Inside the building which has been carefully restored by local volunteers, visitors can see an interesting collection of historical artefacts, heritage information and photographs telling the story of the building and its various uses.
The changing station was placed close to the inn (Crown Hotel) for the convenience of passengers. It is believed to be the only known changing station in South Australia which was not attached to a hotel.
The restoration of the building and establishment of the museum has been initiated by the Reynell Business and Tourism Association Inc, formed in 2000. One of their aims has been to preserve and promote Reynella’s heritage.
The first stage of the restoration of the former Reynella Changing Station was officially opened on 16 October 2005. Restoration is now underway on the adjacent building, officially named Alexander Cottage on 25 May 2008 in recognition of the Alexander family who were the last family to live there.
The building now known as the changing station was built in the 1850s by John Reynell, pioneering pastoralist and vigneron who was to give his name to the township of Reynella, later becoming the suburb of Old Reynella. The building was originally used as a farm blacksmith shop, with Jeremiah Cotton as the first recorded blacksmith occupying the shop and a two room stone cottage (now known as Alexander Cottage).
When in 1858 William Rounsevell bought the Royal Mail contract to deliver mail from Adelaide to Willunga, he set up the changing station (where horse teams were changed over during the mail run) at Reynella, sharing premises with the blacksmith shop. Reynella was an ideal location as it was about half way to Willunga and had a permanent water supply.
Robert Eglington, a wheelwright and blacksmith, bought the blacksmith shop and cottage from John Reynell in 1862. The blacksmith shop was a very important part of the local social life as the blacksmith made and repaired farm equipment as well as shoeing horses.
At Reynella the coach company employed an ‘ostler’ whose job it was to ensure that the change-over horse team was harnessed and ready to change prior to the arrival of the coach so as to keep to the strict timetables. The north end of the blacksmith shop is a ‘quarters’ room now known as the ‘ostler’s room’.
The Royal Mail coach would leave Willunga at 6am every day, change horses at Reynella and arrive in Adelaide at 9.45am. The return journey would leave Adelaide at 2.45pm with a four-horse team and drop off mail along the way to the Lady McDonald Temperance Hotel in St Marys. At the hotel an additional horse was added to the team to add more power to get over the hills to Reynella. At Reynella the team was changed again before continuing on to Willunga.
In 1866 the W Rounsevell coachline business was bought out by Cobb & Co. In 1871 there were further changes. John Hill and Co bought the Royal Mail and Coach Line contract and delivered mail from Adelaide to Willunga until 1915.
The blacksmith business ceased in 1875 following the death of Robert Eglington. The property was sold to Maria Davil who kept the changing station running up until 1915 when the railway came to Willunga. The Willunga train took over the Royal Mail contract and offered a passenger service.
The interpretative signage on the site was designed and produced by the City of Onkaparinga.
Car parking and toilet facilities are available in the shopping centre located on the same site as the Reynella Horse Changing Station.