Interactive plans for Tower museum
A recreated railway station platform is among the long-term projects earmarked for The Firth Tower Museum which is already preparing for a busy summer holiday season.
The museum and its grounds are administered by the Matamata-Piako District Council and displays at the site are the work of the Matamata Historical Society volunteers.
Society president Ernie Keene said the group had plans to develop a few new displays and exhibits to make the museum more interactive with visitors.
‘‘We’re looking at taking the kiosk booth there, extending it to twice its length, and developing that into a railway platform. The old Kaimai train carriages where we have the model railway tains inside, are becoming old and falling apart. They’re at the end of their life.
‘‘So we’ve looking at moving the miniature trains out of there and into this new area, where people can step up into the train platform, into a ticket booth area, and put in a gold coin to watch the trains.’’
There were five part-time staff at Firth Tower as well as the historical society’s large group of volunteers who help with the upkeep of the museum.
In a statement via the council, the Firth Tower Museum manager Amy Martin said there had been ‘‘a substantial increase’’ in demand from the public to visit the museum or use its grounds.
There were more weddings being held there and more school groups, car clubs, motorhome rallies, and retirement villages visiting.
‘‘The most popular is the retirement villages where they are able to reminisce and discuss how fast paced technology has become in the last 100 years.’’
The museum held a school holidays programme with Swim Zone Matamata where children spent the morning at Firth Tower and were involved in activities such as candle making, butter making, silent movies and historical games.
‘‘These were really successful and we’re planning on doing more activities like this in the future.
‘‘The grounds at Firth Tower are really picturesque so would be a great place if community groups are planning events for the summer.’’
The council said there were no plans to add a shop to the site any time soon.
There were displays housed in 13 buildings on the museum ground, a short drive east of Matamata on Tower Rd. The museum occupies the site of the headquarters of the Matamata Estate and incudes 56 acres (22ha).
The estate was established by Auckland entrepreneur Josiah Clifton Firth. The present homestead (1902) replaces the old station homestead (1879) that was razed by fire.