Signs of earlier times - Geraldine history told

The fire bell just north of the Geraldine CBD, and McKechnie's Cottage in Wilson Street,...
The fire bell just north of the Geraldine CBD, and McKechnie's Cottage in Wilson Street, Geraldine.
History is writ large on Geraldine's streets and corners.

Large signs have been erected by the Geraldine Lioness Club on McKechnie's Cottage in Wilson St, on a fire bell in a reserve at the north end of town, on a stone plinth near a new picnic area and on the Mundells Building.

The signs outline the history of the sites/buildings, and give visitors - and residents - an insight into the history of the town.

McKechnie's Cottage, for instance, was built in 1873 by Hugh Morrison.

It is one of Geraldine's oldest buildings, and built using lath and plaster.

A small outhouse is still in the backyard - although a flush toilet was put there in the 1960s.

From 1896 to 1902, the house was John Boughton's tailor's shop - now it is an art gallery adjoining the Cottage Pantry drygoods and gift shop.

It was bought by Douglas McKechnie in 1941. He lived in it for 47 years. The rear of the shop was his office.

Mr McKechnie was a journalist who worked for the Timaru Herald and The Press.

In 1939 he was elected mayor and held office for 10 years.

The building has a category B historic building listing.

Geraldine has two historic fire bells.

The one in the reserve was at the original fire station, then moved to the corner of Pine and Jollie Sts in 1921.

Those streets were realigned in 2005 and the bell was moved to its present site to preserve it.

In 1889, after several fires in the district, it was decided Geraldine needed an alarm.

A brigade was formed and 15 men nominated as members.

An engine room and station were built opposite the present station and a horse-drawn, 16-man manual pump and hand-towed hose reel was bought.

They are now at the Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum.

The fire bells, weighing 150lbs (68kg) each, cost 13 pounds four shillings.

The second bell is in its original position on the corner of Talbot and Maslin Sts.

In 1893, the station bell was rung so vigorously that after three rings the rope broke and someone had to climb the structure to ring the bell with the clapper.