Railway’s founders

Incredible cooking and craft ... Yvonne Collits, Nola Sams, Pearl McGuire, Merle Churchill and Dorothy Findlay were congratulated by Mayor Graeme Miller on Wednesday.
Incredible cooking and craft ... Yvonne Collits, Nola Sams, Pearl McGuire, Merle Churchill and Dorothy Findlay were congratulated by Mayor Graeme Miller on Wednesday.

They have knitted and stitched, crafted and welcomed hundreds of visitors to Forbes.

These five ladies – Yvonne Collits, Nola Sams, Pearl McGuire, Merle Churchill and Dorothy Findlay, were among the founding members of the Railway Arts and Tourist Centre.

They have now retired from active membership and were on Wednesday honoured with an afternoon tea at the centre they helped establish. 

The group reminisced about petitioning to get the centre up and running, when the railway station had ceased to operate.

Looking for an outlet for their craft skills, the group presented the idea of repurposing the historic station. 

“Danie Doolin was the driving force,” Mrs Findlay remembered. 

With Council’s support obtained the group set about painting and putting in gardens – having “a wonderful time” as they did so. 

The centre’s grand opening was in 1990 and they have had many wonderful times since.

“I think the best thing was the fashion parade,” Mrs Churchill said. “We had all the clothes – wedding dresses and so on – over in the motel, we had to have the parade out the front, it got so big.”

The platform was the popular venue for most functions, including the annual Biggest Morning Tea fundraiser for the Cancer Council. 

“The train drivers would always give us a toot if we were on the platform,” Mrs Findlay said.

The centre draws return patrons for its beautiful handicraft, particularly knitted babywear and shawls, free range eggs and home-made jams. 

It is staffed by volunteers – those who contribute crafts or goods for sale sell them on commission with additional for working a day a month in the centre. 

The ladies pride themselves on the quality of their stock, supported by a first-class morning or afternoon tea. 

Mrs Findlay still contributes knitted and crocheted items, including cute beanies and booties for little ones.

“I must have made more than 1000 pairs of booties,” she worked out.

Mrs McGuire was also a contributor of many crafts, while Mrs Collits and Mrs Sams have served many years in the roles of president, secretary and treasurer.