1890s cottage full of memories

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It may be tiny but Alexandra’s Vallance Cottage holds big memories for Tapanui woman Jillian Grant.

‘‘We used to stay as kids in the summer holidays.’’

Asked about the cramped living conditions, Ms Grant said that was not something she noticed as a child.

Ms Grant visited the Sampson St cottage on Sunday with her daughter Neeve (14) and son Alex (10) Kean when it opened its doors to the public in conjunction with a market day held on the surrounding Vallance Cottage Reserve.

The cottage was built in the mid-1890s by Central Otago pioneers William (Bill) Vallance, a shepherd-gold miner from Scotland, and his wife, Jean, and it was there they raised eight children.

Ms Grant said she was a great-granddaughter of Bill and Jean — her children were great-great grandchildren.

The cottage was given to the community by Vallance family descendants in the mid-1990s.

The cottage is now looked after by the Vallance Cottage Working Group, comprising volunteers, Vallance family members and representatives of the council and Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery.

Volunteer Gillian Grant said there was something ‘‘very appealing’’ about the cottage and as a past president of Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery she was actively involved in the rebuild of its mud-brick walls when it was given by the family.

The cottage was one of the last examples of late 19th and early 20th century life in urban Alexandra.

The restoration and additions such as the picket fence involved some shrewd thinking.

‘‘The builder that put the fence in was in court for drink driving and was sentenced to community service.

‘‘We went along and said ‘can we have him?’’’