Former resident keeps project’s wheels turning

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A meeting will be held this week to hasten plans for the restoration of an historic Oamaru water wheel.

In 2011, the 10m-diameter Phoenix flour mill water wheel was dismantled at its site in Old Mill Rd and placed in storage in Oamaru, where it has remained ever since.

But former Oamaru resident Dick Pringle, who has been involved with the project for a number of years, wants to hasten progress.

“We’ll have a meeting this week to put plans together to have it restored. We have to get funding and donations would be appreciated.”

The cost of restoring the wheel which dates back to 1878 is now being undertaken.

Mr Pringle lived in Oamaru for 28 years but has been in Australia for 35 years. He resides on the Sunshine Coast.

On return visits to Oamaru, he had seen the wheel gradually deteriorate and so with the help of volunteers David Craig, Alan Finlay, Len Familton, Graeme Meikle, Brian de Geest, George and Carol Berry and others, he set about saving it.

“It’s been a battle,” he said.

Once the wheel was restored, he said it would be removed back to its original site. Attempts had been made to have to placed in the waterfront area, but this was not possible.

“It can’t be removed from a historical site,” Mr Pringle said.

“I’m very confident the wheel will be restored. The council is all behind it and there’s been unbelievable support from volunteers and the local community.”

Once restored, the water wheel would be the biggest of its type in the country, Mr Pringle said.

By CHRIS TOBIN