Plans to restore special building will go on

VIGILANT: The owners of this Rutherglen building will keep working towards restoring it despite losing plans in a fire (inset). Picture: KYLE ESLER
VIGILANT: The owners of this Rutherglen building will keep working towards restoring it despite losing plans in a fire (inset). Picture: KYLE ESLER

A Rutherglen man restoring a heritage-listed building, one of only two like it left in Australia, will continue with his project despite losing plans in a fire.

Jim Kelty has been living on a cabin adjacent to the old Vidal Cellars building as he works on restoring it.

Mr Kelty has owned what’s left of the old distillery for the past four years and provides it to wedding parties looking to take photographs most weekends.

“It’s from 1896 and part of the history of Rutherglen; quite a few people have worked here over a period of time,” he said.

“It was originally providing Brandy and then they were producing wine.

“Then it went through the depression and both world wars, at one stage they were making bicycle saddles.

“(Heritage architect) Deborah Kemp chased up quite a bit of information about it and even though it’s only a building as such, it’s only one of two left in Australia with an exceptionally wide brick cavity.”

Mr Kelty and his son have been working tirelessly on their plans over the last five years.

“With a bit of luck, it will turn out pretty good and I want to turn the area and gardens into a setting people can utilise,” he said.

Mr Kelty lost key documents and all of his  belongings in a fire on Monday night.

He was heating up oil on the stove for cooking, went outside to put his chooks away and turned around to see flames.

District 24 operations officer Adrian Gutsche said brigades arrived at the Barkly Street address just after 8.30pm.

“The crews had it under control within 20 minutes and stayed on scene extinguishing it for another hour and a half,” he said.

“There were gas cylinders leaking; they were removed from the immediate area … the cylinders ran out of gas.

“The incident controller organised for rehabilitation for the breathing apparatus operators. “The cabin was gutted.”

Mr Kelty will be organising new identification and getting his life back in order, but is determined to stay focused on his goals.

“It’s inconvenient, it’s going to cost a few bob … I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”