THE STORY OF THE MANNING GREAT LAKES WOODWORKERS

Woodies Verity and Geoff

All good stories start out with “Once upon a time….”, so here is a true story that started in the town of Taree, way back in 1993.

Once upon a time a small group wanted to get together and form a club to enjoy the art of working with wood. Initially there were some problems in locating suitable rooms to meet and enjoy the fellowship of fellow woodworkers but after some effort, space was found in Chatham High School. 

For various reasons, this was not a very satisfactory solution in the long term, so after a number of enquiries, better space was found in the Taree Showgrounds in the form of a tin shed. This did for some years but space became a major concern as the number of members grew, and the increasing number of machines and storage of wood were not helped by frequent floods in the area.

The club became aware that the old buildings that was once the old Taree Swimming pool may be able to be recycled.

Renovations

So in March, 2011, the club members started renovating the interior of the three very dilapidated and vandalised buildings which consisted of the original male and female change rooms and the central administration building. 

The Council started renovating the exterior of the buildings. The club spent about 3,500 man hours (and approx. $30,000 of the clubs own money) and transformed the site into an impressive group of buildings which provide a respectable view of Taree to visitors crossing Martin Bridge. The support of many local businesses in helping the club achieve the end result is gratefully acknowledged.

The original buildings have now been transformed into the Bridge Gallery, a central meeting and social room, and a workshop.

The workshop has a range of woodworking tools and machinery which all members have access to, as well as a good supply of various wood, mainly locally sourced. However, the main “tool” available to members is the knowledge and skills that are available within the membership, all of which is shared to foster and encourage existing skills and acquire new woodworking knowledge if so desired. There is no limit placed on any new member’s knowledge or experience, all are welcome whether male or female, young or older, and it does not matter what your level of expertise is about woodworking – as long as you want to “mess about” with wood you are welcome.

The central meeting room is the obvious place to start the day with tea and coffee available. During this time various world and local events are solved. 

Monthly meetings are held, followed by a “Show and Tell” where members offer some of their latest work for viewing and comment. Photos are taken and appear in our monthly e-magazine, “The Woodworm”.

As an aside, it should be noted that the club membership is roughly one third female and two thirds male. 

Gallery Opened

The Bridge Gallery was re-worked in 2015 and opened in time for the 75th anniversary of the nearby Martin Bridge on 17th May, about 250 visitors came through the doors on that day. All the items on display are made by the members reflecting the variety of work possible. At the time of writing there seems to be a friendly contest to see who can make the smallest turned goblet, currently one about 20mm high seems to be the smallest! 

However, we do other work such as intarsia, marquetry scroll saw work, wood turning, pyrography, jigsaws, toys, boxes, etc. Examples of all these techniques and skills can be seen in the gallery.

For anybody who may be interested in joining us, please contact the Secretary, Kim Fetherston, on 0404 481 084. Details can also be found on our website, www.mglwoodworkers.com

Good stories always end with a comment such as “they all lived happily ever after” – in our case we are very happy with our location, we enjoy each others company, and we all have learned new skills which gives each of us a sense of achievement. 

Gallery opens every Saturday between the hours of 9.00am and 2.00pm

Admission is free. Most items are for sale and all items are hand made by our members.

Kim Fetherston

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