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History of the Martha/Silverton/Union Battery Site Interpretation by E Lens

Recorded Site No. T13/311

This battery site has had a long and colourful history. It has great significance in the mining history of Waihi.

The first two batteries in Waihi were built more or less concurrently in 1882, the "Martha" on the eastern side of Martha Hill, the other ("Manukau" Jones’) on the Ohinemuri River a little upstream from the present Victoria Street Bridge. The Martha Battery was soon brought down from Martha Hill (because it had problems with water supply volume or head) and combined with this site.

So, this battery became known as the "Martha Battery", and was the only one operating in the Waihi district until approximately 1888.

In 1890 the Martha Company's mine (and the Martha Battery) were purchased by Thomas H. Russell, and ownership was transferred to the Waihi Gold Mining Company. The Waihi Gold Mining Company had in 1888 erected a battery at the base of Union Hill, known as the Waihi Battery. The Martha battery was thus surplus to requirements, and sold to the Silverton Company, who remodelled it, and renamed it the "Silverton Battery". Ore was transported by tram from their mine at Silverton Hill.

In 1898 the Silverton Company was bought by the Union-Waihi Company, who renamed the battery: "Union Battery". The Union-Waihi Company sent Union Hill ore to this battery from 1899 to 1901 via a connection to the Silverton tramway.

The Waihi Gold Mining Company took over the Union-Waihi Company in 1901, taking over the Union Battery at this time. The Waihi Gold Mining Company closed the Union Battery 10 years later in 1911. It had been processing ore from Martha Mine.

The battery on this site was progressively enlarged and modified during its life. As the Silverton Battery (15 stamps) it was converted to the cyanide process (1893, before the Waihi Battery), and as the Union Battery it was expanded to 40 stamps.

Water power was obtained by damming the Ohinemuri at what is now known as Coffey’s Creek, a dam and water race on the Mangatoetoe Stream, and dams, water races and long trestled flume from the Waimata and Mangakiri Streams.

Some of the foundations still present at this site will be the oldest (1882) building foundations still in Waihi.

Silverton Battery 1898

Silverton Battery 1898

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