The Stroud and District Historical Society was formed on 30th June 1970. The inaugural office bearers were Harold Bowen - President, Rosemary Neville - Vice President, Olga Williams - Secretary, and Athol Allen - Treasurer.
Twenty-nine people attended the meeting. The following year Harold Bowen resigned and John Chadban became President and continued in that position for more than twenty years. Olga Williams as Secretary was the driving force behind the idea of forming the Society.
Interest in the Society grew, especially when it became known that the Society hoped to acquire and restore Quambi House; a building built by the Australian Agricultural Co in the early 1840’s as a school. Owned by the Diocese of Newcastle it was in a dilapidated and overgrown state. The church could not afford the extensive repairs so they decided to sell Quambi. A private offer of $4,000 was considered but when the Historical Society was prepared to match that sum the church decided in the Society’s favour. The last resident, Mrs Gladys Galvin, had lived in the house for over 40 years without electricity or proper amenities.
The restoration of Quambi House
Assistance to restore Quambi came from near and far. Apart from Stroud, the towns of Booral, Girvan, Limeburner’s Ck, Stroud Rd and Allworth were all represented. The community response was wonderful!
With intensive fund raising on our part and help from government grants, (which we had to match dollar for dollar from our meagre funds), it was a very busy time.
Our goal was to restore Quambi as a museum and even though it took the best part of fifteen years to accomplish, we found it to be a happy and rewarding time because of the harmony that existed within the group. Working bees were quite jolly affairs. Sometimes there were upwards of twenty people happily working away, stripping wall paper, clearing undergrowth and demolishing rundown outbuildings.
Initially, the Historical Society, by itself, was not eligible for Heritage grants. Fortunately, the Great Lakes Shire agreed to act on our behalf, which enabled us to access Heritage funds.
Our wonderful volunteers
Some of our ‘happy band’ of workers were, Kevin Gorton, John Chadban, Stella Wilson, Thelma and Harry Wood, Bubbles Rowe, Allan Gorton, Gwen Bowden, Olga and Don Williams, Beryl and Lloyd Bowden, Laurie and Flo Dixon, Athol Allen, Rosemary and Darby Neville, Keith and Glenys Grey and others.
Demanding as the work was, we found it quite rewarding. Through our efforts we had saved Quambi for future generations. We can all be proud of that!
This history of the society and the restoration of Quambi was provided by Mrs Beryl Bowden who held the position of Treasurer for 13 years.