15 July 2017

Repaired Blundells Cottage to reopen with new displays

| Ian Bushnell
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historic cottage

Canberra’s historic Blundells Cottage by Lake Burley Griffin will reopen today (Saturday) after nine months of repairs and the installation of new displays.

National Capital Authority Chief Executive Malcolm Snow said that last October engineers determined that half of the cottage’s foundations needed to be stabilised after cracks appeared in a wall of the 1860s cottage, which had also started to subside.

“We employed specialist contractors to carry out underpinning works and to repair the cracks in the mortar, to ensure the integrity of this valuable heritage building,” Mr Snow said.

The NCA said the area surrounding the building foundations which the engineers planned to excavate was assessed for heritage value, but no items were found. Half of the building’s foundations were removed and replaced during the work.
It said specialised stone work was undertaken on the external wall to repoint mortar joints and repair a failing stone window arch. The mortar had been mixed to age and blend into the existing look and feel of the stonework over time.
Mr Snow said that during the closure the NCA had taken the opportunity to research and source period and replica items to improve the existing displays and create new ones in two previously empty rooms.

The rooms of the cottage depict the lives of the different families who lived in it, with the two front rooms depicting the moving in day for the Ginn family in 1860.

The two back rooms depict life in 1960 for the last family to occupy the cottage, the Sainsbury family, while the two middle rooms now house a display depicting the life of Alice Oldfield in 1945, who was at the time newly widowed and had started taking in boarders.

“The new items that have been sourced to help tell these stories include a slow combustion stove, handmade straw-filled mattresses and an Aladdin pressure lamp, which will help to give visitors a clear sense of how the families carried on their daily lives,” Mr Snow said.

“As this completes stage one of our restoration work, Blundells Cottage will reopen to the public from Saturday 15 July at its usual time of 10 am – 2 pm on Saturdays, while further work is undertaken in the two-room slab shed and in the surrounding gardens.”

One of Canberra’s heritage treasures, Blundells Cottage was once the family home of tenant workers on the Duntroon Estate and included enough land to run farm animals and grow crops.

The NCA is responsible for preserving its heritage values and curates Blundells Cottage as an important house museum, interpreting the lives and experiences of the families who lived there before and after Canberra was chosen as the site for the National Capital.

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