The Park Avenue entrance gates to Blackheath’s Memorial Park were funded by public subscription. They were officially opened on May 18 1938, by Minister for Works and Local Government Mr Eric Spooner. The project commemorated the reign of King George V (1910-1936). 300 people turned up for the occasion in misty autumn rain.
Now the 1930s was not the most exciting architectural era and the gates are definitely ‘of their time’.
I suspect few people would be aware of what the dates on the brick pillars signify, ie; George V’s reign.
There was very little opposition when the gates were proposed. As far as I know, only one resident raised a dissenting voice;
Mrs Hague-Smith suggested that instead of erecting memorial gates for the proposed King George Memorial, that Council consider the provision of a municipal-owned gymnasium. Aldermen were of the opinion that subscriptions were given for a specific purpose. The gymnasium should be a separate matter. The request was not granted.
There is no record of any displeasure over the design itself.
New Gates – Prince Edward Street
These days, most visitors enter the park from Prince Edward Street, opposite the caravan park and beside the duck pond. It was decided that another set of gates should be built here, honouring those who served in WWI, and in whose memory the park was created. Initially a brick wall was put up. I presumed the new gates would be similar to the those on Park Avenue, hopefully with a little more flair. But no, within days a new feature was added. Oh my hat!
Someone (OK, it was me) posted a photo on the Blue Mountains community Facebook page asking what everyone thought. Now I did put up a header saying ‘I’m not sure whether this is how they will turn out‘, but social media being what it is, people leapt in, boots and all.
Darth Vader, brutalist, Mad Max, Batman, insensitive, uninviting, prison gates, WWI tank, graffiti magnet, etc etc etc….
A spokesperson from the Blackheath Area Community Alliance responded. Apparently 14 community groups approved the design. It was pointed out that Coreten steel is meant to rust over time, and thus ‘soften’ the look. Two stainless steel panels are to be added, containing the names of the 77 Blackheath residents who served in WWI.
A laser cut image of a rhododendron will represent the chief glory of the park, those magnificent trees purchased by local residents in 1923. A rhododendron for each serviceman was planted in a Remembrance Walk, which has matured over the decades into something very special.
Well, the jury is still out. Many of us, myself included, have a lot of emotion invested in Memorial Park. We are just waiting and hoping for a good outcome, especially as labour and materials for the project were donated by individuals and local businesses. The only artist’s impression of the overall design I have seen gives no real idea of the end result.
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