COMMUNITY GIFT – Coalfields Local History Association Inc.

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This month the Complete Parts and @ The Coalface $500 Community Gift goes to the Coalfields Local History Association Inc. Operating out of the Sir Edgeworth David Memorial Museum in Abermain and made up entirely of volunteers, they are passionate about preserving our region’s history.

Established in 1996 with the objectives of discovering, recording, preserving and teaching the history of the Hunter Valley region, the Association prides itself on being a historical society for whom local history always comes first.

“People gave their lives to give us our history. It’s part of who we are,” said Coalfields Local Historical Research Officer, Lynette Hamer.

“Our history is being lost, especially our mining history. The sacrifices that our past generations made and the hardships they went through must be remembered.”

The history retained by the Association is extensive and covers everything from coal mines to cemeteries to biographies to councils and local politicians. Every year the library steadily grows as the Association’s members undertake countless hours of diligent research. People from all over the world have come to them for research on family history, military history, social history and industrial history. Coalfields Local Historical Association Secretary Lexie Matthews said people are often surprised by just how comprehensive their archives are.

“We have newspapers, photographs, school almanacs, books and countless other documents and it just keeps growing and growing!” said Lexie.

For those visiting the Sir Edgeworth David Memorial Museum, which the Association operates, there are over 5,000 individual items on display.

It includes family history resources, household items, photographs, newspapers, maps, sporting items, farming items, military items, musical instruments, radios and televisions and Aboriginal artefacts.

And, of course, our coalfields history makes up a large part of the Museum, with a large selection of mining items on display in the Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David Room. In addition, the Jim Comerford and Jack Delaney Room contains archive collections, including Royal Commissions, and a wealth of history on mining and unions. These rooms have been named to acknowledge the important contributions made by these men, not only to the coal mining industry, but to the wider region.

However, an enormous number of the Museum’s items are unable to be viewed by visitors due to space limitations, the building’s heritage restrictions, and a lack of appropriate storage. They are currently desperately seeking funding to purchase display cabinets which will allow these invaluable historical items to be exhibited with the care and respect they deserve.

“While we are very grateful to have a home for the Museum, we are very limited in what we can do due to it being a heritage building,” explained Kim Weller, President of the Coalfields Local Historical Association.

“Our dream is to one day have a purpose-built, user-friendly space that will encourage more visitors.

ATCF 21 Gift 2

“Many young people have no idea where they come from, yet it is vitally important that community stays connected across the ages. Not only is important that we keep that connection to our ancestors, but we must also keep the connection to our place and that is what local history does.”

To help the community keep those connections the Association members engage in community outreach, offering tours of the Museum to groups of all ages. They also go out and give talks to community groups, including schools and clubs, educating people about our region’s fascinating history.

The Museum is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm and I encourage everyone to pop in and meet with these wonderful custodians of our local history. Listen to some stories from the knowledgeable and friendly members, wander among the treasures, and who knows what you might discover.

Sir Edgeworth David Memorial Museum 209 Cessnock Rd, Abermain 02 4044 8020 Gold coin donations welcomed.

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