Roebuck rocking horse restored for Manning Valley Prostate Cancer Support Group fundraiser

Allan Poulton, Kim Fetherston, Geoff Ayling and Peter Kinsella are part of the team of Manning-Great Lakes Woodworkers who contributed to the restoration of 'Horsey'. Photo: Scott Calvin.
Allan Poulton, Kim Fetherston, Geoff Ayling and Peter Kinsella are part of the team of Manning-Great Lakes Woodworkers who contributed to the restoration of 'Horsey'. Photo: Scott Calvin.

A “highly collectable and keenly sought after treasure” is the focus of a fundraising campaign for Manning Valley Prostate Cancer Support Group.

The circa 1966 Roebuck rocking horse is valued at more than $3000 after the completion of restoration works by Newcastle-based Roebuck restorer, John Edwards and members of Manning-Great Lakes Woodworkers Club.

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It is beautiful and the makeover adds a new chapter to the life story of ‘Horsey’, as it was called by the children and grandchildren of Dorothy Green of Upper Lansdowne.

Mrs Green donated ‘Horsey’ to the club to enable its restoration and use to raise funds for a local charity group.

“It had been very much loved and very ill-treated until the woodworkers got hold of it,” Mrs Green laughed.

It was gifted to me in 1967 and my five children and eight grandchildren have all used it, they loved it and called it Horsey.

Dorothy Green

“I decided to donate it because none of my children or grandchildren wanted it as children now only seem interested in electronic things, but I didn’t want it to go to waste.

“I hope it goes to a lovely home.”

Allan Poulton took possession of ‘Horsey’ and says, “it had definitely seen better days.”

“It was sort of reddish brown in colour, the stirrup wasn’t there, the mane wasn’t there, the seating wasn’t there. It had definitely seen better days, but it’s now restored to its original condition and it’s beautiful,” Mr Poulton said.

He says he did not realise its value until after the rocking horse arrived at the club in River Street, Taree.

Allan Poulton says the Roebuck rocking horse will be on display at the Manning-Great Lakes Woodworkers gallery at 100 River Street, Taree, which is next to Martin Bridge. It is open on Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

Allan Poulton says the Roebuck rocking horse will be on display at the Manning-Great Lakes Woodworkers gallery at 100 River Street, Taree, which is next to Martin Bridge. It is open on Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

“No-one at that stage knew of its value, but a sharp eye at the woodwork club recognised it as a Roebuck – a highly collectible and keenly sought after treasure.”

Mr Poulton says the club contacted Newcastle-based Roebuck rocking horse expert, John Edwards and after a visit to Taree, Mr Edwards confirmed the authenticity of ‘Horsey’ as a Roebuck.

Club members then worked to strip the horse back to bare wood, completed required repairs, and then transported it to Mr Edwards to complete its restoration and painting by artist, Marianne McKinnon-Kidd.

Mr Poulton said the “Roebuck name is one steeped in rocking horse history.”

It was one of the oldest and longest running family rocking horse businesses in the Commonwealth, spanning 140 years, three countries and four generations.

Allan Poulton

“Around 1830 John Roebuck started his career of making rocking horses in London and in 1865 migrated to New Zealand. Some years later he moved to Melbourne and then to Sydney, where he made horses from a shed at his home in Newtown.

“Around 1900 he moved to Leichardt, buying a house and factory. The Roebuck family also built and operated carousels around Australia.

“During World War II the factory made many wooden articles for the war effort and after the war expanded rocking horse production, peaking at 30 staff and 2800 horses a year. The factory closed in 1972 under pressure from plastic copies.”

Mr Poulton said rocking horse is the prize in a raffle that will be drawn on December 22, and all proceeds of ticket sales will go to Manning Valley Prostate Cancer Support Group.

Tickets will be sold at the Manning-Great Lakes Woodworkers gallery in River Street, Taree, at the Manning Hospital Pink Ladies Kiosk and at Bunnings on October 20 as part of the club’s fundraising barbecue. Mr Poulton said the club would be working to source additional locations for ticket sales.