Water race of ‘national significance’

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Oamaru used to be a town powered by water.

The open water race still exists in part today and sections of the large cast iron pipes that delivered a high pressure supply to most premises in the 1800s and 1900s, have been dug up and checked and are “good for another 100 years.”

Local identity Bruce Comfort who is a self-confessed ‘amateur historian and sometime engineer’, said the historic borough water race and its infrastructure are of national significance.

He has been given a 100 year old historic DC generator and Pelton wheel water motor and is part way through restoring them. These were connected to the water supply and used to generate electicity.

The two pieces were at Alex Reid’s Oamaru property and the two men have an agreement that when the restoration is complete, the machinery will be donated to the heritage community. Mr Comfort said he plans to demonstrate to visitors and residents how the machinery worked in Victorian times.

LJ Hooker, Oamaru have donated $500 toward the project which will go toward putting thick clear plastic on the side of the Pelton wheel case so that people can see the brass wheel rotating.

To see brass in an old piece of machiney is in itself quite amazing, Mr Comfort said, as people took brass out of anything they could to help fund the war effort.

By LINDA MCCARTHY