Museum project gets Heritage Fund grant
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.