Alba Brockie, Tennant & District Times
Perhaps you have wandered past the old cream coloured building between the Uniting Church and the Butcher and wondered “what goes on in there?”, “what is the story behind this old place?”
The current Aladdin’s Cave that is the Uniting Church Op-Shop is located in Tennant Creek’s oldest still used building, the Australian Inland Mission Welfare Hut.
Established in 1935 a welfare club was the brainchild of Reverend Kingsley F ‘Skipper’ Partridge and John Flynn. Today’s op-shop is in keeping with the original building – everything has been donated.
The land by R Schmidt, the finance for the prefabricated Sidney William’s Comet steel-framed building by the Sydney branch of the Inland Mission and other donors, electric light supplied from the Ice Works next door and Ron Hughes-Jones, who had the water truck, donated 1,000 gallons of drinking water.
“Completed to original specifications” by 14 January 1936 the Welfare Club was furnished with a small billiard table, library, reading and writing room, facilities for men to shower and a hall to hold about 50 people.
Almost immediately the building hosted a sub-branch of RSSILA (later Returned Soldiers League RSL) and those seeking attractions other than “the hotel and gambling schools”.
The billiard table is long gone but the building that housed Tennant’s first Library more than 80 years ago still houses a diverse collection of books to tempt even the choosiest readers.
In another link to the past on the next two Saturday mornings you can purchase tickets in the Tennant Creek Children’s Christmas Tree raffle. Back in 1935 the Sydney Office of the Australian Inland Mission adopted the 35 girls and 30 boys then residing in Tennant Creek and provided the Welfare Club with Christmas gifts for the children.
So if you are: seeking attractions other than “the hotel and gambling schools”; packing up to leave town; hosting a theme party; decluttering over the Christmas holidays; or just need a shirt on your back/Christmas -cards, -socks, -undies/a pair of shoes/some winter woollies for your trip South, why not drop into the Uniting Church Op-Shop/Australian Inland Mission Welfare Hut and explore Aladdin’s Cave?
There is a treasure for everyone, most priced at the princely sum of $1. You can part with that paltry sum knowing that your contribution won’t leave your community and that you are contributing to maintaining a revered historic building.
The Op-Shop is open on Thursday and Saturday mornings. Donations can also be left at the side door on Sunday mornings or in the green bin out the front anytime.
Volunteers are always very welcome. For more information you can call Meg on 0475 614 367 or Alba on 0411 501 973.
The Uniting Church Op Shop would like to take this opportunity to thank all their volunteers, contributors and generous supporters, and wish you all a safe, happy, loving festive season.
NOTE: Thanks to the fortennantcreekers.com website for some of the historical facts used in this article.
This article appeared in Tennant & District Times, 3 December 2021.