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Amiens centenary plans on right track

PIECE OF HISTORY: Roger Willis from Amiens Historical Society with Denise and Alec Harslett inside the old rail carriage that will be refurbished for an Amiens historical hub.
PIECE OF HISTORY: Roger Willis from Amiens Historical Society with Denise and Alec Harslett inside the old rail carriage that will be refurbished for an Amiens historical hub. Liana Turner

AMIENS Historical Association is another step closer to marking the settlement's centenary in style.

President Roger Willis said the group recently moved an historic rail carriage to the Harslett farm in Amiens, where refurbishment work will take place.

The carriage is destined for a site on Amiens Rd, where it will eventually operate as an information centre for the Armistice Way region.

"It was built in 1909 so it's 108 years old," Mr Willis said.

After last month's massive effort to move the carriage from Warwick, where it was kept by the Southern Downs Steam Railway group, Mr Willis said the society was now planning how to tackle its refurbishment.

"When we moved it we needed two big cranes, one at each end," Mr Willis said.

Alec Harslett, a descendent of a soldier settler, said he was happy to have the carriage on his farm as it was protected from the elements.

"It's under cover and that's important," he said.

"We've got power and access to tools, so the only drama is we've got to shift it again."

He said the location where they planned to keep the carriage when it was eventually set up as an information centre wasn't ideal for the refurbishment works.

About 450 soldier settlers made their home on the Granite Belt after the First World War, so Mr Harslett said it was crucial to recognise that history.

"There's a lot of people that have an interest in what their forebears did," he said.

"We hope to become the repository of information and of memories. We're running out of time for people to remember.

"There's not really any proper celebration of that part of our history."

Mr Willis said the society planned to place the carriage on rail tracks on the Amiens Road site.

"We're working on the site now," he said.

"We're going to get an occupation permit to occupy the site for the purpose of putting the rail carriage there and some other items.

"That is being granted for two years and eventually that bit of land will be revoked from the plantation reserve and given to the Southern Downs Regional Council as trustees, and we will lease it off them as a long-term arrangement."

So far the group has started removing some old cladding to determine the work that will be required.

"The structural timber's in bad shape and we've been consulting with various people on how to restore it," Mr Willis said.

He said members of the Stanthorpe Historic Vehicle and Machinery Group had been offering advice.

We're at the stage now where we think we're able to place orders for the timbers we need, then we'll be able to get together working parties with volunteers," he said.

He said a working bee was in the pipeline, but they would separate the work into manageable sections for groups to tackle.

The Amiens school opened in 1919 and the Prince of Wales opened the railway terminal in 1920.

This opening is something the group plans to re-enact in 2020.

To get involved with the restoration project, email Roger Willis at currawonga@activate.net.au.

Stanthorpe Border Post

Topics:  amiens amiens historical association soldier settlers


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