Volume 29 Number 1 - 31st March 2009

Editor : Karen Long

A very warm Hello to all our Friends of the Museum!! I have recently been asked to join the Committee as editor and whilst I am excited about my role, I also view it as a somewhat daunting task as the shoes I have stepped into are not only rather large but have walked a path that is quite remarkable to say the least.

Yes it has been quite some time since we have communicated with you by way of this Newsletter but rest assured, this is not for any other reason than interim time constraints and a lack of available resources. However the timing for this Newsletter is perfect in that 31 March marks the day of the opening of the Bathurst Agricultural Museum, albeit 31 years ago. This will therefore be a bumper edition so to speak because we have quite a lot to tell you!

My first task was to do some reading, lots of it, to update myself on what has been before and to fully comprehend the amount of work that hasbeen done and is being done on a shoestring...a true labour of love...and here I salute our Chairman Alan Pike and his Committee! I have waded through past newsletters, photographs, and news clippings going way back to 1979 and very recently had marvellous tour of the museum, a museum that without doubt, all those involed, past and present, should be extremely proud of. I must say that this is not my first association with the museum and I thought to share with you how my association with it began.

It was a rather blustery day in 1994. My late husband and son of 8 years were passing through Bathurst on our way home to Johannesburg, when we noticed an assortment of old farming implements on the hillock alongside an interesting building which we later learnt was the Bathurst Agricultural Museum. My son was fascinated and spent a good hour or so inspecting these relics whilst I parked off on a plough and let my mind wander off to the 19th century contemplating all the folk whose tractors, reapers and binders, ploughs, impleemtns, and the like worked the land securing a livelihood and future for their families. It left an indelible mark and I am quite sure was a primary reason for our increased interest in the Eastern Cape Province and its pioneers and a reason for my family eventually relocating to this part of the world! I saw how much needed to be done to bring what I equated to a "graveyard" back to life and what incredible potential there was to make this treasure chest a unique tourist attraction. Please do not think that my thoughts were in any way undermining the extraordinary work that had already been done by Geoff Palmer and others, with limited if any financial resources, it just made me think how incumbent it was upon all of us, not just a few, to preserve these relics for future posterity.

In 2000 we moved to Bathurst and I met Alan Pike for the first time. His enthusiasm for the museum was infectious and together we convened/revived the committee. Sadly I was recalled to Johannesburg within the year but fortunately could return a few years later. I was more than impressed with the changes and developments and oh yes the "graveyard" had come to life. Alan had continued to drive the improvements and the through his and those of the committee's tireless efforts had achieved nothing short of a miracle. Some of you may remember a letter written by "Disappointed" featured in the Grocott's Mail in March 1981 and I quote..."one appreciates that shortage of funds might have caused the committee or whoever runs the museum to settle for the barn-like building, which as an entity has no aesthetic merit and in which the sun slits, presumably are merely incongruous...At the moment the museum can hardly be considered any sort of attraction except to the most dedicated agricultral antiquarian with the time to seek out the ostrich egg incubator from among the sickles, separating machines and all the rest..." Ouch! An appropriate response was forthcoming that went along the lines of...roll up your sleeves or dig into your pockets to help us rather than criticise, what I might add so many of our friends of the museum and past and present committee members have and continue to do admirably!

There is still much to do but since our last newsletter here are just some of what's been accomplished...

The extension to the engine room has been completed, which we plan to name the LISTER ROOM. A very big thank you to Jarred Penny, Jon Pieters and David Hobson.

The new entrance, with approval from the roads engineer has also been completed. This included widening the limestone bank between the Engine Room and the front of the Smithy.

A tools room and workshop has been built inside Hall 4 with a sturdy ceiling (mezzanine floor) which has given us a tremendous amount of storage space.

On the opposite corner of the Hall we have built the Curator a workshop which also has a mezzanine floor for storage.

A number of wooden shelves have been built - 3 have a floor covering them also for storage.

An office toilet and shower is almost complete, leading off Hall 4 on the east side. We have needed an office for some time to store all the valuable booklets, books and paper work and also the computer Summerpride Foods (pineapple factory) kindly donated to us. The computer will be used for the printing of new labels to replace the new tatty looking original ones including the ones Glynis Pike had wrote in calligraphy many years ago (1985).

All the irreplaceable booklets, pamphlets and manuals on tractors, stationary engines, implements and tools need to be scanned and saved on DVD discs - mammoth task and any help we can get here would be most welcome. The passage way between the toilets and engine room was closed off (bricked up and roved) with a small window on the east side and a door next to the compressor. This we are using as a paint and garden store and also houses building equipment.

The container has had a concrete foundation cast around the walls as the floor had rusted away and leveled. This is now lockable and has been filled with incubators and wood presses. The high temperature inside the container when closed up we are told will help control the wood borer.

A verandah between the office and end of Hall 4 has been built, intended as a work area for restoration and painting of implements etc. was filled up with various items out of Hall 4.

The flat roof shelter erected down the bank between Hall 1 and Hall 2 has been filled with reapers and binders and seed drills. The roof slope has been designed so that as far as is possible it will not obstruct the view of the museum from the Show entrance side.

Almost all implements displayed outdoors have been painted. Both ends of Hall 1 and west end of Hall 2 which had crumbling plaster have been repaired and treated with bonding liquid and then re-painted.

Port Alfred and Grahamstown Wood Workers Guild visited the Museum, and made wooden parts and repaired a number of items i.e. Spider cart shaft, mealie sheller feet, mower draw bars, buckey pump drive shaft and a number of handles for hand operated machines.

A water well was built and a horse driven bucket pump was installed next to this a water feature was built. The bucket pump can be operated by an adult. This is one of the working models we plan to have.

4 cubic meters of shelving timber was purchased. So far 2 more rack/shelves have been built in Hall 4. Much of this timer will also be used for shelving in the planned store room.

The Brian Moxham apiary has been completed with plenty of glass, the idea when honey is being harvested visitors can watch without the fear of being stung. We now have 1 small inspection hive and 2 normal hives. We are told thse could, during good years, produced +- R6000 of honey a year. Until no only small bottles of honey from the inspection hive have been sold at the Museum.

A number of items including steel trestles and a large trolley jack were purchased to help make our workshop more worker friendly. Donations of old tools and workshop equipment are always welcome and remember everyone is welcome to make use of the tools and in so doing help restore bits and pieces...Every little bit helps.

Anne Palmer unveiled the plaque in memory of her late husband. There are approximately 50 members and friends of the museum that attended. Tea and eats were served and visitors were able to tour the museum. Comments from members who hadn't visited the museum for a long time were very encouraging. A pergold has been erected at the entrance to the Geoff Palmer Hall, so any unwanted garden furniture would be welcome.

The unveiling was followed by the A.G.M.

And last but by no means least, our future plans, some of which are already underway...

The Blacksmith shop needs to be completeld and this we plan to be a working Smithy. We are lucky to have four very enthusiastic members, Jon Pieters, Barry Hartley, Donovan Lamerton and schoolboy Trent Hawkins who we know will have a couple of "red" hot irons in the fire. We hope this will turn into an income generating exhibit.

We are presently finishing an ablution block with extra showers and toilets which could be used by various Clubs e.g. the 4x4 Club and an area is being made available for camping.

Storage and shelter is a high priority at the museum and we have plans to erect a few more flat shelters to house the 4 thrashing machines we have. They are badly in need of cover. A store on the east side of Hall 4 is planned. Foundations are already complete. This will house all the small items presently occupying much floor space in Hall 4 and will also organize many spare parts that need to be sorted and labeled.

On the front of the Geoff Palmer hall we intend buildling an "afdak" verandah to cover all the implements on display along this wall and we are keen to set up a little tea garden here. On the west end of this we would like to build a small room to house a stationary engine coupled to a grist mill "another working model/exhibit" and also another stationary engine driving a line shaft inside Hall 1 to power many other belt driven implements on display.

Long term we are still planning to complete the 19th Century farmyard. A Settler cottage, dairy, small herb garden with some fruit trees would complete this.

Of course the longer we take to do this the more expensive and harder this goal will be to achieve.

So we urge members and friends to contribute to the "My Bargain" fund by renewing their membership or with a once off contribution.

For those that don't know. Uncle Geoff wrote his memoirs and called it "My Bargain". It was very well done and well worth buying a copy. All proceeds of the sale of the book are going to the museum. This account now stands at R45 000, and we have it invested. Uncle Geoff's vision was to have an investment large enough for the museum to survive off the interest.

The preservation of our agricultural heritage is in our hands. Let us retrieve and restore it before the scrap merchants destroy it forever. Walter and Chris continue to do a wonderful job finding and collecting old and rare items on their travels around the very large area they cover with their agricultural extension work. All their achievements and collections and restorations will be included in our next newsletter which we plan to be published in the next quarter...

Finally we need to update our records and would really appreciate your assistance...Please complete the slip below and return it to us either via post or email.

So until next time...

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