Tak­ing a step back in time in Wake­field

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING - CARLY GOOCH

The days of ro­tary dial tele­phones, hab­er­dash­ery stores and Nel­son’s Tyree pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dio are long gone but a lit­tle his­toric vil­lage is let­ting vis­i­tors rem­i­nisce.

Wil­low Bank Her­itage Vil­lage in Wake­field gives the im­pres­sion of walk­ing into Ed­war­dian times while ev­ery build­ing fo­cuses on a dif­fer­ent decade up un­til the 1970s.

Vil­lage guardian Chris­tine Grieder said the eras in­cluded a 1930s pho­to­graphic stu­dio, a 1940s li­brary, a 1950s burger bar, a 1960s bak­ery and gro­cery store and a 1970s milk bar.

Many of the build­ings have con­nec­tions to Nel­son’s past.

The pho­to­graphic stu­dio was built from Ngawhatu Hospi­tal’s wood.

The stu­dio en­cour­aged vis­i­tors to dress up in pe­riod cos­tume housed in the Hid­dle­stone Drap­ery store be­fore saun­ter­ing over to get a photograph in front of a replica back­drop from Nel­son’s prom­i­nent Tyree Stu­dio.

‘‘You can do that all for free, we don’t charge any­thing.’’

Grieder’s labour of love opens the first Sun­day of each month, amaz­ing its vis­i­tors.

‘‘When peo­ple come they’re sur­prised some­thing like it ex­ists, and they didn’t know about it.‘‘

She started build­ing up the tiny town­ship in 2002 with her late part­ner, Kim Ker­slake, af­ter she ran out of room to store the an­tiques she bought for her store.

Over time, she col­lected build­ings to ac­com­mo­date the items from yes­ter­year, in­clud­ing Jack Guard’s of­fice which now serves as a bak­ery, a Brethren Hall from Colling­wood St which is the cafe and the smoko room from Brook­side Mill which is the china store.

There was a time though that Grieder nearly packed the ven­ture in.

She said when Ker­slake died three years ago, ‘‘I re­ally wanted to give it up’’.

But she was given a new lease on the vil­lage life when she met Scott An­der­son.

‘‘He’s a builder and he’s very much in­volved in it.’’

Adults might feel nos­tal­gic walk­ing through the vil­lage but for chil­dren, the ex­cite­ment lies in the old tele­phones.

A num­ber of the 20 build­ings on site are con­nected by a phone sys­tem, util­is­ing phones from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Grieder said the chil­dren mainly used the phones to call each other from dif­fer­ent sites around the vil­lage.

‘‘At the start, they don’t even know how to use them.’’

The vil­lage re­lies on fundrais­ing, do­na­tions and vol­un­teers to stay afloat and is free to the pub­lic.

There would never be an en­try fee, she said.

‘‘Fam­i­lies come and they en­joy them­selves and we know that some fam­i­lies have it hard these days.’’

As for the grow­ing col­lec­tion of build­ings and items, Grieder com­pared her­self to a lady in Canada who pro­ceeded to build a house with 170 rooms when she lost her hus­band.

‘‘Maybe it’s me as well. I just keep go­ing and I don’t even know why. All the money I get, I put into it.’’

‘‘Maybe it will keep go­ing when I’m not around – I hope so.’’

Wil­low Bank Her­itage Vil­lage in Wake­field is one of the ap­pli­cants in the Car Com­pany’s Char­ity Drive.


Colleen War­ren, left, Carol Leggett,

Chris­tine Grieder, Scott An­der­son of the Wil­low Bank Her­itage Vil­lage and

Jamie Tay­lor of The Car Com­pany pro­mote The Car Com­pany $10,000 Char­ity Drive.

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