Tramways were a convenient and economic solution to the problem of moving often heavy materials.

Silverton Tramway

The Silverton Company purchased the Martha Battery from the Waihi Gold Mining Company in 1892, and "The Silverton battery commenced operating on 4 April 1896; railway and locomotive installed for hauling the ore a mile and a half to the battery."(McAra). It took ore from the Silverton kilns, along the eastern and southern side of Union Hill, through what is now Gilmour Reserve, through town to the Battery on the Ohinemuri River.

The Union-Waihi Company took over the Silverton properties in 1898, renaming the Silverton Battery the Union Battery. Mining of Silverton ore ceased about 1901-1902.

A wonderfully intact section of this formation can be found on the eastern side of Union Hill, and it can be traced through the paddock beside Clarke Street. This formation joins the present Clarke Street at the driveway gate, crossed Mill Stream, and on into Gilmour Reserve.

The Silverton locomotive, date not known.
The Silverton locomotive, date not known. Note the carpenter with saw and wood plane. The mullock tip at right background may be from the Gladstone shaft. Hinton Album, WACMA.

Union-Waihi Tramway

New No.1 Shaft tramway. Built by the Union-Waihi Company (1899-1900) to transport their ore from the New No.1 Shaft (on Union Hill) to their newly acquired mill on the Ohinemuri River (this was the old Silverton Battery, renamed the Union Battery).

Mining of Union hill ceased in 1901-1902.

This short length of tramway exited a tunnel below the Union tiphead, and negotiated a steep section as a self-acting incline. The present roadway (on Union Hill) makes use of part of this formation. This section joined the Silverton tramway at the wetland area of the Heritage Walk, under the row of pine trees (now removed). The alignment is still visible at the bottom end of Mill Stream Walkway, the flat area between Clarke Street and the lower bridge. Probing this area suggests that ballast is still present just below the surface.

Taking measurements from the above photograph suggests that the gauge was 3’6’’, and not the 2’9’’ generally used by the Waihi Gold Mining Company. Presumably it had to match the gauge of the existing Silverton tramway.

The "gorge" section of Mill Stream existed only as the cut-off drain outlet when the tramway was in operation, and it would have needed a bridge.

Incline on Union Hill, showing the portal of the tunnel which took ore from the New Shaft.
Incline on Union Hill, showing the portal of the tunnel which took ore from the New Shaft. What was the gauge, 3’6"? Note the lower tailings bund at left of picture, the pile of rubble for ballasting the line, and the small dwellings at top centre. Picture taken from near the "gorge" on the walkway. (photo c.1899). Staples

mill str map

Mill Stream Walkway Heritage Features.

Map showing walkway, present stream alignment, Speak’s Quarry, old tailings ponds and the Waihi Battery site. Old tramways are shown on mouse over.