A SHORT HISTORY OF THE BATHURST AGRICULTURAL MUSEUM
Bowker Wooden Plough (1821)
A Plough made on the farm Tharfield near Port Alfred in 1821 by the Bowker brothers. This plough can be seen in the 1820 Settler’s Museum, Grahamstown.
Today’s machinery is tomorrow’s history.
If you do not know where you have come from how will you know where you are going?
ln 1970 a small group of people, led by Shirley Hounsell, interested in the preservation of the history of Agriculture in the Eastern Cape, formed a working committee to establish an Agricultural Museum in the historical village of Bathurst in the heart of Settler country. A quick survey revealed that there was an abundance of material available while no suitable building could be found. Temporary accommodation was made available by volunteers, using borrowed trucks, immediately set filling the building in a short time. The Bathurst Agricultural Society and a team of about bringing in suitable items, and succeeded in 1978 the Bathurst Municipality made available a tract of land adjacent to the Show Grounds.
The first building erected, later named the Geoff Palmer Hall was officially opened by Dr Douglas Hey, Director of Nature Conservation who stated that the museum was of importance not only to Bathurst but also to the whole of South Africa. The museum was then declared a Local Museum and Province made available an Annual Grant of R2 000.00 which has never been increased.
As the collections were growing rapidly a second building was completed in 1986 and is now known as the A G Griffiths Hall where about half of the tractor collection can be seen.
A third large building was started in 1988 and completed only in 1995. During those years a small engine room as well as a Caretaker’s Khia were completed.
The presence of the caretaker appears to have put an end to vandalism – for keeps we hope. Dennis Banks, the first Hon. Curator, opened the museum to the public for two days a week. Buster Curtis took over in 1980, a caretaker/cleaner was engaged and the museum was opened six days a week.
A broom and insecticide were purchased and the battle against dust and spiders began in earnest as Buster detested both of these pests – no use to man or beast he claimed!!! Moreover, many many litres of paint have been used in an attempt to beat the real demon. RUST. It is a fight that will NEVER come to an end it seems.
The museum soon took on a new look and visitors began to arrive. The stream ran stronger as word got around of this somewhat unusual museum, believed to be the first of it’s kind in South Africa. Visitors from far and wide have commented favourably, while scholars arrive for study purposes. It is hoped that the stream of visitors will run stronger in future. In March 1995 Alan Shield became Hon Curator and his wife Joey Hon Treasurer, and Alison Higgs Hon Secretary taking over from Esme Wakeford who had done a grand job. This strong team is getting on with the job and their fine efforts are noticed by many visitors. In 1993, our first Open Fun Day was held, the purpose being to entice the public to visit the museum and find out what it is all about. This has become an annual event becoming bigger and better each time.
MEET THE TEAM
The MUSEUM SMITHY TEAM — with Donovan Goliath, Barry Hartley and Jon Pieters.
MUSEUM TEAM— with Nolan Flanegan, James Alastair Yendall, Fergus Miles, Dylin Wood,Donovan, Yolanda Hattingh, Difford Keeton, Ryno Hattingh, Glynis Pike, Walter Penny, Barry Hartleyand L'inferno nello specchio at Bathurst Agricultural Show.