The grand ambition of heritage
The Ellesmere Heritage Park in Leeston has come a long way, but to become the Selwyn district’s heritage and tourism hub, organisers need external help.
Chairman of Ellesmere Heritage Park Trust Chris Peacock said the park hoped to remodel itself as the Selwyn Heritage Centre, a base for heritage tourism in the district.
‘‘We don’t want to be an old tin shed full of old stuff. We really want to be an exciting place to come,’’ Peacock said.
As part of that, the trust hoped it would be able to attract tourists to stay on site. It was hoped information about other heritage sites and trails would encourage visits to other sites in the area.
‘‘It’s tourist focused to get people to get out and see the Selwyn, spend a few days here before they go down to Queenstown,’’ Peacock said.
Starting in October 2012, Peacock said the trust and local volunteers had made good progress on converting the former council workshop but had now partnered with Geraint Howells and Alan Direen of design and consultancy specialists Creative Intentions. The partnership would help the trust with fundraising and design ‘‘to get the building to standard where [it] can open to the public’’.
Peacock said the park would need around $600,000 to begin renovation and earthquake strengthening work on the main building. He hoped work could begin next year.
The park had more than 7000 donated heritage items ready for display once the building was completed. Those items ranged from things like butcher’s meat hooks to large farm machinery and an entire settler’s cottage.
Built in the late 1800s by Edward Carroll, the first European settler in Southbridge, the cottage would eventually become part of a group heritage era buildings display in the park’s yard.
‘‘We’d be using the cottage to display the domestic items we have to give a show of life in the 1910s,’’ Peacock said.
Doyleston man Kevin Taylor had been running Tuesday working bees with locals for five years, Peacock said, helping the park renovate items and provide landscaping work.
‘‘We’ve been given so much stuff for free, we’ve been really fortunate. Our vision is not to collect stuff, but to collect stories. [The museum] is a place to preserve those stories.’’
Chris Peacock hopes the park will become a hub for heritage tourism in the Selwyn district.