The Grand Junction Refinery
We all know about Martha Mine, but there were several other mines operating in the area about 100 years ago. One of these was Grand Junction, and the most significant reminder of this mine is the refinery building.
Grand Junction, situated to both the east and west of Martha Mine, was the second most important mine in the Waihi area. The western workings never produced any gold despite workings that included four shafts. However the main shaft of the eastern workings that descended to 1573 feet and worked the Martha and Mary lodes experienced considerable success. This was the first shaft to have an electric winder installed.
Grand Junction Refinery Building: ‘On the move’ in 2010
A hundred years ago. The Grand Junction Battery looking east. The stamper battery was the most modern of its time and had 60 stamps to crush the ore. Mine production peaked in 1914.
Today the most visible reminder of this once great gold mine is the refinery building. This structure was within the boundaries of the present Martha Mine, and so was not open to the general public.
Waihi Heritage Vision worked with Waihi Gold and Historic Places Trust to find a way of preserving the building and also to make it more accessible to the public. The building could not be accessed while the mine continues to operate, but even when the mine finally closes public access would have be difficult as the refinery building sat between two high hazard zones as identified in the IGNS report.
The solution was to move the building about a hundred metres north adjacent to the Pit Rim Walkway. This has regained access, provided the opportunity to consider a range of compatible uses, and allowed for the development of an appropriate conservation plan.
August 2008. View looking south. The building has remained largely undisturbed over the years. The shuttered/louvre style vent system on the roof is a distinctive feature of the refinery building.
19 May 2010. The high walls of waste rock that used to surround the building as protection have been removed, and earthworks have begun to build the causeway on which the building will be moved.
- 19 May 2010. The floor has been removed. Next week a new concrete slab will be poured below the level of the original floor. This will form a work area for the construction of the steel tripod and sled system on which the building will be moved.
- 26 May 2010. The new concrete floor has been poured. Staff from Mount Maunganui Engineering begin the task of erecting two large steel tripod structures that will support the building's weight.
- 28 May 2010. The sun comes out briefly, but heavy rain over the last few days has slowed earthworks. Here a backhoe works on the culvert the building must cross to get to its new home.
- 31 May 2010. Inside: The tripods are welded into place. They will be connected by high tensile rods to a large steel frame (just visible at the bottom of the picture) that rings the inside of the building. This total structure will support the building and provide the attachment points for winching.
- 31 May 2010. Outside: Work continues on the causeway along which the building will be winched. The ground level is currently being lowered and gravel fill being placed. Heavy rain is forecast.
- 2 June 2010. Outside: Heavy rain and floods across the region yesterday. Today preparation of the transport route continues. Inside: The steel work is nearly all in place.
- A universal joint is attached to the top of the tripods.
- The building itself will be winched to its new destination and skid on these beams.
- High tensile rods are attached to both the universal joints and to the steel perimeter frame.
- The building is jacked off the ground at (4) and the weight is supported on the frame (3). In turn the tripods support the frame.
- 9 June 2010. Another load of gravel is delivered for the causeway, which is now about half way.
- 9 June 2010. Looking north, showing the route the building will take next week.
- 13 June 2010. Tomorrow is the big day! Just over 30 people braved the winter weather to get a close up look before tomorrow’s move. The causeway has been built up around the steel perimeter frame.
- 14 June 2010. Just like the Cornish Pumphouse, the refinery building needed a bit of gentle persuasion to get her to move. Just 12 metres today.
- 25 June 2010. The bullion store is placed next to the refinery building. Two cranes lifted the thick concrete wall store onto a low loader which transported the building to its new site where it was lifted off to its new home.