TYNTYNDER resident Bev Langley has been collecting clothes for most of her life.
After 50 years, she will donate her collection to the Woods Farming and Heritage Museum at Rupanyup.
“There is ladies’, children’s and men’s fashion,” she said.
“There is underwear and wedding gowns from the 1800s.
“There are hats, gloves, handbags, children’s toys, velvet capes, ladies’ fans – literally thousands of items, some small, some big.”
Fifty years ago, Mrs Langley was a founding member of the Lake Goldsmith Steam Society.
“At the rallies we went to, there was nothing for the women,” she said,
“I suggested to the men that we should have an old-world fashion parade.
“They said ‘okay, good, you can run it’.”
She said the society gave her six months to put a collection together, big enough for a fashion parade.
“I wrote to Country Women’s Association craft magazines and country newspapers, appealing for people to donate this type of clothing,” she said.
“It was mind-boggling the things that arrived by mail – a lot with no return address.
“I had no idea of the value of the articles. People didn’t collect clothing the way they do now.”
Mrs Langley said many of her pieces had interesting stories.
“One lot of underwear is a trousseau from a First World War bride whose fiance was killed in the war,” she said.
“When the woman died in the 1970s, the underwear was found in a box under her bed, never used.
“I have a tussah silk ladies’ driving coat and I was told by the donor that it came to Australia with Australia’s first Rolls-Royce.
“The car went to a mining magnate at Broken Hill and his wife wore it when he drove their Rolls-Royce.
“I have a petticoat that has a pocket in it. It came from the days when coaches were often robbed, so ladies would hide their valuables in their petticoats.”
Mrs Langley said she had recorded the stories so they could be displayed with the items in the museum.
She said she wanted the museum to have the collection because she wanted it to be in a safe home.
“I am in my 70s now and I’m starting to suffer from arthritis,” she said.
“I do displays for charities and events and it takes hours and hours to set up. As I get older, I can’t keep doing it.”
Despite being from Swan Hill district, Mrs Langley said Rupanyup was an ‘obvious choice’.
“My father-in-law was born at Rupanyup,” she said. “We have a heritage in the town and we are so impressed with the museum here.
“The people who run it are so honest and have so much integrity. We wanted it to go to a museum that would value and display it with pride.”
She said many other museums did not have the same quality as the one at Rupanyup.
“It’s a world-class museum,” she said.
She said the museum was rapt with the donation.
“They have applied for a $600,000 grant, which they are confident of getting, and they will match it with $30,000 to build a special building for the costumes,” she said.
“It will be temperature controlled, so the collection will be preserved properly.
“They are very forward thinking.”