Opperman collection launches at sports museum

Cycling legend: An example of the photographs included among the Oppy Collection at Rochester Sports Museum.

Legendary Rochester-born cycling immortal, Sir Hubert Opperman, is now celebrated with his own section at the Rochester Sports Museum.

Sir Hubert, who sits comfortably in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, has had his international cycling feats publicly celebrated in Rochester since the early 1990s.

The Oppy Collection now has pride of place in the Rochester museum and will include a specially produced eight-minute video, which includes tributes from long-time Opperman family supporter Peter Anderson, and Rochester Sports Museum’s Bob Knight.

Mr Knight and his Lions club have been negotiating with Mr Anderson’s Rochester-based committee to secure the collection at the museum for some time.

The collection was previously housed at the Rochester service centre, but the Lions club has re-organised its administration area to give the cycling legend pride of place at the sports museum.

The sports museum received funds through Rochester Business Network for a curator to prepare and promote the new Opperman exhibition/collection.

Mr Anderson said the man immortalised in the town by a bronze life-size statue, depicting his famous 1928 Bol D’Or 24 hour race victory, deserved his status in the museum (not far from where he was born in Moore St).

It was a year prior to Sir Hubert’s 90th birthday that a small committee, of service club and chamber of commerce members, was formed to build a statue to honour the cycling legend. Five-thousand people attended the unveiling (in 1994), which was attended by Sir Hubert and his wife Mavys.

“It (the exhibition) will be a fitting tribute, they (the Lions) have all our gear there now. They will turn things over that are on display on a regular basis,” Mr Anderson said.

“There are a couple of hundred pieces, including the bike that he donated to the committee after riding it for the final time as a 90 year old on 29 May, 1994.”

Sir Hubert died just before his 92nd birthday in April 1996.

He was born in Rochester and lived in the town, on and off, as a boy from 1904-15.

The Opperman family, through son Ian, has always maintained a connection.

It is the family, in fact, that donated the main body of the collection.

Other items have been received from the cycling public since 1994.