In­ter­ac­tive plans for Tower mu­seum

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - LAWRENCE GULLERY

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.

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