Video – Local History – West Wallsend Community Museum

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– Hi, and welcome to another episode of Under Sugarloaf TV. Today we’re talking to Lillian Price about some of the treasures that they have in the West Wallsend Museum. So let’s go and talk to Lillian now.

– Hello again, welcome to our museum. This is the real look of life as it was in the 1800s. You might have read about how they used to cook scones and things up on an open tray over the fire. Down here, we’ve got more or less a foot wiper, where they used to come in and wipe their feet there. There we’ve got a big block of coal, which came from the local mines and was found under a Holmes family home. I’d like to tell you today about what happened after Brian Hayes left. He had got transferred to another school in the late 1990s. And after that, nobody was really interested in the museum. The teachers didn’t know much about it. And for about 10 years, there was nothing happening. You can get the key from the office, you can come down and have a look at it, return the key afterwards, but not many people really knew that it was here. So about 2005, the headmaster or the principal, I should say, he decided that the museum was such a great asset. That it’d be good to open it. So he contacted Betty Evans and myself and later Leah and Janet. And we decided to mitigate that, that we would happy to open the museum. It should be made open to the public. So from then on, the museum has grown in popularity. We’ve had so many artifacts given to us. We’ve had so much interest in it. It’s been great and it’s brought a droid up. We had celebrated the 21st birthday, the 25th birthday, and it has been a real interest for me, really a full time interest. So now I would like to be able to show you just a few of the things that is so special to me. The first thing I’d like to do is very, very special. to me, really touches the heartstrings. See this little wooden doll here, way back in the 1800s, they used to have peddlers going around selling items from little humpy to humpy. And this peddler came to this little homestead and he said, found out that the 12-year-old old girl had never, ever had a doll. And it really upset him. So he went off into the bush and he got a piece of wood, carved it, made it into some semblance of a doll and came back and gave it to her. She was so thrilled that a 12-year-old having her first doll. When you look at it, it’s not much to look at, but oh the story behind it really means a lot. And we’re so lucky that we’ve got it here and to be able to tell this story. While we’re on the subject of dolls, the little ragdoll behind, that was something that, sort of dolls that we had when I was a girl. There wasn’t much money around, but after the depression and during the war years, so handmade rag dolls were very, very popular and we have that one there. I call her Nancy. That’s a good example of what, the sort of dolls we played with. I’ll show you shortly another sort of doll that we had. Beside it there, we’ve got one that’s even earlier. Then they put a beam for people who had more money to spend and it probably was, I’d say before the depression years. So we’re very fortunate to have that one as well. You might be amused and amazed to find out that with no money in the war years, no money to buy dolls and things like that, we used to make our own fun. We can tell you so many stories about how we used rose petals for money for when he had shops, etcetera. And we used to use the common jolly pegs. And if you look at them, you can see, well, they’re sort of like a doll, aren’t they? So we used to paint the faces, we wrap a pipe cleaner around to make arms, and then we would just make simple, little, put over the head dress. And then of course the little feet, they look like feet at the bottom. And that was our way of having our dolls because we didn’t have them when they were impossible to buy in the war years. Then when I say, war years, I’m talking about the 39, 45 World War II. Another collection that we’re very thankful to have actually belongs to National Parks and Wildlife, but when The Museum Hotel, which you will know down in the bottom end of Westy, when it was built, it was built by William Johnston and his daughter, Margaret was an expert taxidermist. So she used to, all from the Sugarloaf area, she used to stuff, I’d call it stuff anyway, stuff birds. And she had a terrific collection. And William Johnson, he named the hotel, The Museum Hotel because it was a museum of his daughter’s taxidermied birds. And when you see this collection, you’ll find that they were all from the Sugarloaf area. So these were the birds that were so natural and found so often in our natural bushland that we don’t see today. In this collection, there is one that’s a ringing. This is the toucan. There’s no toucans in Australia, but it is given touristy. So you might like to have a look at the birds. About 2007, the owners decided that their last bird that they had kept, which was the lyrebird, still in its original case, they would give that to the museum as well. So we were very, very pleased to be able to get that because not many people really see what a lyrebird is like. I learned a lot about it by having it here. And as I said, we had to have an application made to the National Parks and Wildlife, and they have given us permission to keep it in the local area. And we’ve got to renew that every five years to make sure that we can retain it. They’re very happy that it is housed with us and in where it really belongs.

– Well we hope you enjoyed that episode of Under Sugarloaf TV. Please remember, if you have any news, events, articles, even any charitable organizations that you wish to give some exposure to, we’d be happy to do a video for you and put it up on the channel. So if you’d like to contact me, you can either go to or you can contact me by email at anytime. So this is Jon Byrne signing off for Under Sugarloaf TV.