From the Lithgow Mercury:

Old .303 Rifles Are No Longer Their Missing Links

by Len Ashworth
October 11, 2011

UNLESS you have an eagle eye for such details you probably won’t notice the difference the next time you visit the Lithgow Small Arms factory Museum — but there is an important difference.

There’s a fan shaped display adorning the wall at the western end of the top floor which has become something of a symbol for the place.

It’s made up of Lee Enfield .303 rifles, one for every model manufactured at the factory from World War I through to Korea.

But something was missing — in fact two things.

All the display was lacking were the rifle models from 1923 and 1937. But they’ve now returned home and the display is now complete.

An American firearms collector heard about the museum’s quest a little while back and donated a 1923 model from his personal gun cabinet.

Now they also have the 1937 SMLE rifle as well, also from overseas.

Don Pelvin, a vintage gun enthusiast from Christchurch, New Zealand, visited the museum last year. Back in the Shaky Isles he knew a collector who had an old ’37 that had been ‘sporterised’ (converted to a sporting rifle). Don bought the rifle from the collector and donated it to the Lithgow museum in another nice hands across the ocean gesture.

Museum volunteers converted the rifle back to its original condition and it’s now permanently in the completed display.

“It shows the international interest in the museum that the 1923 was donated by an American collector and this last one by a New Zealander,’ said museum secretary Kerry Guerin. And, says Kerry, the museum is always looking for energetic volunteers to assist in guiding, administration (specially a treasurer), archival work and general duties.

“We’re a lot more than just a gun museum and ladies are particularly welcome,” said Kerry. “Drop in some time and check it out”.

Footnote: During the Tidy Towns assessment last year an experienced assessor from South Australia described the Lithgow attraction as ‘possibly the best firearms museum in the world’.