Our Museum – The ‘Emmott House’

The Moruya and District Historical Museum is located at 85 Campbell Street Moruya in an 1875 heritage-listed terrace house built by Abraham Emmott, an early settler to the area.

Emmott, a migrant from Yorkshire, reached Moruya in 1859 and set up a general store on the verandah of his first home. From there he moved to his new Beehive Store in Vulcan Street, and the name of “Emmott’s” held good for over a century.

In 1875, Abraham built a pair of semi-detached houses, using a standard North of England design. The bricks were made locally and now show their age and the lack of firing in their making. As a concession to the Australian climate, good roofed verandahs were added to the English design.

Stepping out from his bedroom to the verandah, Abraham could see what was happening down the street at his Beehive Stores. Abraham’s house is now home to the Moruya Museum.

The other half of the pair was occupied by Abraham’s son, John, who achieved some renown from an incident that occurred when he was returning to Moruya from the Gulph diggings at Nerrigundah. He was bailed up by the notorious Clarke gang who shot him as he tried to escape, and, as he lay wounded, robbed him of the money and gold he was carrying.

The Moruya Museum houses a collection of furniture, books, artefacts and memorabilia that portrays to visitors something of the lives of the ordinary people of this community from the middle of the nineteenth century. Most items on display were donated by local families.The result is an eclectic mix of considerable charm and interest.

A new exhibit is the 1881 Abernethy Stonemason’s Lathe which was used for turning and polishing many of the Moruya  granite columns and pillars decorating Sydney buildings that were well known in Sydney from the second half of the nineteenth century.

The columns were used in the GPO building, the Queen Victoria Building, St Mary’s Cathedral, many monuments and, most famously, the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The lathe was used to produce the beautifully turned and polished pillars used in several of the buildings.

The  Twin Bed Lathe was made in Aberdeen Scotland in 1881. It was last used at Loveridge and Hudson’s yard in Sydney in the 1960s and then donated to the Lachlan Vintage Village Heritage Theme park in the late 1970s. In 1987, it was bought by the NSW Heritage Council, who handed it over to Eurobodalla Shire in 2010. The Moruya Antique Tractor and Machine Association helped restore the lathe.

From the quarries of Moruya….
….to the major buildings of Sydney

Quick Facts:

Moruya Museum opening hours are 11am to 1pm Wednesday, Friday & Saturday and every day from 11am to 3pm during the summer school holidays. The Geneology Room is open on those same days from 10 am to 2pm. Full details are in the Contacts secion of this blog.

Entry fees are Adults $3, Pensioners $2 & children $1. As the older generations of pioneer settlers died, so too died a wealth of folk history. Local Historical Societies such as ours aim to stem the loss, not just by preserving the artefacts used by our grandparents, but also by researching and recording local history.

We have a number publications for sale on the history of the area and produce a quarterly journal.

The Museum also houses a large collection of photographs of the district and the pioneers who developed the area. Many are on display but many more are filed and indexed and stored in the Museum.

Group tours and school tours are most welcome. These tours are led by Museum Volunteers who have an intricate knowledge of the items in the collection. Attached to the Moruya Museum is our Genealogy Research Room. A wide-ranging collection of microfiche, microfilm, CDRoms and printed material are available for family history researchers. A charge of $10 is made for non-members to use the facilities.

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