Theories offered on man's mysterious wheel find

LUKE KIRKE
Last updated 05:00 17/01/2014
 Gavin Bromwich and daughters Caitlin and Freya
IRIS RIDDELL/Fairfax NZ

SALVAGE MAN: Gavin Bromwich and daughters Caitlin and Freya battled for hours to retrieve an old wheel from the lake bed.

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The mystery surrounding a rusted train wheel retrieved from the lakebed at Taupo's Three Mile Bay is a step closer to being solved.

The 250kg wheel, which is believed to date to the early 20th century, was retrieved by Hamilton man Gavin Bromwich, who shared his story earlier in January.

Mr Bromwich has since cleaned the wheel looking for a marker's mark but has had no luck. However, Taupo man John Harpham has 10 similar, if not identical, wheels which came from the Waihaha Sawmill and which were part of a logging flat deck.

"I have seven axles and 14 wheels. They are a perfect match to the one the gentleman found in the lake. Not all of them are dated but the ones that are, are from around 1908," he said. "I got them from a neighbour of the Waihaha Sawmill as they were going to be scrapped."

Mr Harpham, who worked in the sawmill industry, said he wanted to preserve some of its history by keeping the wheels.

Tram enthusiast Doug Wallace has also come forward with his theory, believing the wheel is from a railway wagon and came from the Taupo Totara Timber company.

"Some of the old launches didn't need much water [to float safely] and I assume someone would have built a bach at Three Mile Bay and used it as a boat mooring," he said.

He said over time silt would have built up and could have made the water shallower in the area it was found.

Mr Bromwich said a lady in her 90s had told him her father made wheels which looked the same when she was a child in Scotland.

"I don't think anything like this would have been made in New Zealand and they would have been brought here for a purpose."

He said the wheel had remained in Taupo at his father's place.

"I couldn't get it back to Hamilton as it wouldn't fit in the boot. Dad's still cleaning it up but if someone comes forward and remembers it was their father's or uncle's back whenever I am more than happy to return it," he said.

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- Waikato Times

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