It belongs to me says Windsor Bridge demolition boss as row simmers over sale of historic items
Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) has told contractors working on the demolition of the 1874 Windsor Bridge not to sell parts of the historic structure after items were advertised for sale on Gumtree.
But demolition boss Robert Moltoni of Perth-based Mainline Demolition who is in charge of the $1.9m job to take the old bridge down, told the Post last night the bridge belonged to him now.
Windsor Bridge three years ago. Pic by Paul James Evans
The latest twist in the long-running and acrimonious bridge saga began last week when protest group Heritage Act member Jenny Lloyd claimed she watched as artefacts from the bridge were exchanged for handfuls of cash from a man who drove up to the site entrance in a ute.
When we put this to Mr Moltoni last night he said we needed to talk to main contractor Georgiou but added, “it’s my property. The bridge materials belong to me. I’m just trying to do my job.”
The materials – which include embossed curb rail pedestals advertised for cash sale on Gumtree as long ago as September under the heading “Claim a piece of history! – were on sale at the online store for $110 each.
Windsor Bridge at the start of demolition. Pic courtesy of Paul Caleo
President of Community Action for Windsor Bridge (CAWB), Harry Terry, said he was astounded. “This important, historically significant asset belongs to the people of the Hawkesbury. It is unconscionable the RMS can apparently ‘gift it’ to a contractor.”
“If money is to be made from selling our historic bridge, the funds should be dedicated to the protection of Hawkesbury’s heritage, and not line the pockets of an interstate contractor.”
TfNSW told the Post they ordered the contractor to take down the Gumtree advertisement and to cease sale of any bridge items.
“As soon as we were made aware of the advertisement we directed the contractor to take the advertisement down and stop further transactions,” said a TfNSW spokesman.
“Transport for NSW engaged in extensive consultation on the heritage items related to the Windsor Bridge replacement project including aboriginal and colonial era artefacts.
“As part of this consultation, Transport for NSW provided the 12 railing pedestals requested by Hawkesbury City Council. Samples of the steel tubular sections and cross bracing from the bridge piers will also be provided to council when work on the piers is completed.”
The spokesman added that Hawkesbury City Council had also requested small pieces of the bridge such as nails, bolts or pieces of concrete be provided to the community as keepsakes, but it is not clear yet how this will take place.
“Transport for NSW has identified 35 remaining cast iron railing pedestals on site and we are working to provide these to Council,” said the spokesman.
Windsor Bridge - demolition in full swing. Pic courtesy of Neil Dand
Linda Perrine, Director City Planning at Hawkesbury Council, said the council had been in discussions with TfNSW, “regarding this matter and to obtain any pieces of the bridge that could potentially be used as future artwork in the public domain”.
Ms Perrine said: “Upon being notified of the Gumtree advertisement, council contacted Transport for NSW who advised council that the sale of any piece of the bridge was not an agreed action between their contractors and themselves.
“Council has been advised that the advertisement has been removed,” said Ms Perrine. “Council is not aware that anyone at Council has been offered parts of the bridge by the demolition contractor. Transport for NSW has initiated an investigation which is ongoing.”
We asked construction company Georgiou Group – they have the contract to deliver the new Windsor Bridge – for comment but we have not yet received a response. We will update this article when we hear from them.