CHAIRMAN’S REPORT FOR 2011 – 2012
Where to begin in reflecting upon what has been a very hectic yet rewarding year? Perhaps with our attempts to increase the appeal of the Centre for visitors; pursuing this aim has involved setting up several new displays including the Solar Flare, Yesteryear’s Recreational Pursuits, Dress and Other Mourning Customs from Victorian times, Strathalbyn’s Musical Heritage, Tourism in Strathalbyn in the 1930s and 1940s and a photographic display of Strathalbyn’s past and present.
In an effort to make more of long standing (and sometimes tired) exhibits, major work took place on the Pioneer display and on the Arts and Crafts display in the Western corridor. The Railways, Children’s Room, Sitting Room and Laundry displays were also enhanced. In the machinery shed, provision has been made to supplement demonstrations of the horseworks and chaff cutter with easy-to-set-up videos. Thank you to Frank for facilitating this and to Frank and Joe for their work in setting up lighting and video in the Solar Flare enclosure.
In December 2011, contractor Terry Jarred and his son Matt provided their labour and expertise free of charge, to lay additional concrete slabs in the Buggy Shed. Through their wonderful generosity, Terry and Matt helped to ensure that every precinct in the Heritage Centre is now accessible to those with reduced mobility.
An important focus has been to improve volunteer safety. Safety markings around skylights in the machinery shed roof, fitting casters to heavy cabinets and installing a new loft ladder in the stable are three examples. A quantity of new personal safety equipment has been purchased, and we hope to add a scaffold tower to the equipment available as the year progresses.
Comprehensive lists of exterior and interior maintenance tasks have been drawn up and these are updated as new issues present; completed tasks are reported back to Management Committee. A similar system operates with projects, with a list drawn up and progress towards completion reported. Members may also have noticed a number of small but important improvements around the place, each designed to make things better for volunteers or visitors; a safety light in the front office, a front door bell, the letter box at the front gate, torches for the children’s grotto, LED lighting in display cabinets, lighting and video turning on and off at the appropriate times in the Solar Flare cabinet, a new set of book cases (beautifully built by Ken) in the front office, new power points in the machinery sheds (thanks to Frank) and coming very soon, a set of pigeon holes (being built by Chris) also for the front office.
At this stage I’d like to acknowledge the work of every one of our volunteers. A special “thank you” to those who turn up every Thursday morning and undertake a range of construction and maintenance tasks; Ken, Warren, Terry, Ann, Roy, Lucinda, Bill, Arron, Michael and George (our super BBQ chef). Equally, to those involved in research work; cataloguing, general administration and the construction of displays; Jill, Ann, Helen, Elaine, Charmaine, Warren & Ken. To Ron, who acts as a tour guide, Bridgette who’s put a lot of work into revamping our signage, Betty who does the filing, David who was instrumental in constructing the windmill and to those who make themselves available year after year on the door roster; thank you and very well done!
Lorraine is responsible for the health and maintenance of the Centre’s garden and, with Noel (and sometimes Dieu Hue) has done a terrific job in raising the visual appeal of the place. Towards the end of next month the Douglas Motorcycle Rally will come through Strathalbyn and the 40-odd riders have chosen the Heritage Centre to hold their picnic lunch. This says a lot for the work of our gardening gurus!
The Heritage Centre is indeed fortunate to have people with the range of skills and experience required to accomplish almost any task we set our minds to. An interesting development (and one that we encourage) has been an expansion in the number of volunteers who are prepared to come in for short periods to work on specific tasks.
2011/2012 has been another excellent year in terms of winning grants. In November 2011 the Centre won a Community Museums Project grant of $5,600 to record the exploits of the Solar Flare (a solar-assisted cycle constructed by pre-trade students from Strathalbyn’s Eastern Fleurieu School and now housed at the Heritage Centre). The Solar Flare display is eye-catching and informative, and given the additional task of organising a ten year reunion for participants, took many months of hard work to put together. I particularly want to acknowledge the hours and hours of work that Warren put into producing two high quality DVDs, that together outline the history of the Flare. Thanks also to Ann for her assistance in their production, display designer Richard Browning and to all the volunteers whose hard work helped make the event such a success.
In June of 2012 the Heritage Centre was advised that it had won $15,621 towards a $25,000 display to illustrate the district’s industrial heritage. Ken Knight came up with the concept and has overall responsibility for the project. Richard Browning has been engaged to carry out the design work (which will feature interactive exhibits, audio stories and video) with the display to occupy the ground floor of the old stable building.