The Goldrush of the 1850’s attracted thousands of immigrants from Asia and Europe who came to “try their luck” and find personal fortunes. Amongst their numbers arrived several British and German silversmiths, clockmakers and watchmakers who brought with them a long tradition of metalcraft. Geelong attracted many of these craftsmen setting up trade in the centre of the township. Thomas Wright was one of leading watchmakers in Geelong who oversaw the Town Clock. Unfortunately, very few examples of his work have survived.
This homemade wagga was purchased from the Old Bank Auctions, Geelong on 2 December 2000 for $20.00. The regular size of the patchwork and the varying colours show that the fabric was most likely sourced from a disused men’s suit fabric sample book.
These waggas were made and owned by Percy Perkins. He was a keen fisherman and hunter his first love was sitting on the banks of the Murray River with a fishing rod in his hand. Family camping trips were spent by the river where everyone slept on stretchers with several army blankets underneath and a wheat bag wagga on top. Perkins joined the police force in his early twenties and apart from an eighteen-month posting in Melbourne, spent the rest of his career serving communities in country Victoria. A good wagga accompanied Percy on all his fishing and hunting journeys. The green colour of the wagga is from ‘Dekkol’, a preservative which Perkins used to protect his cotton fishing nets from rotting. The second wagga is made from two standard sized jute wheat bags split and hand bound along the seams. It is typical of a basic wagga made by shearers, farmers and swagmen. The paint stains on this wagga display signs of later use as a painting drop sheet by descendants who inherited the quilt.
This patchwork quilt is made from suiting and fabric offcuts. It is machine stitched with red diamond and rectangle motifs at strategic positions. Little is known about the maker or owner of the quilt but the red triangles and squares show a flourish of creativity for the humble wagga quilt.
This wool undervest was purchased by Edith Bender for her husband Edwin. Edwin would catch a ‘Red Rattler’ train along the North Shore line to go to work in Pitt Street, Sydney. Edith was concerned Edwin would catch a cold in the unheated train or in his unheated office, so she brought these woollen undervests for him to wear to work. Edwin would wear the undervests under a woollen suit and with a woollen overcoat. Edwin passed away in 1963, at which point Edith stored the undervests away, unable to part with them.
Painted black enamel metal chest, thought to be the original lock box used by William Weire, the first Town Clerk of Geelong. It was used to store important documents such as early leases and agreements.
This memorial offers solace for people affected by road trauma, a space for quiet contemplation and reflection. The phases of the moon symbolise the stages of grief, the journey from loss toward acceptance and hope. A project delivered by the City of Greater Geelong, in partnership with the Transport Accident Commission and supported by Road Trauma Support Services Victoria and the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.”
This street sweeping cart was used on Pakington Street before the amalgamations of six local councils to form the City of Greater Geelong. The cart is from around 1960 when the City of Geelong West had approximately 17,500 people within its borough. The cart was wheeled up and down the popular street; cleaning litter and providing a clean and pleasant street for locals and shop owners alike.
The simplest form of wagga quilt is the jute wheat bag wagga. This wagga was made of several two-bushel bags hand bound together. Two rows of red jute and one of orange run the length of each side. Two holes have been mended with white string. Green, purple and black markings have been stamped into the bag. Although the maker is unknown, the size shows that this quilt was created for a child to sleep inside.
Geelong has a special relationship with submarines. Osborne House in North Geelong was the home of Australia’s first submarine fleet. From 1919-1922, it housed the 6 J Class Submarines gifted to the Australian Government by the Royal Navy. Several hulks of these submarine still survive in Port Phillip Bay. After being decommissioned due to their cost and the economic struggles of the time, four of the boats were scuttled off Barwon Heads. The two other boats were sunk and utilised as breakwaters.
The Belcher Fountain was created by the Britannia Ironworks in Derby, England and presented to the town of Geelong by Mayor GF Belcher at the end of his term in 1874. This drinking fountain is a testament to the Temperance Movement that advocated the restriction of alcoholic drinks. The fountain is one of the oldest heritage objects in Geelong’s Outdoor Collection.
This was the jumper of John Brown, who played 48 games for Geelong including the 1963 Grand Final in which he wore this jumper. Formed in 1859, the Geelong Football Club is the second oldest in the Australian Football League and one of the oldest clubs globally.
Invented by Joseph Ferrier in 1866, the patent was purchased by Humble & Sons who manufactured and distributed them from their Geelong foundry. The Ferrier Wool Press was used throughout Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Sent out as a flatpack, the press was put together on the farm. This press was made by Humble & Nicholson in Geelong in 1890 and sold to Shanahan Brothers in Birregurra. A key feature of any woolshed, this wool press needed three people to tip over the wool filled top box before it was pressed into the lower box using the lever. It is an early example of Geelong’s long history of design, invention and manufacturing.
This stained glass was originally installed at Geelong Town Hall following its expansion in 1917. The Geelong Council involved the staff and former students of the Gordon Technical College in designing the artwork and aesthetic of the building. Arthur S. Pittock, former student and local glazier, was responsible for the design and construction of the large stained glass window in the stair hall. The window was described as “a special feature” in the new building with the leaded glass work using “the motif throughout in Greek form, of admirable colour”. The window showcases the City of Geelong’s original coat of arms, featuring images of Geelong’s early industries: sailing, wool, wine and wheat production, and a kangaroo as an inescutcheon.
During the redevelopment of City Hall in the late 1960s the stained glass window was removed from the building and placed in the basement carpark. The National Wool Museum has taken responsibility of the window and removed it from the carpark to be conserved and housed safely.
The surviving City Hall window is the most elaborate, known surviving stained glass window by Pittock.
Watch the full story of the Stained Glass Window at https://vimeo.com/466047641
The maker of this wagga is unknown. However, since the creator has used larger than usual pieces of suiting material, they may have worked as or knew of a tailor for their fabrics.
This turn-of-the-century English quilt is made from tiny hand-worked patchwork squares reminiscent of medallion style quilts. It is an extraordinary example of early quilts that arrived in Australia with immigrants. The maker is unknown. When it was found it was being used as packing material. The form and the aesthetic of this classic European quilt demonstrates the stark contrast with Australian wagga quilts. Through the difficult times of the 1890s and 1930s the wagga became a uniquely Australian form.
Spinning fibres was one of the first processes to be mechanised in the Industrial Revolution. It took many hours of hand spinning to supply the thread needed for the most basic treadle loom. The Hargreave’s cotton-spinning jenny, Crompton’s spinning mule and Arkwright’s water frame in the 1770s are early examples of man moving from hand to machine. Spinning machines have undergone considerable technical evolution. The CSIRO was a leader in this field in the twentieth century. In 1962 it improved on the traditional Spinning Jenny and, in conjunction with the Australian company Repco, produced the Repco Self-twist Spinner. This machine was 15 times faster at spinning fibres. Ten self-twist spinners were installed at Macquarie Worsteds in Albury in 1971. The machines, operated in a small air-conditioned room by one operator, had an output of 1,200 conventional spindles worked by three operators. The prototype of this machine is held within the National Wool Museum’s Collection.
This wagga is made from men’s suits and coats, unpicked and sewn together. It was made by the great uncle of George Stephens. Mr Stephens was a mining engineer from 1885 to 1915 in Stawell, Main Lead (near Beaufort), Diamond Creek and Costerfield in Victoria. His last residence was at Bosterfield, where the Wagga was used as a bed quilt until the 1940s. Not just a maker of wagga quilts and an engineer, Mr Stephens was also a hero – in 1910 he saved the life of a blacksmith at Diamond Creek Gold Mine.
This coverlet was made for Chris Neyland by Rene Densham when he was born in 1953. The quilt was created from scraps of woollen fabric from clothing used in the family. It was used in Chris’ cot or pram when he was an infant. His aunt Lois Densham donated the quilt. Lois can remember the dark green fabric coming from a jacket she once wore and the blue tartan pieces from a skirt worn by Rene, her mother. Lois also remembers her mother being “a better piano player than a cook or a sewer”. According to her, the quilt was “made in the tradition of making do from a family who knew how”.
This medallion was struck to celebrate the 100th anniversary of fellmongering in Mazamet in 1951. Fellmongering – In French, ‘delainage” means, literally, ‘de-wooling’. It is the industrial process of separating wool from sheepskins. In the 19th century, the southern French town of Mazamet became the world centre of délainage and played an important part in the Australian wool industry. At one time Mazamet was reputed to be the 15th richest town in Europe, and it was said that the town’s branch of the Banque Nationale de Paris (French banking firm) was the second largest in France. At its height, Mazamet had 48 fellmongeries and imported more than 100,000 tonnes of sheepskins a year from the southern hemisphere, mostly from Australia and Argentina. The town continues to have a strong relation to Australia, with street names such as, Rue de Australie, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
These are samples of products made at the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Mill in Geelong but discontinued before 1960. They were used to show shops what materials were available. The samples were given to Mr Robert Anderson, an apprentice fitter and turner at the mill between 1960-1965. His mother, Mrs Lucy Anderson, sewed the samples into rugs in the early 1960s. Lucy’s rug shows that by 1960 the spirit of the wagga quilt and making do continued in the vernacular of Australian quilters.
This distinctive wagga was made by Mrs Lizzie Morton on her farm ‘Wanera’ at Benjeroop on the Murray River. It was stitched with a treadle machine. Her sister Flora MacDonald did the running stitch and provided the silk backing. The squares were sent as samples from a firm called ‘Fred Hesse’ who advertised in the Melbourne papers: “Be smart and dressy in a suit by Fred Hesse”. The buyer chose a sample and then sent it back with measurements and received a ‘mail order’ suit. In this case, the samples were used to make this unique quilt that has survived from the 1930s.
The wagga quilt still lives on in quilting circles and the Australian imaginary. This contemporary take on the wagga is the winner of the Art Quilt Australia and National Wool Museum’s Expressions: Wool Quilt Prize (2019). Barbara Mellor, of St Helens in Tasmania, made this wagga after researching their history and was fascinated by this early form of recycling. Barbara sourced the used fabrics from a variety of places. Some are from her personal collection while others were given to her. She purchased a woollen three-piece suit from a local op shop and decided to incorporate it into the design, making some unique and distinctive shapes. Another notable feature of the quilt is the patch labelled ‘Parkside’. It was cut from a blanket she purchased from a garage sale from a property that had been the ‘Parkside’ caravan park in the 1960s. The filling of the wagga includes the rest of the Parkside blanket.
This wagga was made by Jean Hepner’s grandmother from used woollen garments during the Great Depression. The garments were hand stitched on to an old woollen blanket. The quilt was used by at least five of the seven children in the family. It had assorted covers that were replaced when needed. In later years, it was also used by Hepner’s grandchildren.