Council secure all remaining artefacts from Windsor Bridge - plan to showcase heritage items
Hawkesbury Council is taking control of all remaining parts of the demolished Windsor Bridge – including unique curved bricks and historic Lewis bolts – with a view to using them in a number of ways to highlight the history of the Colonial-era river crossing.
The move came this last week after two speakers at a regular Council meeting asked councillors to take immediate action.
Some parts of the old bridge have already been passed to Hawkesbury Museum for display and the Council earlier came into possession of several larger parts of the bridge, but other items have been sold to private buyers by the demolition company.
Windsor resident Paul Caleo – who has spent many hours photographically documenting the bridge’s slow demolition and is also a member of pressure group Defenders of Thompson Square - spoke at the meeting as a Windsor resident and urged the Council to swiftly take action to secure the remaining parts of the bridge.
Mr Caleo said despite a Council list of artefacts outlined in the meeting's business papers, he had seen several unique items still at the demolition site.
“I have in this last week observed some of the items referred to handled in a most unfortunate way,” Mr Caleo told the councillors.
“A large number of tapered and curved bricks were tossed about, thrown, and a number of them crushed under the tracks of an excavator,” Mr Caleo said.
The historic Lewis bolts - on site and a drawing from the 1800s showing how they worked. Pic of today's bolt by Paul Caleo
“1874 Lewis bolts - large mechanisms taken from the lower sections of the caissons - were also tossed about. I would like council to secure these items and start a community consultation discussion about appropriate works for these items.”
Mr Caleo said he trusted that through cooperation, “with all stakeholders, Council can assist best outcomes for our area, for residents, visitors and our businesses”.
Mr Caleo said what he would like to potentially see with the curved bricks – these are custom made bricks which lined the caissons – was a path laid, using both the complete bricks but also any broken bricks too, in celebration of the old bridge.
The curved bricks each measure nine inches long (22.8cm), were formed in two rows end to end and in alternate layers, and went from the bedrock to the top of the caisson piers.
“I do believe it would be possible to form a pathway from them,” said Mr Caleo.
“There are pure pristine bricks, some have had mortar cleaned off. There are a variety. Because of the unfortunate handling, because of being moved and tossed and damaged, there are broken bricks too. A pathway could be paved with a combination of both complete and broken brick and could be a community participation project,” Mr Caleo said.
“This could also assist in the healing process felt in the loss of the bridge. This could be part of a healing process.”
Patricia Schwartz also spoke to council on behalf of Defenders of Thompson Square (DOTS) and called for a community consultation to take place on any works to showcase the remains of the bridge.
Ms Schwartz said DOTS would like to see consultation between council and the community and a joint working party be formed to include Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC).
“The businesses becoming successful in Windsor now know the heritage aspects are crucial,” Ms Schwartz said.
She added that “an appropriate display of retained artefacts” could rise, and emerge “as the stunning heritage aspect of Windsor”.
Councillors voted to take immediate steps to secure all remaining artefacts from the bridge, including Lewis bolts and bricks from the caissons. They will also form a working group with the HAC and community groups to work out the best possible means of conservation, interpretation and display of the artefacts.
Main picture - courtesy of Neil Dand
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