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Wrought Artworks Reply to Kristina Keneally's letter of 27 August 2008.

In response to the letter from Kristina Keneally MP of 27th August 2008, Wrought Artworks replied to clarify a number of issues. As the content of the letter from Kristina Keneally was probably used in other replies from her electoral office the Wrought Artworks reply has been provided below.

Dear Kristina Keneally,

Re: The blacksmithing workshop at Eveleigh.

Thank- you for you letter 27 August in reply to my correspondence.

You may have heard that following a media campaign, along with the support of the community, and ex-Eveleigh workers, we still have tenure.  Whilst we want to put the stress and disruption of the eviction behind us and get on with things I feel it is important to clarify some points in your letter. 

In the three years the Redfern Waterloo Authority have been the managers of the Australian Technology Park all correspondence for assistance or approvals for maintenance in the Blacksmiths Shop from us were completely ignored.  As were invitations to view our operation and to open discussions with the management as to its aspirations of the Blacksmiths Shop integration into the Park.  Approval for a dangerous floor problem was hindered with bureaucratic obstacles.  There was no interest, encouragement or participation from the management for the ‘active heritage workshop’. There was no assurances that  ‘the heritage of the blacksmithing bays will be preserved’. The track record for the conservation of the site’s heritage machinery and assemblages by past and present Authorities has not been great.

Wrought Artworks was never offered a lease. We were only ever given an eviction notice. In spite of what you were advised, ATP never ‘attempted to work with us on several occasions to come to a commercial agreement for our ongoing tenancy’.  The first indication of an offer of a license was given to the ABC –Stateline program by Robert Domm some 4 months after the eviction. This change of heart was possibly due to public pressure.

Initial heritage concepts for the self-funding heritage blacksmithing shop had never been that it was to be economically viable for the Government. It was never communicated to us that the Government wished to change to a commercial arrangement and did not wish to continue with our self-funding custodianship. Although we had been threatened with ‘legal action’ for fixing the holes in the floor, the eviction came as a shock. At the time we were ‘chugging’ along in the same way we have for 17 years, with the ongoing work to make a 1880s workshop operational, safe and function able, training apprentices, and concentrating on heritage restoration projects around Sydney. For fifteen of those years the business ran at a loss. We were not given a reason for the sudden eviction.

We are extremely relieved the lines of communication are now open with the Management and Authority an of the site, that the eventuality didn’t arise where by someone else could step into our years of work and goodwill, that the apprentices didn’t have to be laid off, and ourselves be without a livelihood.

We are concerned non-the less that The Heads of Agreement we signed under the duress of the Eviction has onerous rental increases of 5% per annum and a 20 % capped rise every 4 years. The workshop operating in perpetuity could very well be compromised by such a high rental in years to come.

It is important that the Australian Technology Park, the current Government Authority, the ‘blacksmiths’, the 3801 volunteers, (working from the Large Erecting Shop breathing life back into abandoned Engines and carriages), and the former Eveleigh workers can work together. To make the site more widely known for its historical relevance, as well as a showcase for the preservation of the skills from our industrial past. For the benefit and enjoyment of the wider public.

We hope at some time in the future to have the opportunity to give you a tour and explanation of the heritage machinery and assemblages on this important remnant of Australia’s once magnificent industrial railway past.

Yours truly,

Wendie McCaffley


This letter is in reply to: Kristina Keneally letter to Wrought Artworks – 27 August 2008