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Concern over future of heritage railway machinery

Heritage-listed Victorian-era railway equipment is to be disposed of prior to the State Government’s sale of Australian Technology Park, according to a community group writes Gareth Narunsky in City News on 3 December 2009.
Concern over future of heritage railway machinery

One of the Photos sent to REDWatch - click to enlarge

Redfern-Waterloo group REDWatch has obtained photographs of parts of a pivot crane spray painted with pink crosses and tagged “Australian Technology Park Surplus Heritage Item… Identified for Disposal”.

REDWatch spokesperson Geoff Turnbull said the markings and tags had appeared prior to a consultation session, scheduled for next Monday, to discuss the Park’s new conservation management plan.

“This totally pre-empted any discussion about what they were planning to do and what should happen… as a result a whole pile of heritage people have got very upset,” he said.

The Australian Technology Park occupies the site of the old Eveleigh Railway Workshops, built in 1887, and many examples of late 19th-century machinery remain.

Mr Turnbull said the 2008 NSW mini-budget announcement, detailing the proposed sale of a 99-year lease over the Australian Technology Park, had necessitated due diligence preparations, including the reviewing of heritage instruments.

Wendie McCaffley, director of Wrought Artworks, who operates the heritage blacksmithing workshop at the Technology Park, said the tagged equipment was looking the worse for wear but remained an important part of the collection.

“They’re very significant pieces of equipment which were listed in the conservation management plan for movable items,” she said.

“They’re not supposed to be disposed of, this isn’t what was supposed to happen.”

Ms McCaffley said the equipment could be restored.

“It’s the largest, most integral collection of Victorian railway equipment remaining in the world [according to the] Smithsonian Institute [in] Washington DC,” she said.

“With a bit of engineering knowledge and a team of people, it could be restored to its former glory… you’ve got to be able to see and feel, to have that connection to what has happened here in the past.”

But the Australian Technology Park said the whole issue had been a misunderstanding.

“Nothing is being thrown out,” said Managing Director Roy Wakelin-King.

“We are investing money to preserve these valuable heritage items… The pink crosses actually identify items that are going to be refurbished and placed back in the ATP as a heritage-significant item,” he said.

“The tags displaying disposal refer to a term used by our heritage consultant MacLaren North to indicate those items that are being refurbished or relocated for preservation purposes.”

The ATP also indicated that once refurbished, the pivot crane would be displayed in the Park’s upgraded Innovation Plaza, along with a steam crane and a 3801 train.

Refurbishment is expected to be completed by June 2010.

Also see ATP Heritage Equipment Public Statement in response - REDWatch

Source: www.altmedia.net.au/concern-over-future-of-heritage-railway-machinery/14134