Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Holden Heritage Tour

By Deidre Ellis 
Some of the original Holden business premises in Adelaide
I wanted to learn more about the Holden Heritage as my Dad was employed at Holden for almost 40 years. We arrived early for the bus tour and just as well, there must have been around 45 people on the bus and know there were some disappointed people who did not book early enough. This tour was a mixture of bus ride and short walks. We began in Adelaide at the beginning of the Rundle Mall on King William Street where Mr Holden had two places where he conducted his saddler business. We took a short walk up the Mall to Gawler Place where he had another two places of business. He seemed to only stay in one place for a few years and then moved to a slightly larger premises. We then walked along Gawler Place to Grenfell Street and again another place where he had conducted his saddler business. Back on the bus along Pulteney Street to the area where he built his first factory of 4 levels where he became a carriage builder. Unfortunately none of these buildings has survived, but surprisingly many of the buildings that have taken their place contain design elements of the former buildings. Mr Holden had various partners and often went back to working on his own, e.g. Holden & Birks, Holden & Frost. We then were taken past some of the Holden family residences (mansions) around the eastern suburbs as well as the Payneham Cemetery where we visited a substantial Holden grave.

Holden grave, City factory site, Holden mansion & Elizabeth site
Our tour guides were Don Loffler who has written a number of books on the Holden car and Stewart Underwood who is also a Holden historian. These two gentlemen were very approachable and plied us with much Holden trivia and some amusing tales. A short stop on the Port Road gave us time to leave the bus and purchase lunch or enjoy our packed lunch. We chose the latter. Our bus drove through the location of the Woodville Plant where only two of the original buildings remain, and then on to Birkenhead where unfortunately the heritage listed Holden factory has also been demolished, but again our guides regaled us with stories.
Our final part of the tour was to Elizabeth where a security guard boarded the bus and pointed out parts of the factory and again more stories including the story of the two storey administration block. It was amazing that they could help us to imagine places which are long gone and to make them seem so real. I would recommend this trip which is held annually, to everyone, car enthusiasts, those interested in Holden family history, and anyone who would just like a reasonably priced bus tour. The Holden family and the Holden car have given so much pleasure to the people of South Australia that we all should learn more about them.

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