The Sydney Northern Beaches Woodturners have found a new home following a search that has lasted more than a decade.

The former Girl Guide Hall at Forestville has been turned from an empty under-utilised public building into a community woodworking workshop, complete with a state of the art dust extraction system.

Formed in 1993, the Sydney Northern Beaches Woodturners has brought together a diverse group of men and women who enjoy working with wood, and the opportunity to teach others the craft of working with wood, chisel and lathe.

Until recently, the Woodturners had operated out of premises where they were reliant on the goodwill of others for space for their equipment, most recently Narrabeen RSL.

Tim MacGregor

Tim MacGregor

Vice President Tim MacGregor thanked the Northern Beaches Council for finding them a suitable building, and council staff in particular for their assistance. Work on renovating the building was shared between council trades staff and the Woodturners, who as capable craftspeople did much of the interior work themselves.

“On the night of 23 June last year, this building was tired, it was cold, it was lonely, it was empty and it was in need of much love and care. Just look at it today. What a difference.

“This new facility will not only provide for the future expansion of the Sydney Northern Beaches Woodturners but also provide for the sharing of common facilities with likeminded community groups,” said Mr MacGregor.

Michael Regan

Michael Regan

Opening the new facility last Thursday afternoon (25 March), Mayor Michael Regan paid particular tribute to Councillor Roslyn Harrison and recognised the appreciation shown by the Woodturners to council staff.

“When this location came up, Roslyn Harrison came to the table and said ‘Councillors, this is a no brainer’ and here we are. It’s nice to be thanked, particularly to recognise the contribution of our staff. We have some great staff.

“The special thing about the Woodturners is you are a not-for-profit organisation that helps other not-for-profit organisations. Congratulations everybody,” said Mayor Regan as he performed the official opening.

Jack Butler

Jack Butler

Club President Jack Butler said the Woodturners finally had certainty, as the primary leaseholder on the hall. He said a minimum five year tenure allowed the club to occupy the space and create a community asset.

“We started at members houses in 1993. Then we went to Northbridge Marina, then Collaroy Scout Hall, then we were at Narrabeen RSL in a double garage under the building which was prone to water getting in during rain.

“We chased around over the years until we found this. The club has a 5×5 lease. This is now our home. We’ve been working on this place since October. One of our members is a carpenter, he worked here virtually full-time. One of our members is a just retired electrician, he did all the wiring, the lighting and the dust extraction system.

“We are open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, with a class Wednesday nights. We can load up the other days if we get more members. We limit our Wednesday class to between 4-6 people so they get individual tuition. People can come along and have a look, they don’t need to know anything but they need to join the club for insurance reasons before we let them on the tools. Then they get the whole use of the workshop,” said Mr Butler.

Penny Philpott

Penny Philpott

Councillor Penny Philpott attended the opening of the new workshop and said it was a valuable community asset that allowed the Woodturners to share their craft with others in a social environment.

“It’s wonderful to finally see them in this space. It’s an opportunity for them to share their passion and knowledge with other members of the community, particularly younger people,” said Cr Philpott.

People interested in joining the Sydney Northern Beaches Woodturners can visit the club at the end of Forestville Avenue, Forestville on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 9.00am – 12.00pm or contact club President, Jack Butler.

Images: Michael Mannington, Northern Beaches Advocate
Video: Northern Beaches Advocate