Our Birth

The idea of a Pioneer Museum was first mooted in 1927 as a potential use for the northwestern corner of Herbert and Drayton Streets following a major fire which destroyed all buildings on the site. The idea faded and this site was not utilized until 1960 when the Allora Shire Council open its new office and library (1966) there. In 1969 Allora celebrated its centenary of being declared a Municipality even though the town had been surveyed in 1859 while still part of New South Wales. This centenary celebration was organized by the Shire Council with a major display of historical items housed in the Pavilion at the Allora Show Grounds.

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So incredible was the extent and variety of historical items on display and the desire of many to have these items preserved and displayed, moves were quickly made to establish a historical society.

The Allora and District Historical Society was formed on 5 August 1969 just over a week after the Centenary celebrations. Sixteen people attended this first meeting and 12 joined as members on the night. The inaugural office holders elected were Mr. W.R. Neale (President), Mrs J.C. Atkinson (Secretary) and Mr R.L. Shooter (Treasurer). (Minutes of the first meeting) Within a few months Mrs Atkinson was unable to continue as secretary and Mr W.R. Neale became acting Secretary, Mr R.L. Shooter, acting President and Mrs O.J. Shooter, Treasurer until the first Annual General Meeting held in August 1970. At the end of the first year membership was 34.

The newly formed society was quickly accumulating items of historical interest and was in urgent need of a building to store and display these items. Initially, items were displayed in the window of Mr Nev Guy’s shop in Herbert Street while a frantic search for a home for the Society continued. The Scouts Association held the lease on the Old School of Arts site at 27 Drayton Street but had become inactive. The Society negotiated a sub-lease of the site for one year which eventually led to the Society becoming the Lessee on 1 July 1970. The School of Arts was a historically significant building to Allora. It was built in 1866 as Allora’s first Court House and was bought by the School of Arts Committee in 1884 and move to its present site in Drayton Street when the second Court House was built. It was used as a library and reading room until the early 1960’s when it became a Scout Den.

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Above – A PENNY FARTHING bicycle in roadworthy condition caught the eyes of the official party after the official opening of the Allora Historical Museum by the Minister for National Development (Mr R.W. Swartz) on Saturday. Shown from the left: Mr Trevor Neale, Mr W.R. Neale, honourary secretary of the Allora and District Historical Society; Cr S.D. Henry, Chairman of Allora Shire Council; Mesd. R.W.Swartz, R. Shooter, S.D. Henry, and Mr R.W. Swartz.

The building was in a poor state of repair however with the hard work of the members and community groups such as Apex and supplies from various business houses, the refurbished building and museum was opened by Hon. R.W.Swartz, Minister for National Development and Federal Member for Darling Downs on 20 March 1971. (Minister’s Opening Address)

The birth of the Allora and District Historical Museum was complete.

The Society continues to operate the School of Arts museum at 27 Drayton Street and added the Council Chambers at 53 Warwick Street to its sites under management in 1988 following the amalgamation of the Allora Shire into the Southern Downs Regional Council.

In 2019 the Society will celebrate its Jubilee and Allora will celebrate 150 years since its proclamation as a town.

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