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Repairs for ‘old girl’

Tuesday, 4th September, 2018

Coordinator of the Silverton Gaol Museum, Ross Wecker, in front of the verandah that will be repaired. PICTURE: Callum Marshall Coordinator of the Silverton Gaol Museum, Ross Wecker, in front of the verandah that will be repaired. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

The Broken Hill Historical Society has received a $43,100 grant to repair the Silverton Gaol Museum and install wheelchair ramps.

The money came from the Crown Reserves Improvement Fund and will also pay for a safety rail on the verandah, and repairs to loose floorboards, crumbling brickwork, and rotting and splitting timber window frames.

Coordinator at the Silverton Gaol Museum, Ross Wecker, said Friday’s announcement was “fantastic.”

“The building is 129 years old and starting to show her age,” Mr Wecker said.

“She needs some pointing work done, the front verandah fixed, downpipes where the water is undermining the footings.”

A large part of the money will go towards the verandah though, specifically for a new wheelchair access ramp.

“The front verandah has a wheelchair access but it’s not up to standards. It needs to be redone so when we get the new verandah fixed on the front of it with the rails people will be able to come in on wheelchairs” said Mr Wecker.

“At the moment it’s a bit difficult to get them in because of the rotting timber on the front verandah. 

“Now that the funding’s come through we can actually address that, which will be good for anyone with a disability or difficulty getting in or out, or someone with a big pram.”

Although a heavy investment is being made for wheelchair access, Mr Wecker said that because of the building’s age not everywhere will be accessible.

“It won’t be access to all rooms because some have very thick walls and there are only very narrow doorways. They don’t conform to the modern wheelchairs. 

“But generally you’ll find that in a lot of locations because of the style of the old buildings you can’t start knocking the walls down to make access.”

Mr Wecker said the repair work would respect the building’s original aesthetic. 

“Over the years the bricks have weathered and started to dry with cracks in places. Some of the gutters have fallen down due to storm damage and other things. They have to be replaced as well because the water is undermining some of the footings in different areas.

“The floorboards are all the old, original boards. We’ve got to look at fixing a couple of areas out the back near the four cells where they’re a bit like a trampoline. 

“So we need to get back underneath there and find out what’s wrong with the stumps or the original things underneath, and reinforce those so we can return the floor back to its former glory.”

Mr Wecker said the Museum will apply for more grants for repairs and improvements to help preserve a piece of local history.

“Usually with the old buildings, they knock them over because they cost too much. But this is such an iconic historical place in Silverton. It’s one of the major structures still left standing and it does tell a story. I think it’s more important that we keep it as it is.”

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