HISTORY OF THE BALLINA & DISTRICT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The original Ballina Historical Society was a branch of the Richmond River Historical Society. It went into abeyance three decades ago with the passing of Mrs Southwell, who worked out of Ballina Library. After her passing historic records were then retained, catalogued, and stored in the Ballina Library by the Ballina Local History Librarian.
In January 2019, Ballina U3A offered a new course: Introduction to Local Studies; facilitated by Ms Vivienne Sigley. A number of local historians and related practitioners were amongst those who presented guest lectures to participants.
Advertising of the course led to a number of people interested in Ballina history making contact with Ballina U3A, explaining that their interest was not in the course, but in joining a local history group and asking to be kept abreast of developments.
In offering the course, the associated aim, supported by Ballina U3A, had been not only to provide information on objects, places, people and structures in Ballina, but also to establish if there was wider interest in re-establishing the earlier group. In planning the last class of the course (Running a local history group/museum) was scheduled as a general meeting open to the public, in order to test interest in the re-forming of a Ballina local history group.
At this meeting on 10 April, it was voted by the public that a follow up meeting be scheduled to formally establish a local history body. At the following meeting on 15 May, nomenclature, aims, and an Executive Committee were established. This led to the establishment of the Ballina and District Local History Group, which subsequently developed as the Ballina and District Historical Society.
It is important to recognise that support was given or pledged in the initial stages of establishment by other local history groups such as Lennox Head Heritage Group, Alstonville Plateau Historical Society, Ballina School’s Historical Society Inc, and Tweed Heads Historical Society, with advice also from the Royal Australian Historical Society. Ballina U3A, in particular Ms Vivienne Sigley, can claim credit for the beginnings of the establishment for what has now become the Ballina and District Historical Society. In addition, great support was given by Ballina Library, Ballina Shire Council, The Ballina Shire Advocate and Paradise FM.