Video – Local history in West Wallsend – The Community Museum

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– Hi, and welcome to another episode of “Undersugarloaf TV.” Today we’re going to be talking to Lillian Price about the West Wallsend High School and Community Museum.

– We’ve often been asked about when did the museum start and how did it start? Well, back in 1985, there was a history teacher, Brian Hayes, he was a real history buff and they started a project, where the students had to do a six weeks’ course. So Brian Hayes, with these six week, local history classes, he sent the students out into the community, talking to the people and the result was so fantastic with the artifacts coming in and the history stories, that they decided to start a museum and the museum started in this disused building, it was no longer a classroom, it was condemned and they worked, they formed a museum committee. They started doing the artifacts renovating, renovating, I suppose, yes, doing them up, making them look presentable and the students loved those classes and they said, sir, when can we have the next museum class? They loved it so much. Well, then it gradually got that they outgrew the museum building here. Barnsley Hall had been burned down and the progress association who ran it, they donated money together with an LEP grant from the schools and voluntary labour with the school teachers and community, they built the other building we’ll show you shortly and it was built and it became the main museum building. So this is the building that the volunteers and the community members and the school teachers built. They tried to make it like a cottage museum and making little places there, like they had a kitchen corner, they called it Grandma’s House, no dining room and then they had a school room, all different departments. Really the artifacts kept rolling in, Ernie Lambert was one of the historians, because so many of the mining people were retiring at that time, so many mining artifacts came in, early furniture, things from the early churches and of course over the years it’s been added to, people still think about museums to donate things to. So also with the wartime there, we’ve had a lot of the World War I and World War II people there, like here when the soldiers went overseas, their community came together and churches, and they’d give a present to the soldiers that were enlisting, something like a nail care or a grooming kit, different things like that, so that while they was serving overseas, they had memories of home. Like the filters to go on the headlights and then we have the food containers they had, gas masks, and then of course, as the soldiers were writing home, they’d be sending artifacts home too, little souvenirs of where they had been served. Also got the food rations, just little things like that, their memories and then of course on the home front too, we had the women doing crochet there, there’s one there says For freedom, we will defend it to the last and another one says, Success to the Allies. So the women on the home front, apart from doing food, fruit cakes, sewing them up in canvas and sending them overseas to their loved ones, they were also being patriotic and doing crochet work and everything else too. So really a museum is a fantastic place to visit. Unfortunately with the COVID-19, we have been closed down by the Education Department, but we do hope to open shortly and people will be able to enjoy looking around again.

– [Jon] And Lillian, when the museum does reopen, do you have an idea of the hours, that people will be able to visit the museum?

– With the Education Department at the moment closing us down during school hours, we hope to reopen like we did before, the first Saturday in each month and if that works out successfully, it may increase different hours, but I don’t think we’ll ever be allowed.

– [Jon] And for those, that aren’t on the Facebook page, the museum has its own Facebook page, does it?

– Yes, yes.

– [Jon] West Wallsend Museum page.

– That’s right.

– Yeah, so they can just go to Facebook and search that term under the West Wallsend Museum, is that correct?

– That’s right.

– Okay, and entry costs?

– We ask for a gold coin donation, we have never set a fee and rely on that and then sales of our books and sometimes there’s some mugs, Holmesville mugs and West Wallsend mugs, different there, we rely on that to help us keep going.

– [Jon] Well, thank you, Lillian. I’m sure that’s very informative for a lot of the people out there watching the video and what we will be doing in the future, we’ll be looking at some specific items and maybe doing a video on those. So if you’d be happy to do that with us, we’d love to come back and share some more of the experiences of the museum. Thank you again.

– That’d be great. We really look forward to seeing you and we have so much to show you.

– Well, we hope you enjoyed today’s episode of “Under Sugarloaf TV.” Remember if you have any news, articles, events, or videos that you would like to share, just go to undersugarloaf.com and look for the contribute tab, where you can enter your information there. Otherwise you can contact me by email at info@undersugarloaf.com. So this is Jon Byrne signing off for “Under Sugarloaf TV.”