I took over as convenor of the Heritage Subcommittee from Liz Simpson-Booker in the middle of 2017, and the first meeting I chaired was on 5 June 2017. Since then, we have met more or less monthly, and have dealt with numerous heritage issues facing Glebe.

Ted McKeown and Fiona Campbell from the Heritage subcommittee (Image: Alison McKeown)

The subcommittee currently comprises, in addition to myself as convenor, Allan Hogan (ex-officio as president), Andrew Botros, Brian Fuller, Fiona Campbell, Jude Paul, Liz Simpson-Booker, Lydia Bushell, Lyn Collingwood, Margaret Cody, Peter Crawshaw, Robert Hannan and Rodney Hammett. During the year, Anne Owens and Erica Robinson stepped down from the subcommittee after considerable periods of service. I would like to thank all those members, both present and past, for their enthusiastic support. In particular, I would like to thank Liz for her efforts to mentor an inexperienced successor.

One matter that has been under consideration for the whole year is the proposed redevelopment of the former Remand Centre behind Bidura. The developers who bought the property from the government for $33 million, presumably with the express or implied representation that they could build a massive residential tower or towers on the Remand Centre site, must really be thinking they were sold a pup. The first development application was knocked back in its entirety by the Land and Environment Court after being rejected by the City Council. Its second effort, purporting to take into account the Court’s criticism of its first effort, bypassed the Council and was referred directly to the Court, which reserved its judgement on 12 April. At the time of writing this report (12 July), it is exactly three months since the final hearing day, and still no result.

The Society objected to both applications on a number of grounds, and the subcommittee assisted the planning convenor, Neil Macindoe, in the framing of those objections. Watch this space.

Another development that has attracted a considerable amount of community concern is the proposal to establish a restaurant and café in Bellevue, previously occupied as the Blackwattle Café. Residents are particularly concerned about traffic and noise, particularly if the trading hours are extended. This is not really a heritage issue, since there is no proposal to alter the fabric of this significant building, but we have been cooperating with the transport and traffic subcommittee and the planning subcommittee in framing any objection.

During the year, we have been in close touch with the City Council, and in particular with Council officers Eva Rodriguez Riestra and Joel Johnson. I thank them both for their prompt feedback on Council matters that are of concern to the Society. Some of these matters are:

  • The repair or replacement of the Sir Edmund Barton plaque near the footbridge in Arundel St – it has now been decided that it can be repaired, and this should take place shortly
  • A plaque to commemorate the Aleppo pine tree in Foley Park – the Council has agreed to install a plaque modelled on the corresponding plaque near the tree we donated to Sydney University, and the final wording is now being considered
  • An explanatory sign to be erected at the entrance to the Kirsova No 3 Playground behind the library – this will be done by the Council, modelled on the signs at the Kirsova No 1 and Kirsova No 2 Playgrounds in Erskineville
  • The largely illegible explanatory signs at the Walter Burley Griffin incinerator site – the Council has agreed to replace these signs

By far the biggest project to be undertaken by the Council this year at the instigation of the Society is the relocation and rededication of the Rozelle Tramsheds War Memorial. It is currently located at the Leichhardt Bus Depot, but the Council has agreed to refurbish the memorial and relocate it (on a plinth identical to the original) to close to its original location at Harold Park, in a garden reminiscent of the original rose garden. This is a very significant memorial – it appears to be unique in its design, and is one of the earliest memorials to the dead in World War I, having been dedicated in 1916. Rod Holtham has been one of the driving forces in our campaign to have the memorial returned to its home in Forest Lodge, and I thank him for his hard work.

We have been assured that Council has approved the funding for this project, and that work is proceeding on schedule. It was originally proposed that the memorial be rededicated on 11 November 2018, the centenary of the armistice in 1918. But 11 November this year falls on a Sunday, and since the protocol for a war memorial dedication (or rededication) calls for a religious service, this would have been problematic. So we are looking forward to this happening on a date that is reasonably close to 11 November.

Another matter that has had close attention from the subcommittee is the planning for the Society’s 50th birthday celebrations in the middle of next year. Work is well advanced on our proposal to hold an exhibition in the community centre at the Tramsheds, tentatively called ‘The Villas of Glebe and Forest Lodge’, celebrating the grand residences built early in the 19th century, some of which are still with us. The other subcommittees of the management committee are also working on their plans for this celebration. You will be hearing a lot more about this as the year progresses. We are very grateful to Ruth Edenborough, who has lent us for the exhibition two magnificent early photographs of Strathmore, which originally stood in Glebe Point Rd, more or less where Charlton Way is now located. These photographs belonged to her late husband, David Allen, a direct descendant of George Allen who built Toxteth Park (now St Scholastica’s College).

In October, the subcommittee conducted a successful seminar on the topic ‘Researching Your House Online’. The presenters, Jude Paul, Andrew Botros, Rodney Hammett and Lyn Collingwood, are to be congratulated on the quality of the content and presentation. Andrew has ensured that the relevant tools and explanation are prominently displayed on the Society’s website.

At the instigation of Fiona Campbell, the Society has joined forces with the Paddington Society and the community at Millers Point in trying to set up a collaboration with the Council aimed at educating the owners of heritage properties and developers on best practice in maintaining, altering or adaptively reusing those properties, and assisting them in choosing appropriate materials and finding (without recommending anyone in particular) relevant experts and tradespeople. This is an ongoing campaign.

Fiona was also successful (after a lot of frustration) in locating and obtaining an original copy of the Glebe Point Road Main Street Study Stage 2 published in 1991. Whilst the information in this document is now out of date, it is significant in that it informed the entries for the whole of Glebe Point Rd in the State Heritage Inventory available online from the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage – and those entries are much more up to date and relevant. Lindsay Foyle (a foundation member of the Society) has recently re-photographed all the properties in Glebe Point Rd so that his photographs are directly comparable with the images in the 1991 Study, and it is proposed that all of this material will shortly be available on the website.