Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Steeped in history

Roma is a Queensland town steeped in history. A history that the locals both know and value. I was lucky enough to spend the week of Monday 18 February there working with members of the Roma and District Family History Society Inc and staff from libraries in Roma, Injune, Mitchell and Surat for a HistoryPin session walking the streets of the town. In total we had 17 of us exploring town with mobile devices in tow. The challenge this time was how to capture so much history in a limited timeframe. So, we started where we usually do by capturing repeat options of existing images of Roma. These existing images had been loaded prior to our visit by the "pixies" we work with so that we have a reference point to work from Brisbane to Roma, here we come. We spread out to tackle the range of options, with small groups capturing images of Roma in 2013 using iPads and iPhones in addition to capturing current images on the digital camera that we will load when back in Brisbane. It continues to amaze me how challenging it is to capture the repeat. The angle, the view, the additional elements added over time that you need to work around, like trees and fences not to mention roads - and then there's the weather. Solid drizzle all day in a town that has been suffering drought conditions. All in all though a profitable morning with St Paul's and the local primary school captured in repeats, alongside the Capitol Theatre, Royal Hotel and the Post Office. Interest was such that we offered to run a follow up session the morning we flew out so that we could revisit some of the repeat locations under sunny skies. As for hotels, they abound in Roma. The Royal Hotel has been on its current site since 1870, with the building you see today operating since 1920. The Queens Arms on the other hand, although trading since 1870, was rebuilt after a fire destroyed the original building, reopening in1916. Then there's the School of Arts Hotel. This site has had a licensed hotel on it since 1866. The original School of Arts opened in 1885. Again, fire saw the need to demolish the building with the "new" hotel reopening in 1919. My favourite destination though had to be Ace Drapers. Now relocated to a nearby site, this Aladdin's Cave looks like it should feature on one of those "hoarders" shows on Foxtel. You know the ones - where the person has so much stuff they can only navigate a small path to and fro because of the accumulated piles of essentials that they just can't bear to get rid of? Just before the floorboards threaten to collapse someone comes to the rescue and helps the hapless person sort and rehome their treasures and everyone breaths a sigh of relief. Well, Ace Drapers is in this category. As one young local describes it - junkloads of stuff, although to give the gentleman credit he seems to know the exact location of every item of stock. From all accounts he provides the ultimate in customer service too, going above and beyond the call of duty to deliver items to local residents who can no longer make the trek to town. Images of all of these destinations were captured, so keep an eye out as they should appear on HistoryPin some time soon!

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