Local history: Army tank heads to Blueskin Bay
Local history: Army tank heads to Blueskin Bay, ends up in Warrington
Click to enlarge
the water tank from Taiaroa Head on Chuck Landis's Warrington property
The Otago Peninsula Trust are interested in any information that Blueskin Bay people may have about the whereabouts of any part of the old Taiaroa Head barracks. The barracks were erected in the 1880s for personnel of the Garrison Artillery involved with the construction and operation of the fort. Shortly afterward, they were converted to house prison labourers for the fortification works.
The buildings were sold by tender in 1923 as they had not been used for many years and were being vandalised. A Mr Waldie was the successful tenderer and he had the building and all ancillary fittings sent by barge to Blueskin Bay where we understand the buildings were used for dwelling purposes in the district.
Included in the sale were two jail cells in a stand-alone structure. We have a sketch plan of the barracks prepared for the sale, showing the site and buildings thereon with measurements of all the space.
Warrington resident Chuck Landis told us that recently he had lived in a house that had a jail cell door from Taiaroa Head and it had scratched on the glass panel "Last day here".
He also has at his current property, the "James Powell Convalescent Home" at Warrington, a water storage tank from the Fortification. It is made of 12mm steel plate riveted & bolted with the brass plate of the maker "John Bellamy, Maker, Millwall. London. 1886".
It is 3.35m diameter by 700 mm high, and was used for water storage in the roof space of their house supported by 4 large square hardwood posts – it would have been a huge weight!
Locals say that there were two tanks sent over, but one fell off the barge near Blueskin Bay and is sometimes spotted in the water by those who know where to look.
Chuck intends to use his tank as a water storage for his property at a high point near the entry gate.
by Laurie Stewart and David Sumpter
Reference: Public Works Department Files at Archives NZ Dunedin.
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