Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 134,691 pages of information and 213,779 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Alley and MacLellan: Oamaru Water Works

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Conceived in 1874 Oamaru's public water supply was designed to provide hydraulic power, just as Sir William Armstrong had hoped Newcastle on Tyne might have adopted.

As a result of New Zealand having limited capacity to make the cast iron distribution fittings needed, a contract was let to Alley and MacLellan and approximately 5000 iron pipes and tons and tons of lead and tools and valves were shipped to New Zealand probably from their London Road site as many of the fittings bear 1879 as the manufacture date. The pipes ranged from 6" to 24" and by and large they are all still in use. In particular the falling mains - 3 runs of pipes of 24" are still delivering water at 150psi to the township and are assessed as being perfectly capable of doing that for another 150 years. Sections of these mains were recently removed to insert modern earthquake actuated valves.

The images on this page are photographs of the automatic air removel valves, dated 1879 with both the maker's and the customer's names. Every pipe is marked with the date, maker (AMcL Co) the thickness (7/8 or 3/4") and the customer Oamaru Water Works (OWW) on the bell.

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Sources of Information

  • Bruce Comfort