PAULINE Stait was overcome with emotion when she saw for the first time her ancestor’s piano which made the 24,000km to Australia in the First Fleet, arriving in 1788.
Ms Stait and her brother Kenneth Worgan were invited by ECU and WAAPA to view the 230 year old piano that belonged to surgeon George Worgan.
Worgan sold the piano to Elizabeth McArthur in the 1790s, but it was lost and eventually discovered in a laundry room about 50km outside of Sydney before being donated to ECU by a collector two years ago.
Ms Stait had just spent three months in England where she visited Worgan’s grave and home.
“I was laying in bed catching up on photos and wondered where he was buried and it came up that he was 13 minutes away from where we were staying,” she said.
“We went to the house and knocked on the door and (the occupants) welcomed us in when we told them who we were.
“He even gave me the original front door key.”
Ms Stait choked up when she described what it was like to see the First Fleet piano for the first time.
“It’s pretty emotional, I’ve had my moments,” she said.
“It’s very much a piece of history.”
She said she hoped to hear the piano be played after its restoration.
“We don’t play the piano, but we might learn,” she said.
A fundraiser has been launched to help pay the $150,000 restoration costs, which will see the piano sent back to England.
To donate, go to www.foundingpianos.com.au
The First Fleet piano, and others from the 18th and 19th century, will be available to view as part of the installation titled “Founding Pianos- where the past meets the future” at the State Buildings corner St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street from September 16-21.