Ingenious, innovative, inspiring…

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Ken Gillespie shows visitors how the automatic hack saw works at Hayes Engineering Works. Photo: Grant Sheehan

MARVEL at a fully operational turn of the 20th century workshop where millwright and engineer Ernest Hayes invented labour-saving devices for farmers under the slogan “durability before cheapness, first cost last cost”.

This enduring family business, E. Hayes and Sons, became famous for its perfected wire strainer design in 1924, but also turned out windmills, 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 – a tale that stops many of today’s visitors to the Heritage New Zealand cared for property in their tracks.

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 – a double mud brick villa with rooms filled with everyday items reflecting the era.

Come and visit, take a guided tour of the workshop, “big house” and gardens, re-wire with a Hayes roast coffee, browse the gift shop and taste some delights from Hannah’s Kitchen.

To see the workshop come to life, turn up at one of the following operating days during summer: January 7, February 4, March 4, and April 1.

Cost $20 per person, children under 15 and Heritage New Zealand members free.

Hayes Engineering Works and Homestead, 39 Hayes Road, RD 2, Oturehua, Central Otago

Phone 03 444 5801, email hayes@heritage.org.nz, www.hayesengineering.co.nz

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