By Michael Doran
Moving house is difficult so spare a thought for Mr Bessell, the bootmaker of Walhalla, who moved his entire, very large, building to Warburton around 100 years ago.
The building is about to enter its next phase with owner, Valda Street, planning on closing the gallery and museum she created there and selling the building.
“I’ve owned the building for nearly 40 years and it had been a boot shop before that,” she said. “I was walking up the street and there was a little ‘For Sale’ sign out the front so I bought it.
“I grew up near Walhalla and happened to be reading a book about where the buildings went after it became a ghost town, so I wrote to the author. Two years later a man from the Walhalla association knocked on my door and said my building came from there.”
“Around five years ago I decided perhaps the building was part of Warburtons history and I should restore it.”
During the renovations the builder discovered an original office door and set about building an office to house Valda’s collection of memorabilia from her 15 years as secretary to Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop.
“So I had a couple of showcases made and when the fellow delivered them I filled them straight away so I ordered some more and eventually I filled the place up. I do it because it keeps me amused, I love all my stuff and other people seem to enjoy seeing it too.”
After forty years of life in Warburton, she said that not much had changed in the town. “Well I haven’t seen a great lot of change. There has probably not been enough change and I don’t think its been thriving since the train stopped. Warburton stopped then.
“It’s one thing to have a cup of coffee or a meal but you really need something a little bit meatier that tells visitors about the town. For that reason I feel sad it’s going because it gives them a little picture of Warburton that they wouldn’t have got otherwise.
The eclectic collection encompasses topics like the Queens visit to Warburton, the many guest-houses of the region which were a favoured honeymoon destination, the railway and many photographs of times past in the town.
“I hope someone will come in and buy the building and the whole collection but that’s probably not going to happen. I obviously have to return anything that’s not mine, and I think the rest will go to auction.”