A box of flicks…

Chris Beal and Richard Cato with the restored toolbox.

A 120-year-old toolbox has disclosed a hidden treasure of old picture posters at the Te Awamutu Menzshed.

While restoring the toolbox, Richard Cato discovered a montage of old picture posters inside the lid, under the cardboard lining.

They were from the Empire and Regent Theatres in Te Awamutu. By searching Papers Past, Richard established the posters are from 1937 to 1940.

Chris Beal, from Wharepapa, had this old box in the back of his hayshed for years. After seeing what Menzshed were doing, he decided to see whether they could restore its original or near-to-original condition.

The box came from England with Chris’s great-grandfather, James Jemmett, in 1908 on the Union Steamship Manuka. James Jemmett purchased a small block of land at Pukeatua and became the postmaster in the village.

Chris’ great-grandfather’s name and date are written on the underside of one of the internal drawers. The posters and cardboard were placed there by Chris’s grandparents. Listed on the cardboard are the contents and value as of 1949.

The posters feature films shown at the two Te Awamutu theatres, including “Shall We Dance”, featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The film was made in May 1937 and first shown in the Regent, Te Awamutu, in September 1938.

In those days, the Regent and Empire showed pictures every night. Admission then was 1/- and 1/6d—10 and 15 cents in today’s money.

The treasured old posters

The skills of the men were put to good use in restoring the toolbox. The metalwork was removed and sandblasted. After cleaning the box inside and out, the damaged pieces were repaired by the men. They wanted to retain the vintage character of the box, so minimal sanding was carried out. Owner Chris remembers the box being dark grass green. Matching paint brought the old box back to life.

The men enjoy restoring old furniture and machines, especially as many have tales to tell. The results are very rewarding.

The Te Awamutu Menzshed was established in 2016 and has been a place for men to enjoy each other’s company and have a natter over a cuppa. Men come from all walks of life with all different skills which are always put to good use.

For more details go to teawamutu.co.nz

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