Sherwood Park homestead seats restored to original glory

STUNNING: Peter Hulin has spent the past few years restoring two chairs from the Sherwood Park homestead, where Deakin University now is. He has sourced materials from all over the world. Picture: Amy Paton

STUNNING: Peter Hulin has spent the past few years restoring two chairs from the Sherwood Park homestead, where Deakin University now is. He has sourced materials from all over the world. Picture: Amy Paton

WARRNAMBOOL’S Peter Hulin had to source materials from across the world to finish his latest historic project.

The upholsterer has just completed the restoration of two chairs, which have a long connection to the city.

The prayer chair and ladies chair are from the original Sherwood Park homestead, which was built on the land where Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus currently is.

The sandstone homestead, constructed in the mid 1870s, included 14 rooms, with stables, a sandstone water tank stand and extensive gardens.

Mr Hulin said he had done “quite a bit of work” for the original property owners descendants, who now resided in Melbourne.

“I know that these chairs were from 1880, because in the past others chairs, which were similar, had it stamped on the actual frame, so I can date them accurately to 1880,” he said.

Mr Hulin said it was the first time the chairs had been restored in their 137 year lifetime.

“It’s quite unusual to get chairs that are that old that have never been covered,” he said.

“The challenge was to get all of the old materials, cords and gimps. It is near impossible to find them in Australia.”

The chairs have been restored in the “old-fashioned way” with horse hair filling, Mr Hulin said.

“The stitching that has been used internally you would never use in normal restoration now,” he said.

“Once every five years or so I get a piece that is quite special like this.”

Mr Hulin worked on the pieces over a few years.

“I restored the frames first and then I re-polished them,” he said.

“It took me a number of years to track down the exact cords, gimps and fringes to do the job. I wasn’t frantically looking, but places I have used in the past had gone out of business. I found a company in Sydney who was able to access the materials from Europe.

“The velvet is from Belgium. The fabrics used to be quite common, but they aren’t anymore. Really, there is only one importer that has that type of thing.”

He said the owners were not in a hurry for the restoration work to be completed.

“They just wanted it done properly,” he said.

“You set yourself a standard to do the job. You can always find faults, but I’m really happy with the end result. It’s as good as I think you could do it.”

Mr Hulin said the chairs celebrated Warrnambool history.

“Internally on the frame I have written the history as far as I know it, so in another 100 years, somebody can open it up and say they were from Sherwood Park,” he said. 

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