Warrnambool’s famous Silver Ball above the former Fletcher Jones clothing factory is to get a new lease of life with the help of a $70,000 state government heritage grant.
The grant will be used to repair and repaint the Silver Ball in its present colours of silver with “international orange” legs.
Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney, announced the grant on Saturday.
She said the owner of the former Fletcher Jones factory, Dean Montgomery, had said the strong community push to save the factory’s gardens and building had made him aware of the site’s and the Silver Ball’s iconic nature.
The grant application said the Silver Ball tied the site’s past to the present and hopefully also to its future.
Ms Tierney said she had many happy memories of running around the Fletcher Jones gardens as a child when her extended family gathered there.
“It’s fantastic that people want to save it,” she said. “We’re taking action to ensure the future of this iconic Warrnambool attraction.
“Our heritage means so much to so many locals – it’s a reminder of our significant history. This work will protect this site from further deterioration for many years to come.”
She hoped Mr Montgomery’s plans to develop the site into a motor museum meant that many other children would also get the opportunity to enjoy the Fletcher Jones gardens as well as the planned museum.
Tonia Wilcox from the Facebook group said the group’s establishment in 2014 had opened up a massive outpouring of community support for the site with people telling their stories of their connection to the site.
Warrnambool Motor Museum site manager Troy Kelly said the task of upgrading the factory and keeping its original form had been mammoth.
Mr Kelly said more work on replacing a large section of the factory’s roof would begin on Monday.
It's fantastic that people want to save it (the Fletcher Jones factory and gardens).Gayle Tierney
He said ongoing restoration challenges kept pushing back the target for the motor museum’s opening.
However, it was hoped to open the museum this year. The museum is expected to have about 200 exhibits from historic vehicles to Formula One race cars. It will also have interactive slot cars and remote controlled cars.