Join in ... with the Murray Bridge and District Historical Society
Shirley Watson invites you to get elbow-deep in local history.
Not too many people realise that Murray Bridge’s old railway buildings are even there, much less that people meet in them every week.
They’re hard to find on Google Maps, as a volunteer who tried to have a pizza delivered found out.
But they’ve been lovingly restored in recent years, the train control building, institute building and signalman’s cottage which sit near the Round House, over a little bridge opposite the Bridgeport Hotel.
Among the members gathered there on Tuesday morning was Shirley Watson.
When did you first get involved with the historical society?
You’d have to look it up in The Standard – I got my picture taken when the buildings were about to be done here, in 2011. I love history and I really love research. I’d researched my own family – that can be fairly tough. Most of them were killed in Germany, so I gave up. I thought I would do other people’s family trees (instead).
What do you spend your time doing each week?
I’m a records officer. I help to retain the records, or work out how to retain them; and decide what should be kept and what should not be kept. I accept donations ... You work with computers, you work with newspapers, old scrapbooks, maps, photos. We’d really love to have more photos of the early buildings of Murray Bridge ... When people come from overseas, they call in and we do a guided tour of Murray Bridge, showing them where their rellies may have lived, itemising headstones and that. I had a really big one from America and they just wanted headstones from their families. I ended up going to Mannum, Callington, Monarto, Murray Bridge, Tailem Bend and Coomandook to get (photos of) headstones for them. We had to put the family tree together.
What do you get out of your involvement?
It’s a real joy to get answers (for people), because I don’t know the answers either; I have to do my research to get the facts. It’s not necessarily what’s written when you first read it. You’ve got to get through the mistakes and find the facts, and it all has to be catalogued.
What is your fondest memory of your time with the society?
One thing we did which we really enjoyed doing was getting the council to provide street names at the (Adelaide Road) cemetery. That was one of the best things we’ve completed. It took probably four years of research, finding out everyone (who was buried there prior to 1930). We used old survey maps and records.
What is your goal with the historical society?
It’s for the future, so my grandkids can find information that has been left behind.
Why should people join Murray Bridge and District Historical Society?
(You) have to be thoroughly rapt in history, and not just historical items. (You) have to want to know everything ... We need happy gardeners, too, cleaners, people that love food preparation and serving for when we do our fundraisers, people who understand computers, carpenters, handymen.