Location 266
Location #266. Cornishtown Chair.
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Location #266. Cornishtown Chair. Kawarau River, approx 260m from the confluence of the Clutha River. Now under Lake Dunstan.

Still Standing


Now under Lake Dunstan

Construction Details

See notes.

Location Type


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Interested Parties

The table below shows the groups of people that had an interest in this property, either as owners, residents, tenants or shareholders. Clicking on the 'Details' link will display a list of the individuals in the group along with any known historical information about them.

Group Date Description
1 1869 Unknown Details


The table below shows any historical notes about the location.

Note Date Short Description Note Text
2938 1869 Location of the chair. On the Kawarau River, approximately 260m upstream from the junction of the Clutha and Kawarau Rivers. Below the Golden Age Hotel in Murray St Cromwell. The location is now under Lake Dunstan.
2939 1869 Construction details. A wire rope stretched across the Kawarau River from Cromwell to Cornish Point, attached to anchor blocks of rock high on the river terraces. A wooden box was suspended from iron supports and pulleys which ran along the wire rope. A hemp rope was also fixed to each shore, suspended in loops from the wire rope and attached to the wooden box cage. This enabled the person in the cage to pull themselves across the river by hauling on the hemp rope.
2940 1869 General notes. In December of 1869 the chair was established. The Cromwell Argus reported a description of the chair. " The residents of Cornish Town on the opposite side of the Kawarau River from Cromwell, possess an excellent contrivance for conveying themselves, as well as supplies across the raging torrent that separate their pleasant little hamlet from the town of Cromwell. A stout wire rope is stretched across the river at a height of about 30 feet (approx 9m) and it is firmly secured to the rocks on the banks at either side. The rope spans a distance of about 300 feet (approx 90m) and the necessary degree of tension is secured by means of a Spanish windlass, which is worked from the south side of the river. Attached to the rope is a 'chair' or oblong box, open at the top and secured to two iron pulleys which are kept well supplied with grease in order to prevent undue friction. The intending passenger takes his seat in the chair and the dip of the wire rope, aided by the weight of the chair and its occupants. carries the aerial velocipede halfway across the river, when it then becomes necessary for the person sitting in the chair to propel the machine the remainder of the distance by aid of a rope securely fastened to the bank towards which he is proceeding "
2941 1869 The chair is established. in December 1869 the chair was established. It is not known who had the chair constructed, but it may well have been an early resident / hotel owner of Cornishtown on Cornish Point.
2942 1877 Request made to build a bridge to Cornish Point. The new Vincent County Council was asked to construct a bridge from Cromwell to Cornish Point. At this time their were numerous miners working in the area as well as 23 school children who crossed the river by chair each day.
2943 1878 A bridge is still not built. The residents of Cornish Town were still quarreling with Vincent Pyke and the county about a bridge to Cornish Point. Unfortunately the county would not even agree to fund a foot bridge. Cornish Town as a settlement failed.
2944 1903 Accident on the chair. About 5 o'clock in the afternoon of Friday, 30th Jan, a serious accident occurred to the daughter of James Robertson* of Kawarau Station, a girl of about 10 years of age. She and another girl were playing in the Cornishtown chair, when somehow or other she fell out of the chair, a distance of 32 feet (9.7m) onto the rocks lining the bank of the Kawarau River. her companion at once ran for assistance, and the little sufferer was carried to the residence of her grandmother Mrs May. Meantime someone had gone for Dr Mcknight who was at the Bank of New Zealand, and he was soon on the scene. It was found on examination that the girls right jaw was badly fractured, smashed in fact, her left wrist was dislocated and one of her knees seriously injured. Her body was badly bruised and severely shaken but so far no sign of serious internal injuries have been detected, and the child is progressing favorably. The chair is a favorite plaything with the Cromwell children, and this should be a warning to them to give it a wide berth. We regret to say that the latest news is hat it is going to be hard with the poor child. \ (as reported in the Cromwel Argus 3/2/1903 ) * Jame Robertson was the head shepherd at Kawarau Station from 1900 to 1910.
2945 c1930 General note (from Ivan Hughes - Cromwell memory) Mr Jack Tolly who lived in Cromwell used the chair to take himself and his dogs to Cornish Point where he trapped and poisoned rabbits. On one trip, he and his dogs got trapped mid-span when the control rope got tangled. After a lot of shouting and barking, he was rescued, along with his dogs.
2946 1951 The chair was still in use. J C Parcell mentions in 'Heart of the Desert' that the chair to Cornish Point from Cromwell was still in use. It is not known when the chair was dismantled.


The table below shows a list of images related to the location. Click on 'View Image' to display more details about the image, and to view the image.

Image Id Source Date Short Description
1025 Paul Crump - Bannockburn Sept 1907 Part of Plan - 'Geological Map of Part of Cromwell Township' View Image
1026 NZ Aerial Mapping. 9 Mar 1949 Cornish Point - Aerial photo showing various locations as marked. View Image