Our Barn Centenary Bathroom Project
With the centenary year of Guiding in WA upon us we would like to introduce a state wide project for Girl Guides WA property Our Barn, York.
The building was originally built sometime around the 1840s – 1850s by pioneer John Henry Monger as a coach house, stables and storehouse for his home ‘Faversham House’ in the historic town of York.
During WW II it was used by the Red Cross to house recovering servicemen and then war veterans. During much of the 1950s the property was uninhabited and became rather derelict. In 1963 the Uniting Church purchased the property and after some renovation, used the house as a conference centre. The barn and coach house were left to their own devices and became even more derelict. In 1970 the York Guide Unit received permission to begin a restoration effort on a part of the barn complex to use as their meeting hall. However the project was somewhat too big for them and in late 1971, under the dynamic leadership of Mrs Ida Lloyd, the project was expanded and taken on by the state organisation. Members throughout the state worked and fundraised – first to purchase the property, and then to re-build and re-fit the building complex.
Catering at the annual York Fair, lamington drives, apple pie drives, Adopt-a-brick and selling Our Barn rock-candy were just some of the many ways units, support groups, trefoils and members gathered enough money to supplement that received from the Lotteries Commission, the National Estate and other funding bodies. Once the buildings were secure they had to be furnished and so Adopt-a-bed and Adopt-a-pillow campaigns and a patchwork quilt sewing frenzy followed in order to furnish our new campsite. Finally on May Day 1977 the Governor, Sir Wallace Kyle officially opened Our Barn.
Since then a management committee of interested members have continued to maintain and improve the facility. Thanks to grants from Lotterywest and various generous companies and suppliers items such as ovens, fridges, hot water systems and beds have been able to be replaced periodically. Every now and then we receive a windfall in the form of a bequest in memory of past members such as Miss June Kirk and Miss Nancy Rogers or from Trefoil Guides (many of whom were leaders during the initial establishment phase). These have let us install air-conditioning, upgrade the electrics so computers and data projectors can be used and put shade blinds on the terrace.
In the almost 4 decades since Our Barn was restored, almost nothing has been needed in the bathrooms of Our Barn – but the time is approaching when an upgrade will be urgent.
Nearly 40 years of use are beginning to show with loose or lost tiles in the shower recesses, basins beginning to rust through and floor in need of maintenance. In the current climate water saving dual flush cisterns are needed for the toilets and there are a number of areas where we do not conform to new lodging house regulations in relation to bathroom flooring, provision of a separate laundry space and the inclusion of disabled toilet and shower aids. Our septic system is quite old and as it doesn’t look like deep sewerage is likely to reach Our Barn any time soon it is possible that we will need to do some work on that within the next five to ten years.
We need to make the move now – before we are forced to – either by serious breakdown of facilities or by instructions from the Health Inspector on his annual visit.
This situation has been under review for some time now by the Our Barn Management Committee and how to finance such a large and expensive exercise was a cause for a great deal of thought. During discussion at one of our spring cleans the idea of a major fund raising project to run as part of the WA Girl Guide Centenary was developed … the OUR BARN CENTENARY BATHROOM PROJECT was born.
Working on the theory that there must be at least 100 active Guide Units in the state it was calculated that if each unit was able to raise $500 we might hope for at least $50,000 per year. While it is very doubtful that that would be enough to fund the whole project, since bathrooms are one of the more expensive parts of a building today, it would give us a fantastic start when applying for grants and similar funding – especially if we could show that it had been raised by our members.
We recognised that some units find it more difficult to raise money than others due to a smaller public population upon which to call, lower numbers in the unit, other projects in which the unit is already engaged or less opportunities (like a convenient Bunnings store or shopping centre) where fundraising might take place. However it was suggested that if the $500 was raised over 2 years that would only be $250 per year. That would seem possible even for the smallest unit. Canvassing among leaders we know has indicated that most of them thought it possible and so we have come up with …
Each Guide Unit in WA will be encouraged to raise $500 over the 2 years surrounding our WA Centenary – 2013 to 2015, trying to raise at least $250 per year. If units are able to raise more than their $250 per year that would be wonderful.
Once the unit has raised its money, the money is forwarded to Guide House and put in the bank so that while we are raising the rest, interest can be earned on what we have got … every little helps.
During the fundraising period we will be looking at where we will be able to source grants such as Lotterywest, Heritage Council, Royalties for Regions and any other suggestions we receive. We will also be talking with the Heritage Commission about any restrictions there may be on the building; the York Council to ensure we meet Shire planning and sanitation regulations; bathroom designers to find out the most suitable and cost effective products available to us before we begin developing the plans for what our new ablutions will look like.
This is a big, long term project which will not succeed unless the whole organisation gets behind it. With Our Barn now the only residential facility fully owned by GGWA, members need to decide whether it is worth supporting it and maintaining it in a condition which keeps it abreast of today’s and tomorrow’s standards or letting it gradually run down until it also has to be let go because we cannot afford to outlay a large sum to meet a sudden crisis.
The committee thinks it is possible to achieve the project aim so that Our Barn may be enjoyed by many more decades of Guides – but only if everyone believes in the worth of the project to our organisation. The small Our Barn Management Committee just cannot do it on their own!
Please think about how you and your unit can be a part of the OUR BARN CENTENARY BATHROOM PROJECT.
All the best. As a Guide Leader I know how hard it is to raise money, but this seems really worthwhile
We stayed at Our Barn this weekend. Its a real gem and asset to GGWA. Its a beautiful property, in an incredible location and so close to the town of York. It was a wonderful weekend, but Our Barn certainly needs some TLC. We wondered whether in addition to this, some serious publicity of the dire situation and beg borrow and steal some ‘Tradies’ to assist with the general maintenance needs and upkeep – even if its a huge one off exercise? We need some media backing, the power of social media and a real push for publicity from all leaders we may be able to reach some Tradies who could assist us as a freebie? Only a suggestion ….
Thanks Sarah. Your suggestion is appreciated. We have passed it on to the Our Barn Fundraiser coordinator.
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Having spent many a weekend workshop at Faversham House and then when that was sold privately in Our Barn, I hate to count the years, and having just read your fund raising project would it be possible to contact either chanel 7 or 9 to perhaps help out seeing it is only the abultion block, they do many home renovations for worthy causes and you never know they just might come to the party as Girl Guides is such a worthy cause. I also had many happy hours being a Guide.
Hi Can you tell me if your’e still fundraising for Our Barn? My daughter is in guides in NZ and is looking for a overseas project within Guides to fund raise for. Thanks
Yes! We have emailed you.