Month: March 2015

Marvelous marrow

4.Pupils from Central Infants School in Whanganui are gathered around a stall of garden produce and jams and chutneys at Harvest Festival. The photograph was taken on 18 March 1921. Whanganui Regional Museum Collection ref: SCS-CI-003

Pupils from Central Infants School in Whanganui are gathered around a stall of garden produce and jams and chutneys at Harvest Festival. The photograph was taken on 18 March 1921 (SCS-CI-003)

Autumn, time of changing colours, falling leaves, crisp mornings, and the harvest. Many casual and professional gardeners will now be looking at their crops and working at bringing in the rewards of their hard work over summer.

2. On the vineThe marrow is a cucurbit (Latin for gourd), a vegetable family that includes the melon, cucumber and squash. Cucurbitaceae had been cultivated in the Americas for around 2,000 years before being brought to Europe. The vines produce yellow or orange flowers which can be male or female. The male flowers produce pollen and the females produce the vegetable. In New Zealand they are best planted between October and December and will be ready to harvest after 3 or 4 months.

1. Home-grownA marrow is a courgette (or zucchini if you prefer) which has been left on the vine, rather than picked when small. A good marrow will be about the length of your forearm; any larger and they can become bitter to the taste. Like a courgette, the flesh of the marrow is white and creamy and the skin and seeds are edible. They are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, folic acid, and iron, and have no fat or cholesterol.

They are mild in flavour and offer themselves to be livened up with stronger flavours. A read through the recipe books in the museum collection reveals a treasure trove of marrow recipes used over the last hundred or more years – boiled or fried, stuffed and roasted, made into soups, jams and chutneys. It is a wonderfully versatile vegetable, its potential limited only by culinary imagination.

Margie Beautrais, one of the museum educators, has gardened most of her life with a focus on vegetables. Margie grows hue (hard-shelled gourds), kamokamo, pumpkins, beans, garlic, brassicas, lots of herbs, onions, yams, potatoes, and courgettes and marrows. Her secret to a good marrow crop is lots of manure or compost and lots of water when it gets dry. She recommends picking courgettes when they are young as the seeds haven’t developed and the entire fruit is edible, and likes grating them into mince dishes to add moisture and texture.

Harvesting potatoes at McGregor Park in Whanganui,1919 (GG-WB-009)

Harvesting potatoes at McGregor Park in Whanganui,1919 (GG-WB-009)

Margie’s green thumbs have got the better of her this year and she has a glut of marrows – so many she has generously decided to give them away! The marrows will be available to the public in the foyer of the museum from Saturday 28 March (today) during open hours of 10.00 am to 4.30 pm.  Visitors will be able to take home a marrow and a sheet of recipes, including ones taken from the cook books in our collection, and some more modern dishes too. Koha would be appreciated with all proceeds will be going towards relief in Vanuatu after the recent hurricane. This will be managed through UNICEF. Others who have a surplus of vegetables and don’t know what to do with them are welcome to add them to the collection at the museum to give away.

Here’s one to be going on with:

Radiation Cookery Book printed in 1931

VEGETABLE MARROW JAM

6 lbs. marrow

6 lbs. preserving sugar

Rind and juice of 3 to 4 lemons

2 to 4 ozs bruised ginger.

Cut the marrow into 1-inch cubes. Place in bowls: alternate layers of fruit and sugar in each bowl. Leave in a cool place for 24 hours. Pout into the preserving pan. Bring to the boil slowly, stirring carefully to avoid breaking the marrow. Before boiling, add the juice of the lemons, and the rind and ginger ties in muslin. Boil rapidly for 30 to 35 minutes, skimming when necessary. The jam, when ready, will not set, but the marrow will sink in the syrup and the scum will stop rising. Pour into heated jars, cover and label.

Interior of the Fordell Presbyterian Church at Harvest Festival (B-CHW-013)

Interior of the Fordell Presbyterian Church at Harvest Festival (B-CHW-013)

While researching marrow recipes, the museum archivist came across this poem in the Unity Lodge Cookery Book printed in 1907:

A Ballad of Vegetables

by Joseph Meehan

A potato went out on a mash

And sought an onion bed;

“That’s pie for me!” observed the squash,

And all the beets turned red.

“Go ‘way!” the onion, weeping cried;

“Your love I cannot be;

The pumpkin be your lawful bride –

You cantaloupe with me.”

But onward still the tuber came

And lay down at her feet;

“You cauliflower by any name

And it will smell as wheat;

And I, too, am an early rose,

And you I’ve come to see;

So don’t turnip your lovely nose,

But spinachat with me.”

“I do not carrot all to wed,

So go, sir, if you please!”

The modest onion meekly said,

“And lettuce, pray, have peas!

Go, think that you have never seen

Myself, or smelled my sigh;

Too long a maiden I have been

For favours in your eye!”

“Ah, spare a cuss!” the tuber prayed;

“My cherryshed bride you’ll be;

You are the only weeping maid

That’s currant now with me!”

And as the wily tuber spoke

He caught her by surprise,

And giving her an artichoke,

Devoured her with his eyes.

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Easter Holidays

For those local, those nearby, and those who wish to make a visit, check out our programme of activities for the upcoming Easter Holidays.  Hetty the Hen will be returning to lay your favourite Easter treats.  Movies will be shown to entertain the young and the young-at-heart.  Colouring in, creativity and crosswords are also on offer!

Come on in and join in the fun!

WRM Autumn School Holiday Programme

Easter Programme 2015

The Regal Monarch

It’s that time of year. Garden centres will make sure they’ve stocked up on swan plants. Harassed parents will be visiting to placate weeping offspring, whose monarch caterpillars have stripped their host plants bare. Nurseries will happily sell a few tiny seedlings, enough to feed voracious caterpillars for a few more days. The cycle will continue until the butterflies finally disappear for winter. Where do they come from, and where do they go?

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are a recent immigrant to New Zealand, and unlike most of our introduced butterflies they don’t come from Australia, but from North America. Because they can travel long distances, they’ve dispersed around the Pacific, South-East Asia, and Australia, and in the late 19th century found their way to New Zealand. Because monarchs introduced themselves, they’re technically classed as a native animal, like the Welcome Swallow and Silvereye, and are our largest native butterfly.

The swan-shaped seed pods: There are many species of milkweeds in the monarch’s home, North America, but the swan plant is the only one that’s widely cultivated here. The seed pods can be saved and used to grow a new crop of butterfly hosts next year. photo: Creative Commons BY, Sid Mosdell / Flickr

The swan-shaped seed pods: There are many species of milkweeds in the monarch’s home, North America, but the swan plant is the only one that’s widely cultivated here. The seed pods can be saved and used to grow a new crop of butterfly hosts next year.
photo: Creative Commons BY, Sid Mosdell / Flickr

The biggest impediment to monarchs becoming established here was a lack of host plants. In North America, their caterpillars feed on many different plants in the milkweed family, but none of our New Zealand native plants will do. The introduced milkweed they eat here is swan plant (Gomphocarpus fruticosus), although they can also stomach the noxious weed moth vine (Araujia sericifera), and in emergencies can be fed squash or pumpkin. But the number of monarchs is determined by the number of swan plants we cultivate for them.

Stripey and inedible: The swan plants that monarch caterpillars eat are poisonous, full of noxious chemicals called cardiac glycosides that can actually cause heart attacks if eaten in large quantities. Monarchs are able to store the noxious tasting chemicals and make themselves inedible to birds; the bright colours make caterpillars memorable and ensure a bird will only try eating one once. photo: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, Vicki DeLoach / Flickr

Stripey and inedible: The swan plants that monarch caterpillars eat are poisonous, full of noxious chemicals called cardiac glycosides that can actually cause heart attacks if eaten in large quantities. Monarchs are able to store the noxious tasting chemicals and make themselves inedible to birds; the bright colours make caterpillars memorable and ensure a bird will only try eating one once.
photo: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, Vicki DeLoach / Flickr

A female monarch butterfly lays hundreds of eggs, then dies. The eggs take about a week to hatch. The caterpillar can take as little as two weeks to reach full size, eating voraciously, and then it forms a chrysalis in which it stays for about a fortnight. The whole life cycle from egg to adult butterfly can take only a month, although it’s much slower in cooler weather. In the right conditions, one female could produce hundreds of offspring, although almost all of them die from disease, starvation, or being killed by wasps.

Hanging around for a bit: When the caterpillar reaches full size, it attaches itself to a leaf, forms a J shape, and sheds its skin one last time, revealing the pupa. The pupa has to do a little dance to rid itself of the shed skin, and then reshapes itself and hardens to form a chrysalis. photo: Creative Commons BY, Sid Mosdell / Flickr

Hanging around for a bit: When the caterpillar reaches full size, it attaches itself to a leaf, forms a J shape, and sheds its skin one last time, revealing the pupa. The pupa has to do a little dance to rid itself of the shed skin, and then reshapes itself and hardens to form a chrysalis.
photo: Creative Commons BY, Sid Mosdell / Flickr

In their home, North America, monarchs make a extraordinary journey each winter. From as far north as Canada they migrate thousands of kilometres to Mexico, where they find their way to a few sheltered valleys and overwinter in their millions, covering the trees. The weight of massed butterflies bows the branches to the ground, and the fluttering of their wings sounds like a constant roar. In spring they head north again, laying eggs as they go. Because each butterfly lives a few months at most, several generations pass before next winter; the butterflies heading south have never been to Mexico before, and yet find their way to the same trees in the same valleys. Nobody knows how.

Into the chrysalis: When the caterpillar gets big enough, it makes a hard waxy case about itself called a chrysalis, from the Greek chrysos or gold. The jade green chrysalis has golden spots, and is attached to the leaf by a hook called a cremaster. photo: Creative Commons BY, Sid Mosdell / Flickr

Into the chrysalis: When the caterpillar gets big enough, it makes a hard waxy case about itself called a chrysalis, from the Greek chrysos or gold. The jade green chrysalis has golden spots, and is attached to the leaf by a hook called a cremaster.
photo: Creative Commons BY, Sid Mosdell / Flickr

In New Zealand, monarch butterflies don’t migrate in this way. They can’t survive the winter in most of the country, so congregate on a few trees in overwintering spots in Northland, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, and Christchurch. (There may be an overwintering spot near Whanganui, so let the Museum know if you come across a tree full of monarchs this winter.) When the weather warms up they become active and start laying eggs again.

Nearly ready to hatch: After two weeks in the chrysalis, the caterpillar has rebuilt its body into a butterfly, and is about to emerge. photo: Creative Commons BY, Sid Mosdell / Flickr

Nearly ready to hatch: After two weeks in the chrysalis, the caterpillar has rebuilt its body into a butterfly, and is about to emerge.
photo: Creative Commons BY, Sid Mosdell / Flickr

To ensure monarchs have enough to eat, we can plant swan plants in weedy corners or empty sections, using seed saved from the previous year’s plants. If the seedlings can be kept frost-free over winter, they’ll have a chance to get large enough to host a good crop of caterpillars. But regardless of how many swan plants you grow, or how big they get, there will always be hordes of caterpillars waiting to strip them bare. The best strategy is to pluck off eggs or caterpillars and dispose of them while they’re still small, so that just two or three survive to adulthood per plant. If you’re too soft-hearted to do this, well, there’s a garden centre owner rubbing his hands together with glee, looking forward to a profitable caterpillar famine.

Attractive perfume: Male monarch butterflies have scent pockets on their hindwings, into which they deposit tiny drops of the nectar-scented perfume that attracts females. When they’re about to mate, they brush the scent from these pockets with their hind legs, to ensure the female butterfly stays attracted to the honey-like odour. photo: Creative Commons BY-NC, TexasFlower / Flickr

Attractive perfume: Male monarch butterflies have scent pockets on their hindwings, into which they deposit tiny drops of the nectar-scented perfume that attracts females. When they’re about to mate, they brush the scent from these pockets with their hind legs, to ensure the female butterfly stays attracted to the honey-like odour.
photo: Creative Commons BY-NC, TexasFlower / Flickr

Dr Mike Dickison is Curator of Natural History at the Whanganui Regional Museum.

Spotted at the museum

Spotted at the museum

I realised Ruth Leopardforce, digitisation technician, is an interesting person when I asked about the origins of her unusual second name.  “I made it up,” she says. And so we moved on.

We were standing beside a small, spotted cat, stuffed and mounted in a semi-crouching position, although slightly off-balance. I put that down to either age or alcohol, with most bets on the former.

Why this exhibit?  Ruth says she has an interest in animals preserved by the taxidermist and an obsession with leopards. We didn’t take that any further, although it promised to be an illuminating discussion. Another time, perhaps.

This particular animal is a Clouded Leopard, a relic from Mr JJ Boyd’s zoo at Aramoho of the early 20th century.  Mrs Hayward’s Aramoho Tea Gardens evolved into the Aramoho Zoo – and enterprise run by animal lover and collector, JJ Boyd. Animals included lions, tigers, black bears, kangaroos, exotic birds, monkeys, tortoises and tropical fish … to name a few.  The zoo closed after neighbours complained that the roaring lions kept them awake at night. I wonder if the smell was ever mentioned.

Mr Boyd moved his zoo, lock stock and marsupial, to Onehunga, where, under the name Royal Oak Zoo, it flourished for 10 years until similar complaints forced its closure.  Ruth says an electrician friend of hers was working on an Aramoho property last year when he discovered a collection of Mr Boyd’s zoo cages under the house.

The featured leopard was stuffed and mounted by Archie Robertson; it was his first job and became part of his house museum collection. Now it is one of three creatures from Aramoho Zoo stored at Whanganui Regional Museum; the other two being a wallaby and a tuatara, of all things.

Original article appeared in the Wanganui Midweek in September 2010.  Reproduced with permission from the Publishers.

Plastics from Milk – Wanganui was First!

Pincushions made of casein with velvet padding (1983.10.8)

Pincushions made of casein with velvet padding (1983.10.8)

These days, plastics are most commonly manufactured from petrochemical derivatives, but the earliest plastics were developed using natural products, as early as the 1850s. The first man-made plastic was Parkesine, developed by Alexander Parkes and patented in the United Kingdom in 1856. Parkesine is made from cellulose (a plant starch) and nitric acid, which is then dissolved in alcohol and hardened.

Some sixty years later, it was a Whanganui-based company that led development of the plastics industry in both New Zealand and Australia, based on casein, a protein found in milk. Whole milk contains around 12% solids, of which some 3% is casein.

The New Zealand Casein Company was entirely new so far as Australasia was concerned when company owner and entrepreneur F W Vickerman established the first experimental casein production plant at Whangaehu in 1911. During the first year of operation the company produced 60 tonnes of casein.

Blake's Dairy Factory, Waverley, one of the main suppliers of milk to the Wanganui Casein Factory (B-F-026)

Blake’s Dairy Factory, Waverley, one of the main suppliers of milk to the Wanganui Casein Factory (B-F-026)

By January 1912, two further plants were in progress in addition to the initial one at Whangaehu, and the company had also begun building a large central drying factory in Kelvin Street, Aramoho, with capacity for six tonnes of casein to be produced each day. The company had an arrangement to dry milk supplied by the Cooperative Dairy Factory at Bunnythorpe, and negotiations were also well-advanced to process milk from several Taranaki dairy factories.

The Aramoho factory was designed by W R Mayes, built by W James and cost £5,000 to construct. Chairman of Directors was H E Good and Vickerman was manager.

At the Aramoho plant an extraction shed housed vats, strainers, presses, and troughs. The main building contained a coal store with capacity for 100 tonnes of coal, a boiler room equipped with a Babcock boiler of the latest type, an engine room with a twelve horsepower engine to drive the machinery, and a dynamo for electric lighting.

This 1915 Brunsviga calculating machine was used at the Wanganui Casein Factory in Aramoho (1959.82.1)

This 1915 Brunsviga calculating machine was used at the Wanganui Casein Factory in Aramoho (1959.82.1)

As a result of the success of the Wanganui operations, Vickerman made an application to patent attorneys Baldwin and Raynard of Wellington for a casein drying apparatus in October 1912.

Casein has a multitude of uses, including as a cold-water paint, and making imitation ivory and bone for knife handles, buttons, combs, telegraph insulators, billiard balls and piano keys. Casein was favoured by plywood manufacturers and cabinetmakers as a superior waterproof and hard-setting glue. It was also an additive in biscuit manufacture. And by 1916, casein was used in the manufacture of aeroplane wings. By 1917, casein was mainly used to produce a fine white surface on high quality writing paper.

Before World War I, German manufacturers were the principal purchasers of casein from Whanganui. Casein products were then on-sold to Britain, and as a result, Britain believed the product was German. The casein market suffered a significant slump following the outbreak of the war. During 1914 Mr Vickerman became convinced that if British manufacturers could only be induced to trial his casein, there would be no difficulty securing repeat orders. He arranged a ten-tonne shipment to Britain to be given away for experimental purposes, and as expected, this led to new orders and increasing demand. By 1915, 200 tonnes of casein were shipped abroad and demand was considerably in excess of supplies. In 1917 it was reported that the factory at Aramoho was unable to meet demand and casein was selling for around £70 a tonne (three times higher than the price in 1912).

This digitorium, or dumb piano, consists of a four-octave keyboard in a small wooden case with a hinged lid. The keys are made of casein. The keyboard was used by pianists for exercising and practice. It is sometimes called a dumb piano because the piano is silent (1974.93)

This digitorium, or dumb piano, consists of a four-octave keyboard in a small wooden case with a hinged lid. The keys are made of casein. The keyboard was used by pianists for exercising and practice. It is sometimes called a dumb piano because the piano is silent (1974.93)

It is difficult to determine when the Wanganui Casein Factory closed down through lack of available records or archives, although it is thought to have still been in operation in 1930. A search for photographs of the factory has also proved fruitless as has information about the main players such as Vickerman. If anyone can help with images or information, please contact the Curator on 06 349 1110 or info@wrm.org.nz.

Casein is still produced today, mainly for bodybuilding products, and as a food additive to, for example, stiffen cream from aerosol dispensers.

To make casein

Whole milk is initially separated to produce skim milk, which is then poured into a vat and mixed with a precipitating agent (usually sulphuric or acetic acid).This separates the milk into curds (semi-solid) and whey (a watery compound).There was some concern that calves fed on the remaining skimmed milk might suffer nutritionally, and so phosphate of lime was added to remedy this problem. The casein curds are then pressed to produce hard, dry cheese-like blocks. These blocks are crushed and spread on screens which are run through drying tunnels. After baking, the granulated casein is graded according to quality and bagged for shipment. Formalin is later added to re-liquefy the casein crystals for moulding.

Karen Wrigglesworth is a Whanganui engineer, writer and a research volunteer at the Whanganui Regional Museum.

A Man for all Seasons

8.John Tiffin Stewart by photographer Frank Denton, late 19th century

John Tiffin Stewart by photographer Frank Denton, late 19th century (1996.79)

The multi-talented J T Stewart was born in Rothesay, Scotland.  He began an apprenticeship with a firm of civil engineers before attending the University of Glasgow where he graduated as a civil engineer. Stewart could turn his hand to anything. He was the quintessential golden man – he had a wide range of talents and abilities, and he used them to the full.

5.Chinese Camp in Melbourne, Australia, 1855

Chinese Camp in Melbourne, Australia, 1855 (1984.42.2)

Stewart left Scotland for Australia in 1852 where he worked for three years on the Victorian goldfields. In 1855 he came to New Zealand where he was appointed to the government engineering staff. In 1857 he mapped the Manawatū River. As assistant surveyor for the Land Purchase Department, in 1858 he began to define native land boundaries. Between 1861 and 1863 he was provincial engineer for Wellington, surveying roads in the Wairarapa.

2.Mr Kebbell's on the Manawatu, a surveyors’ camp, set up near a mission station by the Manawatū River, 1894

Mr Kebbell’s on the Manawatu, a surveyors’ camp, set up near a mission station by the Manawatū River, 1894 (1805.83.13)

By 1874 Stewart was in charge of the Wellington and Manawatū districts. From headquarters in Foxton he surveyed Māori land purchased by the Government in the Waitōtara and Manawatū areas and supervised the subdivision of Palmerston North and other settlements in Manawatū. He also planned and oversaw the completion of the Manawatū Gorge road.

7.Botanical Studies: a kōwhai-ngutakaka, or kakabeak, flower, 1859

Botanical Studies: a kōwhai-ngutakaka, or kakabeak, flower, 1859 (1805.83.123b)

Stewart was also a skilled watercolour artist. In the course of his work he often took time to observe and record scenes, landscapes, botanical specimens and Māori carvings. A large collection of his art works, maps, plans and family memorabilia is in the Whanganui Regional Museum Collection.

6.Clouds over Aramoho, late 19th century

Clouds over Aramoho, late 19th century (1805.83.45)

On 22 November 1865 John Stewart married Frances Anne Carkeek and they had five sons and five daughters. Stewart’s association with Whanganui began in 1868 when he began work on the Wanganui Town Bridge. He was known to roll up his plans in an oil sheet and walk to and from Wellington to confer with his superiors.

1.Man o’ War Bluff on the Whanganui River, early 20th century

Man o’ War Bluff on the Whanganui River, early 20th century (1805.83.15)

In November 1870 Stewart returned to Foxton as district engineer in charge of Taranaki, Whanganui and Hawke’s Bay districts. He transferred to Whanganui in 1885 and was elected to the Wanganui Borough Council for a two year term, during which he prepared a report on the clearing of the Whanganui River for navigation.

3.The wrecks of the City of Auckland and the Felixstowe on Manawatū Beach, 1878

The wrecks of the City of Auckland and the Felixstowe on Manawatū Beach, 1878 (1805.83.48)

After his retirement as district engineer Stewart became the government appointee to the newly created Wanganui River Trust. He served as chairman, secretary in charge of works, and as honorary engineer for the Trust. During the period of his association with the Trust the river was made navigable as far as Taumarunui, despite some Māori opposition. The river became part of a scenic route for tourists travelling to the central North Island.

Mt Ngāuruhoe, 1887

Mt Ngāuruhoe, 1887 (1805.83.6)

John and Frances Stewart played an active role in the Whanganui community. They were amongst the founders of the Wanganui Orphanage in 1889, later bequeathing their house for use as a Karitāne Home for sick infants. When the Wanganui Borough Council ran a competition for the development of Lake Virginia in 1904, Stewart, in association with his daughter and son-in-law, Henry Sarjeant, submitted the winning plan.

J T Stewart died in Whanganui on 19 April 1913 at the age of 85.

The Beautiful Whanganui

The Whanganui River has long been a tourist feature for the area.  Have you had the chance to see it yet?  Beautiful, calm and an amazing experience!  There are a few ways to enjoy the journey  – by canoe/waka, jet boat, or taking a steam trip up to Pipiriki – and you can take as long or as short a time as you like.

If you have not had the chance to see this amazing gem, check out this video of a trip made in 2006:

And if this inspires you to want to see it in person, check out the Bridge to Nowhere or Whanganui River Canoes for more information on booking and travel times.

From rags to stitches

From rags to stitches I

Hugh Ramage has prepared a fascinating display entitled Back Stitch: Recollections of Wanganui’s Rag Trade. And he’s just the man to do it. He has also written a book, but we’ll get to that.
The museum display consisted of sewing machines from Hugh’s collection, technical manuals, accessories, photographs, advertising posters and clothing produced by some of Wanganui’s factories.
Hugh’s story follows closely the weft and warp of the rag trade itself, beginning with his stint at the Chilco factory. Hugh had left school and this was his first job back in 1957. His boss was Eric Healey and the factory occupied the building known as Druids’ Hall in Bell St. He was there for more than six years, learning his future trade, maintaining and repairing industrial sewing machines and equipment. Hugh says the biggest thing he had to learn was how to interact with huge numbers of women. Having no sisters and being shy, he says he had to put aside his embarrassment and learn to listen to the machinists when they had a sewing machine problem.
From Chilco he went to Manawatu Knitting Mills in Palmerston North as a sewing machine mechanic. He was there for two years. “I found I was running backwards and forwards between Wanganui and Palmerston North, doing work here [Wanganui] at the weekends, so I took the plunge and went out and worked for myself,” says Hugh. He started Ramage’s Sewing Machine Service, offering a freelance service to the clothing trade.
This brings us to Hugh’s book: In the midst of the boom! Wanganui Clothing Factories 1966 and beyond.
Hugh still has his first sundry debtors’ list from his first year of trading. In effect, it’s a list of Wanganui clothing manufacturers from 1966 and he has used this as the basis of his research. He has compiled stories and facts from each factory, found photographs and interviewed people to make this a fascinating study of Wanganui’s manufacturing history from a unique perspective. It took him six years to put together and it also ties in nicely with his display at the museum. “The book homes in on the period when I started work but it also indicates the boom that was happening in clothing factories,” says Hugh.
Before long, Hugh was offered the Bernina agency and later opened the Bernina Sewing Centre at 138 Victoria Ave. “There was also a boom time in domestic. Machines had been hard to get after the war and Swift, Bernina and other brands were making quite an impact and people were spending money on home sewing machines,” he says. Things went well and he moved into bigger premises next door.
In 1985, he sold up and concentrated in the industrial business once more, until 1993 when Hugh and his wife Elaine opened a store in the Bridge Block (where Jolt is now), selling various brands of domestic machines.
They traded until 2000 then did another five years at an upstairs premises in Drews Ave. By then Hugh had built up an impressive sewing machine collection and Elaine was teaching sewing classes. This place gave them room to move. The collection of some 50 domestic machines – all restored and most in working order – is destined to be shown someday, perhaps as part of Ed Boyd’s museum complex, which is where they’re stored.

Union Special Overlocker

Union Special Overlocker

In the exhibit on display, the museum has supplied a dressing gown, a dress and petticoat, as well as a Union Special overlocker. Hugh says those machines were still in service when he started work.  Hugh Ramage’s book is a good read and is available from The Wanganui Regional Museum, Maxilab, Nu-Way Dry Cleaners, Lindsay’s Lotto Post and More and Aramoho Mags and Lotto.

 

Original article appeared in the Wanganui Midweek in April 2010.  Reproduced with permission from the Publishers.

The Wonders of Versailles

1966.69.2 p2

General view of the Palace of Versailles

 

It is in our nature to look at the horizon and wonder what is beyond it. Most of us at some stage would have succumbed to the curiosity and travelled to see what there was to see.  Whether it was travelling to another island, another continent or another hemisphere, we are natural wanderers and like to see and experience what the world has to offer.  That is, after all, how we as a species populated the entire globe.

We also like the memories and mementoes of where we have been, sending postcards to friends and family to keep them up-to-date with our travels, and if they are lucky, bringing them back exotic and interesting gifts. And of course, we collect items for ourselves to remember our wanderlust.

Mr M J Archibald of Castlecliff was one such wanderer who collected a range of souvenir books, largely from Europe, and donated them to the Museum in 1966. Many of the books date to World War I and are from locations in France. They could well have been collected while he was on Active Service or shortly afterward.

Looking-Glass Gallery at the Palace of Versailles

Looking-Glass Gallery at the Palace of Versailles

One is titled Versailles: Photographies en Coleurs and features coloured lithographic prints of the Palace of Versailles grounds, buildings and some of the more spectacular rooms.  Another book, A Day at Versailles, serves as a thorough illustrated guide and includes drawings, photographs and maps of the building and surrounds.

 

 

Louis XIV Bed Room at the Palace of Versailles

Louis XIV Bed Room at the Palace of Versailles

Versailles had been an established village since the 11th century. The palace had humble beginnings as a hunting lodge for King Louis XIII in 1624. Eight years later he expanded the property and the lodge, and the enlargements were continued by his son King Louis XIV who eventually moved the court there. Four more building campaigns took place between 1644 and 1710 in which the palace was extended and lavishly decorated, and the grounds richly landscaped.

 

Ground plan of the Palace of Versailles

Ground plan of the Palace of Versailles

Smaller-scale alterations were carried out by Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI until the French Revolution put a stop to work in 1789. The Royal Family were made to leave the Palace of Versailles and move to the Tuileries Palace in Paris. After King Louis XVI was arrested, Versailles was sealed, much of the furnishings sold, and the building ear-marked as a museum. Since then it has served alternately as a museum and imperial palace. It remains a popular tourist attraction and is still home to major political functions.

 

Remains of a building on a street corner

Remains of a building on a street corner

But not all the souvenir books show the lush side of French architecture and design.  Another book titled Arras Historique shows the devastation dealt to the French during World War I. Arras was located about 10 kilometres from the front line of the war, and due to this proximity, saw a lot of action and sustained a lot of damage. Arras was tunnelled, barracked and burned so much that by the end of the war three-quarters of the town had to be rebuilt, and this book is a monument to the damage that was done. The souvenir book starts with a photograph of the large and impressive L’Hôtel de Ville (the town hall) and the proceeding pages are filled with images of the damage down to the town, destroyed buildings and shattered roads, and illustrates the extent of structural devastation the war caused.

L’Hôtel de Ville – The Town Hall

L’Hôtel de Ville – The Town Hall

The Town Hall after the February 1916 bombardment

The Town Hall after the February 1916 bombardment