The Glen Innes & District Historical Society’s 2016-2017 Year in Review

Our historical society which runs the Land of the Beardies History House Museum and Research Centre as well as participating in extension and outreach work in the community and catering for group tours, has had a very busy year.

As The Land of the Beardies Reserve Trust, we are responsible for all the insurances and maintenance of the land and buildings of our prime tourist attraction.

Over the past year 4,362 people have visited, an average of 363 a month. This does not count the crowds at outreach events outside the museum.

We are very grateful to our members, who as a team, with a myriad of talents, have volunteered their time to work more than 10,900 hours this year and this does not count many, many hours of work away from the museum. Last year the total for the year was 7,920 hours.

Some of the highlights of the year:

  • In February we were honored with a visit from His Excellency the Governor of NSW, David Hurley and his wife Mrs Linda Hurley.
  • We replaced the roof, guttering and downpipes on the Nurses Home using grant funds and donations and the stored material in there is being gradually sorted and rationalized for easier access.
  • The new Sports Display mainly featuring local triple Olympian Debbie Wells in the Textile room was opened by Debbie herself and drew a very appreciative crowd.
  • In conjunction with the Friends of the Standing Stones we held a musical evening here with ‘The Abbeys’.
  • The William Gardner Centre was the venue for our very informative workshop on ‘Small Schools in the former Severn Shire’, run by Graham Wilson OAM. It was attended by people from around the region.
  • We supplied copies of numerous historic photographs and artefacts for the ‘Fling Street’ group to use in their ongoing project of filling the vacant shop fronts in Grey Street.
  • We also provided numerous photographs for a video loop for the Church of England fete and put up photographic displays in the Town Hall and at Shannon Vale for Australia Day ceremonies.
  • We were consulted and provided research material and images for the Art Installation in Bourke Street.
  • Our excellent website and Facebook give us very welcome local, regional, national and international publicity and also prompt research enquiries which are constantly increasing.
  • We updated the Glen Innes Historic Buildings walk for the Visitors Information Centre.
  • We staged three highly successful fashion parades over the two days of the Glen Innes P&A show, as well as setting up a research hub in there.
  • To give more space for functions, especially at Celtic Festival time, the central garden bed in the courtyard has been removed but the gardens around the veranda remain.
  • The 2017 Celtic Festival was hugely successful both in numbers and monetarily for us.
  • We hosted an Irish night in the museum featuring the Glen Innes Pipe Band and for the first time, a paid professional performer, Irish balladeer Jack O’Leary.
  • We prepared a hearty Irish meal that night and the usual delicious Celtic morning and afternoon teas were on offer for the week.
  • As well, there was a display of Irish handwork, a booklet on Irish Research had been prepared for sale and the walls of the museum displayed details of Irish names and coats of arms.
  • Our taking for the month were $7,278.90 compared to April takings even when there some four coaches/groups and our takings were $3,309.50.
  • We replaced the bathroom and laundry, laid new linoleum, laid new carpet in one room, refreshed the paint in places, replaced the hot water system, installed fans, and intend installing air conditioning and replacing some windows in the flat above the museum. This flat houses our Duty Clerk.
  • This has cost over $15,000 and the maintenance team of Steve Gregori, Col Wallace and Paul Hanson have spent over 5 months on this project.
  • We were grateful to have a team from the Correctional Services helping with painting.
  • We have recently taken over the Newstead collection of costume previously stored at the New England Heritage Centre.
  • There are now 43,000 photographs scanned to database – there are still many images in the collection to be identified.
  • In October, we lent our McCormick Deering, Rumley Oil Pull and the Blackstone tractors for display with the New England Machinery Group at the Showground.
  • This rare Blackstone is the only one in the world that is in working order.
  • I hope that we will soon be able to start work on the floor of the machinery shed.
  • The museum was backdrop for a segment of the UK based ‘Who do You Think You Are’ programme for which we did research into Harry Macklin Shaw, an ancestor of Australian-British dancer, choreographer and theatre director in the United Kingdom, Craig Revel Horwood.
  • We are indeed fortunate to have the original copies of The Glen Innes Examiner which the producer wanted to film for the story and this programme has brought us welcome UK publicity.
  • We participated in ChillNGlen, both down town in the CBD and at the museum – including, a special display titled ‘Warming!’ in the museum.
  • Arts North West: assisted with an artefact Syrian dagger from a returned serviceman for the Regional ‘Hidden Treasures’ project workshops.
  • Arts North West: hosted Beattie Alvarez as writer in residence for two days of workshops, including school workshops for the Regional ‘Stuff of Tales’ project.
  • Arts Council: we lend props for Arts Council plays.
  • Newsletters are published quarterly and our annual Bulletin has been enlarged.

Plans for the 2017-2018

  • On October 28 we will open a new Textiles exhibition – working title ‘Weddings’.
  • On October 29 we will be running a Grandparents Day at the museum.
  • On February 9 to 11 2018 we will be providing numerous photographs and editorial for a large historical display for the 150th Anniversary of the formation the P&A Show Society.
  • As well, we will stage another parade of historic fashions and provide a family research hub facility in the Centenary pavilion.
  • This show is known as the best in the region and draws very large crowds.
  • As 2018 is the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the Historical Society we are planning a conference for historical societies, family history groups, galleries, museums etc., for March 16,17 and 18, 2018—‘Many Cultures – Our History’.
  • Two coaches have already booked in for next year, including one from South Australia.
  • We will again have weeklong Celtic festival activities at the museum.
  • We are very grateful to the RSL Sub Branch, Opportunity Shop, Lions, National Servicemen’s Association, Caledonian Society, White Rock Wind Farm, Glen Innes Severn Council, Corrective Services and several individuals who have so generously given us donations/ and supported in kind to assist in our numerous projects to preserve and promote the history of the Glen Innes area whilst supporting the wider regional cultural and arts community.

Eve Chappell, Museum Manager
August 2017