• Loddon Herald

Walking in history

TWO Inglewood business owners put time to amazing use during COVID lockdowns.

The historic former Inglewood Advertiser and two other shops in the Brooke Street building have become a contemporary time capsule.

The restored front door - stipped back to reveal charring believed to be from the 1876 Great Fire of Inglewood just before Christmas that year - leads the way to new floors covered in time.

Gaylia Bell and Carey Imms spent months during COVID closure replacing floorboards and ripping up lino.

Under the floor they found charred timber that Gaylia believes may have been covered when the Inglewood Advertiser swiftly set about continuing publication.

Newspaper reports immediately after the fire said the Advertiser office “altogether upset internally, and some time must lapse to put the plant in business order”.

Carey said: “Gaylia had p;ulled up the old lino at her Dad’s place and found heaps of newspapers all from the year she was born.

“She fronted up the next morning so excited, explaining she would be using them as a flolor treatment.”

When more newspapers were needed to complete the floor stage of a mammoth restoration project, Gaylia says she just used pages from 2020 papers, linking one new era with another.

“Once the floors were cleaned and bondcreted, the magazines and newspapers were put down and sealed with polyurethane,” Carey said.

Gaylia, owner of Loddon Larder, and Horse World’s Carey also set about washing down walls, rendering, painting and pinpointing brickwork.

“Every wall required two to three washes with Gaylia putting her mortar pointing skills to work until we had a surface we couid seal,” Carey said.

Gaylia expanded her Loddon Larder theme at the same time to include oils, scents, jewelry and native trees.

Carey says it was inspirational. “We believe that to combat this insipid virus you need to address mind, body and soul”.

“We have also been able to provide sanitiser and bottles to put in in.

“And I started a book table where people could make a small donation for a book. So far I think we have gone to about 18 to 20 boxes and filled quite a few charity tins.”

Just over a year from beginning the renovation of the three shops - large palm trees preventing rear access to the building had to be heavily pruned first - has allowed Loddon Larder to open as a new business and Horse World to move into new premises.

Gaylia and Carey juggled running businesses with what may have appeared a never-ending restoration project.

“We eventually got to the middle shop, had it cleared and even managed to move the old bank safe and have it taken away,” Carey said.

“Then there was more scrubbing and cleaning walls, more pointing and more laying of magazines and newspapers, up and down the ladder serving customers, the bonus of losing weight and gaining fitness has not been lost on me,” Carey said.

“And of course the idea to use current papers as we were all living history.”

The vision and doggedness of Gaylia and Carey is probably a bit like an earlier dreamer who plied trade in the building. Sir Julius Vogel was at one time owner and editor of the Inglewood Advertiser from 1859 to 1861.

Had had studied chemistry and metallurgy at the Royal School of Mines (later part of Imperial College London) andemigrated to Victoria, in 1852, being editor of several newspapers on the goldfields, including the Inglewood Advertiser and the Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser.

His sparkling leading articles, although disparaged for their ‘low and vulgar style’, identified with local needs and interests. He speculated in mining and was for a time director of a gold reef company. He was also a cricketer, an inveterate gambler and an aspiring bon vivant. After failing to win a seat in the Victorian Parliament in 1861 , Vogel moved to New Zealand and became a journalist for the Otago Witness. In November 1861, founded the Otago Daily Times and became its first editor.

Vogel was elected to the New Zealand Parliament two years later and soon became a government minister. He was was prime minister from 1873 to 1875 and again in 1876. From 1876 to 1881, he was agent-general for New Zealand in London.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography says Vogel was one of the first Australasian statesmen to see the Pacific as an area for British expansion. He failed to persuade the Colonial Office to annex Fiji and Samoa and turned to the idea of informal empire — the creation of a joint stock company with a monopoly of trade with Polynesia. He welcomed the occupation of Fiji by Britain in 1874 and the annexation of eastern New Guinea by Queensland in 1883, and was prepared to contribute over £2500 for three years towards the administration in New Guinea. Vogel died in London in 1899.

Carey says” “Through blood, sweat and tears, but mostly laughter, we hav e built our space and businesses and a wondeful friendship.”

A bit like Sir Julius Vogel, Cary and Gaylia are meeting the local needs today.

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