Saturday, 14 March 2015

Grahamstown Gazette: the Heritage Festival edition

This year, I've been writing monthly columns about The Treasury for the Grahamstown Gazette. Here's my piece for the March edition.

From The Treasury 

Grahamstown has changed a lot since it first sprung up in the 1860s. Plenty of the old buildings are still standing – St. James Church and the Junction Hotel still mark our boundary with Shortland, a few of the government building facades on Queen St are more or less unchanged, and several of the major landmarks on our end of Pollen St remain exactly where our ancestors left them. Quite a lot has disappeared with the sands of time, though – Albert St is no longer a commercial hub, with no Bank of New South Wales, no trading on Scrip’s Corner, no wharf, no Academy of Music, and (short-lived but still my personal favourite) no steam tram to Tararu.

One person who might be surprise by what has changed in Grahamstown is Robert Graham, who gave the town its name. Mr. Graham had a fascinating life, arriving in New Zealand at the Bay of Islands, before moving to Auckland and California, establishing Grahamstown, and developing Waiwera Hot Springs and the Lake House Rotorua. Twice in one year he was shipwrecked of the coast of the North Island. In the early days of the Thames gold rush, he bought the land that would become present-day Grahamstown, as well as laying out the public gardens and race track at Tararu.

During Thames Heritage Week, The Treasury will remember Robert Graham with a talk in our The Way We Were series by one of his descendants, Maureen Burr. Maureen will discuss what she’s discovered in the course of her research. The Way We Were also features lunchtime talks on everything from World War I to dendrochronology, from the likes of Russell Skeet, John Watts, Dr Gretel Boswijk, and yours truly, to name a few.

The Treasury is open from 11am to 3pm every weekday during the Thames Heritage Festival. As well as our series of lunchtime talks, we’re also running plenty of evening events. If you’ve always wanted to research your family but don’t know where to start, Finding Your Family at The Treasury is a great course for beginner genealogists. Our volunteers can show you where to look and how to use The Treasury’s resources. If you’re more of an outdoorsy type, Graham Robinson’s Shortland Walk is a great way to see Pollen St the way our ancestors did. The tour runs twice during Heritage Week and leaves from Shortland Wharf. Finally, An Evening at The Treasury is an opportunity to watch history unfold, with a series of local videos and documentaries about the Kopu Bridge, Crosbie’s Settlement and more. All of these events are $5 per person. Check us out on Facebook to stay up to date.

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