a great attraction at Fairlie during the winter months. The Tourist Department is considering the purchase of two more these motor sleighs, and the importation of snow shoes and skis from Europe. This machine is a most ingenious contrivance, and illustrates what can be done by some of our colonial-born mechanics.  

Timaru Herald, 26 March 1918, Page 1
All ACCOUNTS NOTICE. I am going to Camp, at an early date it is necessary that all accounts owing to me should be paid as early as possible. Trusting that all clients will respond promptly. STAN JONES, Fairlie Garage, Fairlie, Feb. 14th, 1918.

Auckland Star, 9 February 1926, Page 10
Everything is now in order for the sixth annual race meeting to be held at Muriwai Beach on Saturday under the auspices of the Auckland Automobile Association. The southern racing cars and crews are now located on the beach, and have done some very fast trials, in spite of the heavy nature of the sand caused by the hard westerly gales. Eighteen miles. C. W. F. Hamilton (Sunbeam). Messrs. Hamilton and Jones and Mr. and Mrs. Wills, of Fairlie, went out on Saturday with their mounts, the Sunbeam, I.O.M. four and the Grand Prix Straight 8. Mr. Banchop was there with the Thomas Special, and both he and Mr. Hamilton did trials, but the beach was too heavy for fast times. A slight mishap occurred to the Straight 8 Sunbeam on her way out. She bumped and damaged her copper oil Bump, but it was repaired next day. The clay road from Huapai was traversed without chains, and if no further rain falls it should be in good order on Saturday.

"Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library". WA-06491-F
April 1947. D Greig and C W F Hamilton, Irishman's Creek, Mackenzie District, next to a Auster ZK-AOB airplane.

2007 Clever Kiwi seriesBill HAMILTON 1899- 1978 a sheep farmer who pioneered the development of the commercial waterjet, the Hamilton Jet with his team

A sheep farmer who had a mechanical flair became the inventor of the jet boat. His father Wm. F. came from England to an outback station at Morden, Australia until a drought came so he went to Ashwick Station which his sister sold to him. C.W.F. "Bill" Hamilton was born in 1899 in South Canterbury and brought up on Ashwick and attended Waihi School, Winchester between 1912-1914 and his school number was 56. Christ's College School List indicate that he did attend, but only for a year - in 1915.  Entry 2861 CWF Hamilton "School" 1915. He was in "School" House. So he only had one year of high school.

After his half-brother, Cyril Blakeney, was killed in action at Killed in action at Bir-el-Abd, in the Sinai Desert 9 August 1916, Bill left college to help his ailing father run Ashwick. [Normally an Officers serving rank, say Lt. On discharge they normally take an honorary rank one above their serving rank. That is why Lt Blakeney was known as Captain after discharge.]  [In the Christ's College School List - No.2066 Cyril Blakeney attended the school from Sept 1902 till 1907. He was in "Merton's", "Bourne's" and "Moreland's" during his time at the school. Stepson of William Feilden Hamilton, Fairlie. Prefect; Shooting VIII., 1906-7; Sheepfarmer, Fairlie, South Canterbury. Captain Mounted Rifles 7th Reinforcements N.Z.E.F. in Great War.  Maybe when he got overseas they had too many Captain's and his rank was reduced to 1st Lieutenant.]

 In 1921 he bought his own place, Irishman Creek Station, near Lake Tekapo.  His favourite pastime was racing a Sunbeam. Bill built roads, bridges, then an earth scraper that scooped out five acres for a dam to provide the station electric power in the 1920s. Bill was contracted to construct the Hermitage aerodrome in 1935. He had a workshop at Irishman's Creek and was always tinkering. He and Stan Jones in Fairlie were buddies; they both enjoyed tinkering and spent many hours working out new tools and ideas. Someone showed Bill a photo of the Hanley hydrojet, a centrifugal pump they used on fireboats in the US. Bill built a copy. It had an elbow nozzle just below the intake and it spoiled the thrust and had a lot of drag. So they stuck the nozzle straight out the back, so now it sucked up water though the intake and shot it out through the air the speed doubled. The pump was compact and tidy, no heat and noise was absent so the jet boat engine was developed, ideal for the Canterbury braided rivers. In 1961 his work was honoured with the award of an OBE (Order of the British Empire) and in 1974 he was knighted for 'valuable services to manufacturing'. Sir William died in 1978 at the age of 78 and is buried at Burkes Pass in the heart of the land he loved. James Maxwell's booklet Discovering The Legends of Mackenzie, Mt Cook has a chapter on Sir Charles William Fielden Hamilton. Suggested reading: Wild Irishman by Peggy Hamilton and White Water by Joyce Hamilton. Bentleys. Billy Hamilton. Jon Oliver Feilden Hamilton, his son died 6 Sept. 2009 at the age of 84y and is buried at Burkes Pass. Jon was an engineer. Jon was a member of the team that successfully took the Hamilton jet boat up the Colorado River, US in 1960. Sir William's first jetboat was a 3.6 meter (12 foot) plywood hull with a 100 E Ford engine, and the jet a centrifugal type pump. This craft was tested on the Irishman Creek dam and water race before successfully travelling up the Waitaki River in early 1954.

Jet boating Rangitata      The Alexandra     McGregor


Black Swans on Lake Alexandrina, Christmas Day 2011. The common mullein plant in front. Looks like some willows have been cut down. Photo taken by my sister.


Lake Alexandrina in Nov. 2009. Photo taken by me with the Cass Valley in the centre.


A Morris Mini and a local boat from Middle Valley - "Lynwood Lass" at Lake Tekapo, Mt John in the background.

The earlier jet boats were made from ply but soon progressed to fibreglass hulls with ply tops. Steel boats came next as they were easy to work on and weld together but they were too heavy. Most boats today were built of alloy and produced two or three times the horsepower of their earlier counterparts. The Waitaki branch of Jet Boating New Zealand was formed in 1973. 
Sir Ed owned a 1965 Hamilton Jet 44, a fibreglass and ply-top boat, with a Falcon 200 engine and single-stage Colorado jet unit.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project  

Cunard boat building yard, Timaru 1950s

Timaru Herald, 5 June 1869, Page 5
Boat Building. We have been shown a very good specimen of a pleasure boat, built by Mr Pearson, a carpenter in Timaru, for Mr Turnbull. The boat is of the following dimensions: length, overall, 16 feet; breadth of beam, 4 ft 6 inches, depth amidships, 2 feet. The boat seems to be very strong and well built, and is copper fastened throughout.

Aviemore