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Wrought Artworks letter to Clover Moore - 24 April 2008

This letter was sent by Wrought Artworks Lord Mayor Clover Moore on 24 April 2008 outlining the company's problem with the RWA.

Dear Clover,

We trust you received our recent correspondence regarding our frustrations with the lack of support and bureaucratic obstacles created by Redfern Waterloo Authority- the current landlords, for the operation of the Eveleigh Locomotive heritage blacksmithing workshop.  Our letters to the RWA board members was met with what has become a customary code of silence.

The past SHFA Manager- Steve Montgomery was extremely pro-active and supportive of our operation and it’s integration into the Park, however for the entire three years the RWA have been the managing body all requests for discussion on the operating heritage blacksmithing workshop, or any property maintenance issues have been ignored. It seems RWA saw any recognition and assistance with the floor problem on their part as an acceptance of Wrought Artworks existence and tenure. Obviously we forced their hand by taking the responsibility of repairing the floor hazard ourselves, and shockingly have now received a letter terminating our license and eviction.

What is transpiring at the Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops must rank as one of the saddest episodes in Australian heritage machinery conservation. The Heritage and Conservation bodies, the community, yourself, and ourselves were early on promised that the correct approach would be taken. This was backed up with a large number of reports and studies, which have subsequently been largely ignored. In 1997 a $300,000 State Heritage grant, supposed to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the ATP, for the restoration of the machinery collection to become operational did not get spent on its intended purpose.

Representations and promises made to us from Government Departments in those early years, with Wrought Artworks’ inclusion, as the operators of the heritage blacksmithing shop, in the conditions of the Development Consent given by the Minister of Urban Affairs and Planning gave us the assurance and confidence to build up a good business. A business based on the Victorian blacksmithing equipment in our care. In fact we are now considered top of our field by heritage architects and primarily work on conservation and Victorian style reproduction ironwork for greater Sydney. We have only just now completed all the service infrastructure and the operation manuals required to run a safe concern. The recommissioning and maintenance of all the serviceable machines in our care is 90 % there.

This is the result of 17 years of tireless, genuine effort and lobbying on the part of ourselves, a handful of visionary people (such as yourself), and a stream of apprentices. Most of the years were funded primarily with Eveleighs’ dirt, our sweat and passionate spirit for the place.  Used by the Government and the initial developer to placate the community, to care for the machinery when no one else did and to come up a philosophy for the long term, we are now being considered as unnecessary by an incompliant, money hungry authority with short-term expectations. Aided and abetted by the devious State Planning Minister. With no accountability? How did these wolves in lambs clothing infiltrate the State Labour Party?

 Bolstered by the completion of the building for The Ministry of Defense, by the commencement of the new building for Channel Seven, and the hosting of some celebrity events (such as the MTV Awards this weekend), it appears the RWA wishes to silence the anvils ring and use the blacksmithing shop as a film shoot location only. To capitalize on the rare, authentic setting the RWA have sent the eviction unconscionably. It wouldn’t take long for the idle machinery to lose their interest and any hand cartable industrial artifacts to be lifted by whomever.

RWA may want control of the blacksmithing shop, but without the human factor the value of the collection and the trade skill fostered here (we have 5 apprentices at present), along with the usefulness of the facility for Sydney’s heritage maintenance, will be lost forever.

We are taking legal advise at present and remain confident that the eviction is unlawful. We hope from this that the workshop can obtain a license to operate in perpetuity, and not at the mercy of a Government Agency that is unaccountable, unwilling to look at our efforts retrospectively and with no permanence in planning.

It is bad governance that can allow Robert Domm (CEO of RWA) to act on such a subjective level with no foresight or in his words to substantiate his decree “Whatever agreement existed in the past with you is history”.

But ask of you as Lord Mayor of Sydney and past great supporter of our efforts to assist our apprentices and us in carrying on what is right.

Yours sincerely,
Guido Gouverneur
Wrought Artworks
P.O Box 357
Alexandria 1435