Replica am­bu­lance joins his­tory dis­play

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS -

Brian Wil­ton’s replica 1930s am­bu­lance will be the star at­trac­tion of a dis­play at Te Manawa to mark the Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal’s 125th An­niver­sary.

Mr Wil­ton has spent the past five years build­ing the am­bu­lance in the car port at his Levin home, hav­ing had his in­ter­est in vin­tage ve­hi­cles piqued while work­ing as a first aider at a vin­tage car show in 2013.

From there, he sought a 1930s Chevro­let chas­sis, called on his knowl­edge as a for­mer am­bu­lance of­fi­cer for the Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal Board in the 80s and thor­oughly re­searched vin­tage am­bu­lances.

Mr Wil­ton now takes the am­bu­lance to events, ral­lies and com­pe­ti­tions through­out the re­gion.

“I thought it would be a good nov­elty to take a vin­tage am­bu­lance along for peo­ple to have a look and see what things were like back in the 1930s.”

He’s spent about $20,000 and count­less hours piec­ing to­gether the am­bu­lance as au­then­ti­cally as pos­si­ble, although he in­jected his own style by mak­ing the body slightly more rounded.

A car­pen­ter and joiner by trade, Mr Wil­ton built the am­bu­lance from macro­carpa and fi­bre­glass, with parts sourced through­out New Zealand.

While the am­bu­lance’s body work was com­plete, it was still a work in progress, with the ve­hi­cle’s orig­i­nal en­gine the last piece to fin­ish be­fore it could be­come road-le­gal, Mr Wil­ton said.

“The look on peo­ple’s faces and the en­joy­ment when kids climb in­side and have a look — that is very re­ward­ing and makes me feel good.”

It fea­tures old med­i­cal equip­ment in­side do­nated by the David Warnock Med­i­cal Mu­seum, and he is seek­ing more pieces to add to the col­lec­tion.

The Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal 125th An­niver­sary dis­play opened at Te Manawa on Oc­to­ber 25.

Along­side the am­bu­lance will be a range of med­i­cal ex­hibits from the Med­i­cal Mu­seum and a photo and video ret­ro­spec­tive of the past 125 years of the hospi­tal’s his­tory.

Es­tab­lished by the com­mu­nity in 1893, the Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal has played an im­por­tant role in ser­vic­ing the health needs of peo­ple liv­ing in the re­gion.

The an­niver­sary will be com­mem­o­rated in a cer­e­mony on Novem­ber 27 and a num­ber of his­tor­i­cal pic­tures will be fea­tured in pub­lic ar­eas through­out the hospi­tal.

MidCen­tral District Health Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Kathryn Cook said the dis­play was a cel­e­bra­tion of the close re­la­tion­ship be­tween the hospi­tal and the com­mu­nity.

“The Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal has been part of this com­mu­nity for 125 years. It was built by the com­mu­nity for the com­mu­nity, so we are de­lighted to mark this mile­stone by re­flect­ing on our his­tory with the pub­lic we serve,” she said.

“The hospi­tal and its staff touch many lives, and we hope the com­mu­nity will take pride in look­ing back over the work and progress of the past 125 years.”

The Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal Med­i­cal Mu­seum is open for visi­tors on the first and third Fri­day of ev­ery month. En­try is through Gate 5 off Here­taunga St, and to the left af­ter the car park bar­rier arm.


Brian Wil­ton’s replica 1930s am­bu­lance, which will fea­ture in the Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal 125th An­niver­sary dis­play at Te Manawa Mu­seum.

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