Balaklava Museum back in business

EVEN though Balaklava Museum was closed to visitors during COVID-19 lockdown, there was still a lot of work going on behind closed doors.

Besides maintenance and administration, ground works were undertaken at Urlwin Park, including grading and spreading dolomite to define driveways and exterior display areas; the  cultivator and plough displays were rearranged setting the machines up in age order, as well as identifying those made locally; brick paving inside and outside the blacksmith shop received a massive internal facelift; and restoration of a second locally-made Blake windmill was completed that now stands majestically alongside a new fence being constructed using steel wheels.

This fence will separate visitors from the paddock where tractor/ploughing demonstrations take place on “open days,” keeping everyone safe when they gather to watch the machinery in action.

With safety of paramount concern for the museum, it became necessary to dismantle and remove the straw shed which was built in 1985.

“Despite some earlier attempts to try and stabilise it, the structure had yielded to the ravages of time and was extremely unstable with eight of the original nine uprights all rotten at the base, making the whole structure a danger to the public and our volunteers,” museum president Norma Schopp said.

“A few people have expressed their disgust at the removal of the straw shed, but it was beyond realistic repair and simply had to go; we hope those people appreciate this, and also appreciate the work of the many volunteers who turn up every Saturday along with some weekdays, and are doing a great job helping to maintain the whole museum property in a safe condition, while continually upgrading facilities and exhibits for the benefit of visitors.”

Further works are planned to erect a smaller replica of the straw shed in a more practical location where it can be used as a shade/shelter with seating for visitors when they are watching the tractors in action.

In another positive for the museum, its application for endorsement as a Deductible Gift Recipient has been successful.

“This means members of the public and/or businesses who make monetary donations to Balaklava Museum in support of its various projects can now claim a tax deduction for those donations,” Norma said.

“We are always pleased to welcome new members – it only costs $20 per adult per year, or

$10 per junior- so if you are interested in local history and would like to help us preserve it, why not call in at Urlwin Park on a Saturday morning, or phone 8862 1854 for a chat.”

The museum is open on the second and fourth Sunday each month, 2.30pm-4pm, or any other time by appointment, and visiting groups are welcome.

The Museum’s AGM was held recently with the executive officers re-elected and two new faces added to the general committee.

Overseeing the running of the museum are: Norma Schopp, Kevin Julyan, Lorraine Jenner, Dianne Taylor, David Tiller, Sarah Tiller, Ken Harkness, Roy Schopp, Gordon Cowley, John Sinkinson and Paul Godbolt, with new Public Officer, Don Veitch.