Click Slide menu on left

Gold miners tents

Elizabeth GUILFORD
 
Elizabeth Guilford, daughter of William and Ann Guilford was Baptised 01 Jun 1817 at Easton, Wiltshire, England
In 1841 now 24 years was employed as a household servant at Marlborough and when 41, Elizabeth took the challenge to leave England for New Zealand and  join her brother John and his family at Canterbury, New Zealand after years of insistance there were greater opportunities there waiting for her. Elizabeth sought a immigration passage on the 676 ton ship 
Regina Captain Thornton, . She boarded along with 280 other passengers 29 Aug 1859 and the ship sailed from Gravesend on Sep 2nd. After a passage of 13 weeks she arrived at the Port of Lyttelton on  04 Dec 1859 and would have been greeted eagerly and together the reunited family would have made their way up the bridle path to rest at the top and view the plains ahead - how she must have felt when comparing it with the land left behind and how John would have compared it to the barren sight that greeted 8 years before. At Heathcote there was not yet a bridge built so a ferry took them and Elizabeth's possessions across the river and then on by dray to Christchurch.

Work as a servant was plentiful but we have no record of Elizabeth's life, any events or location during those first years but in the
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 1861, Shipping Intelligence.ENTERED INWARDS. January 12,  I. R. M. Steamer Prince Alfred,  from Wellington. Passengers for Nelson —Second cabin : Miss Guilford,.
       
In Nelson 1865 -17 January 1865, we find Elizabeth has a house: TOWN ASSESSMENT— NELSON. BOARD OF WORK 3. EIGHTH YEAR. NOTICE is hereby given, that a RATE of Three Farthings in the Pound, upon the assessed value of the PROPERTY included within the TOWN of NELSON, has been made by the BOARD of WORKS; and the said rate is required to be PAID to the Secretary, at the Board of Works Office, Market-place, Nelson, on WEDNESDAY, the 8th day of February, 1865. In accordance with the " Nelson Improvement Amendment Act," " the names of the persons liable for the payment of such rate, and the amount payable by each of such persons, are published for general information. £ s. d. Guilford, E ; £0 10s 0d
 
 4 April 1865, GOVERNMENT NOTICES. LIST of UNCLAIMED LETTERS remaining in the Post-office, Nelson, for the Quarter ending March 31,1865: Elizabeth Guilford
 
In 1866 financially stretched Elizabeth is forced to sell her home - Nelson Evening Mail,  15 May: SALES BY AUCTION. IMPORTANT SALE OF VALUABLE TOWN AND COUNTRY PROPERTIES. On SATURDAY, 19th instant, 12 o'clock sharp, MESSRS. LOCKHART & CO. have received full instructions from the Mortgagees to sell by Public Auction (unless previously settled) all the right, title, and interest in the following Properties, viz Brick House and Land, part of Town Acre 422, lately occupied by Miss Guilford.
 
Elizabeth was living at Nelson however in July 1868 the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle reported:  7 July 1868: CLEARED OUTWARDS. July 6, steamer Airedale, 286, Kennedy, for Picton and Wellington. Passengers: saloon — Miss Bonnington, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson and child and servant, Dr. and Miss Greenwood, Miss Wells, Sir David Monro, Lady Monro, Major Richmond, Messrs. Emerson, Collins, Wells, Parker, and Eyes ; second cabin — Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Plowden, and Miss Guilford.
 
Elizabeth went to the West Coast - her nephew Henry John wrote in his diary 1911 that "For some years she lived in Christchurch, then went to Nelson, thence to the "West Coast" where for a number of years she carried on a Storekeeping business at Charleston." Nephew William and brother to Henry, briefly went goldmining on the coast before his marriage, and would certainly made contact but after that she was with family. In 1869 letters received during the month of July, 1869 at Hokitika addressed to Miss Guilford remained unclaimed and continued to be advertised monthly till the end of November .

Left: Hokitika Beach abt 1870 by Theodore Octavius Hurt, On right, Hokitika township about 1875

The ebb and flow of population was immediate following the lure of instant wealth: "A report on the state and prospects of the new rush at the Teremakau, is published in another column, and it may be seen from a perusal of it that the news is of a most cheering description. It is long since any extensive new ground has been opened up in the locality of the Teremakau, or indeed if any portion of the Waimea or Hokitika district, and the present discovery should have the effect of imparting fresh hopes to Charleston about 1870prospecting miners and expectations of an improved condition of affairs to the business people of this and the neighbouring district. The universal depression which has certainly existed on the Westland gold-fields for some time past, will require perhaps stronger stimulants than the present rush to remove it finally, but it is in platter for congratulation that the falsity is proved of the too often repeated cry, that all the payable alluvial ground has been worked out. The fact that the days of important alluvial rushes have not gone by for ever, may tend towards the dissolution of the singular enchantment which distance lends to the view of the West Coast miners, who have been too easily deluded by exaggerated of gold discoveries in far away lands, and too heedless of riches which lay at their feet."

This may have been the reason that  Elizabeth went to Bell Hill - it was noted for goldmining was situated 19.3 km SE Ngahere
 
THE BELL HILL ROAD. West Coast Times, 30 July 1872: The following is the Chief Surveyor's report on the proposed road from the 32nd mile-post., Christchurch Road, to the Arahura Township : —
The country to be traversed between the Teremakau and Lady Lake, a distance of about eleven miles, is flat, offering every facility for the construction of a road; gravel is to be had almost anywhere by sinking to a moderate depth. The land along this part of the road is of superior description, comprising about 20,000 acres of the best alluvial ground in the country. A great number of creeks require to be crossed, the moat of them with hard gravel bottom, and consequently not necessitating the construction of bridges or even of culverts to open the road. From Lady Lake to Bell Hill a distance of about five miles, the road for the most part would run along the foot of Granite Hill spurs and Jones' Hill, all terraces of a gentle incline and offering no difficulties to road construction.
 
On the whole, the proposed dray-road would follow the present bridle-track from the Teremakau to Bell Hill — a track which has been in use for some time — and which with the exception of several parts, amounting together to about two and a half miles, is as good a line of road through that district as can be selected.
 
From Bell Hill to Hatters' Terrace and Try-again (two digging townships on Nelson Creek), a distance of about twelve miles, the road for the first four miles will follow the present track to Camp Town by way of Kangaroo Creek. At a distance of about three miles from Bell Hill, a swamp of from forty to fifty chains in width requires to be crossed before the terraces at the headwaters of Red Jack's Creek and tributaries can be reached.
 
Swamps as a rule present formidable difficulties to the construction of roads. In Westland, however, it has been found that the construction of roads over swampy land (Pakihis) is no more difficult, and in some cases less so than the construction of roads over comparatively sound ground, and in all cases where Manuka scrub is found covering the swampy land, gravel and conglomerate is struck at a depth of from two to five feet.
 
After crossing the swamp the road may follow along the foot or top of the terrace land into the right hand branch of Nelson Creek to Hatters' terrace and Try-again. From Try-again to the Ahaura Township, by way of Callaghan's (another digging township), no obstacle intervenes. The distance is about five miles, and a pack-track is connecting these places at present. I may here mention that at the time of my last visit to the Ahaura Township, the people were about taking steps to petition the Provincial Government of Nelson for the construction of a road from Ahaura to the Arnold by way of Callaghan's and Try-again. If, therefore, the road from Greymouth to Ahaura was taken through Try-again and Callaghan's, a distance of five miles in the construction of the Bell Hill road would be saved.
 
From the above it will be seen that the total length of the proposed road is about thirty-four miles, and that, with the exception of the part from Nelson Creek to the present track from Camp Town to Bell Hill, by way of Kangaroo Creek, the practicability of constructing a dray-road as proposed, has been established, and I venture to predict that on survey it will be found that the route sketched out can be much improved upon, and that the distance between the Christchurch Road and the Ahaura township can probably be shortened.
 
On referring to the Canterbury lithographed maps, I find " Old Maori track to Ahaura" marked east of Lake Brunner, and over the country which it as proposed the new road should traverse. This little 'incident of itself, does, to my mind, satisfactorily settle the question of the practicability of taking a road that way, and is a guarantee to me, that the difficulties of doing so are small, for I have found invariably those the best passes and lines of communication on this Coast, which on the old Canterbury maps were noted as "Maori Pass," or " Maori Track."
Together with this, I forward a tracing and lithographed plan of the Grey Valley, showing roads and tracks referred to in this memo. * Gerhard Mueller, Chief Surveyor.
 
PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY! ELIZABETH IS FOUND!
1878 - Grey River Argus, 13 June  - NO TOWN. Jacob Bradwell, an out and out Geordie, has just paid No Town a visit after an absence of seven years, and he was most cordially welcomed by those of his old associates still in the land of the living and residing in or near the township. Jacob is one of those renowned hatters in gold-mining who are fast becoming scarce, and being an old coal-hewer of the Durham fields he is quite an adept in all kinds of hard work. The enterprise he has displayed, and the amount of labor he has done quite single handed in his alluvial claim at Bell Hill, is something astonishing. . When he started his present work his few neighbors, or "co-mates in exile," christened his claim the "Labor in vain." Jacob informs me that he has been engaged over two and a-half years in getting his ground into working order; that his water-race, which carries 20 heads, is over a mile in length and his tail-race over one hundred yards with a face of gravel to work upon 80ft in depth, and that he had 3 boulders to contend with of enormous size, added to all which Jacob has many a time, when tucker ran short, lived for days on cabbage leaves, and in the absence of tobacco, smoked tea and the dried leaves of manuka scrub.
 In this out of the way diggings at Bell Hill, where fine-looking quartz reefs are reported to exist, five or six miners and one elderly female have lived from year to year in almost primitive style, seldom hearing anything of the outer world, save when the packer of their three months' supplies visits the locality. And yet they live happily enough together, never quarrel with each other, have nothing to gossip about, but yarn with one another at night, and doubtless conjure up incidents of bye-gone days, when gold was more plentiful and themselves more foolish than now, in the matter of throwing money away; know as much about candidates for Parliamentary or County Council honors as they do about the feather clad inhabitants of Mars, and jog on in their quiet pursuit of gold under difficulties in a way that is really astonishing. Miss Gilford, the femme sole of Bell Hill, who has been located there for years, is an English lady, possessed of considerable energy and pluck, as can readily be understood, and from what I have been told, and all that I have seen at a personal interview, seems to have acquired the position of general adviser to the limited community of which she may be termed the Forest Queen. She can, and frequently does, lend a willing hand to any of the men in their claims; is an adept with the long-handed shovel occasionally wears gum boots and wide-awakes of a Yankee pattern ; and is altogether a most remarkable woman, and one whom the male recluses of Bell Hill would go many miles to serve. Strange community and altogether outlandish, and yet who knows they may in the future be known as the resolute .pioneers of an extensive goldfield and the joint winners of a Government or a County prize. At present the Bell Hill residents get all stores, &etc, packed from No Town, but I understand that Mr John Molloy, a settler at Deep Creek, has come to terms with the County Council to cut a pack track from Big Bill's Gully to Bell Hill, and that he is now engaged in performing this very necessary piece of work.

Bush scene and gold diggers hut, possibly in Westland, photographed circa 1890s by Josiah Martin.

1886 - Grey River Argus, 13 November 1886: (The reason Elizabeth wore gumboots) Bell Hill is still living in hope that the County Council will make a track into the place. In all reason, why has this portion of the district been neglected In the manner it has been? If my memory serves me, a miner at Bell Hill lately made an offer to the County Council to make a track from Bell Hill to the Government track for £15. Why was Councillor Parfitt silent then ? There is no person better acquainted with the beastly state of this track than Councillor Parfitt is. If Councillor Parfitt and the rest of the Councillors were compelled to carry their week's tucker into this place I am perfectly satisfied that before they would make a second trip the just claims of the Bell Hill miners would be taken notice of. It is to be hoped that some Councillor having the interest of gold mining at heart will move in this matter, and if possible get a cheap track to enable miners to get in and out of this place without wallowing to their knees in mud.
I see by the report of the last sitting of the County Council that the Council has agreed to remove the bodies from the Try Again Cemetery. Too much credit cannot be given to Councillor Guinness and Clifford for having contributed their might in removing from amongst us what has been a standing disgrace to the district for years. It is to be hoped that the Council in calling for tenders for the removal of these bodies will include the bodies lying in other parts of the district namely, one at Bell Hill, one at Fenian Creek, and one at German Gully.
 
Grey River Argus,  3 August 1887: GREY COUNTY COUNCIL. Tuesday, August 2. The county council met this evening. Letter from H. P. Pow in reference to the notice he received that the council would deduct L2O from his contract money, and asking that the fine be not enforced, on the ground that he had done what work was pointed out to him as wanted.
Referred to the Road Overseer. Another letter from the same person stated that in consequence of the unfair way in which he had been treated by the council's servants he wished to resign contract No. 3 Grey Valley Teremakau road to A. Shaw, W. J. Shaw and Miss E. Guilford. Also, a subsequent letter stating that he had sold his contract for £24 to the above persons.
Resolved that Pow be allowed to transfer the contract on condition that the sureties be approved of. The second letter was also referred to the Road Overseer to report. Letter from Ellis Hall asking the council not to pay Pow more than half the money. He was Pow's partner, and had done his share of the work, and now he found that Pow had sold the contract to Miss Guilford
 
Grey River Argus, 3 September 1887: Tuesday, 6th September, 1887, AT 7.30 P.M. Cr McCarthy to move : That a sum of £10 be expended in repairing branch track from Miss Guilford's store, Bell Hill, to junction of Nelson Creek road.
 
Grey River Argus, 9 September 1887, GREY COUNTY COUNCIL. Wednesday, 7th September.
Cr McCarthy moved— "That a sum of £10 be expended in repairing branch track from Miss Guilford's store, Bell Hill, to junction of Nelson Creek road." Cr Parfitt seconded. He corroborated the statement of the mover that horses had to be unloaded before getting to the store. — Cr Marshall thought that £5 would do all that was required. The amount was reduced to £5, and motion agreed to.
 
DEATH. GUILFORD— On the 21st. February, at the Grey River Hospital; Elizabeth Guilford, native of Easton, near Malvern, Wiltshire, and late of Bell Hill, aged 75 years. Her burial was at Greymouth Cemetery February 24, 1892. 
 
Today, the traveller after leaving Reefton on Route 7 now heads south toward Greymouth. Turn left at Ngahere to Nelson Creek and continue on the Nelson Creek Bell Hill Road. It's a long drive about 30 km mostly on an unsealed road. Bell Hill is a historically rich area in timber farming and gold mining.