Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Historic Bridge at Kopu, near Thames NZ - opened 1928

Looking towards  toward the mouth of the Waihou River, the two bridges called Kopu and the town of Thames
 photo courtesy Chris Ball 2015 

In wider family stories of the Waihou River Crossing to Thames from Turua are that of Lemuel Bagnall JP and his son Henry Carlton Bagnall married to Mary Morton Gorrie ( my 2nd cousin). Lemuel Bagnall Senior, a Member of Auckland Provincial Council (Thames) 1873 – 1876, former one-time Chairman of the Thames County Council, the Thames Harbour Board and later Mayor of Auckland 1910 – 1911 and member and Chairman of the Auckland Board of Education. Lemuel Bagnall Senior was no stranger to the construction of needed bridges, in his capacity on the various boards and council bodies. The newspapers of the time carry articles on the lobbying for adequate bridges.  
 
In The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia
Company Limited, 1902
Lemuel Bagnall Senior was Managing Director of the Sawmilling Company based at Turua – Bagnall & Sons. In the first decades of the 1900s, the sawmill closed and   pre-world war one, saw the introduction of farming. A first radiator dairy factory in New Zealand, installed at the Turua Estate, Thames, by Lemuel Bagnall Senior.
 
The first radiator dairy factory in New Zealand, erected on Messrs Bagnall Bros Turua estate, Thames
photo courtesy Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19021023-5-1 '
The method of crossing the Waihou in the Bagnall’s day, prior to the what is now called the Historic Kopu Bridge, was punt or ferry. The Waihou River was the method used for River Transport and shipping the means. A brother of Lemuel Bagnall Senior – Charles Louis Bagnall was lost to the Waihou river in 1883, as an outcome of a launch incident.

By 1918 both Lemuel John Bagnall senior and his eldest son Harold Carleton Bagnall were deceased. Neither were to see the opening of a bridge from Kopu  across the Waihou River to near Turua. Brother of Lemuel Bagnall Senior – Richard Wellington Bagnall continued the family tradition of Public Affairs involvement as a member and chairman of the County Council. He would have seen the opening of the Hauraki Bridge 11 May 1928 - a swing span bridge to allow river vessels to journey on  up the Waihou river.

          Red Letter Day - Opening of Hauraki Bridge 11 May 1928
                Papers Past National Library NZ
           New Zealand Herald , 12 May 1 928 , Page 8
 
The New Zealand Herald 19 January 1926, reported the naming of the Waihou Bridge.(Many of the then residents of the area in 1926 were pleased with the bridge being named the Hauraki Bridge. They saw as a commemoration to the deeds of the members of the 6th Hauraki Regiment during WW1. (one of these - ours losing their life was Captain Colvin Stewart Algie). Many names for the bridge had been mooted.

By 1932 when Richard Wellington Bagnall died, painting of the new Hauraki Bridge was mooted. By then it had also become a route, not just to get to Thames, but further up the Coromandel Peninsula. With the opening of the Kopu Hikuai Highway came a more accessible route to the Eastern Seaboard of the Coromandel Peninsula. A new bridge opened in 2011.

Historic and new side by side across the Waihou River -  now called Historic Kopu Bridge and new Kopu Bridge
Photo courtesy  Chris Ball 2013 
Reference Source:
  • The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902. – Lemuel Bagnall Snr. And Harold Carleton Bagnall
  • NZBDM – New Zealand Births, Deaths, Marriages
  • ACCIDENTS AND INQUESTS. New Zealand Herald, 18 June 1883, Page 3
  • WAIHOU RIVER BRIDGE. New Zealand Herald, , 19 January 1926, Page 10
  • New Zealand Herald, Hauraki Bridge, 12 May 1928, page 8