In 2008 the Sailmaker’s Shed – an old, decrepit shack – received a demolition order from the Shire of Broome. The shed had sat on a back lot of Robinson Street for over 100 years, slowly crumbling under the harsh Kimberley sun. White ants had set in, the structural beams were no longer supporting the building and it looked to all the world as if this old shed that had once produced the sails for hundreds of Broome luggers had come to the end of its life.

Fortunately for the shed, immediately adjacent to it was the Broome Historical Museum. Members of the Museum had for years watched the shed deteriorate, writing letters and voicing their concerns to the owners of the building, the Water Corporation and to the Shire of Broome. The responsibility for the upkeep of the shed passed back and forth.

Finally, the Broome Historical Society approached the Water Corporation and requested that the land be leased to them in order for the Society to take on the responsibility of the shed. When an agreement was reached the Broome Historical Society was able to apply for grants to start the process of rebuilding the shed to meet today’s cyclone building codes. With help from the Royalties for Regions, Lotterywest and using their own funds, the Society managed to restore the structure in keeping with its heritage values.

The Sailmaker’s Shed has been honoured for its restoration by receiving a High Commendation at the WA Heritage Awards and an Honourable Mention at the UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. Today the shed is included in the Broome Museum precinct, and the Broome Historical Society plans to incorporate a sail maker’s display into the building in honour of this old pearl of a shed. Visit the Broome Museum to see this beautiful structure - or have a look at the Broome Museum’s website www.broomemuseum.org.au