Ardrossan celebrated the 50th anniversary of its opening on Friday 6th October 2023. It was exactly 50 years since it had been opened during the town’s centenary by Mr Warren Bonython, President of the National Trust of SA, on 6th October 1973.
Rod Dutschke is a member of the original committee and he continues his commitment as curator to the present day. His son Bruce spoke at the celebration about the early days of the museum. Prior to becoming a museum, the building was used as a powerhouse for the CH Smith agricultural machinery factory. Built in 1907, the building supplied electricity for the factory across the road and was also used for pattern-making. The building was donated to the National Trust in 1972 by ML (Bob) Sanders and family for the purpose of establishing a museum for Ardrossan and Disctrict.
Mr AL Sanders purchased the building in 1935 for use as a depot and later it became the home base for a freight business. Bruce described the work required to make the building suitable for a museum including re-roofing, cementing the floors and an extension, all assisted by a grant from the National Trust and assistance from the local Council and Apex Club.
Maitland historian, Beryl Neumann, told of her involvement with the Ardrossan museum when there was one CYP branch of the National Trust representing Ardrossan, Maitland and Port Victoria. The establishment of the museum was greatly helped by members of the Maitland committee, in particular Mrs Sid Wundersitz (grand-daughter of CH Smith) and Miss Neumann who wrote a booklet titled “The Smith Brothers and the Stump Jump Plough” which is still in print today.
Avian Pink then described some of the major events during his 20 year association with Ardrossan museum including relocating the agricultural machinery display to the Gundersen Reserve and the commissioning of “Neddy”, the Clydesdale made by Ty Manning. SBS also made a short documentary about the stump jump plough for the “Great Aussie Inventions” series during this time.
Current committee chairperson, Brenda Bowman, then spoke about present times including the beneficial relationship with Ardrossan Progress Association, owners of the building, which enables the museum to be open every day resulting in more than 2000 visitors during the past year.
Brenton Rowntree, Deputy Chairperson, then contributed by reading a poem written by former committee member Pat Snuggs titled “A Museum”. Her poem was published by the Country Times in 1972.
The 50th anniversary cake baked by Jenni Morgan was cut by Jan Hill (nee Sanders), committee member and daughter of the family that donated the building for use as a museum.
Visitors completed the celebration with morning tea and an opportunity to inspect the varied exhibits on display. Some interested people even managed to start the old tractors which are in readiness for the street parade to showcase Ardrossan’s 150th anniversary of proclamation on 28th October.
Words by: Brenda Bowman, Committee Chairperson, Ardrossan Heritage Museum