Orange Regional Gallery


Above: Orange Regional Gallery

General background

From the 1830s, migrants from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds have made a remarkable contribution to the settlement and development of Orange. Following World War Two, migrants from Europe made their home in Orange, transforming the economy, culture and landscape of the city. In 2003, Orange City Council’s museum program initiated a project with the NSW Migration Heritage Centre to document object stories associated with post war migration and to research migration history and places. This is a subject that is not well reflected in museum collections in the region. Orange’s post war migrants are ageing and dying so it is important that their experience and knowledge is recorded for their children and the community.

Orange City Council’s museum program has developed a partnership with the NSW Migration Heritage Centre which aims to tell the stories of the region’ s migrant history. Stage One of this work was completed at the end of June 2005. It included research and development of a short illustrated thematic history of the post war migration history of the Orange District, providing a context for the documentation of migration heritage collections, stories and places. Council engaged local historian and journalist Elisabeth Edwards for this project. She had worked with post-war migrants and their families to encourage them to write down the history of objects that help to interpret their migration stories, and the way they have built new lives in the Orange District. Stage Two of this work (in 2005-7) included the publication of a catalogue and history of post-war migration to Orange, a major exhibition and public programs which were hosted by Orange Regional Gallery. The project and book publication, written by Elisabeth Edwards, was titled Half a World Away Postwar migration to the Orange District. This body of research and that from another study and exhibition titled Fruitful Landscapes, identified a key group of migrants, the Cornish commmunity, who require a focused study to tell their largely untold stories.

View the Orange Regional Gallery and NSW Migration Heritage Centre online exhibition Half a World Away Postwar migration to the Orange District.

Cornish history in the Orange District

Since the 1830s, Cornish and other migrants have made an enormous contribution to the development of the economy and culture of central NSW. Both Cornish and Welsh migrants were influential in the mining industry in the region, at places such as Lucknowand Cadia where they had distinctive roles; the Cornish working as miners and the Welsh working in the smelters. The village of Byng was established by Cornish settlers, who built churches and other structures in local bluestone. At the Cadia mine, Welsh smelter men arrived in 1862, while the Cornish engine house was erected to hold a beam engine in 1865. The engine house reflects the enterprise and technical achievement of the Cornish miners, and its significance is acknowledged by its listing on the State Heritage Register. Cemeteries at Cadia, Byng and elsewhere in the region reflect continuing family and cultural ties to the region. In addition to their role in the mining industry, Cornish settlers established the first orchards, planted hawthorns, which are still a distinctive part of the cultural landscape, and contributed to the development of many community organisations, including local government.

Project activities

This project will focus on researching Cornish history with the intent of developing materials for a dedicated exhibition as part of a second project phase.

A qualified and experienced social history researcher will be engaged to research and collate an illustrated thematic history on  The Cornish History in the Orange and district. This body of research will include conducting a literature review, working with museums, historical societies and community members to document information and objects  held in their collections. This will include conducting  oral histories to include the memories of  Cornish  descendents. Seeking permission from relevent people/organisations and photograhing images and objects to be included in the report will also form part of this project brief.  This research will underpin the development of a future exhibition potentially at the Orange Regional Gallery or proposed Regional Museum.

It is expected that the researcher will investigate all aspects of the lives of Cornish migrants e.g. culture, migration stories, mining and agricultural activities, aspects of everyday life, shaping the landscape, continuing connections with Cornwall.