Oxford Tavern gallery rekindles memories

Its days may be numbered but it is a case of "gone but not forgotten" for the Oxford Tavern, with a gallery exhibit set to rekindle memories of the iconic pub.

"The Ox" has long since closed, gathering dust ahead of its planned demolition to make way for the towering Oxford On Crown development. 

Local music scene devotee Warren Wheeler is hoping the looming knockdown will encourage people to look back at the history of the venue, as he organises an exhibition documenting the history of the Wollongong music scene.

Academic focuses on Oxford Tavern's history

"The Oxford was definitely a crucial element to developing a lot of local talent," Mr Wheeler said.

"Anything like that disappearing is sad. Just recently, I've been in the building. Inside, it's amazing and I'll be sad to see it go."

Mr Wheeler runs the Steel City Sound blog, an archive of the Wollongong music scene. After organising the Unscene festival, a two-week series of music history and nostalgia events in 2012, he was approached by Wollongong City Gallery to curate a similar exhibit within the gallery walls.

"It will be an exploration and celebration of the last 50 years of Wollongong local music," he said.

"It's about the recent history of the various music scenes over the years."

To run from December 2014 to February 2015, the event will include photos, video, posters, tapes, CDs and other memorabilia from the region's musical history, with a replica Oxford Tavern to be built inside the gallery.

"It will be recreated within one of the rooms. We'll screen video footage on the walls, it will be just like the pub - only without alcohol," Mr Wheeler laughed.

"Oxford regulars might remember Terry, who would film bands and give them a copy of the video. He passed away, so we're looking for those films to have a tribute to him and his work."

And while the final days of the Oxford are fast approaching, Mr Wheeler said the local music scene was as strong as ever.

He said the closure was a blessing in disguise as people were now going out and creating new venues and scenes.

Anyone with photos, videos or other paraphernalia related to the Illawarra music scene can email steelcitysound@gmail.com or call the gallery on 4227 8500.

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