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Keith Chapple, Machinery Preservation Club of WA president Ralph Thomas and Eric Rose want some certainty about their future.

Guardians of historic machinery face uncertain future

THE Machinery Preservation Club of WA are the custodians of Midland’s past industry, but they could soon be without a home with the MRA confirming the building they currently reside in is on the verge of being developed.

Established in 1982, the club moved into the Midland Railway Workshop precinct in 1996, taking up residence in the Powerhouse building.

They have a large collection of old machinery that was crucial to the Railway Workshops.

However in 2015, the club was forced by the MRA to relocate to Block 3, with the redevelopment authority granting them a temporary lease.

Three years later, the club has been told their temporary location has been sold, and the future looks bleak.

MPCWA president Ralph Thomas said the club was looking for certainty from the MRA.

“When the MRA took ownership they decided to move us out down to Block 3 in a temporary accommodation and to my knowledge, the Powerhouse complex hasn’t been used for any useful purpose since then,” he said.

“We’d like to go back up there, if we have to move from here.

“Verbally, the MRA have told us they have sold the building.

“Originally they wanted us out by the end of September. 

“It’s not been confirmed. We’ve got nothing in writing, it’s all hearsay.”

Mr Thomas made the point that Midland does not have a museum, and said his club, with it’s collection of fully operational machines from the Railway Workshops – some of which are heritage listed – would be the closest thing to a museum.

“MRA base their decisions on whether they can make money out of it and the plans and maps we’ve seen that include the Powerstation down there say ‘Coffee Precinct’,” he said.

“Now who’s going to come out here to get a coffee when there’s a million other coffee shops within cooee of here and the one that is here is struggling.

“There’s nothing here.

“People are happy to come and look at things, we’ve got machinery we can run, we’ve got old history, a fantastic setup and Midland doesn’t even have a museum.

“We’ve got people with 50 of these machines in their sheds. They can’t publicly display them because you can’t do that anymore.”

In a statement to Echo News, an MRA spokesperson said Block 2 and 3, the block where the MPC currently resides, were released to the market in June 2017, with the MRA  seeking a developer to deliver a mixed-use development through “the adaptive re-use of these historic buildings.

“MRA has now entered into an exclusive working period with a proponent and is endeavouring to finalise a development agreement, which is anticipated to take place later this year.

“All community tenants currently within Blocks 2 and 3, including the MPC, were informed of the market release and long-term redevelopment plans for the properties.

“The MPC will continue to be updated as plans progress.

“MRA are working with the City of Swan in efforts to find the MPC an alternative location.’’

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. He was a finalist in three categories in the 2018 WA Media Awards and is not at all salty that he didn't win at least one. He's recently had a baby girl, Emilia, with his wife Roselyn and has lost all concept of time and sleep.

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