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Right royal restoration

Monday, 6th May, 2013

The restored model of the Queen’s State Coach in the Sulphide Street Railway Museum. The restored model of the Queen’s State Coach in the Sulphide Street Railway Museum.

By Erica Visser

It took thousands of hours of restoration and a lot of public help, but a city treasure has been returned to its former glory.

A model replica of the Queen's State Coach, which made its way from England to Broken Hill in the 1950s, was once displayed in former Broken Hill department store, Pellew and Moore.

It later disappeared and did not turn up until 1970, when it was given to the city's museum and eventually put into storage.

A year ago, the secretary of the Sulphide Street Railway Museum, Christine Adams, appealed in the BDT for anyone with the expertise to help restore the model.

"It's the support of the media that has brought this about," she said yesterday.

"We could not have afforded to pay someone from away to do it.

"It's important for Broken Hill's social history. It's the only one of its size in Australia."

Fay Fryer, who once owned an antiques shop, took up the challenge and spent the next nine months working on the project.

The colourful model is made up of a coach, which is made of thin board, and horses and figures made of plaster.

Mrs Fryer said that while the restoration process aims to use as few new materials as possible, the model was quite damaged when she took it on.

"A lot of people donated materials. There were some parts I had to replace," she said.

"None of the horses had ears, all the legs were broken and some of the faces were chewed away by mice.

"The coats are original, the pants are supposed to be white but they were brown with dirt. Their hands were broken and the saddles on the horses had to be completely remade."

One of the most tedious parts of the process was the horses' tails.

Mrs Fryer called on a friend with horses to provide the hair, which was then sent to her in a bag. But because of the different lengths, she had to make the tails strand by strand.

Friends, family and local businesses chipped in for other parts as well. Mrs Fryer's great-nephew, an electrician, completed the lights in the coach and Kolinacs provided the paint to identically match the old shade.

Dozens of other people members helped out in what Mrs Fryer said was a "very generous" response.

"Whatever I asked for, nobody knocked me back," she said.

Mrs Fryer, who is retired, said that she took on the job for the challenge.

"I love seeing things come alive as you work on them. I could look at and see a piece of furniture that looked like a piece of rubbish and picture the final product."

The coach will now be encased in protective glass and will sit on display alongside donated memorabilia from the Queen's Broken Hill visit in 1954.

It will be opened for public viewing on May 20 and a special small opening for those who contributed to the restoration will be held the day before.

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