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Wrought Artworks Letter to RWA Board Members - 13 March 2008

This letter was sent by Wrought Artworks to RWA Board members in March 2008 outlining their history and their problems in dealing with the RWA.

Re:  Wrought Artworks - Operating the  Heritage Blacksmithing Shop, bays 1 & 2  Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop- Australian Technology Park- Redfern

As a Board Member of RWA we wish to give you an insight into our operation, a brief history of our position and the current breakdown in communication because of an attempt to remedy a long-term hazard in the workshop.

In 1991 The SRA accepted a proposal from myself, Guido Gouverneur and Wendie McCaffley of Wrought Artworks to operate our blacksmithing business within the recently closed blacksmithing bays of the Eveleigh Locomotive Workshop as a going concern. The first four entire bays were placed in our care. The agreement was that in exchange for conducting our business and utilizing the blacksmithing equipment we were to make secure, maintain the heritage value and machinery of the workshop. Wrought Artworks undertook extensive cleaning, repairs and installation of electrical services.

In 1993/1994 the site became the subject of a major development proposal that sort to transform the locomotive workshops into the Australian Technology Park.

A series of planning proposals were published about the redevelopment of the ATP and public consultation was sought. In planning the Technology Park the Heritage Office and other government bureaucracies required that the heritage values of the site be maintained. Under the conditions of approval granted by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning the ATP was authorized to carry out on the site:

“Conservation and reuse of the building for educational facilities, historic machinery exhibits, museum, research and development uses, exhibition spaces and ancillary and commercial uses”

These Conditions of Consent, which bind the ATP, also required that the heritage conservation values (condition 20 of the Development Consent) be undertaken in accordance with the Conservation Management Plan endorsed by the NSW Heritage Council in its report of 1 June 1995. Point 6:15 of the Conservation Management Plan provide for Wrought Artworks to conduct a blacksmithing operation as a working exhibit. Thus it was necessary for the ATP to maintain the blacksmithing bays as an operating concern to satisfy the requirements imposed by the Minister for Planning.

With this in mind ATP undertook substantial modifications to the building to accommodate the operating workshop in a commercial environment. These modifications included: -

  • The erection of an acoustical wall
  • Vibration dampening to the adjacent bays
  • Plaza door converted to vertical opening to allow coke deliveries
  • A railing to create a physical barrier but also allow viewing with a walk through experience
  • Foundations and electrical services were installed to machines, relocated from other bays that were preventing other areas from being developed for our utilization. (E.g.: the Bennie Guillotine was moved from what is now the theatre).
  • New gas line installed.

In 2004/2005 the ATP undertook an upgrade of the blacksmithing workshop as part of an overall site hazard review. It addressed uncompleted works caused or damaged during the redevelopment in conjunction with a Heritage Review of Guarding on the machinery. This was done in consultation with a panel of experts including Guido Gouverneur of Wrought Artworks. The upgrade included:

  • Decontaminated of floor and trusses and all surfaces.  (This necessitated us to shutdown for 6 weeks for which we were compensated).
  • Extensive guarding on machinery owned by ATP but used by WAWS.
  • Hard wiring of relocated equipment to switch boards.
  • Original lighting was recommissioned in Bay 1, and extra lighting provided in other areas to provide adequate light levels for safe work. 
  • WAWS was issued a Trades and Small Works contract from the ATPPMT, which amongst other works, was to coordinate and liaise with builder in the construction of a section of new concrete flooring to remedy a potential walkway hazard. Also in view of the need to drive the 8-tone access Genie across the floor to service the alarms fitted into the roof to maintain the fire certificate for the building.

Most of the upgrades were completed but with the change of management in 2005 there was an instruction to stop works. Two items were incomplete, one being the restoration of the original door and the largest hazard, (advanced in design after considerable consultation and about to go to the construction phase) - the upgrading of the asphalt area and the concrete slab in a major throughour fare of the workshop. Damaged primarily when services were being layed at the construction phase of the ATP.

Early in 2007, after discussion with the ATP management, we sent a letter requesting direction and approval for the remaining works to eliminate the remaining hazard at our cost. We had no response. We again raised the issue again with ATPPML in mid 2007, with no response.

By January 2008, on our return to work, we still had not received a response but decided the hazard had to be dealt with and began to undertake the works ourselves, at our own cost, as we felt there was no interest in what we were doing.  We finally poured the concrete floor, much to the relief of our staff and ourselves. Further works on a section requiring asphalt was about to commence. 

We again sent correspondence to the ATP, informing them of the completed section and for permission to continue with the next stage. We were then communicated with by the RWA, informing us the works were unlawfully performed and we were given direction (finally) on how to gain approval via the relevant web sites. We were advised not to continue with the works. The relevant forms were obtained, completed and sent to RWA as the Landowners for co-signing. We received communication that: -“ we would shortly be receiving correspondence from solicitors for ATPPML and they would not be consenting to any such works”.

This confusing, frustrating and now threatening relationship is counterproductive. We note the RWA mission statement reads: 

“To establish Redfern Waterloo as an active, vibrant and sustainable community by promoting and supporting greater social cohesion and community safety, respect for the cultural heritage and orderly development of the area in consideration of social, economic, ecological and other sustainable development.”

Our Company embodies all that the RWA mission statement sets out to achieve:

  • We provide a unique and lasting memory to visitors and tenants to the ATP
  • We have consistently over our seventeen years at Eveleigh been committed to training young people with a one to one apprentice/tradesman ratio. We currently have 2 blacksmithing apprentices, 1 machinist apprentice, and Chris Sulis has recently received his trade certificates and is now a tradesman in the workshop.  We have been partially instrumental in having the only accredited course in Industrial Smithing within Australia continue.
  • We have won awards for work on civic monuments and are renowned for excellence in our understanding of Victorian Engineering and its application in the modern idiom. We manufactured the window frames on the NIC building, recast from cast iron pipe salvaged from the site, and the bronze railing around the machine exhibit in the Bio Medical foyer. Enclosed in our information pack are some of the other heritage projects we have undertaken.
  • Guido Gouverneur was awarded 2001Citizen Award by South Sydney City Council for services to the restoration of heritage machinery at Eveleigh.
  • The safety of our staff and us is of prime importance.

It is also regrettable that some of the machinery collection outside our control is neglected and languishes unprotected to the whims of the elements.

As the longest tenants in the Park we would like to open the lines of communication with the Board and begin a discussion for the workshop to operate in perpetuity. We would like to invite the board (perhaps proceeding the next Board meeting) to a quick tour of this valuable, truly unique, operating heritage trade based asset to the Park and Sydney. We also ask of the board to assist us in completing the remediation of the floor.

Yours truly,

Guido Governeur                                         Wendie McCaffley