Pioneering spirit at Hayes Engineering Works

By Becky Reid

Marvel at a fully operational turn-of-the-20th-century workshop, where millwright and engineer Ernest Hayes invented laboursaving devices for farmers.

This enduring family business, E. Hayes and Sons, became famous for its perfected chain-grab wirestrainer design in 1924, but also turned out windmills, fence standards and gates, rabbit-smokers, cattle stops, spinning jennies, wheel clamps, and more.

Nine Hayes children were brought up at this site, once known as Echo Farm, where a series of fascinating mud-brick buildings, gardens and quirky Hayes contraptions are revealed.

Ernest’s wife, Hannah, initially pedalled her bike through Central Otago’s desolate landscape in her long skirts to get orders for the business in 1895.

A genuine example of ‘‘Kiwi ingenuity’’, this historic workplace provides a rare glimpse of early technology suspended in time.

Domestic life, too, is hinted at in the family’s restored 1920s homestead. Take a guided tour of the workshop, the ‘‘big house’’ and gardens, recharge with a Hayes roast coffee, browse the gift shop, and taste some delights from Hannah’s Kitchen.

Turn up at one of the following operating days over summer: January 6, February 3, March 3, and April 7, 2019. Tour times on the hour from 10.30am-3.30pm.

Cost: $20pp, children under 15 and Heritage New Zealand members $10.

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