ONLOOKERS outside the Old Post Office Museum recently were amazed to see a trailer, loaded with a dismantled building, being expertly backed onto the site. The move was the culmination of several months work to save a small relocatable building from loss.
The Blacksmith’s Hut, a small timber and corrugated iron building owned by the Warrandyte Historical Society, was listed on the Doncaster and Templestowe 1991 Heritage Study as being of at least local interest. It was thought to have been occupied by one of the Sloan family who operated as a blacksmith. It was located for many years behind the then butcher’s shop in Yarra Street. It was later moved to the Getson’s site (Community Centre site) when the Historical Society set up its museum there.
The hut was a centerpiece of a functioning blacksmith’s shop where every Saturday the blacksmith would undertake repairs and blacksmithing. With the closing down of the site to enable the building of the new centre in the late 1980s, the hut was removed to land in Tills Drive owned by Shirley and Ted Rotherham where it was used for hay storage for many years. Fast forward to 2014 and the Rotherham house and land in Tills Drive was about to be auctioned. Manningham’s Heritage Adviser raised a last-minute warning that the hut would be lost if the Society did not act urgently. Frantic phone calls and an obliging seller and purchaser averted this fate and the hut remained on site while the Society sought ways to transfer it to the museum.
Finding a way, funds and permission proved time consuming over the first few months of 2015. However, problems were eventually overcome culminating in the dis- mantling of the hut on-site, loading it onto a trailer and moving it to the museum site in ‘flat-pack’ form. Heritage carpenter Matt Jeffries (aka Crackajack) was responsible for the successful move (aided by a number of willing volunteers) and will also be responsible for reassembling the hut on the museum site.
The Heritage Architect has written a new citation for the hut that says it is rare and relatively intact example of a homemade black- smith’s wagon/sleeping quarters with an attractive ‘domestic’ appearance, probably to encourage trade, which demonstrates a way of life and business for a single man during the 1930s Depression. It’s also important for its association with blacksmith Paul Sloan of the prominent Sloan family, who from the 1850s practiced various trades and businesses in the district, including William Sloan’s Yarra St butcher’s shop established in 1901. The citation considers the hut is of local significance and may well be of state significance due to its rarity.
Photos of the move uploaded on the Society’s Facebook page invoked an immediate response with several people remembering it as being located on the river bank or playing in it as a cubby. The hut has obviously had several uses over its life and will shortly enter another phase in the grounds of the museum.
The Society possesses blacksmith tools and equipment that may be able to be displayed once the hut is reassembled. Plans are currently being made as to the hut’s placement on-site and its future use. It is hoped the next phase will commence soon with the support and advice of Manningham council. The Society thanks previous and present owners for their forbearance in moving the hut and all the volunteers involved thus far. It, along with many others in the community, looks forward to seeing it restored once more.