Workers hut now an archive

Upper Yarra Museum President Tom O''Meara with Howard and Jenny Brown.

By Michael Doran

The Upper Yarra Museum needed somewhere to store their fragile pieces and the Brown family had an original Worker’s Hut they needed to move.

In a match made in heaven, the museum now has a climate-controlled archive building and the Brown family will see part of their family history live on.

“We desperately needed an archive facility and a strategy to protect our collection,” said museum president, Tom O’Meara. “Having the facility was an aspiration for us but seemed highly unlikely until we got the call from the Browns.”

On October 10, the hut was officially launched as The Stan Brown Archive Hut, in honour of the man who bought it for 10 pounds in 1958.

The two-man hut originally formed part of the workman’s camp that housed workers building the Upper Yarra Reservoir in the 1950’s.

Of a total workforce of 1,300, some 1,000 were housed on-site in huts of varying types for single men, families and management. A school, Upper Yarra Dam School was constructed in 1951, along with a kindergarten, post office and health clinic.

The huts were removed when the dam opened in 1957 and Stan Brown bought one, which he relocated to his Wesburn property. It stayed there until being moved to the museum in early 2018.

Stan’s son, Howard, spoke at the launch about his early memories of the hut, which he used as a playroom. He said “like any country house all the locals wanted to be involved and the hut was riddled with possums, termites, wombats, rabbits and rats.”

“Dad kept meticulous notes on everything in his diary and he would be delighted to know that it is now being used as an historical archive for the Upper Yarra regions.”

“On behalf of the family, Jen and I are truly delighted the museum accepted our offer of the hut and for its role in preserving the historic collections held here,” he said.

Tom O’Meara said, “We rely on people thinking of us and it is heartbreaking when we learn of historic stuff ending up on the tip.”

“This gift of the hut is very significant for us; the collection is very valuable and is an asset for the Upper Yarra community and beyond.”

“We will also use the hut as a place of research to help with the enquiries we receive from people researching their own personal history.”

“We all feel much happier that the collection is being preserved and we appreciate the Brown’s generosity and will make the most of the hut for many years to come,” he said.


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