History – An exhibition of collaboration

Warkworth Museum has just opened its exhibition of the Wilson’s cement story. What an amazing collection. Follow the timeline from Nathaniel’s arrival in New Zealand as a child in 1842, around the time limestone was first being worked in the Mahurangi area. His early years as a shoemaker, through the development of Portland cement to modern times, with recent photos from the museum photo competition documenting the present state of the site, to the possible future of the cement works, with a small display from the Cement Works Warkworth Conservation Trust.

Over the last few months I have watched the planning and development of the exhibition by a raft museum volunteers from every aspect of the museum’s resources: Archives: providing photographs, newspaper items, diaries and books; Textiles: assisting with the mannequins and the appropriate clothing for the era; The men from the shed: building and painting the stands, providing muscle when needed; Artefacts: finding and providing items such as Nathaniel’s shoe-making last (a mechanical form shaped like a human foot) and workers’ memorabilia. And, of course, the display experts who planned, researched and pulled it all together, working many hours researching and sorting to create the comprehensive timeline, stories and displays.

There has been wonderful cooperation from Fletchers, who hold many historical items relating to the works, and Golden Bay Cement, who have carried on the heritage from Wilson’s Portland Cement. These companies have generously shared, gifted or loaned items for the display.

A magnificent 3D model of the works, created by a volunteer, gives some idea of how the works would have once looked with its many buildings and chimneys. Also how the raw materials worked their way through the site to the finished product ready to ship out to Auckland and beyond.

There are opportunities for interaction, whether it is adding a “brick” to the chimney or hunting for references to explosions or accidents at the works. The workers are remembered with group photos and stories, even some personal artefacts. Many of these workers became part of our local history with descendants in the area to this day. There are lists of workers names there, too, but if you know of any others or have any stories relating to the works or know who any of the workers are in the photos, the museum would love to hear from you. Email: warkworthmuseum@xtra.co.nz

The Museum is open 10am-3pm every day; $15 for a family of two adults and two children.

History - Warkworth & District Museum