Wollongong asked to take on royal collection

A Wollongong councillor has launched an ambitious bid for the Illawarra to retain what is believed to be the world's largest privately owned collection of British royal memorabilia.

In a notice of motion to the December 10 council meeting, Cr Greg Petty has called for an investigation into options to buy Janet Williams' 10,000-piece memorabilia collection which spans six generations of the Windsor family.

Mrs Williams showcased her extensive set of royal mementoes from her family home in Woonona for more than a decade, welcoming thousands of tourists a year.

A year ago, she and husband Philip decided to close Janet's Royalty Rooms and retire.

The couple has since been slowly packing up their collection and searching for a suitable buyer.

Mrs Williams said that while she had had purchase offers from across the world, she would prefer the collection remained in the Illawarra, and wanted Wollongong City Council to take it on as part of its tourism offering.

She wrote to general manager David Farmer on November 1 giving the council the first right of refusal, but said she had not received a reply.

She then contacted Cr Petty, who said he saw the tourism potential of the collection immediately.

"I believe it's something we should seriously consider buying," he said.

"Maybe we could set it up in Gleniffer Brae and run it as a museum if we're also in a position in the new year to be considering alternative uses for that site."

Mrs Williams told the Mercury she hoped to get about $350,000 for the collection, although she had spent far more buying the individual pieces.

She said Janet's Royalty Rooms had been popular with coach tours and believed it would attract even more patronage if opened in a suitable location that allowed multiple coaches a day.

"I was only allowed one bus a day [to visit] and I was taking bookings up to a year in advance," Mrs Williams said.

"Imagine what the council could do to promote Wollongong with this collection if one woman has managed to bring thousands of tourists to suburban Woonona to see it, with such restrictions and no advertising."

She asked councillors to keep an open mind about her proposition.

Cr Petty's motion calls for an assessment of potential economic benefits of operating such a business, funding or grant options for the council to buy and showcase the collection, and an appropriate space in which to display it.

Janet Williams with her collection of royal memorabilia. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Janet Williams with her collection of royal memorabilia. Picture: ROBERT PEET


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