Mu­seum project gets Her­itage Fund grant

Southern Riverina news - - FRONT PAGE -

His­tory will be per­ma­nently re­stored in Fin­ley af­ter JT & EN Close re­ceived a long awaited grant to open a mu­seum at its foundry.

The 125 year old fam­ily busi­ness has been awarded $99,000 from the NSW Gov­ern­ment’s Her­itage Near Me Lo­cal Strate­gic Project.

It will fi­nan­cially sup­port the plan to have old carts, wag­ons, em­ploy­ment records and other his­tor­i­cal items on dis­play to the pub­lic at all times, with the aim of pro­vid­ing an­other tourism boost for the lo­cal area.

The mu­seum is also ded­i­cated to the orig­i­nal founder and owner JT Close, for the work he did es­tab­lish­ing the busi­ness and the im­pact he had on the district.

The busi­ness founder’s great grand­son, cur­rent foundry owner Graeme Close said the fam­ily had been ap­ply­ing for grants to es­tab­lish the mu­seum for at least a decade.

‘‘The first stage will be a new roof in the old part of the foundry, and then we’ll be cat­a­logu­ing the old em­ploy­ment records and other ma­te­rial dat­ing back to when the foundry opened in 1893,’’ Mr Close said.

‘‘The old records will be dis­played un­der glass, and we’ll have a video run­ning and have old ma­chin­ery work­ing when peo­ple come through the foundry — ba­si­cally it will be an op­er­a­tional black­smith mu­seum.

‘‘We’ll have the forge run­ning, and show how wag­ons and wa­ter carts were cre­ated.’’

Mr Close said the added ad­van­tage of the fund­ing is the project will pay trib­ute to JT Close and his com­mit­ment to the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

‘‘I am proud this can be ded­i­cated to my great grand­fa­ther and ap­pre­ci­ate what he did. There’s been noth­ing done in Fin­ley be­fore to ac­knowl­edge what he’s done.

‘‘He was the main in­sti­ga­tor to bring wa­ter to the re­gion and the rail­way from Ber­ri­gan to Fin­ley and Tocumwal.

‘‘He split Tup­pal Sta­tion into soldier set­tle­ment blocks, and also did work for the Fin­ley Show and foot­ball club.

‘‘There are a lot of peo­ple who know of the busi­ness and drop in al­ready so we hope this can draw peo­ple into the town who are in­ter­ested.

‘‘By open­ing it up to bus tours, we can re­ally show off what the busi­ness is about.’’

The mu­seum is ex­pected to take up half of the orig­i­nal foundry in Wol­la­mai St, Fin­ley.

More arte­facts are ex­pected to be col­lected from other work­shops around the district.

‘‘The time­line we’ve set up is to have ev­ery­thing ready by March, but we have un­til May next year to have it all com­pleted,’’ Mr Close said.

‘‘I want to thank (for­mer Mem­ber for Mur­ray) Adrian Pic­coli, Her­itage Near Me rep­re­sen­ta­tive Andrew Trump and (cur­rent Mem­ber for Mur­ray) Austin Evans for as­sist­ing me with ob­tain­ing the grant.

‘‘A big thank you must go to Fin­ley his­to­rian Peter Hamil­ton who has been a great sup­porter of the mu­seum.’’

With the grant ob­tained, Mr Close said work on sort­ing through archived ma­te­ri­als must now be­gin.

He is seek­ing vol­un­teers to help cat­a­logue em­ploy­ment books and other items from Oc­to­ber 16 to 18. Any­one in­ter­ested can con­tact the foundry on 5883 1002.

■ JT & EN Close foundry owner Graeme Close with his grand­son Harry Tay­lor on a 1920s gig once owned by the late Norm McAllister.

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