The Uiver Memorial became most commonly associated with the Blom Family. These dedicated custodians migrated to Australia, to Bonegilla, in 1958 from the Netherlands. A major supporter of the Uiver Memorial, and self-appointed caretaker and spokesperson for the monument was Herman Blom, a colourful local identity.
They became involved through the Rotary Club, initially raising funds through collecting old newspapers and business waste paper for recycling. After a few years and at their own expense they were supported by the local Rotary group to set up their Dutch Stall, a far more effective and efficient fundraising venture. Their stall is a distinctive focus at the markets where Herman and Geesje spent many Sundays at the manning their “Drie in de Pan” stall, selling Dutch delicacies as an Uiver fundraiser.
They became the human face of the Uiver Memorial. Their commitment and dedication were recognised and respected by the community locally and by the Dutch community in the Netherlands. Herman Blom was awarded a knighthood by the Dutch government for his dedication to maintaining the Uiver Memorial and the event that forever connects the Dutch people with the residents of Albury.
The Bloms became disillusioned by the council’s promises to help maintain the Uiver memorial, which were not delivered. To take matters into their own hands, the Bloms along with other local residents set up the Uiver Memorial Foundation, a not-for-profit trust in 1990 and formalised Herman Blom’s dream.
The brightly coloured Dutch pancake stall travelled to many regional markets and larger festivals, and will always be associated with the Uiver and the Bloms. Sadly Geesje passed away in 2010 and Herman followed in 2011.
In 2002, amid concerns that the deteriorating aircraft would pose a safety hazard, the DC-2 was lowered to the ground. The 20 years of exposure to the elements and lack of ongoing maintenance had taken a significant toll, with considerable corrosion of the airframe. The memorial wall was retained and maintained for some years by the Blom Family and supporters of the Uiver Memorial, but eventually the memorial wall itself was dismantled as part of the Albury Airport redevelopment.
The DC-2 aircraft was relocated to the “public parking area” and plans were undertaken by current members of the Rotary Club to again restore the aircraft. Albury City Council were uncertain of it’s future, and made preparations to dispose of the aircraft. A condition report and a Heritage Assessment were done on the aircraft in 2002 . Despite interest in the aircraft by outside parties, a decision was made to keep the aircraft and undertake the necessary restoration processes to return it to its former glory.
The 2002 heritage Assessment by Mark Clayton, a respected and experienced aircraft valuer and historian, recommended to the council at the time, that the DC-2 aircraft should be listed on both local and state heritage registers in recognition of its historical and social significance to the community. These recommendations were never undertaken, and the Uiver Memorial was never formally recognised or heritage listed. It is uncertain whether the eventual plan was to put it back on a pole or to create some other form of permanent display. Albury community response was overwhelming in its support for retaining the Aircraft as part of the city’s history.
In 2004, the “issue of the Uiver” again resurfaced, as restoration processes on the aircraft had not proceeded and it was felt by the council at the time that a decision needed to be made. This decision seems to coincide with the election timing for local council and the Uiver issue has repeatedly been used as a “political white elephant” by various councillors who either support or dismiss its significance as an important cultural heritage item and Albury Icon. Again the council backed down on its decision to sell the aircraft because of public outcry.
In 2006, The Uiver Community Trust was formed with Rotarians, Councillors and other leading members of the community as directors of that trust. The intent was to raise funds independently of the council and to undertake a new approach to the Uiver Memorial and its future status in the community. The trust languished after two years, and yet again, prior to the 2008 Council elections, the aircraft was put up for disposal. There were many bids by outside aviation groups and individuals to take the DC-2 aircraft, as a significant and historic military vehicle that would have been a valuable asset to any aviation collection.
The public response was effective. The Uiver memorial was retained, but no significant advances had been made on its protection, maintenance or long-term storage and display. It still languished on the side of the tarmac, subject to wind, rain, and birds and deteriorating slowly.
There have been numerous individuals and groups who have volunteered their support and collaborated to effectively deal with the “Uiver issue”. A viable proposal to restore the Uiver memorial DC-2 was offered by a local aviation business to restore the DC-2 at its own expensive if council would guarantee the eventual future display of the memorial in a suitable location, accessible to the public. The Albury City Council had already committed considerable funds to the commissioning of a mural to display the Uiver story in its new Airport Terminal.
2009 signified the 75th Anniversary if the Uiver event. Focus returned to the neglected DC-2 and a grand “charity ball” was organised to celebrate the story. Many local dignitaries, international guests, and local community members attended this function, signifying the power of the Uiver story as a community focus, over seven decades on, and its significance to a generation who were not even born at the time of the event. A mural was commissioned and is displayed in the Uiver Cafe at Albury Airport.
The Uiver Collection
By 2011, interest in the Uiver had been renewed on a number of fronts. A collection of Uiver Memorabilia had been donated to the Albury Library Museum and were sensitively put in a modern display that formed part of a the Art Deco Exhibition, that was well received as a highlight of Albury’s cultural status. The Uiver Collection is developing into a significant display of Uiver artefacts, as individual items surface from family collections, long hidden from view.
Disposal of the Uiver
While the Uiver story was being well represented, the key element, the original Uiver Monument was still languishing on the side of the tarmac, neglected and forgotten. There was considerable support for the option of extending the terminal to include the Uiver Memorial in the Passenger waiting area. The cost of this proposal was estimated at $2.5 million dollars. The proposal was tested in the community forum with a public survey, and this received mixed responses. Overall, the community valued the Uiver memorial and the events it represented, but were not prepared to spend the money on the proposal to preserve the DC-2 aircraft, put forward.
As a result of the survey, the council decided to “divest itself” of this liability and after a year long delay put it up for tender in April 2012.