Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 5, May 1966



Details of History and Origin

Perhaps the most intriguing and interesting attraction, among the host of exhibits at the Waihi Museum, the glass model, which so graphically illustrates the intricate and extensive workings of the famed Martha Mine, has drawn comments and enquiries as to its origin from visitors and local people alike, whether they be expert or otherwise in mining matters.

For the miner, in memory retracing his paths underground, the overseas mining expert, the tourist, or for those who have just paused to admire the care and patience which obviously went into the making of the model, the following history of its origin, supplied by Mr. H.E. Rowe, Inspector of Mines, will make interesting reading.

"I do not know the exact year in which the model was started, but I think it was some time between 1912 and 1915" Mr. Rowe stated.

By this time the mine workings had become very extensive in relation to lateral distance of each level, from the surface down to No.16 level was growing considerably.

As can be imagined, with mining and development work in progress on most levels simultaneously, the management found the unrolling, perusal, and re-rolling of plans a most tedious business," he explained.

At the suggestion of Mr. Walter H. Johnston, the mine Surveyor, it was agreed that an illuminated glass model of the mine workings in a three-dimensional effect should be made to facilitate mine planning, and he was authorised to proceed with the construction of such a model on the same common scale as all plans in use- i.e., 50 feet to 1 inch. This depicts the workings of the mine to a depth of nearly 2,000 feet.

The construction took several years to complete, owing to the urgency of other plan work. Each layer of glass, on which the drives were painted in the same colour as that of the roll plan to which it referred, represented a level to give access to the reef and the spaces between layers represented the depth intervals between levels at the same scale. (Radiating lines represent tunnels or drives. Access to the mine was usually by vertical shafts - of which there were seven.) Artists' oil paints were used and fixed with a solution of gum arabic and methylated spirits. Mr. Johnson did all the work himself as well as bringing the model up to date as the workings were extended. In addition to its practical use, both to the management and survey staff of the time, the model has now a very real historical value, especially to those who have had any association with mining.

Apart from the three dimensional effect, features shown are as follows:-

(a) The whole of the Martha Mine Reef system with its extension eastwards into the Grand Junction Mine area which was taken over by the Martha Co. about 1935.

(b) The direction and width of each reef is shown at every level and the relationship of one reef to another, with their respective inclinations in depth, are clearly shown.

(c) Winding and filling shafts and connections between levels are shown as black squares (indicating filling passes and ore given names of men, animals and reptiles. The reason for this was that named passes referred to the ore block service for a particular lode or reef.

For example: names such as Deadman's Pass, Horse Pass or Foal Pass referred to the Martha Lode;

Adder Pass, Viper Pass, Asp Pass referred to the Royal Lode;

Maxim Pass, Howitzer Pass or Rifle Pass referred to the Dreadnaught Lode, and so on.

It followed, therefore, that when the name of a pass was mentioned, all concerned knew which particular ore block and reef was being discussed."

(d) The distance between levels was 150 feet with the exception of the upper levels which varied from 50 feet to 110 feet. After No.4 level the distances below the surface were as follows:-

5 = 445 ft. 6 = 550 ft. 7 = 700 ft. 8 = 850 ft. 9 = 1000 ft. and finally No.15 level 1900 feet.