Heather Bannister with Graham and Isabella McClymont. PHOTO/PAM GRAHAM

97-year-old donates machine

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

A sewing machine purchased for a member of the McClymont family more than 100 years ago has been returned to Masterton and was on Thursday given to the collection of sewing machines overseen by Heather Bannister of Come Sew With Me.

Masterton’s Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont drove to Napier to get the Singer 66 machine from his Aunt Isabel and she included a note for Bannister about what she knows of the machine’s history.

McClymont and his daughter Isabella handed the machine over to Bannister on Thursday.

Bannister certainly knows the model well and said she’ll have it looking good and working well within a day.

She showed us one of the same model with the markings on it all cleaned up and looking good. The machine will work well for another 100 years.

It’s operated by a treadle and some people later connected power to them. The machine is lifted into place from the oak cabinet by hand.

The cabinet drawers still have original sewing materials in them and packages they came in.

It’s the sort of sewing machine most households had, though Bannister now comes across people who are the third generation of non-sewers who don’t know what a sewing machine looks like.

She’s hoping more of them will pop in during the school holidays to see her collection of sewing machines in the cottage at the entrance of Queen Elizabeth Park.

McClymont said the story of their machine started with Charlie and George McClymont, two immigrants from Scotland who married Katie and Amy, two Shaw family girls from Masterton.

Amy is Graham McClymont’s grandmother. Katie and Amy’s father Bill Shaw bought two sewing machines, one for each daughter.

His wife Emma was the daughter of Michael Dixon who arrived in 1854 in the first party of Europeans to settle in Masterton.

The machines were purchased from Wairarapa Farmers’ Co-operative Association and McClymont found an advertisement in the Wairarapa Daily Times in 1917 for sewing machines likely seen before the purchase.

“If you feel the want of a good sewing machine in your home – don’t delay the purchase – but come along to the W.F.C.A. and see the very fine machines we are offering, also the fine values,” the advertisement said.

The sewing machine went with Amy to the rehabilitation farm at Hastwell just north of Mauriceville where McClymont’s father was born and raised.

Once Amy died, grandfather George kept the machine, moving it with the family to Hawera, Whanganui, Whakatane, Auckland then back to Napier in the 60s when he moved in with his daughter, McClymont’s Aunt Isabel, who is still living in the same house at 97 years of age.

She contacted Bannister, wanting to donate it to Come Sew with Me and McClymont went for a visit and brought it home to Masterton.

Charlie McClymont was on the 1927 Jubilee borough council and McClymont remembers visiting him in the 1960s at the Queen St house he and Katie lived in, where Masterton surveyors Adamson Shaw are now.