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National Trust blasts the RWA

The National Trust has thrown its support behind Wrought Artworks, the blacksmithing workshop at Australian Technology Park (ATP) threatened with eviction by the Redfern-Waterloo Authority reports Alex McDonald in City news of 19th July 2008.

National Trust conservation director for NSW, Graham Quint, said the September eviction contravenes existing heritage agreements and that immediate action was needed to protect the workshop.

“The whole site is on the heritage register,” Mr Quint said. “It’s got the highest level of protection in the state yet they are evicting the people who are caring for it.

“It is disappointing that a place of such international significance, under grave and immediate threat now requires a re-nomination,” he said. “This does highlight serious resourcing and legislative impediments.”

Some 200 steam trains have been built at the Eveleigh Railway Yard since 1887. At its peak in the 1930s the workshop overhauled around 540 locomotives a year.

One of the few qualified blacksmithing operations in the country, Wrought Artworks has been continuing that tradition for the past 17 years.

The ATP website acknowledges that the Blacksmith’s Workshop houses the largest collection of steam-powered machinery in the southern hemisphere, with much of the equipment still in working order.

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority CEO Robert Domm told The City News last week that Wrought Artworks had been operating at the ATP without a lease and without paying rent.

"This is obviously not a tenable situation in the long run and the ATP has tried on a number of occasions to resolve this issue,” Mr Domm said.

But Mr Quint said there are simply no other blacksmiths who could preserve the site. “I think the shoe is on the other foot,” Mr Quint said. “They can’t evict this person… he is the ideal tenant and has put a lot of his own money into this.”

Meanwhile, Wrought Artworks blacksmith Guido Gouverneur is now in demand elsewhere in the city. He has been approached to restore gates and fencing at both Centennial Park and Observatory Hill. “There have been some very important projects and he is the main person [involved],” Mr Quint said. “You don’t get rid of these sorts of people.”

City News National Trust blasts the RWA