Friday 14 February 2020
News and Events
Building a life: The Jennings Germans story.
Building a life: The Jennings Germans story
- The Canberra Museum is holding an exhibition on the history of the Jennings Germans.
- It explores the lives and legacy of the 150 German carpenters who came to Canberra in the early 1950s.
- They were contracted by AVJennings to build 1,850 homes in 2 years.
- AVJennings placed ads in German newspapers asking for skilled tradespeople to come to Australia on two-year visas.
- The Australian Government supported this due to the labour shortage.
- Out of the 2,500 people that responded to the ad, 150 were chosen.
- The pay offered was about double of what they could earn in Germany.
- Initially, there was some anti-German prejudice to overcome so AVJennings staff member Frank Woodcock was given the job of ensuring the Germans were made to feel welcome.
- There were other barriers they had to contend with too, like unfamiliar work practices, conditions and materials. Some found it too difficult and left, but most hung in.
- The Jennings Germans assimilated so well that they were offered permanent residency. They began to build not only houses, but also a life for themselves.
- There are 8 surviving members of the original Jennings Germans. 7 of them still live in Canberra.
- In 2016, the Jennings Germans were officially recognised by the ACT Government for their contribution to Canberra.
- The Museum has secured some wonderful objects for the exhibition, including original tools, diaries, paintings, and musical instruments.
- There will also be a selection of fantastic photos and video footage.
- AVJennings has worked with the Canberra Gallery & Museum for over 12 months contributing funds, knowledge and interviews with the Jennings Germans.
AVJennings is a proud partner of the exhibition 'Building a Life: The Jennings Germans Story' which will run at the Canberra Museum and Gallery from 15 February to 18 July.It explores the lives and legacy of the 150 German carpenters and their families who came to Canberra in the early 1950s and were contracted by AVJennings to build 1,850 homes in just two years.
Entry is free. Click here to learn more.