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Factory to Clubrooms

It all started in November 2005 when I rang the then President, Russ Marshall, to initiate a concerted effort to purchase a property for clubrooms. Russ said to put my ideas in writing to the committee which I did.

At the December meeting I spoke to the members about formalizing our search for a suitable property for clubrooms. I emphasised the need to spend the club’s money wisely as it had been gained over 20 years of hard work by members volunteering for our Annual Display Day and Puffing Billy Oldtime Festival a joint venture between HCVCA, Bus and Coach Society and Puffing Billy.

The money that had been gained from these events had been invested wisely and had accumulated into a substantial amount. I stated that it was not going to happen overnight, that it would be a lengthy process and could take years to come to fruition. After the 2006 AGM we formed a Building Sub Committee made up of two members from the general committee, namely Russ Marshall (President) and Peter Morrow (Librarian), and three invited members, Calvin Coghlan, Ken Whitworth and myself – Ross Taylor as convener.

In consultation with the general committee, the following criteria was set to guide the building sub committee in its search for suitable clubrooms.

  • Building of a suitable size to enable monthly club and committee meetings

     to be held

  • Building to have a suitable kitchen or the space and services to install one
  • Building to have male and female toilets
  • If possible have sufficient ceiling height to enable a mezzanine floor to be installed to create an office area
  • Have sufficient space inside to store both club trailers and all club equipment
  • Have an acceptable space outside for storage of club shipping container
  • Have space on the property or surrounding the property for sufficient car parking
  • Be suitably fenced in relation to security
  • Be a suitable location to meet the demographics of the membership

The shipping container was subsequently sold. The sub committee visited a number of clubs that had purchased property to meet their clubs needs such as the Austin 7 Club and the Jaguar Car Club. Talking to the members of these clubs, who were instrumental in planing their clubrooms, gave us a valuable insight into the process involved in purchasing a property for a not for profit organisation. We were fortunate to have Don McKay solicitor and member of the Jaguar Car Club to assist us with legal matters.

Over a number of years the sub committee met with a number of like minded clubs attempting to form a partnership with the view to joint purchase of a property, without success. We investigated the possibility of being granted land and or buildings by the government or the private sector and researched the costs of funding arrangements that could be put in place to enable a purchase to go ahead. We also looked at local government and service provider costs.

After six long years of Ken and I looking at properties all over Melbourne, the club purchased Unit 8/4 Macquarie Place Boronia on 9th March 2012 for $220,000 only 4 km from where the club originally held its meetings at the Boronia CFA Fire Station. The club was fortunate that the factory was GST exempt. Rowan Alexander, Manager of the Mooroolbark Bendigo Bank, was of great help, arranging a small loan to enable the purchase to go ahead. A number of members loaned the club money on a no interest basis. These loans have all been repaid with thanks.

The work then began to transform the factory into clubrooms. I drew up plans, submitted them to the general committee and, with their approval, we were on our way to starting the refurbishment. Ken and I made numerous visits to Knox Council to apply for the necessary planning permit to enable meetings to be held at the new clubrooms. Part of this process was to survey all owner occupiers or tenants of the factory complex to seek their approval for the club to occupy a factory and hold meetings there. All of the owner/tenants have been very supportive of the club’s presence in the complex. After six months of waiting we received the permit.

A dedicated group of volunteers, including the necessary tradesmen, now set about transforming the factory to accommodate the club’s needs of a meeting hall, committee room, a large library, kitchen, male and female toilets, storeroom and space for the club sales trailer. The volunteers completed over 2000 hours of work to transform the factory into suitable clubrooms. Firstly the original walls of the factory were cleaned and painted. New timber framed walls and ceilings were constructed then insulated, plastered and painted. New light fittings and power points were installed through out the building. A new suspended ceiling was installed to the meeting hall. Carpet or vinyl tiles were laid to all floor areas. Library shelving was donated and installed in the new library.

The club was extremely fortunate to have members that generously donated $32,171 as well as materials, appliances and goods towards refurbishing the factory into suitable clubrooms. Jock Crawford kindly donated our new Honour board as well as a Supporters board which hangs in the hallway of the clubrooms and acknowledges all those that donated towards the purchase and refurbishment of the clubrooms.

The Ballarat Branch of HCVCA assisted with cash donations towards the refurbishment. I must also acknowledge the support of our Sponsors and Gabe Murany who manufactured and installed our new kitchen and Daryl Lloyd, our electrician, who completed all the electrical work. Ken Whitworth and I have worked together as a team to achieve the objective of creating clubrooms. None of this could have been achieved without the continual work and support of my colleague Ken Whitworth.

The volunteers completed enough work to hold our 40th anniversary dinner at the new clubrooms on the 29th July 2012. Since then we have completed building work on the clubrooms and have set up display cabinets with memorabilia donated by members. We have also hung various truck grilles etc. around the walls.

The club is now set to grow in lots of ways, not only in membership, but in social activities, friendships and supporting our fellow members in the interest of our hobby and hopefully attract younger members to continue the work. Club members and sponsors will gain so much more from a club that is even more organized with its own home. It is the aim of the committee to hold more functions for the social and technical benefit of members. The continuing evolution of this club is needed if we are to create interest in our hobby and attract new members.