New funding supports local conservation initiatives

A trove of historic objects will be conserved in Newcastle and Braidwood, thanks to new funding from the Community Heritage Grants program.

The Community Heritage Grants program aims to preserve and provide access to locally held, nationally significant cultural heritage collections across Australia. More than $25,000 in funding was awarded to two National Trust (NSW) conservation initiatives; one at Bedervale homestead in Braidwood, the other at Miss Porter’s House in Newcastle.

The Bedervale Collection

Bedervale is a heritage-listed homestead in Braidwood that was designed by architect John Verge and built between 1836 and 1840 for Captain John Coghill. Many of Coghill’s original belongings are still in the house, forming a very rare collection of 19th century furniture, artworks and objects that have been preserved by the Coghill and Maddrell families.

Highlights among the collection include an extensive library of books, Coghill’s handwritten notes and sketches, and an 1840s kitchen in its original condition.

To help preserve the significance of the site, the National Trust purchased the contents of the house in 1975 with funding from a National Estate Grant. Since then, the National Trust has cared for the Bedervale collection for more than 40 years.

Now, with the help of recent funding, the National Trust will run conservation training programs for volunteers, teaching them the skills needed to manage Bedervale homestead’s vast heritage collection.

Training will begin in 2024, with three to four workshops led by an expert conservator. Up to 12 volunteers will be trained as part of the program, including local conservation students.

“The Bedervale collection has remained intact for almost two centuries, which is extraordinary,” said Rebecca Pinchin, National Trust Collections Manager. “The National Trust relies on volunteers to care for heritage across the state. This funding will be essential for teaching our volunteers the latest skills in preserving the irreplaceable collection at Bedervale homestead.”

Bedervale Kitchen
The historic kitchen at Bedervale homestead in Braidwood.

Miss Porter’s House

The other portion of Community Heritage Grants funding has gone towards preserving the collection at National Trust house museum Miss Porter’s House in Newcastle.

The Miss Porter’s House collection was recently added to the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register in recognition of its rich trove of documentary heritage spanning 1910 to 1997.

Funding will help conserve key items in the collection, including reupholstering a historic armchair; conserving historic hats and handmade baskets; and preserving celluloid postcards, photos and documents.

Volunteers at Miss Porter’s House will also train in disaster response and recovery for collection items – vital training to safeguard the house museum’s fragile items from threats such as weather and accidents.

“The Community Heritage Grants program is transformative for museums and galleries,” said Annabel Senior, Chair of the Miss Porter’s House Management Committee. “This funding will not only help conserve an important collection, it will also help prevent things from deteriorating further.”

Newcastle resident Hazel Porter bequeathed Miss Porter’s House to the National Trust in 1997. Today, a team of 35 National Trust volunteers help care for the Edwardian terrace and its significant collection.

“Our volunteers are very committed to the heritage of Newcastle,” said Annabel. “It’s thanks to their support and dedication that we can continue to preserve Miss Porter’s House for future generations.”

Miss Porters House Objects
Objects that will be conserved at Miss Porter’s House include notebooks and seagrass baskets made by the Porter women.

Find out more

Miss Porter’s House is open the second Sunday of each month from 1pm-4pm. Plan a visit.

The National Trust looks after a vast collection of objects in over 18 historic houses and galleries across New South Wales. Explore our collections online.

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