A small shed of memories

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A model of the old guest house at Mt Somers
A model of the old guest house at Mt Somers
A replica of a mine entrance. Mining was once a big industry at Mt Somers, employing many men.
A replica of a mine entrance. Mining was once a big industry at Mt Somers, employing many men.
Gear used in mines at Mt Somers
Gear used in mines at Mt Somers

Her face is framed: Mrs Sarah Taylor, first resident of Mt Somers. 1886.

The photo is but one treasure in the Foothills Museum at Mt Somers.

It looks down with photos of early settlers, near the brass sign: Mt Somers Post Office.

The post office no longer operates: it is the Mt Somers Library.

The museum, though, still draws people in.

Hazel Glasson is one of three custodians.

She opens the museum – the old scout hall – from 2pm to 4pm on a Sunday if there are people about.

Otherwise, it is by arrangement.

The number is on the door.

Nothing is turned away.

On that note, a Gestener turned up at the door one day, origin unknown.

“If anyone offers us something, we never say no,” she said.

And they do.

Treasures of all kinds.

The museum is small but it is full.

It was set up around 20 years ago and was first established in the Sunday school room at the Anglican church, up the hill.

It was never big enough.

When Mrs Glasson heard the scout hall was becoming vacant, she acted.

“I think some people thought it would be a good shed. I got in first, and when people found out it was for a museum, they supported me.”

And it has filled up.

It has a model of the old Mt Somers Guest House. It was made by Hazel’s brother, Paddy.

He also made the model for the Harpenden wool scour.

It was set up just out of the village by William Gifkins, Mrs Glasson’s great grandfather.

He came from Harpenden in England.

He beams down from a high photo, dressed in his masonic regalia.

Mr Gifkins also founded the Erewhon Lodge.

The wool scour he founded was powered by a water wheel driven by the flow of the nearby South Ashburton River.

The museum also provides a look into the domestic past of the area.

It has glass and cookware, a steel and serving spoon from the the two-storey guest house, a separator, and Crown Lynn glassware made from silica sand supplied from Mt Somers.

Trucks went daily from the mine to the factory at Hornby.