Replica flax hammocks

This project was to manufacture 106 6ft x 3ft replica flax hammocks to be used on public display at Hyde Park Barracks Museum to represent those present inside the convict period dormitories during the period from 1819 to 1848.

The purpose of this project was to replace the original hammocks to assist in the interpretation and visitor understanding of convict life in Sydney during the 1800’s.

Our client wanted to enhance visitor participation with their ‘Sleepover’ program by providing an interactive and sensory teaching aid for public programs and educational groups where visitors spend a night at Hyde Park Barracks sleeping in the hammocks.

As most of the materials and processes used to manufacture the original hammocks have been replaced with modern technology and methods, these replica hammocks were a special project for us. We needed to gain a real appreciation for the how things once were from both an industrial and lifestyle point of view in the 1800’s.

To help authenticate the hammocks we had to learn and employ some very old fabrication techniques no longer in current use – hand sewing eyelets, whipping ropes, splicing and platting of ropes to a very precise seaman’s pattern.

Our biggest challenge was learning to adapt to an extremely manual process, using very coarse materials which required a high level of manual dexterity.

A good match of craftsman’s skills over 200 years with a resultant product which worked.

The Hyde Barracks Museum is now able to showcase their interactive convict period dormitories with an accurate representation without having to worry about the true historical hammocks being damaged by patrons.

‘We’d like to say a big thank you to you and your staff for manufacturing these fine reproductions for the museum, which will now allow a few more decades of museum visitors to enjoy the convict dormitory experience’

Dr Fiona Starr
Curator, Macquarie Street Portfolio