This short history of the society and the restoration of Quambi was provided by Beryl Bowden who held the position of society Treasurer for 13 years.
Stroud and District Historical Society was formed on 30 June 1970 at a meeting of 29 community members. Inaugural office bearers were Harold Bowen as president, Rosemary Neville as vice president, Olga Williams as secretary, and Athol Allen as treasurer. The following year Harold Bowen resigned and John Chadban became president and continued in that position for more than 20 years. Secretary Olga Williams was the driving force behind the idea of forming the society.
Interest in the society grew quickly, especially when it became known that the society hoped to acquire and restore Quambi House - a school house built by the Australian Agricultural Co in the early 1840’s. Owned by the Diocese of Newcastle, Quambi was in a dilapidated and overgrown state. The church could not afford the extensive repairs needed and decided to sell Quambi. They considered a private offer of $4,000 but when the society was prepared to match that sum the church decided in the society’s favour. Quambi's last resident, Gladys Galvin, had lived in the house for over 40 years without electricity or proper amenities.
Restoring Quambi House
Assistance to restore Quambi came from near and far. In addition to Stroud, the local communities of Booral, Girvan, Limeburner’s Creek, Stroud Road and Allworth were all represented. The community response was wonderful! With intensive fund raising by the society 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 15 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 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
Our ‘happy band’ of workers included 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!