The heritage environment in NSW remains tenuous at best. Growth projects are being touted as ‘transformative’ but at what cost? A significant number of communities are already expressing alarm about potential impacts on their local heritage, for example:
- in Parramatta – concerns about proposals which could impact precious convict heritage,
- in Haberfield – concerns about WestConnex carving up the world’s first garden suburb,
- in Pyrmont – concerns about the future of the heritage-listed Powerhouse Museum building, and
- in Millers Point – concerns not only about the sell-off of government-owned heritage housing but also instances already emerging of new purchasers undertaking unauthorised alterations to these heritage properties.
The Glebe Society shares the continuing concerns of the National Trust that a declaration by the government of a ‘State Significant Development’ (the lure of big $$$) has the potential to switch off Heritage protections.
In the wake of all this, the Heritage Subcommittee nervously greeted the announcement by the Government that it would sell the heritage-listed Bidura, the former home of architect Edmund Blacket. However, the new owners have since indicated their intention to retain Bidura House and Ballroom and redevelop the rear of this large site. It is to be hoped that, as the site falls away at the rear, any new structure will not compete with, or overshadow, ‘Mr Blacket’s House’. The Subcommittee has worked to disseminate to members a range of information to ensure that they are fully aware of the building’s complex history, its heritage, its contribution to the Glebe Point Rd streetscape and our sense of place.
We also established a separate website (http://www.glebeislandbridge.com) to promote a public conversation about the potential re-use of the Glebe Island Bridge, a heritage-listed public asset which currently stands idle. A re-activated bridge could provide pedestrians and cyclists with a safe, level and picturesque conduit to and from the city whilst also providing managed maritime access to the bays. The Glebe Society has written to the Heritage Minister expressing concern about the current condition of the bridge and the need for a heritage conservation plan to be formulated and speedily implemented.
Still on bridges, we are planning an event later in the year to celebrate the 20 years since the opening of the Anzac Bridge. At our suggestion, Glebe Library organised an evening conversation last April with Alan Somerville, the sculptor of the iconic Anzac Statues which stand on the western end of the Bridge.
The Subcommittee’s involvement in the World War I commemorations included:
- arranging for the Glebe Society to donate a Pinus halepensis (Lone Pine) sapling to the University of Sydney in memory of the Glebe diggers who were connected with the University either as students, researchers or support staff.
- tracking the restoration of the Diggers Memorial; the cross and diadem have now been installed. Still outstanding is the installation of a replacement for the unsympathetic chain-wire gate: hopefully this will occur before Remembrance Day this year.
- supporting the planned Glebe Town Hall Anzac Centenary exhibition by providing 199 hand-knitted poppies, each representing a Glebe man who fell in the Great War.
- coordinating the annual Remembrance Day service at the Diggers Memorial.
We have used the Bulletin to:
- highlight, discuss and comment on various aspects of Glebe’s built environment (From the Terraces).
- tease out recollections from long-standing members of the Glebe community (Rearview).
We also responded to a request to provide a revised text for the Early Architects Walk, suitable for audio presentation.
We are grateful to Peter Thorogood who took up the technical challenges of creating the Glebe Island Bridge website and who has also further refined access to the heritage sections of the Glebe Society website.
Thanks also to Rod Holtham whose work in documenting the contribution of Glebe men and women to WWI has been of considerable assistance.
Dr Vanessa Witton resigned from the Subcommittee due to pressure of work. We shall greatly miss her expertise.
I am most grateful to Subcommittee members Lydia Bushell, Margaret Cody, Ros Jehne, Anne Owens, Erica Robinson and Meg Wallace who have so willingly contributed ideas and energy to heritage matters over the last 12 months