THE recently opened Ronaldson-Tippett Heritage Museum, in Ballan, was made possible through the donation of around 40 engines by Philip and Wendy Knight.
A keen collector for many years Mr Knight donated the engines because he wanted to see a permanent place that would celebrate our industrial heritage, which he fears is going to disappear.
“We have buildings that we don’t knock down because they are architecturally unique but we don’t keep machinery, it all goes to God, and I want to stop that, I want to save that so that people in the future can see what Australia and Ballarat was capable of doing,” he said.
“My interest began when I was 15, an uncle of mine lived in South West Victoria, in a predominantly dairying area, and we would go and stay with them and we would hear the RonaldsonTippett engines driving the milking plants.
“Every farm had one because power wasn’t widely used then and the noise the engines made just got to me and stuck with me ever since, it was just fantastic.” The first item in his collection was a RonaldsonTippett type N 3hp, at the age of 16.
“I am sad to part with them but creating a museum where the general public can see them means more to me,” Mr Knight said.
“I regard it as a gift to the people of Victoria so that they can see what we used to be able to do in this country before it became coal and iron ore and insurance companies.” Mr Knight said he has kept his favourite piece but from the donated items the favourite was a RonaldsonTippett 8hp CF diesel engine.
“I got it in the early 70s, when it was brand new, still in the box and had been in the box since 1945,” he said.
“This was purely a collection but in my employment I worked for a company that manufactured generators and I would often find generators in my travels that were going in the bin and I would bring them home and work magic on them and make them go.
“One of the machines that has gone to Ballan now was actually set up in my shed so that we could go and press a button and it would supply the house and shed with electricity.
“Being out in the country the power does fail about once a month and my wife could go and press a button and have electricity to run the iron and the stove.” The Museum is located at the Ballan Racecourse and is under the care of the Ballan District Vintage Machinery and Vehicle Club.