Close Museum before 2

Case Study: The Foundry and Blacksmith Museum

Transforming The Foundry

The Foundry is a local heritage-listed building in the town of Finley and has been in the Close family for over 100 years.

The rear of the building is the modern foundry and engineering works, while the front of the building holds a century of blacksmith tools, furnaces and engines. This heritage project repaired the roof of the building to allow the front of the building to become a blacksmith exhibition.

The project will also support the cataloguing of the collection, a significance assessment, a curatorial and exhibition plan, and a conservation report. The collection is inextricably linked to the heritage-listed building, and is an important part of its significance.

This unique project celebrates the heritage values of the historic foundry, by displaying a century of metalworking techniques within an agricultural context. The building is a working foundry, and the project is a rare example of modern metalworking techniques being demonstrated alongside the traditional methods.

Close Foundry recently celebrated its 125th year of uninterrupted service as a business owned and operated by six generations of a single family.

The family have kept over a century’s worth of documents, photographs, press cuttings, blacksmithing equipment, engines, tools and associated paraphernalia.

 

The current light engineering works are housed in a modern extension to the building, whilst the historical material remains in the heritage-listed part of the foundry.

The present members of the Close family are interested in preserving the historical materials. The 125th anniversary celebrations planning saw an upsurge of interest in Mr JT Close, the original founder of the blacksmith business, who became a significant town leader, and a famous owner of several patents on specialist agricultural equipment.

This has coincided with local Council interest in developing cultural tourism as an economic development tool in small towns, including Finley. This project included conservation works for both the building and the collection, which will ensure they will continue to be enjoyed in the future.

In addition to the conservation work undertaken, the project employed a museums specialist who  catalogued the collection, produced an exhibition plan, and developed an interpretation strategy that ensured the story of the Foundry is told in ways that are immersive, innovative and engaging for the local community and visitors.

The display of engines, furnaces, tools and products will provide a window into their rich heritage, as well as celebrating the life, achievements and legacy of a significant town father.