Rich history livens town

Graham Taylor
Graham Taylor
The sharing of Luggate's rich history is transforming the township from a ''hidden hollow'' into an exciting place to live and visit, resident Graham Taylor says.

Mr Taylor is one a group of amateur historians working on two separate committees to preserve Luggate's past on paper and to mark next year's centenary of the town's landmark Red Bridge.

They have just produced a booklet about the bridge, which will be launched at today's 2pm unveiling of a recently completed pair of concrete draught horses on Luggate's main thoroughfare.

The horses are displayed in front of a restored wagon installed last year to recognise the town's history as a transport hub.

Eventually, the booklet will be included as a chapter in a full Luggate history book, a much needed resource for the area, Mr Taylor said.

While ''probably more things happened in Luggate than the rest of the Upper Clutha'', much of it had not been written down.

''It's been a hidden hollow, just a place you whizz through and ... probably even the locals won't appreciate what they're sitting on there. But I think it's got a very rich history.

''The beauty of having an exciting history is it takes away that dull image.''

Other chapters would include Luggate's geography, social history and the goldfields of the area, which were ''a lot richer than what a lot of people realise''.

The book was originally planned for release in time for next year's October 21 bridge centenary.

However, the committee running the project quickly realised it was a much bigger job than envisaged and a five-year time frame was more realistic, Mr Taylor said.

In the meantime, the booklet was a good lead-up to the bridge centenary and a teaser to ''drag quite a bit of stuff out of the woodwork'' for the larger book, too.

Already, the Upper Clutha community had proved a great source of historical knowledge and project volunteers.

''People are now starting to take a bit of interest in their history and the surrounds ... of all the things I've been involved in over the years, this is the first one that I haven't had to twist any arms. People have just come forward and got stuck in.''

The bridge centenary celebrations would follow much the same format as those that marked the opening 100 years earlier, Mr Taylor said.

A community picnic and official speeches would take place at the bridge, before festivities such as a sports day, barbecue and banquet for dignitaries back in Luggate.

''The idea is if you're a 5-year-old kid, you would like to think in 50 years' time they'll remember it.''

- lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz