In the beginning
The Kingston Men’s Shed is an early member of the Australian Men’s Shed Association. We are a partner with the Kingston Community Garden which are both located at Gormley Drive off Summerleas Road. Together the Shed and the Garden form the Kingborough Community Garden and Men’s Shed Association Incorporated.
The story of the Kingston Men’s Shed began on 31st August, 2006 with a public meeting held at the Kingston Community Health Centre. The meeting was attended by a mixed group of representatives of local community organisations and individuals keen to contribute to this new initiative.
Most of the first twelve months were devoted to forming committees, doing research, lobbying Kingborough Council for the provision of a site, raising funds and promoting the donation of tools and materials. Thanks to the generosity of local developer Robert Rockefeller we also recycled approximately $30,000 of building materials from the old Roberts site when it was demolished to make way for the new Coles car park.
At the time Kingborough was experiencing rapid change and the Council was understandably reluctant to make a commitment to suitable site that might compromise future development. However, in late 2007 we were offered a temporary site belonging to the Education Department that was administered by a group known as “The Channel Cluster” This is made up by the six local primary schools (Kingston, Illawarra, Blackmans Bay, Margate, Snug and Woodbridge) and Kingston High School.
In return for the use of the site we agreed to set up a mentoring program for students from those schools.
The site comprised an old weatherboard house, where the local Education Department Speech Therapists were based. This provided access to some storage space, a meeting room, toilet and small kitchen. At the rear of the house was an overgrown garden and a rather dilapidated small garden shed. Our immediate neighbour was a toddlers’ day care centre. The shed was soon sandwiched between two containers donated by the Antarctic Division. One was for storage and the other fitted out as a small but quite well equipped workshop.
So we began: with the help of small groups of wildly enthusiastic young people the gardeners set about creating a very productive garden where before there had only been sand and weeds.
At the same time the Shedders introduced both primary and secondary students to the delights of bicycle maintenance, making wooden toys and puzzles and basic electronics.
Good fun though all this was, and productive in raising our profile in the community and with the Council, it was a long way from being a Men’s Shed and Community Garden.
After two years there a permanent Council site of approximately two acres became available at Gormley Drive. There was also the very real bonus of the Council arranging with the previous residents, Riding for the Disabled, to leave behind most of their infrastructure. this includes a small meeting room and kitchen, a toilet block with disabled access and a small colorbond shed that had served as a tack room. The transfer of the two containers from the old site provided invaluable storage for both Shed and Garden.
The fit-out of the small shed was soon completed and the Shed schools program recommenced. In addition, a lot of time and effort was directed at raising funds for the construction of sizeable Shed and the development of the Garden.
Since that time much of the work completed by the Shedders has been focussed on the Garden. There has been construction of over fifty raised garden beds, compost bins, a pergola, fencing and the creation of a garden for those confined to wheelchairs.
This commitment to the partnership is ongoing with the erection of a sheltered space for barbeques and the levelling and clearance of a storage site at the bottom of the block the next jobs on the list.
Towards the end of 2010 our efforts at fund raising were finally successful when we were given a grant of approximately $45,000 by the Tasmanian Development Fund for the construction and fit out of a 10M x 8M colorbond shed.
This was a big step forward but all did not go exactly according to plan. Inexperience in these matters had caused us to underestimate just how much the fit out would cost. As always the devil is in the detail. Progress was slower than planned as additional funds were raised to cover the extras we needed. However, to our great advantage this phase coincided with the move of the High School to its new site. The Principal and Staff, on the basis of our success with the mentoring program, very generously donated to the Shed equipment and furniture that the school no longer required. This provided a very sound foundation for the future of the Shed.
Once opened the new Shed developed rapidly, underlining the need for such a place in the community. In six months the membership more than trebled and now stands at 25 regular attendees who all take an active part in what the Shed has to offer. Others support the work of the Shed in cash or kind but don’t participate in any of the activities.
As part of the new development and the increasing complexity of what is happening in each area, the Shed and the Garden have become separate autonomous units, each responsible for its own administration and finance, but remaining as members of the Association for matters such as public liability insurance and reclaiming GST.
The Shed is organised by a committee of eight , but all members have an equal say in matters of importance.
At the moment the Shed is open Monday to Thursday mornings 9.00 to 12.30.