Hidden away in a small town on Tasmania’s East Coast sits a treasure trove of interesting items and historic artifacts.
The former St Marys Railway Station is now home to the Cranks and Tinkerers Museum, which is curated by retired teacher Ian Summers.
Mr Summers said the museum had been running since 2008 and attracts visitors not only from around Tasmania, but also tourists to the state.
People stop by because the museum has a bit of everything, he said.
“If I were the Tasmanian thimble museum, for instance, you would keep 100 people thrilled to bits and everybody else would think, what on earth would you want to go there for?” he said.
“It’s not like that. I’ve got enough variety to keep most people happy for at least a few minutes.”
A major interest of Mr Summers is putting together model ships and planes, many of which are dotted throughout the museum.
“I’ve been building the ships and planes for a decades, and it just hasn’t stopped,” he said.
“In 1998 we were in St Helens, and I was painting the sides of [a model of] the Queen Mary and mum looked at me, and I felt her staring, and I said, ‘What’s up mum? What’s the problem?’
“She said, ‘You’re not growing out of it, are you?’
“I’ve gotten slower and slower. The wooden ones are very slow to do.
“If you get a big English three-master, the rigging just goes on and on and on, it’s tedious.”
Ships aren’t the only things Mr Summers tinkers with.
In the corner of one room was a portable organ, dating back to 1855, that he was in the process of putting back together.
“There’s a few musical instruments about,” he said.
“My wife and I have been doing music together for decades now.”
Mr Summers said he plays double bass, an acoustic bass guitar, and the banjo.
“I like the banjo, it’s a very cheerful instrument,” he said.
Mr Summers said there were also four pedal organs in the museum.
“They’re reasonably simple to operate. They’re like a giant mouth organ,” he said.
“You have a pump for air, and you have some pedals to make the pump work, and then have reeds, and when you press the keys the air blows through.
“These are relatively unloved, which is why I rescue so many.”
Other interesting pieces included Boeing 737 airplane parts, old cameras, gramophones and old records, tins, toys, and bottles.
He also has a large collection of books.
“I’ve got a collection of strange workshop manuals,” he said.
“This is the manual for the battleship Bismarck, and this one is the manual for the Titanic.
“Thrown in is the workshop manual for the space shuttle and the International Space Station.
“I just can’t leave them alone.”
He said some of the other books he has in the collection are not for the information inside, but because of what they are.
“When I discovered there was a 101 Dalmations colouring book, I thought, ‘What a great title, what do you do with it?’,” he said.
“Then, I discovered an author called Bruce McCall, and he does interesting stuff.
“He used to do illustrations for car brochures, but when retired he got into his own stuff. So, now I have Golf Carts of the Third Reich, for instance.
“Then some are so horrible that really they’re interesting.
“Like The Royal Family Pop-Up Book. It’s really horrible, but it’s great. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Mr Summers said because many of the items on display the museum were quite specialised, it needed him onsite.
“What you don’t know, you learn,” he said.
“I’m not too bad on railway stuff and a bit of local history, and I do alright with each individual item in here.”
Mr Summers said he couldn’t pick a favorite item from his collection.
“Gosh, I’ve got my copy of Seaside Adventures of Buttons and Mac and in the front it says, ‘To Ian, with love from mummy, Christmas 1984’. I still read that,” he said.
“I’ve got my brother’s copy of Pookie Puts the World Right.
“How do you choose? I don’t know.
“I’ve got no favorites. I’ve got to try and hang onto the lot.”
The St Marys Cranks and Tinkerers Museum is located at 7217 Esk Highway, St Marys. Entry is by gold coin donation. For more information, visit the museum’s Facebook page.