Dr Bill Nelson passed away at the end of March. Older members of the Society will remember his involvement, together with his wife Sally, in the early days of the Society when there was much activity about gardens in Glebe. These included garden competitions, inspections, talks and visits to gardens outside Sydney, including that of the Nelsons at Mount Wilson.
Bill’s other significant contribution to the Society was his work as chair of the committee, organised in cooperation with the National Trust, which raised funds for the restoration of the Diggers’ Memorial. The results of his efforts are to be seen when members meet to remember Glebe’s fallen each Anzac Day.
Thanks Bill. You were a good bloke.
Bulletin Editor’s Note: Max Solling’s 2005 Anzac Day address included the following potted history of the restoration, in which Bill Nelson features (Bulletin 2/2005, p.8):
In February 1991 the Glebe Weekly observed ‘the memorial looks like a decaying monument. The angel at the front had its head chopped off about 18 months ago by vandals and busts of a Digger and Sailor on either side have been stolen’. In 1991 the Glebe Society set up a subcommittee (Dr Bill Nelson, Rev Hugh Scott and Max Solling) to restore the memorial and on 17 October 1992 the National Trust of Australia (NSW) Glebe Diggers’ Memorial Restoration Appeal was launched by the Mayor of Leichhardt, Larry Hand.
Photographic likenesses of the missing and damaged items were obtained from the Archives of Sydney City Council and my own collection.
Advice, encouragement and major financial support by way of two grants under the NSW Heritage Assistance Program, totalling $19,800 were obtained, without which the project could not have been undertaken. Restoration work was undertaken in two stages. The first phase involved restoration of the memorial proper, sculpting, moulding and replacement of the Digger and Sailor (plus the pedestal of one of them). This work was completed in 1994 at a cost of $30,180, and the Leichhardt engineer, Gerry Walsh, arranged for the memorial to be floodlit to deter vandals. The second (and final) stage of the work involved complete restoration of the Angel (made of Carrara marble) and the interior marble name plates was finished in December 1997. The local community contributed $22,880 towards the cost ($42,680) of restoration.The Traditional Stonemasonry Co Pty Ltd, commissioned to carry out the restoration work, hold the moulds of the Digger, the Soldier and the Angel. The restoration architects were Brian McDonald (first stage) and Craig Burton (second stage). In 1999 the slouch hat of the Digger was damaged and Kris Krawcyk, who sculpted all the figures, undertook the repair work without charge. In 1994 Glebe marked Heritage Week with an Anzac Day dawn service at the partially restored memorial – the first held there in living memory – and since then a memorial service has been held every Anzac Day at 7.30am.