The old Sutherland Saddlery building, which was built more than 90 years ago as the shire's first ambulance station, is to have a new lease of life.
A development application (DA) has been lodged on behalf of Olsens Funerals to change the use of the heritage listed building in Old Princes Highway to a florist.
The proposed $71,500 makeover will provide a shopfront and display area on the ground floor and administration area and staff facilities on the first floor.
Proposed works include removing the non-original timber floor within the ground floor workshop and repairing, repainting and renovating the windows on the ground and first floors, including the restoration of doors along the street frontage elevation.
Non-original cladding will be removed, the bifold doors repainted in the original red colour and roof tiles repaired.
The building opened in 1929 as an ambulance station, and a plaque marking the event remains on the front of the building.
The ambulance station was relocated to Sutherland Hospital after it opened in 1958 and the building was used for other purposes until 1966 when saddle maker Don Stuart and his family moved in, running the business downstairs and living above.
Don learnt his trade during the Depression and had been operating from his Auburn Street home around the corner, catering for businesses that still used horse and cart and pony clubs.
Don's sons Graeme and Rob joined their father when they left school. The business was named Don Stuart & Sons The Sutherland Saddlery
Don retired in 1992 at 76 and continued to live upstairs while his sons ran the saddlery.
In an oral history recorded by Sutherland Shire Libraries, Don said there were were other saddleries in the city and out west, but no others locally.
Dressage and pony clubs and orders from the country and interstate kept them busy.
However, their business was severely impacted when saddles started to be imported.
Don said the industry went from 90 per cent locally manufactured to 90 per cent imported in eight or nine years.
He said materials used in making a saddle cost $600, but an imported saddle could be bought for $100.
Business dried up and tanneries also closed.
Rob had always painted, so for several years he supplemented the saddlery business with sales of art, and divided the business area into two to cater for the two operations.
In 2000, Don and Graeme closed Sutherland Saddlery, and Rob reopened as Sutherland Art Gallery.
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