John Atkinson remembers a time when Armadale’s Pioneer Village was a bustling precinct, filled with plenty to do for people all over Perth and beyond.
The Mount Nasura resident was the first to move into the village in December 1979 and helped make many of the metal items that are still there today.
Mr Atkinson said he wasn’t doing much at the time and thought it would be nice to work in his trade again in what was a unique venture in Armadale.
“We had meetings at Pioneer Village at the pub upstairs and George Doukidis had seen the village at Sovereign Hill in Victoria and he thought he would build one here in Armadale,” he said.
“It took a while to get the thing off the ground.
“We used to have meetings and artistic designer and executive director Guy Baskin was sourcing interesting people or people that he thought would be good to go into this place.”
The village officially opened to the public in 1980, some 40 years ago this year.
Mr Atkinson remembers working alongside other store owners who ran similar colonial-style businesses, including his wife Gwen who ran a brass and copper shop.
He remembers spending plenty of time at the Teetotallers Hall and The Travellers Arms pub and also recalls entertaining busloads of tourists and students as they explored the replica early settler’s village.
“We used to have children from various schools come and they had to act like they were in the 1890s,” he said.
“They had to get their water, they had to light their own fire and learn how to cook and I used to go and play the banjo for them.
“It was fun times but it was seven days a week and I used to be there early as I had stuff to make.
“If I needed to use my electric welder I would use it in the morning before people came in because otherwise it was out of sight.”
Mr Atkinson ran his blacksmith store for six years before switching his focus back to his music career.
He said it is a shame that the village is now mostly empty and believes the village wouldn’t have failed if it had stayed under the ownership of George Doukidis, as everyone was behind the idea.
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